- About AONBs
- Get involved
Organised by the Kent Downs AONB Partnership
Under the Conference theme of Shaping the Long View, the Kent Downs AONB Partnership has organised a series of site visits which afford delegates an opportunity to see a wide range of initiatives and projects relating to themes in Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan (YEP) and the Welsh Government’s Natural Environment Act. The themes we will be covering are
The Site visits are designed to provoke lively debate and an exchange of views to feed into the conference plenary and briefing sessions. The findings from the Site visits will also help develop the thinking with regards what the AONBs can offer to support the aspirations of the 25 YEP and Natural Resources Act (Wales).
The modes of transport and time allocated to travel have been included in the brief descriptions so that you can make an informed choice based on your preferences.
Delegates with special needs/access requirements are advised to enquire about the suitability of the Site visit in advance. For further information please contact the leader detailed.
Please note that these site visits are optional. They will take place on Tuesday 24thJuly starting at 12 noon. If you wish to join one of the site visits please indicate your choice on the online booking form.
Heritage Coasts are much loved by the nation and many of them form the coastal extent of the UK’s AONBs and National Parks. Whilst mentioned in the NPPF, there is less focus on Heritage Coasts than previously. The ”Hobhouse” review detailed in the 25 YEP, along with experience from Welsh colleagues, presents an opportunity to think about their place in the future of Protected Landscapes.
The site visit will take us to the two Kent Heritage Coasts and will include the White Cliffs of Dover – voted the nation’s favourite coast – following the England Coast Path and North Downs Way National Trail. We will see the work of the Kent Downs AONB Partnership-initiated ‘Up on the Downs’ Landscape Partnership, the National Trust, and the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership. We will look at a volunteer-led conservation plan for an important lighthouse led by Canterbury Archaeological Trust, underground defences – excavated by volunteers – and visitor management where issues of over-visiting are affecting the European wildlife importance of the area.
Continuing along a less well-managed area of Heritage Coast, our discussions will include issues on protective ownership and engaging land owners with differing agendas.
The site visit will show some great examples of people engagement, land management, and the contrast between a Heritage Coast in ‘protective ownership’ and one in disparate ownership. We will discuss the French approach of Government having the opportunity to buy French coastal areas, when on market, and consider whether this could/should be replicated in the UK post-Brexit. We will also discuss the North Downs Way work with VisitBritain as part of the Discover England Fund project and consider the extensive seascape character assessment for the Strait of Dover that the AONB Partnership has taken forward.
Outputs and Outcomes
The aim of this site visit is to create debate about the place of Heritage Coasts in the Protected Landscapes Family – drawing from what we see on the ground and what delegates bring from their own experience.
We will produce key points for the “Hobhouse” review and suggest a new, contemporary future for Heritage Coasts.
We hope to spawn a new coastal protected landscapes network to discuss opportunities to promote protected seascapes.
Difficulty: Moderate rolling cliff-top walk about 3.5km chalk paths which can be slippery when wet. Take walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Lunch at Mrs Knotts tea room at the South Foreland Lighthouse (thus called as many generations of the Knott family kept the lighthouse)
Travel: Coach or minibus and cliff walking followed by short transfers for hop off – short walk – hop on visits.
Outbound – Noon – leave UKC to St Margaret’s at Cliff (35 mins). Cliff top walk 3.5km. Short transfers during the afternoon.
Return – Return from Folkestone to UKC (40 mins) arriving at UKC 6.30pm.
Max group size: 20
Further details: Nick Johannsen [email protected] 01303 815170
The Kent Downs is (was) an ash dominated landscape and is one of the UK landscapes currently most affected by Ash Dieback. We will visit local areas looking at seriously affected woodlands as well as trees outside woods. Delegates will see for themselves the impact of Ash Dieback can and probably will be in their landscapes. It has proved incredibly important for people to see what the impact of Ash dieback really is, so they can apply the learning to their own landscapes and resources. Delegates will see and discuss the various interventions of the innovative Ash Project – this will include Ash to Ash landmark sculptures by the international artists Ackroyd and Harvey (subject to planning permission). We will also discuss the links between arts, cultural and natural heritage approaches, share lessons and learning, and consider the early approaches to landscape recovery we are testing in Kent.
