Kent’s best-kept conservation secret – the Swanscombe peninsula – is under threat from the development of London Resort theme park. CPRE Kent is one of an alliance of organisations fighting to stop this destructive scheme coming to pass – and on Saturday (October 2) we are holding a rally calling for this special wildlife site to be protected. We would love to see you on Saturday at 10am for a tour, where we can all enjoy the sights and sounds of the peninsula. If you can’t make it bang on 10am, we’ll be walking at a gentle pace, so you’ll be able to join us over the next couple of hours. And the fun doesn’t end there! You can come along to Gads Hill Farm for the SSSider Soak, which celebrates the wildlife of the peninsula. The event is based in a cider orchard; there’s a cider shop and bar and the Dartford Folk Massif are striking up at 3pm.
Campaigners on the rally will gather at Manor Way, opposite Britannia Metals, Northfleet DA11 9BG, on Saturday, October 2, at 10am
The SSSider Soak in the afternoon runs until 5pm at Gads Hill Farm ME3 7NX
To learn more about the Swanscombe peninsula, click here
As we reflect on getting back to ‘normal’ life, I’m sure that like me one of your memories of lockdown will be how grateful we all were to be able to get outdoors and enjoy the countryside. I don’t need to extol the virtues of the countryside to you, but those of you who attended, or have now have watched, Professor Jules Pretty’s presentation on Health, Nature and Low Carbon Good Life will be aware of the documented benefits of being outdoors – whether it’s being in your own garden, local park or the wider countryside; and whether it’s for the purposes of gardening, admiring the view, walking or running. As the countryside charity, CPRE Kent wants to be at the forefront of championing these benefits – and we’d like you to get involved. Starting on Friday, September 24, we’d like to trial a ‘netwalking’ event starting in the home of our Pink Wellies: Will Walk blog, which featured a diary of lockdown walks from Faversham on the North Kent Marshes. The idea is that these walks will start at 10am on the last Friday of the month – moving each month to a different area of the county. These walks will be undertaken at your own risk – we’ll ensure that we have forward and back markers, so you can walk at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Needless to say, you’ll need to wear a pair of sturdy shoes and bring wet-weather gear and water to drink – you’ll also need to be prepared to walk on uneven ground and climb over stiles. If you’d like to take part in this month’s event, please RSVP to email@example.com and we’ll be in touch with this month’s walk details.
Most of the people visiting this site will know of the many and varied benefits of enjoying the countryside. However, it’s not easy to convert that experience to hard facts. We can start to address that problem by watching this fascinating lecture from Professor Jules Pretty on the health and welfare advantages of engaging with nature… you won’t regret it!
A nationwide Star Count conducted in February has revealed a significant drop in light pollution levels across the UK. Almost 8,000 counts were submitted from February 6-14 in the annual citizen-science project that asks people to count the number of stars they see in the Orion constellation. A total of 51 per cent of people noted 10 or fewer stars, indicating severe light pollution. This compares with 61 per cent during the same period last year. Thirty or more stars indicates truly dark skies and were seen by 5 per cent of participants – the highest figure since 2013. Lockdown is the most likely reason for this change, with reduced human activity resulting in quieter-than-usual urban areas. Similar patterns have been found with air pollution, which has also dropped across the country. The results have been launched to mark International Dark Skies Week, run by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA), which raises awareness on the impacts of light pollution. Light pollution can negatively affect human health and wildlife by disturbing animals’ natural cycles and behaviour. Badly-designed, wasteful light also contributes to climate change and obscures our connection to the universe. CPRE, the countryside charity, and IDSA want to combat light pollution through strong local and national policies while also protecting and enhancing existing dark skies. This involves putting the right light in the right places, such as LED lights that only illuminate where we walk and turning off lights in places like office buildings when they’re unoccupied. CPRE and IDSA hope this fall in people experiencing the most severe light pollution – an unintended but positive consequence of lockdown – continues long after coronavirus restrictions are lifted so more people can experience the wonder of a truly dark sky. Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “It’s been an absolutely stellar year for Star Count. We had three times as many people taking part compared with previous years and I’m delighted to see severe light pollution appears to have fallen. It’s likely this is an unintended positive consequence of lockdown, as our night-time habits have changed. Let’s hope we can hold on to some of this achievement as we ‘unlock’. “Looking up at a starry night sky is a magical sight and one we believe everyone should be able to experience, wherever they live. And the great thing is, light pollution is one of the easiest kinds of pollution to reverse – by ensuring well-designed lighting is used only where and when needed, and that there is strong national and local government policy.” Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association, said: “We believe that solving the problem of light pollution begins with a realisation that the problem exists. For many people, participating in the Star Count may have been their first direct encounter an unpolluted night sky due to the loss of artificial light. “As realisation turns to action, we look forward to working with CPRE to bring attention and resources to turning the tide, and bringing natural night-time darkness back to more of the UK.”
