News from the Hoe

    2017

  • 6 June – Orchid profusion

    Orchid profusion

    If you want to see Common Spotted Orchids and in some profusion, then Samphire Hoe is the place! The common spotted orchids are looking stunning right now at the beginning of June. The flowers range from almost white through to vivid pink and have distinctive darker pink spots on the lips. The flower spike of the attractive plant can grow to 60cm tall. They are in bloom between June and August. This is bar far the most frequently encountered orchid in the South and South east of Britain, including o chalk grassland and on sea cliffs. They are looking stunning at the moment as they carpet some part of Samphire Hoe with their delicate pink spikes. What is amazing to remember is that these orchids now grow in wide swathes where it was once an industrial work site at time of the construction of the Channel Tunnel.

  • 27 May – Samphire Hoe has got the Blues!

    Samphire Hoe has got the Blues

    May has been a wonderful month for weather with many warm sunny days. This has been greatly beneficial for butterflies, in particular the blues. During the month four species have been recorded. The most abundant is the Common Blue which have pale-purple upper wings. The males Adonis Blue are electric blue like the colour of a kingfisher’s back. The Holly Blue can be seen around bushes and last but not least the diminutive Small Blue which is not much bigger than a five pence coin. Blue butterflies may be found from May to September at Samphire Hoe as they are most characteristic of chalk grassland.

  • 12 March - Art in the Shelter

    Spring is in the air at Samphire Hoe

    The famous wild flower artist Anne Pratt lived in Dover and created wonderful illustrations of flowers, which were published in a number of books. Following her inspiration, on 12 March a water colour flower painting workshop was organised in Samphire Hoe Education Shelter and led by Steve Walker who was very impressed with the amazing results achieved by the participants. It goes to show what fantastic talents people of all ages are capable of when they get the chance to use quality paints and have the time and space to paint.

  • 5 March 2017 – Spring is in the air at Samphire Hoe

    Spring is in the air at Samphire Hoe

    We all look forward to the arrival of spring. For most of the people it is heralded by the flowering of daffodils and crocuses in gardens an parks. At Samphire Hoe, hearing the ‘pipping’ calls and watching the parachuting display flight of meadow pipits over the grassland and rock pipits along the cliffs is a sure sign that spring is on the way.

  • 15 February 2017 – Art display in the education shelter

    Art display in the education shelter

    The Temple Ewell Art Group from Dover put on a wonderful exhibition of their art work in the Education Shelter. The theme was coast and countryside and was enjoyed by visitors to the Hoe between Saturday 11 to Monday 13 February. Colin Smithen, the Chairperson of the group, was delighted with the exhibition and the positive comments received from all the visitors.

  • 15 January 2017 - Magical creature at Samphire Hoe

    Magical creature at Samphire Hoe

    On 15 January, more than 50 people came along to Samphire Hoe to the "Create Your Own Imaginary Magical Creature" family event.
    To get into the creative mood, everyone gathered around the warm cracking fire and listened to stories of the Samphire Hoe sea monster and the strange world of the kelp flies. The children then made their own imaginary creatures using seashore pebbles, pipe cleaners and wriggly eyes. It was all down to creative minds, skilful hands and painting. And according to Steve Walker from the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, "it was absolutely amazing to see the creatures that emerged from their imaginations. Everyone who attended really enjoyed the event. Proof that Samphire Hoe offers some fun activities for people of all ages!

  • 10 January 2017 - Samphire Hoe gets special recognition from national scheme

    Samphire Hoe gets special recognition from national scheme

    Samphire Hoe is celebrating after receiving a Special Award for Innovation from the Green Flag Award Scheme. The award recognises the benefit that the Education Shelter has brought to the Hoe and the local community. Samphire Hoe is owned by Eurotunnel and managed together with the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership.

    The natural reserve obtained its 12th Green Flag recognition in July 2016. Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status. In 2016, 1,686 parks and green spaces have been awarded the Green Flag and Green Flag Community Award.

    The Education Shelter is an exciting new addition to Samphire Hoe. This unique building with recycled railway sleeper wall and spruce cladding provides not only a space for visitors to escape from the weather but also a place where people can learn about and participate in the local area’s rich landscape, wildlife and history. There are a regular series of changing exhibitions and displays. The addition of the Education Shelter makes Samphire Hoe the ideal place for schools to visit and learn about their local environment.