Outputs and Outcomes: Ash Dieback and tree disease is or will be a major issue for many protected landscapes. The impact is being felt first in some of the UK’s eastern landscapes and particularly those on the chalk.
We aim to demonstrate to participants what the likely impact will be, discuss some of the thinking we have developed with others both from a landscape management and community engagement point of view to mitigate the impact.
Our aim is that the scale of the issue is communicated widely by delegates, shared approaches to responding to the impact are generated and an offer prepared in the context of the 25 YEP and Natural Environment Act (Wales).
Difficulty: Easy short walks (max 1 mile) to ash dieback affected areas. Take walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Picnic lunch provided by UKC. Afternoon tea provided during the site visit
Travel: Minibus/coach and walking
Outbound – Noon – leave UKC. Short transfers to affected areas.
Return – Return to UKC 6.30pm.
Max group size: 25
Exploring The North Downs Way National Trail and how the Pilgrimage Story can Support Walking Services and Experience
The North Downs Way National Trail runs the length of the Kent Downs AONB and largely mirrors the Pilgrims Way – the medieval route to Canterbury for followers of Thomas Becket – one of medieval Europe’s largest pilgrimage destinations.
European Pilgrimage destinations have recently seen a huge increase in visits from people of faith and no-faith alike. The biggest growth of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain is amongst the non-religious. A BBC radio documentary and a major new economic study has charted the impressive rural regeneration in northern Spain linked to the massive success of the ‘Camino’ the pilgrim route made famous in Martin Sheen’s film ‘The Way’.
With Kent’s rich pilgrim and ecclesiastical heritage embedded in the landscape, can the pilgrimage narrative support the development of business and heritage assets to enrich and support the walkers experience across protected landscapes? The North Downs Way National Trail and the Kent Downs AONB Partnership-led Green Pilgrimage project are working together to explore this opportunity and have been working in partnership with pilgrim routes across Europe to explore the worlds’ fastest growing tourism sector (UNWTO). This visit is about using access and tourism to secure investment in the landscape and its heritage features – rural churches etc. It also shares learning from a wide variety of other European countries around what works in walking tourism and how we might benefit from the global pilgrimage phenomenon.
The visit will concentrate on exploring the Canterbury to Dover Section of the North Downs Way, which is also the Via Francigena route Canterbury to Rome, the UK’s only walking European Cultural Route. Using a combination of Rail and Trail, we will take in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Canterbury Cathedral, remote heritage churches seeking to provide services for walkers, Walkers are Welcome Mini Workshop for participants and possibly local businesses, pub lunch, Discover England Fund Itinerary Development, discussion on mitigating less attractive sections of Trail and Linking Coastal Regeneration to National Trail and Landscape promotion
Output and outcomes– This visit is about using access and tourism to secure investment in the landscape and its heritage features – rural churches etc. It also shares learning from a wide variety of other European Countries around what works in walking tourism and how we might benefit from the global pilgrimage phenomenon.
Difficulty: 3 hours easy walking (up to 10Km) on National Trail. Bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear
Meals: Rural pub lunch
Travel: Rail and Trail
Outbound: Noon – leave UKC on foot to Canterbury Station. Short train journeys combined with walking during the afternoon.
Return: Short train journeys combined with walking return around 6.30 pm
Max group size: 20
Further details: Catherine Bradley [email protected] 01303 815172
Hosted by the Woodland Trust this visit takes us to Longbeech Wood. As a recent Woodland Trust Demonstration site where an open book approach has been developed to consider innovative woodland management approaches, we will see how they are responding to PAWs issues, tree health, deer management and generating profitable forestry management in combination with landscape and access management. The visit will then go to the Hucking Estate, a significant landscape restoration site owned by the Woodland Trust within the Kent Downs AONB.
Both sites respond to critical issues in landscape management and significant pressures particularly on our wooded landscapes. The Hucking Estate is an example of how we might generate a recovery plan in a damaged landscape (for instance in response to tree disease, or in this case in response to ‘power farming’). Whilst Ash Dieback is not a theme of this trip there will be clear impacts as you visit the landscape.