To see the interactive map showing results from Star Count 2021, click here
This year’s Star Count ends on Sunday (February 14). Although there have been occasional clear spells, the cloud that brought snow to much of Kent this week has made conditions for stargazing far from ideal. So, if you haven’t yet been able to take part in the count, do pop your head out every so often tonight or over the weekend to see if there’s a chance to tot up the stars you can spot within Orion. If you don’t know where Orion is, click here Using results from the annual Star Counts, CPRE lobbies government and local authorities to tackle light pollution and highlight which ‘dark sky’ areas need to be protected and enhanced by strong policies. The event also increases our own knowledge of the wonderful night sky. In other words, it’s fun!
Star Count 2021 launched on Saturday and hundreds of people have already taken part. The week-long event, organised by CPRE, the countryside charity, and the British Astronomical Association, has received widespread coverage on TV and radio and in the written media. And now we can announce that Star Count will be featured on The One Show tonight. Tune into BBC One from 7pm-7.30pm and you can see CPRE’s Emma Marrington beaming into the studio live and telling the nation about all things stargazing. If you’re not already involved in Star Count, don’t worry as there’s still time! Simply sign up here, wait for a clear night, step outside and help us map the night sky.
To learn more about Star Count and a related video we have produced for you, click here
As hopefully many of you will know, CPRE, the countryside charity, is encouraging as many of us as possible to take part in this year’s Star Count from home. The clock is ticking and this fabulous event runs from tomorrow (Saturday, February 6) to Sunday, February 14. All you have to do is choose a clear night, look skywards and see how many stars we can spot within Orion. And now we can offer you a video showing how to go about it! In truth, it’s not a difficult process anyway, but this is a fun feature and should sort out anything you’re not sure about. To view the video, visit the CPRE Kent Facebook page here Seeing dark skies full of stars is something denied to far too many people. Previous Star Count results have demonstrated that light pollution is making starry skies a rarity in many parts of the country. However, using these results from the annual Star Counts, CPRE lobbies government and local authorities to tackle light pollution and highlight which ‘dark sky’ areas need to be protected and enhanced by strong policies. Star Count is fun and it serves a fabulous purpose in helping protect one of the greatest wonders of our world: a dark sky glittering with stars. Come on, you know you want to!
Running out of ideas to keep the family busy during lockdown? If so, CPRE’s Star Count provides the ideal solution. Next month – from Saturday, February 6, to Sunday, February 14 – CPRE, the countryside charity, is asking us all to choose a clear night, look skywards and see how many stars we can spot within Orion. If you don’t know where Orion is, click here There cannot be many of us who at some point have not gazed up at a starry night sky in wonder. Looking at the stars can give us a feeling of tranquillity that we experience increasingly rarely in the modern world. Seeing dark skies full of stars is something we associate with the countryside and is part of reconnecting with the natural world. However, places to enjoy such stunning sights are becoming harder to find, even in the countryside. Sadly, previous Star Count results have demonstrated that light pollution is making starry skies a scarce sight for too many of us. Using these results from the annual Star Counts, CPRE lobbies government and local authorities to tackle light pollution and also highlight which ‘dark sky’ areas need to be protected and enhanced by strong policies. In short, Star Count is fun and it can help protect one of the greatest wonders of the world: a dark sky glittering with stars.
This year’s Star Count is being held next month. From Saturday, February 6, to Sunday, February 14, CPRE, the countryside charity, is asking citizen scientists – that’s all of us! – to choose a clear night, look to the skies and see how many stars we can spot within Orion. If you don’t know where Orion is, we will be offering a guiding hand between now and Star Count. We’ll keep you posted! It’s a fantastic, easy piece of stargazing for children and adults alike – no telescopes are required – and can be done safely from your garden, balcony or bedroom window. We are holding this event as star-filled skies provide one of the most magical sights our natural world has to offer. We want to reconnect people across the country with the wonder of a truly dark sky. CPRE research shows light pollution is leaving fewer stars than ever visible to the naked eye – and we need your help to track how light levels are changing. We will keep you informed throughout, but the first thing we’d like you to do is register your interest in Star Count 2021. You can do that here We’ll catch up soon. Until then, keep safe. To read about last year’s Star Count, click here
We are indebted to Liz Garnett for today’s rather special contribution to Kent, Our Kent. Liz takes up the story: “I am a photographer based in Brabourne, near Ashford, and before lockdown I was part of a group of artists walking the Augustine Camino pilgrimage route from Rochester to Ramsgate. “We have paused our journey and in the meantime my personal journey is one of exploring the natural landscape in my garden and in the hedgerows of my little corner of rural Kent.” Hopefully, Liz and friends will be donning their walking boots before too long and resuming their wanderings.
To learn more of A Creative Pilgrimage, click here
Sophie Shotter provides the latest image for Kent, Our Kent, the feature that during lockdown has been celebrating the best of our county. “This is the beautiful view at Teston I pass on my way to work every day,” said Sophie. Thanks for sharing, Sophie!
Something a little different in today’s Kent, Our Kent… two delightful poems from Peter Bailey. The Pilgrims’ Way celebrates one of the nation’s walking trails, while Ode to Lenham nods to the dark threat of a new town threatening to envelop the village.
We’re gratetful to Mike Cockett for sending in a couple of lovely shots from his garden to embellish our Kent, Our Kent feature. “Too late to catch the clematis armandii,” says Mike. No matter, these shots are just the job.