    Following the Green Flag Award judges’ visit, Paul Holt said: “We are delighted to have been given a Special Award for Innovation. The Education Shelter has made a huge difference at the Hoe. The exhibitions have been changed every two months and we have been able to hold a great variety of exciting events.
    Paul Todd, Green Flag Award Scheme manager said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in Samphire Hoe, a worthy winner of the Special Award for Innovation. Research has proved that quality parks and green spaces play a vital role within their local communities. Samphire Hoe Education Shelter is a perfect example of this.

  • January 2017 - Samphire Hoe's best photographs awarded

    Samphire Hoe's best photographs awarded

    In November and December the exhibition in the Education Shelter was of 32 photographs taken by the rangers at Samphire Hoe. During the course of the two months exhibition visitors had the opportunity to vote for their favourite three. Almost 800 votes were cast. The most popular was “Sunrise over the Hoe” (see image by James Kirby followed by “Monster wave” by Martin Collins and then “Golden fleece” by Phil Smith. James Kirby said: “I am delighted that the amazing sunrise I photographed at the Hoe proved to be the most popular”.

  • 2016

  • 21 December 2016 - Samphire Hoe Education Shelter short listed

    Samphire Hoe Education Shelter short listed

    On 21 December 2016, the Samphire Hoe Education Shelter was short listed for the Kent Design and Development Awards and was a regional finalist in the Civic Trust Awards. Lucy Donoghue from the Lee Evans Partnership company said: “The fact that we were shortlisted for both these awards is a fabulous achievement and a testament to the hard work everyone has put in to make the Education Shelter such a successful space”. Paul Holt from the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership commended this achievement and acknowledged the Education Shelter as a great place fully deserving the recognition that these short listings represent.

  • December 2016 - A cattle egret seen at Samphire Hoe

    The new Education Shelter teaching room

    The field above the entrance to Samphire Hoe is part owned by Eurotunnel and is enigmatically known as the RAT lands; less romantically explained as Road Access Tunnel land. This field was once arable, then part of the tunnel construction works and is now returning to chalk grassland. In the autumn and early winter cattle graze the field. On Saturday 3 December the 15 cows were joined for the day by a cattle egret; a rare visitor to Kent. Unlike other egrets and herons cattle egrets often associate with livestock feeding on the insects which are disturbed from the grassland by the cattle. Paul Holt, Officer for the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership said : "it was a delight to see this rare bird, there has only ever been one other record in the local area. In recent years cattle egrets are occurring more frequently in England and it is possible they will follow little egrets to become a regular occurrence in Kent".

  • November 2016 - Samphire Hoe Education Shelter Award

    The new Education Shelter teaching room

    The Samphire Hoe Education Shelter has been highly commended in the 2016 Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) Award for excellence in Architectural Technology.This national award is run on an annual basis.
    Paul Holt from the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership said: ‘"We are delighted that the Samphire Hoe Education Shelter has been highly commended, it recognises the great architectural work by the Lee Evans Partnership."
    Lucy Donoghue from Lee Evans Partnership said: "This is a national award and the ‘Highly Commended’ title is an excellent achievement, more-so considering the category it was entered into was for projects with an infinite construction budget, so it was up against some very strong competition."

  • November 2016 – Drama offshore from Samphire Hoe

    On Sunday the 20November winds gusted to 80mph on the white cliffs. During the storm the Saga Sky a 200m general cargo ship lost power and drifted offshore from the Hoe. Remarkably out of all the wide open sea it managed to hit a rock barge which was anchored firm. This appears to have stopped it from coming closer to the Hoe or onto the rocks at the base of the cliffs. 11 of the 23 crew were air lifted to safety both the Dover and Dungeness lifeboats were present to help if needed. Eventually the engines were restarted and the damaged ship separated from the rock barge and it moved to safer water, no doubt soon heading off for repairs.
  • October 2016 – Stunning sunrise and sunset at Samphire Hoe

    As the autumn progresses, the sun begins to rise later and set earlier in the day and one of the joys of Samphire Hoe. Amazing sunrises and sunsets are back and Samphire Hoe is one of the fabulous place to watch them with stunning cliff and sea views. With various intensity of pink, orange and red colours, every sunrise and sunset is different and the autumn is the perfect time to come to Samphire Hoe for walks. Sunrise or sunset, dawn or dusk, morning or evening, you can pick the part of the day that suits you best at the Hoe.
  • 18 September 2016 – Annual Wildlife Migration Day at Samphire Hoe

    On 18 September, many birdwatchers kept their eyes peeled for migratory birds who make their way to and from Kent’s shores between Hythe and Kingsdown, including Samphire Hoe. The many sightings of migratory birds were then tweeted in real time at #wildifemigrationday. Observations were plotted and logged at Samphire Hoe Education Shelter. In total, 67 species were recorded with over 5,750 birds reported. One of the most surprising sightings was that of a yellow browed warbler at Samphire Hoe.
    This tiny bird the size of a wren breeds in Siberia and winters in China, so for one to be seen at the Hoe was a long way off course. Tens of visitors and wildlife enthusiasts took part in the wildlife guided walks organised at Samphire Hoe that day.
  • August – Big Summer festival at Samphire Hoe!

