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Originally a rabbit warren in medieval times, Queendown Warren Nature Reserve is 76 hectares of chalk downland renowned for its variety of orchids.
The south-facing slopes of the reserve are a fine example of unimproved chalk grassland. These grasslands typically occur on shallow soils with a high calcium carbonate content and often have an extremely rich flora with up to fifty species in every square metre. Located outside Sittingbourne and managed by Plantlife, herds of Highland cattle and Konik ponies graze here year-round to produce the short sward height needed by its special plants and butterflies.
Orchids thrive in the dry, nutrient-poor conditions associated with chalk downland and ten species are regularly seen at Queendown Warren, including early-spider, burnt, man, fly, and bee orchid. Alongside these, other wild flowers such as yellow-wort, sainfoin and stemless thistle grow in abundance.
The main car park at Warren Lane gives easy access to the East and Main Bank and Potter’s Wood. The Main Bank is best for early spider, bee, fragrant and man orchids. A wide variety of butterflies occur here including the beautiful Adonis blue introduced by Kent Wildlife Trust in 2002. Adders and slow worms are relatively common and glow worms light up the grass on July evenings.
Easy access information
This park and open space contains uneven trails, unsurfaced or narrow pathways. Also, there are width restricting features, such as stiles and narrow gaps making it difficult for visitors with pushchairs and/or wheelchairs to access some parts of the site.