Output and outcome – delegates will learn about managing forestry in an economic and sensitive manner and learn about the Woodland Trusts’ Demonstration Sites Programme. The site visit will also consider approaches to landscape recovery plans, something which will be necessary in the future.
Meals: Pub lunch
Travel arrangements: minibus
Departure time from University of Kent: Noon – leave UKC for Longbeech Wood (20 mins). Walk to Wagon and Horses Pub for lunch (10 mins), tour of Longbeech (105 mins)
Difficulty and site conditions: 2 easy/moderate walks of 2.5km and 3.5km along mainly flat rough grass/earth tracks with minor trip hazards (stones/shallow ruts/mud). 2 x 2 short moderately steep slopes into a dry valley.
Take walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Max group size: 25
Further details: Clive Steward [email protected] 0343 7705766 / 07775 817278
The geographical position of the Kent Downs AONB makes it in the vanguard of new crops. We will visit vineyards, apricot orchards, flower oil and other new and novel crop sites, reflecting on the similarities and differences to traditional landscapes of orchards, hops, grazing and arable farming. We will also look at the landscape impact of managing sensitive crops in the landscape – considering poly tunnels, hail guards etc. Most of our Protected Landscapes will see new crops developing in the landscape and the visit will consider how these might be managed to generate new benefits.
We expect that the new and novel crops being seen in the Kent Downs AONB will soon be much more commonly found in other Protected Landscapes.
This visit will consider how new Environmental Land Management schemes might respond to new cropping and new opportunities. We will also consider how these new crops could contribute to creating, conserving and enhancing valued landscapes.
Outputs and Outcomes – Delegateswill see at first hand some of the opportunities and threats generated by new crops, especially where they are sensitive to the UK climate. We will take a moment to contrast the much-valued traditional orchards with new approaches and seek a response from a landscape character perspective
Difficulty: easy short walks on lowland farmland. Take walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Picnic lunch provided by UKC.
Travel: Coach/ mini bus and walking
Outbound – Noon – leave UKC. 30 mins to first stop; 30 mins to each of the two further stops and 40 mins to return.
Return – Return to UKC 6.30pm.
Max group size: 25
Further details: Pippa Palmar [email protected] 01303 815170
Illegal and inappropriate access to the landscape is an issue for many Protected Landscapes. In the Medway Valley the Kent Downs AONB Partnership has led an innovative approach to managing some extreme examples of this activity working with the police, communities and landowners to run the ‘securing the landscape partnership’. The AONB Partnership and North Downs Way National Trail jointly manage a strategic coordination group which applies the Police National Intelligence model to a rural area – the first time this has happened. The partners jointly fund a countryside PCSO who is a critical part of the success. The area of the Kent Downs AONB which is covered by the Securing the Landscape Partnership is also the home to some extraordinary landscape resources whose management is now much easier as a result of the intervention. We will be joined by Heritage England’s national head of heritage crime and policing to speak to the group about their work and how the AONB Family can build on work that has been achieved with the National Park Family.
The site visit will include
Outputs and Outcomes: Delegates will see at first hand an innovative and demonstrably successful approach to reducing rural crime – so much so that the programme is paid for by the local communities and land owners, not the AONB Partnership). We will discuss the transferability of this approach to other areas.
We will look at innovative wildlife friendly farming and consider how important reducing rural crime has been to achieving investment in the landscape. We will also discuss approaches to how to celebrate and encourage best practice in farm management.
Difficulty: moderate 45 minute walk in lowland farmland and woodland followed by a 2 hour easy walk around the Ranscombe Farm Reserve. Take walking shoes, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Lunch at Court Farm
Travel: Coach/ mini bus and walking
Outbound – Noon – leave UKC to Court Farm for lunch (50 mins). Transfer (5 min) to first site visit followed by 1 hour walk, transfer to Ranscombe Farm (5mins) 2 hour walk. 45 mins return.
Return – Return to UKC approx 6.30pm.
Max group size: 25
Further details: Rick Bayne [email protected] 01634 242826 / 07811 740976