Park Gate Down is an area of ancient chalk grassland on the east side of a dry valley, between the villages of Stelling Minnis and Elham.

This seven hectare area of chalk grassland with scrub and fringing woodland on the east side of a dry valley has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Discover a wealth of wild flowers, some unusual such as the slender bedstraw, adder’s-tongue fern, columbine, musk orchid and the scarce late spider orchid – a Kent speciality. Because of this diverse range of flora, there are butterflies aplenty such as brown argus, common blue, marbled white and ringlet.

In 2007 the site was re-named “Park Gate Down -The Hector Wilks Reserve” in honour of Kent Wildlife Trust’s founder member and former chairman who was responsible for creating a stronghold in Kent for the very rare monkey orchid which is also found here.

The surrounding woodland and scrub attract many feeding and breeding birds, including the nightingale, green and great spotted woodpeckers, yellowhammer, linnet, whitethroat, garden warbler and the occasional hawfinch, sparrowhawk and hobby. In the warmer summer months, you may also spot reptiles such as adder, common lizard and slow worm.

The nature reserve is open at all times and is free to enter. Visit from May to August for the best chance of spotting rare orchids and wild flowers.

Walking routes

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Park Gate Down
Between Stelling Minnis and Elham

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