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13th March, 2022

“Samphire Hoe Winter Wildlife Walk” Gini’s blog

Samphire Hoe near Dover was created more than 25 years ago from the spoils of digging the Euro Tunnel. It has since become a Nature reserve with lots of unique wildlife in the chalky grasslands. The site is managed by rangers and volunteers who run nature tours and other activities throughout the year. We signed up for a Winter Wildlife Walk.

The entrance is through a long tunnel under the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover. We arrived and found a Disabled Parking spot in the carpark and then headed to the rangers office to find Ranger Paul. Those who had not bought binoculars were handed some to use. We headed off along the accessible path and through the wooden gate into the Nature Reserve. It’s worth mentioning that one section is a little steep so some scooters or wheelchair users might struggle, but not a problem for my TGA Zest Plus. There is another route down to the sea wall which is a zig zag path and that is fine for all wheeled users.  On a clear day you can see France as well as watch the busy shipping lane and ferries crossing the Channel.

Our first encounter was to see the many sheep which graze the pasture, we were all given the task to count them along the route. Which proved tricky as they didn’t keep nice and still, but not one was missing with the final count. We also saw the cattle herd too.

Ranger Paul expertly pointed out the Stonechats which we observed through our binoculars. And shared lots of knowledge and stories about the reserve. We all admired the beauty of the landscape and the chalk Cliffs as we headed towards the beach. At the beach, the children and families joined in a Scavenger Hunt for items washed up on the shore. Some also helped with litter picking along the shore too as so much rubbish ends up on our beaches as high tide.

Amongst the items found were Mermaids Purses which are egg sacks from fish related to the Shark family such as Dog fish and Ray’s. There was lots of seaweed too and interesting pebbles.  The beach unfortunately is inaccessible to wheeled users so I remained on the sea wall watching from afar and enjoying the atmosphere.

The path back was also accessible and the group stopped to observe another Stonechat who had actually caught some and were trying to find a good spot to eat it.  We had all hoped to see the Peregrine Falcons that nest here…they are the fastest bird in the world reaching speeds of 200 mph. Back at base there is a visitors centre, some picnic benches and a cafe for a hot drink and some snacks as well as a Disabled (RADAR Key) toilet. The sun eventually peeped through the grey clouds and at the end of the tour we were blessed with a stunning sunset.

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