Our home property is Petts Wood and Hawkwood, where our office and workshop are and where we work from on a daily basis. However we also manage numerous other sites across north west kent, two of which are Wrotham Water Farm and Coldrum Long Barrow. These two properties are only a couple of miles from each other close to the villages of Wrotham Heath and Trottiscliffe.
Wrotham Water covers 435 acres on and at the base of the North Downs. Most of the farm is managed by our tenant farmer, with the majority of land used on an arable basis. The steeper fields at the base and on the face of the Downs however are not suitable for arable farming so these are kept ‘in hand’ and managed directly by us along with woodland on the steep slopes (around 120 acres in all). These fields overlaying the chalk of the Downs are particularly special with no inputs of fertiliser or intensive management. As such they support an incredibly diverse range of wild flowers, insects and birds. The special nature of the site is confirmed by their status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Our work at Wrotham concentrates on keeping these fields as grass (harder than it sounds!) and keeping the sward in a condition that is best for the wide range of flora and fauna. We work hard to prevent the invasion of scrub – species such as wild rose, hawthorn and wayfaring tree are always trying to take hold. We regularly cut and remove these with the help of volunteers. If we disn’t remove scrub the grassland would quite quickly revert to entirely scrub, with the loss of many valuable plants and flowers. Most help however is provided by the sheep and cattle who graze the fields, keeping the sward nice and short and keeping the common coarse grasses under control. The picture above shows highland cattle on the lower slopes of the property. At the moment we have five species of orchid flowering and most visits we see adders and slow worms.
Coldrum Long Barrow is a megalithic burial chamber, one of a group in the Medway area of Kent. Built around 4000 years ago, it is an earthen mound with sarsen stone slabs forming the sides. Inside is a burial chamber, now sealed, but excavated in the early 20th century to reveal the remains of around 20 people. It is one of the most intact chambers remaining in Kent although many of the stones have slumped or moved over the years. From the top of the mound there are wide ranging views across the Medway valley. We have a car park nearby, from which it is a five minute walk to the stones. Our most recent project has been the creation and installation of a new interpretation panel, allowing visitors to understand and better enjoy their visit. The oak panel was funded by Valley of Visions and replaces a very old and tired panel.
Please see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coldrum-long-barrow/ for more information and pictures.