    The Big Summer Bash which celebrated the end of the fortnight of Up On The Downs Big Summer festival was held at Samphire Hoe on 7 August. The festival provides ways for local people and visitors to enjoy the local landscape and wildlife. Over 400 people attended and joined in the fun with face painting, coastal collage, music, theatre and delicious food stalls. The evening was rounded off by a projection onto the cliffs of photos taken during the festival as well as a film by well know wildlife film maker Richard Taylor-Jones ‘The Return of the Ravens’ to the White Cliffs of Dover. Suitable for all ages, families and individuals, this event was truly magical!
  • July 2016 – Green Flag raised at Samphire Hoe for the 12th time!

    In July Samphire Hoe won its 12th Green Flag Award®. This award is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK. Launched in 1996 to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country, the first awards were given in 1997 and, many years later, it continues to provide the benchmark against which our parks and green spaces are measured.
    Samphire Hoe is one of those achieving for the 12th consecutive year high environmental standards and setting a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas. Samphire Hoe nature reserve is judged against eight key criteria: a welcoming place, healthy safe and secure, clean and well maintained, sustainability, conservation and heritage, and community involvement. The team at Samphire Hoe is delighted with this 12th award which proves once more that the Hoe is a safe and welcoming place to visit.
  • June – Samphire Hoe : a great place to go rock pooling

    As the summer term progresses, the number of school groups visiting the Hoe have been increasing. One of the most popular activities is rock pooling. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to discover about wildlife along the Kent coast and a world that changes from being deep under water to exposed to the elements. The creatures of the rock pools are adapted to this challenging environment. The children love to find shore crabs and some have been lucky enough to have found edible crab and even squid this year.
  • May – Early spider orchids growing wild at Samphire Hoe

    Following on from a surprisingly low number of early spider orchids seen in 2015, this year saw an increase in numbers to over 4,700. Orchid fans were travelling from as far away as the Shetland Islands to come and see them. The early spider orchid is quite a small plant with a flower that looks like the body of an orb spider, hence its name. Depending on the weather, it usually comes in to flower in April and continues to bloom until June. The flowers are intricately marked and show considerable variety in pattern. The plants are pollinated by male andrena bees which are tricked into mating with the flower by an attractive female bee like pheromone. For their efforts the bees get a pollen sack stuck onto their heads and then go onto be fooled in mating with another flower and hence pollinating it.

    Download PDF largeSamphireHoe – Earlyspider orchids
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  • April – Ravens croaking calls at Samphire Hoe

    Only in the last decade or so have ravens returned to Kent having been absent for over 100 years. The first sightings at Samphire Hoe were of two birds flying along the cliffs in 2006. Since then sightings have become more regular and the deep guttural croaking calls have become part of the cliffs soundscape . The highlight of April 2016 was the discovery of a pair nesting on Shakespeare Cliff just to the east of the Hoe. No doubt a species that the great bard himself would have been familiar with. The pair successfully fledged two chicks.
  • 24 March – First sighting of wheatears at Spring time

    Every year, the arrival of Spring is eagerly anticipated at Samphire Hoe. One of the first heralds of the season are wheatears. These small upright birds winter in Central Africa and migrate north to their breeding grounds on the uplands and moors of Britain and even the high Arctic, passing through the Hoe on their journey. The name wheatear come from the old Anglo Saxon for ‘white bottom’ which is obvious when they fly. Each year the volunteer Rangers who help at the Hoe place a sealed bid stating the date that they think the first wheatear will be seen. Whoever gets closest wins a small prize. This year, Phil Boakes got the closest and won a small prize with the first sighting of wheatears on 24 March.
  • 14 & 21 February – Samphire Hoe and the megaflood

    Samphire Hoe has organised two event in February on the Megaflood: the first one ꞋCave Art of the megafloodꞋ workshop took place on 14 February and the second on the Science of the megaflood.
    On 14 February, 40 people attended the Cave art of the megaflood workshop during which they used cade rat methods to make pictures that told the story of how Britain became separated from mainland Europe, and therefore an island, as a result of a catastrophic flood around 200,000 years ago.

