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Berengrave Nature Reserve

Photo of Berengrave Nature Reserve in snowMedway Council secured nearly £43,000 to improve access to this former chalk pit, which is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Nature Conservation Interest. Funding from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental) enabled new steps and boardwalks to be built. It opened on 26 April 2006.

The wooden boardwalks and steep steps provide a challenging but rewarding walk around this site, which contains a wide variety of habitats, including:

  • open water areas,
  • reed and sedge beds,
  • willow carr,
  • woodland,
  • grassland,
  • scrub.

The Medway Towns Conservation Volunteers and the Friends of Berengrave continue to ensure that good access to the site is maintained. The Friends of Berengrave have secured a Local Heritage Initiative Grant to research the history of the reserve and install interpretative panels.

You can find the reserve on the Lower Rainham Road, one mile from Riverside Country Park, in Rainham at the junction with Berengrave Lane. There is a small parking area at the entrance.

History

Evidence exists of Stone Age activity, with part of the reserve believed to be a former Roman burial ground. Official records show that Berengrave was an orchard during the 19th century. It became a working chalk pit in at the beginning of the 20th century, when chalk was dug out to make cement at the nearby Rainham Dock. After the pit closed, the area remained relatively undisturbed and was colonised by wild animals and plants.

Berengrave is now owned by Medway Council and is managed as part of Riverside Country Park. As a Local Nature Reserve, its rich and varied wildlife can be protected and its habitats improved by proper management.

Wildlife

The reserve provides a wide variety of habitats, including ponds, reedbed, woodland and grassland, with good views over Motney Reedbeds.

In the central area of the chalk pit, there is a lake area which floods into willow carr and reedbed. In summer, reed and sedge warblers breed here. The willow carr leads to an area of drier woodland, where birds such as chiffchaffs, blackcaps, blue tits, great tits and woodpeckers may be seen.

The glades are open areas within the woodland. Here sunlight can reach the ground and wild flowers flourish. The washmill ponds are relics from when the site was a working chalk pit. Chalk from the pit had to be broken up in the washmills to remove the flint. It could then be baked with clay to produce cement. The washmills now provide a home for frogs, toads and newts, which visit in the spring to lay eggs.

Accessibility

The paths are uneven and will get muddy in wet weather with a boardwalk in one area that includes steps. It is not suitable for buggies.

 

For more information contact us by telephone: 01634 337432 or by email: riversidecp@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Riverside Country Park, Lower Rainham Road, Rainham, Gillingham, Kent ME7 2XH