Places to see birds

Cliffe Pools RSPB Reserve

Cliffe Pools RSPB Reserve
Richard Hanman

The Cliffe Project, a consortium of land owners, councils, agencies and interest groups chaired by Medway Council and with Bill Oddie as its patron, worked hard to secure agreement and funding for the whole area to sustain and enhance its wildlife, landscape, cultural and recreation value. The purchase was made possible with generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Robert Brett & Sons Ltd and English Nature, and by the RSPB working in partnership with the Westminster Dredging Company.

Cliffe Pools RSPB is an integral component of the wider Thames Gateway Wild Heritage Area HLF Project and the RSPB now faces the challenge of turning what many see as wasteland into a nature reserve.

Reserve highlights:

With the opening of the new car park there are now two points of entry.

From the car park at the end of Salt Lane follow the tracks shown on the notice board in the car park.

Alternatively, park next to Cliffe church, go through the village, past the Post Office and down Pond Lane. This leads down to Pickles Way track to the fresh and saline lagoons, created as the result of clay extraction from the late 19th century until 1971. These pools together with the grazing marshes, extensive scrub and mature trees are why Cliffe Pools is such a magnet for birds.

The Pickles Way track continues for 2 miles towards the Thames estuary where a public footpath follows the seawall to meet the Saxon Shoreway long distance footpath. This can be followed eastwards back across the centre of the reserve or westwards along the Thames to the RSPB reserves of Higham Bight and Shorne Marshes.

There are two viewing points along the track, the first just past the Black Barn. From these can be seen a wide range of waterfowl including feeding little egrets, breeding shelduck, pochard, avocet, redshank, grebes and lapwing and good wintering populations of shoveler, dunlin and grey plover. The site is also renowned for its spring and autumn passage of waders. A range of species including ruff, green, wood and curlew sandpipers and little stints join nationally-notable numbers of black-tailed godwits. In addition, rarities are regularly seen here.

Raptors can be seen throughout the year, the winter is particularly good with hen harrier, peregrine, merlin and short-eared owls all regular visitors.

Cliffe Pools is a new and developing reserve, which in time will be the centre-point for visitors to the North Kent reserves. In the meantime local shops, pubs and public toilets can be found in Cliffe.

How to get here:

Map reference TQ722757
Postcode: ME3 7SU

From the coast-bound A2, take the A289 near Strood. From the A289 follow the signs for Wainscott and Cliffe onto the B2000. At the T-junction, turn left onto the Lower Rochester Road (B2000) signposted Cliffe and Cooling. At the crossroads, turn left (signposted Higham). Before you enter Cliffe village, take the second left after the round, stone 'Cliffe' village sign (into Rectory Road). Then turn right at the next T-junction and after 600 metres turn left into Salt Lane. Continue along Salt Lane until the road bends sharply to the right - the car park is situated on the left hand side just past the bend.

Alternatively you can park sensibly in the village close to St Helen's Church (behind the Six Bells) in Cliffe village, and walk down Pond Lane onto the reserve. A number of rights of way run through the site (see OS Explorer 163 or the RSPB Cliffe Pools trail guide - contact the reserve for a copy).

For more information contact:

RSPB North West Kent Reserves
Bromhey Farm

Telephone: 01634 222480