Samphire Hoe, a place for people and wildlife
Keep up to date with our latest articles and commentary on wildlife and past events.
News in 2022

Eurotunnel has, for the 17th time, been awarded the highly prestigious Green Flag Award® for the 30-hectare Samphire Hoe nature reserve at the foot of the beautiful White Cliffs of Dover.

The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world. It rewards the most outstanding green areas for their high environmental quality and contribution to local communities. In 2020, Samphire Hoe welcomed more than 140,000 visitors who were able to take advantage of the site, including during the lockdown periods.

News in 2021
10 Jun 2021 - 12:00 a.m.

Part of the work of the Rangers is to monitor the wildlife seen at Samphire Hoe.  This year the pyramidal orchids have had a very good flowering season with over 630 counted.  Bee orchids have reached 42 in total and for the second year running, the first fragrant orchid to be seen has flowered.  This takes the number of species of orchid recorded on the site to six.

08 May 2021 - 12:00 a.m.

Cattle have returned to graze on the field by the entrance to Samphire Hoe, near the road access tunnel. At one time this was an arable field but is now reverting to chalk grassland. This year the cattle which are grazing are the rare breed English Longhorns, comprising 20 adults and 16 calves.  They are large brown and white cattle with an impressive sweep of horns that curve down to around the nose. They are known for their calm temperament.  On top of being a wonderful sight on top of the White Cliff of Dover, this great initiative also promotes rare breed cattle, benefits wild flowers and enhance biodiversity!

18 Apr 2021 - 12:00 a.m.

On 5 April, one of the Rangers was fortunate enough to see a white-tailed eagle circle above Samphire Hoe.  It was mobbed by a buzzard which looked small in comparison.  White-tailed eagles are massive, with a wing-span of up to 2.4m.  This bird was one from the reintroduction scheme on the Isle of Wight.  The newly released young birds often explore for a year before returning to their home area to breed.  Perhaps one day they might return as a breeding bird in Kent.

20 Mar 2021 - 12:00 a.m.

Every year the sightings of wildlife mark the changing of the seasons.  In March, the Rangers wait with anticipation for the first Wheatears to be seen.  A sure sign that Spring is on its way.  These beautiful birds pass through on their Spring and Autumn migrations.  A few pairs breed at Dungeness in Kent and the ones seen at Samphire Hoe may be even travelling as far north as Greenland.  They are often seen perching on fence posts or running along the paths, and when flying show a large white rump.

16 Jan 2021 - 12:00 a.m.

Happy New Year to all our visitors.  We look forward to welcoming you at Samphire Hoe in 2021.  Even in the depth of winter, there can be amazing wildlife sights.  On quiet winter days cormorants perch on the lip of the sea wall resting between feeding.  On a number of recent days there have been impressive numbers of cormorants feeding offshore from Samphire Hoe.  They are being attracted by shoals of fish and a ‘feeding frenzy’ ensues as several hundred dive and feed on mass.

07 Feb 2021 - 12:00 a.m.

Being right on the coast, Samphire Hoe often avoids snow. However this year with bitter cold temperatures and snow, the site turned white.  Enjoy one of the most beautiful photos of Samphire Hoe frosty landscapes!

News in 2020
08 Nov 2020 - 12:00 a.m.

Samphire Hoe is open in lockdown-2 from 7 a.m. until dusk, every day of the week. In the interests of the protection and comfort of both the public and staff, we recommend you to follow the Government’s national restrictions, to respect social distancing and hygiene measures. Samphire Hoe’s rangers thank you for your patience.

17 Jun 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

Samphire Hoe re-opened that day and is open every day of the year from 7 a.m. 5 p.m. or dusk, whichever is the earliest. In the interests of the protection and comfort of both the public and staff, we recommend you to respect social distancing and hygiene measures and please take your rubbish home with you. Samphire Hoe’s rangers thank you for your patience.

28 Apr 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

Despite the human population being in lockdown, nature carries on. The first wheatears of the year have been passing through on their northward migration and the house martins have begun to return to the cliffs.
The early spider orchids are starting to flower but this year will go uncounted by the Rangers due to the current circumstances, but the undisturbed rabbits have been enjoying the exotic taste of orchids.
April has been one of the sunniest on record and this has helped the orange tip butterflies which have had a good month flying all over the Hoe.

24 Mar 2020 - 10:00 a.m.

On 23 March 2020, Samphire Hoe was closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will remain closed until further notice in the interests of the protection and comfort of both the public and staff. We will re-open as soon as measures to keep everyone safe can be put into place. However this does not mean end of work for the rangers. With cattle and sheep still grazing at Samphire Hoe, the animals are being check on a daily basis. It is going to be a strange experience being on site when there are no visitors and we hope to welcome you all as soon as possible under safe conditions.

26 Feb 2020 - 9:00 a.m.

There has been a hint of Spring in the air as skylarks are starting to sing. A very unusual bird sighting has been a ring ouzel which has spent the winter in the scrub on the cliff face and on the grassland of the Hoe. Normally they migrate to North Africa but this one decided it liked the area so much, it stayed with us and we made him very welcomed.

