Elmley National Nature Reserve
To the best of my knowledge, I have only been to the Isle of Sheppey twice. The first time, several years ago, was to view a small house that I was thinking of renting. I didn’t stay long; my abiding memory is of the flimsy curtain separating the bedroom and bathroom. Thankfully, my second, recent visit to the island, this time to Elmley National Nature Reserve (NNR), was much more successful. The Reserve, situated on the south part of the Isle of Sheppey, is easy to find and immediately striking. From the moment we turned onto the two mile access road to the car park, we knew we were visiting somewhere special.
Elmley is the only NNR that is owned and managed by a farming family. Covering a huge area, it is a fresh water grazing marsh reserve and home to a variety of wildlife; birds, insects, mammals (water voles and hares, for example), lizards… There are four hides available to visitors, and two miles of trails from the car park to the far end of the reserve, some a little easier to navigate than others, with wellies definitely recommended for the second mile!
On this visit, my sister and I stayed for about four hours but still didn’t quite make it to the end of the trail, perhaps because I made her stop every few steps so that I could take another photograph! The landscape was fascinating and ever-changing as the sun appeared and disappeared behind the clouds. I have no doubt that my camera and I – and probably a sister or two! – will be back soon.