    It is thought that humans at that time may have witnessed the even taking place and used cave art to share their stories.
    During the workshop, a variety of different techniques were used to make handprints similar to those that have been found in caves across the world. Attendants made their own pigment and used cloths to paint pictures of animals that may have been around at that time: the saber-toothed tiger was very popular!
    The following Sunday, on 21 February, 35 people came along to the education shelter at Samphire Hoe to discover the science of the megaflood. With the help of some eager young scientists, attendants recreated stages of the megaflood which included the moment when the water broke through. They all took part in a walk around Samphire Hoe and learned how a plunge pool is made, how strong the water is and how strange tear drop shaped islands on the sea floor are formed.
  • 8 February – Samphire Hoe withstands storm Imogen

    Monday 8 February 2016 was a stormy and wild day at Samphire Hoe.

    The storm named Imogen struck the south coast of England with great force. The peak wind speed was 96mph recorded at the needles on the Isle of White.

    Some impressive waves (as illustrated on the photos) crashed onto the sea wall during the afternoon.



    Paul Holt, the Partnership Officer for Samphire Hoe, said: ""It was amazing to watch the waves hammering into the sea wall. A number of people actually came to visit the Hoe just to see the dramatic seascapes. But we made sure that all of them watched from a safe distance."

    2015

  • Blooming Samphire Hoe awarded!

    As a part of the South and South East in Bloom Awards 2015, Samphire Hoe has received a gold award in the "Country Park of the Year" category in October.

    With a hundreds of communities involved each year, The South & South East in Bloom campaign is the largest horticultural campaign in the region: the goal chased by participating communities was to create lasting improvements to their local environment, for the benefit of those that live, work and visit. The Hoe has been classed as outstanding, having achieved 85% or more in the judging.

    "We are delighted to have been awarded a gold, stated Paul Holt, from the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership. We would not be able to achieve such a level without all the assistance of the volunteers who help care for Samphire Hoe".

    Participating communities are asked to focus their initiatives on three main areas: horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation. All of the communities tackle everything from litter, graffiti and anti-social behaviour through to conservation, sustainability and improving horticultural standards, which all together highlight the positive impact on sense of place, community spirit and pride.

  • 18 October - Samphire Hoe hosts the second Wildlife Migration Day

    On Sunday 18 October, Samphire Hoe hosted a second Wildlife Migration Day. 76 different species were reported by our wildlife observers, more than double over the previous total. They managed to record 4,120 birds and moths, with many of these arriving into and departing from the country on migration. As in the first Wildlife Migration Day, swallows achieved the victory with 526 seen, down from the 19,623 recorded in September, which indicates that the vast majority has gone. Those small and common birds were followed by the Linnets, with 260 seen and 221 goldfinches. Besides, two guided walks were very well attended, during which great sightings were reported, as a short-eared owl and a dartford warbler.

  • 21 September - Wildlife migration day – Live!

    On Sunday 20 September, Samphire Hoe hosted a special event to see wildlife migration in action.
    25 observers around the local area phoned and tweeted in their sightings which we recorded, then plotted their sightings on a giant map.
    We had two guided walks around Samphire Hoe and hundreds of birds were seen, including swallows which were passing along the cliffs at a rate of 57 a minute!
    It was a great occasion for all with many visitors asking questions about wildlife migration. The observers recorded 31,567 birds and 36 different species. Swallows and house martins achieved top ranking, with respectively 19,623 and 10,857 birds seen.
    Samphire Hoe is holding another Wildlife Migration Day. So come and visit us on Sunday 18 October from 10am to 4pm!

  • 30 July - 11th Green Flag Award for Samphire Hoe

    In July 2015, Eurotunnel has been awarded a Green Flag Award for the 11th year in a row in recognition of its efforts in conservation and community involvement.

    The Green Flag Award is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom. The scheme recognises and rewards green spaces and nature reserves which meet the highest standards. Samphire Hoe has been judged against 8 key criteria: a welcoming place; healthy, safe and secure; clean and well maintained; sustainibility; conservation and heritage; community involvement; marketing; management.
    Over the years, Samphire Hoe has progressively been transformed into a nature reserve with a particularly rich degree of biodiversity.

    The daily management of the site is handled by the White Cliffs Countryside partnership supported by many local volunteers.

  • 22 June - A whole bunch of orchids at Samphire Hoe

    As the spring has turned into summer, the early spider orchids leave way to a different selection of orchids which are coming into flower on the Hoe.

