Ham Street Woods National Nature Reserve



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Ham Street Woods NNR, one of the first NNRs to be designated in 1952, is a fragmented woodland that is a remnant of the larger Orlestone Forest which once covered the Weald. Ham Street Woods is nationally important as a series of broadleaved woodlands supporting outstanding bird and invertebrate communities. The reserve is home to rare moths such as the triangle and silky wave, and butterflies, such as the white admiral. Breeding birds include the rare nightingale and hawfinch, and the reserve is also home to two protected species, the great crested newt and the dormouse. Oak, sweet chestnut, birch, aspen and coppiced hornbeam flourish in the higher parts of the site, while in the valleys ash, hawthorn, hazel and alder thrive. Wild service trees are also found, a good indicator of ancient woodland. In spring the woods are filled with primroses, wood anemones and bluebells, while autumn brings a fabulous feast of fungi.

Ham Street Woods National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Kent

The White Cliffs of Dover are an English icon – the epitome of our island heritage and sense of nationhood. They also mark the point where the Kent Downs AONB, that great arc of chalk downland stretching from the Surrey Hills and sometimes known as ‘the Garden of England’, finally reaches the sea. This is a well-ordered and settled landscape, where chalk and greensand escarpments look down into the wooded Weald to the south.

Many historic parklands, including Knole Park and Sir Winston Churchill’s red-brick former home at Chartwell, are also worth visiting. Attractive settlements such as Charing, site of Archbishop Cranmer’s Tudor palace, and Chilham, with its magnificent half-timbered buildings and 17th-century castle built on a Norman site, can be found on the Pilgrim’s Way, the traditional route for Canterbury-bound pilgrims in the Middle Ages. 

In the nature reserves, such as the traditionally coppiced woodlands of Denge Wood and Earley Wood, and the ancient fine chalk woodland of Yockletts Bank high on the North Downs near Ashford, it is still possible to experience the atmosphere of wilderness that must have been felt by the earliest travellers along this ancient ridgeway.

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