World class wildlife habitats
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Kearsney Parks lie in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The ecology of the parks has been shaped by the River Dour, a spring-fed, fast-flowing chalk stream. Water is also an important feature of the designed landscapes throughout the parks.
The River Dour - a rare chalk stream
The River Dour is the 'green artery' than runs through Dover. From a groundwater aquifer in the Alkham Valley, the River Dour runs for four miles through the Kearsney Parks, into the town, and then out into the English Channel at Wellington Dock in Dover Harbour.
The River Dour is a rare habitat for flora and fauna, one of only 200 chalk streams in the world. Permeating through the chalk of the North Downs, the Dour has exceptional water quality along with a stable temperature that supports the most significant colony of brown trout in south east England. The name Kearsney is derived from the French cressonnière, a place where watercress grows.
The water quality of the River Dour is excellent due to natural filtering through the chalk beds of the Downs. This supports a rich mix of botanical and invertebrate life. Plants such as river water crowfoot and starworts can be seen mid-channel, whilst watercress and lesser water parsnip can be found along the margins, along with lush bankside vegetation. The stable flow and temperature of the River Dour also support notable fisheries, including a significant colony of brown trout. Pond dipping is a popular activity with children.
The parks' water courses provide a perfect habitat for a wide range of waterfowl, including mallard, coot, and moorhen. Kearsney Abbey is renowned for its population of mute swans which are resident year-round and can be seen nesting on the islands on the ornamental lakes. If you're lucky you may also see a Kingfisher!
With an abundance of trees and close proximity to water, the Kearsney parks are also an ideal environment for bats, including the common pipistrelle and noctule, which can be seen feeding over the lakes at dusk.
The Kearsney Parks have a fine collection of specimen and designed tree planting, including Beech, Lime and Yew. An avenue of lime trees forms a natural amphitheatre leading to the open air theatre opened in Kearsney Abbey in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain.
Kearsney Abbey also contains some heritage trees, including a Cedar of Lebanon which is believed to be one of the oldest specimens in the country, and a rare, semi-evergreen, Lucombe Oak.