    The most numerous are the common spotted-orchids which are widely distributed across the site. Common this orchid gets its name from the abundant purplish oval spots on its leaves. The flowers range from pale pink through to purple with distinctive darker pink spots on their three-lobed lips. This orchid grows to between 30 to 50 cm tall and the peak flowerig time is June.

    Smaller in height at around 20 cm on average, the pyramidal orchids have a distinct pink cones of flowers. They get their name from the conical or cylindrical shape of the flowers. Once in full bloom they tend to become oval or egg-shaped in appearance. Flowering time is from early June to late July.

    Lastly, bee orchids are regularly seen by the side of the entrance road to the Hoe but occasionally appear in the grassland. From beginning of June to end of July, they display many beautiful bee-like flowers and can grow as tall as 60 cm.

    More about in pictures.

  • 20 May - Only 3,710 early spider orchid plants in 2015

    The early spider orchids count at Samphire Hoe for 2015 reached a total of 3,710 plants compared to 10,297 in 2014, a 60% decrease. Why? If there is no certainty, it may be due to a combination of factors which may have contributed to the low number recorded this year: low pollination rate in 2014 and in previous years, high number of slugs and snails in 2014 following an incredibly mild wet winter 2013/2014, increase in rabbit population, miss match between the flowering time and the emergence of the bee that pollinates the flowers, possible decline in the population of the pollinating bee,...
    There is also a trend seen in past years: after a peak year, the following one sees reduced numbers of plants. If this pattern continues, 2016 should then be a great year for early spider orchids.

    Reminder: it was back in 1998 that the first orchids were found at Samphire Hoe and 67 were counted. The best year so far has been 2006 with 12,399 orchids recorded. More information on the graph.

    However, despite the reduced number recorded this year, it has been a wonderful sight with groups of hundreds of orchids all in bloom.

  • 18 May - Spring is in the air at Samphire Hoe!

    The bird breeding season is in full swing at the Hoe...
    Stonechats, which are a scarce breeding bird in Kent, have done well with three pairsalll havinf fledged young already.
    Linnets have been collecting nesting material to build their nest in the scrub on the cliff. Walks along the base of the cliffs are accompanied by theur twittering song.
    Whitethroats have now returned from Africa and are very busy holding territory along the bottom of the cliffs and on the Hoe. They love bramble patches and on calm days, they deliver a distinctive scratchy song whilst flitting upwards in a display flight.

    More in pictures.

  • April - Early spider orchids at Samphire Hoe: it's spring time!

    Did you know, in 2014, there were over 10,000 colonies of early spider orchids in Samphire Hoe blooming from end of April to May? This rare orchid has a limited distribution in the UK, mainly on the south coast from Kent to Dorset. Variable in shapes and patterns, the flowers look and smell like female andrena bees. So the young male andrena bees are repeatedly tricked into mating with the flower, repeating this on other flowers therefore pollinating them… but all through sexual deception!
    If you are interested in finding out more, come along to the Hoe on 2nd and 3rd May at 2 pm and join in the illustrated talks and guided walks about orchids.
    More detailed information on the Events page of the website

  • March - Flint and fire weekend of events at Samphire Hoe

    To celebrate the end of the 'flint and fire' exhibition which was held in March in the new education shelter, Samphire Hoe organised some related events attended by a crowd of visitors, despite the cold spring weather.
    On Saturday 21 March, a flint knapping workshop was led by a professional knapper from Ancient Craft, James Dilley who has produced replica stone tools for Stonehenge and other museums. 13 people attended the course and learnt how to knap flint into tools, a skill which has been in use for 400,000 years.
    On Sunday, Hannah and Mathew from Natural Pathways gave a demonstration on how to make fire by friction to an attendance of 30 people including children who discover this incredible technique to make fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together. Paul Holt from the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership said that "everyone enjoyed the events and got an insight on how flint and fire played an important role in people's lives".The slight modern twist of toasting marshmallows on the fire was particularly appreciated by the children!
    More about in pictures

  • January - The new Education Shelter teaching room

    The new Education Shelter teaching room

    The new Education Shelter offers a flexible indoor space for general visitors and educational visits. Heating is provided by two wood burning stoves. There are regular exhibitions and events during which you can meet the volunteer rangers and discover more about Samphire Hoe and the surrounding areas.

    Educational visits can also include the offer of a warm indoor space to shelter from the weather. The education room is available for hire. Please contact: 01304 225649.