18 Jan 2020 - 6:00 p.m.

The winter has been quite wet so far which has given a good opportunity for the ponds to fill up. For most of the month, a firecrest has been heard and occasionally seen in the scrub at the base of the cliffs.

2019 news
27 Jul 2019 - 7:00 p.m.

For the Rangers at the Hoe, each season has its characteristic wildlife. Mid-summer is represented by the beautifully patterned marbled white butterflies. These black and white checker board butterflies were once only found on the Hoe near the base of the cliffs but the summer of 2019 has seen them spread across the whole of the site. On a recent school visit, the children counted 35 along just a short section of path. They were delighted. This butterfly is only on the wing between late June and the middle of August. So come to visit Samphire Hoe and be sure to enjoy them.

29 Jun 2019 - 2:00 p.m.

June 2019 has been a wonderful month for orchids at Samphire Hoe. The volunteer rangers have been busy counting all the orchids which, on top of the 1,300 early spider orchids counted in May, amounted to 5,060 common spotted orchids, 475 pyramidal orchids, 20 bee orchids and most excitingly the first ever fragrant orchid.

29 May 2019 - 8:00 p.m.

Early spider orchids are one of the Samphire Hoe speciality plants. This attractive looking plant is one of the first orchid of the year to flower. The flowers mimic a type of small bee called an andrena. The males attracted by the flowers scent and pattern ‘mate’ with flower and then get a pollen sack stuck onto their head. When ‘mating’ with the next flower it the pollen rubs off and fertilises the flower. It is amazing to think how a flower has evolved to smell like a female andrena bee. In 2019, the orchid count amounted to over 1,300 plants.

30 Apr 2020 - 5:00 p.m.

At the end of April, the new pond dipping pool was used by a school group for the first time. It took all together 22 months from the first turves cut in July 2017 to the construction of the pond and then leaving time to allow nature to colonise it enough for it to be used. The pond dipping has revealed the presence of dragonfly larvae both emperor and darters along with back swimmers and water boatmen. We are looking forward to further pond dipping adventures as the pool matures and becomes even richer in wildlife.

21 Mar 2019 - 5:00 p.m.

Wheatears are one of the first summer migrant birds to arrive. They winter in southern Africa and migrate north through Europe to their breeding grounds in northern England and even up into Greenland. At Samphire Hoe, they just pass through on their migrations. Every year the staff and volunteers in the Samphire Hoe team put in a sealed bid guessing the date that the first wheatear will be seen. Whoever gets the correct or closest date wins a small prize. This year the winning date was 21 March and three lucky team members all had the nearest date so the ranger had to buy three prizes!

27 Feb 2019 - 11:00 a.m.

The February exhibition in the Education Shelter was titled ‘Sunrise and Sunsets at Samphire Hoe’. It was a display of the amazing photos taken by James one of the Volunteer Rangers. The exhibition proved to be very popular with many positive comments. Alongside the exhibition, the sunrise and sunset walks attracted many people and weather was fortuitous on both occasions.

25 Jan 2019 - 11:00 a.m.

The last decade has seen the rapid recolonisation of Kent by common buzzards and it has now extended to Samphire Hoe. Buzzards are now seen regularly gliding along the cliffs or hanging in air on the strong updrafts with languid wing flaps. These impressive birds can be seen alongside the ravens which have also recolonised the cliffs. If you are very lucky, the strikingly powerful flight of peregrine falcons will hurtle by.

2018 news
27 Dec 2020 - 7:00 p.m.

December can be a quieter time of year to visit Samphire Hoe. When there are fewer people walking along the sea wall, some interesting birds can be seen. Cormorants perch on the outer edge of the wall. As winter progresses, some of them begin to develop their breeding plumage of white head and thigh patch. In recent years, some very large flocks of several hundred birds have been seen fishing offshore. These large black birds can almost look pterodactyl like in flight.

27 Nov 2018 - 2:00 p.m.

Joys of winter – As the days shorten, the nights get longer and the temperatures drop. One of the great thing about winter is the sunsets at Samphire Hoe. In the summer, there is no sunset to be seen as the sun disappears behind the cliff. In the winter, the skyscapes can be spectacular. Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air at sunset and much of the blue light gets scattered away, making the reds and oranges more pronounced. No two days are the same at the time of the year. The number of people who visit Samphire Hoe also reduces towards the end of the year, making it the perfect time to come and experience the solitude of winter.

14 Oct 2020 - 8:00 p.m.

On Saturday 14 October, Samphire Hoe had a Wildlife Migration Day from 10:00am until 4:00pm. During the day birdwatchers between Kingsdown and Folkestone tweeted out their observations with the #wildlifemigrationday and these were marked out on the plotting table. The East Kent Wildlife Group did a ringing demonstration; the public were able to watch as meadow pipits, stonechats and even a kestrel were being ringed. During the course of the day, 58 species of bird were seen totalling 2,822 individual birds. The top ten species seen were: goldfinch, starling, linnet, siskin, song thrush, chiffchaff, chaffinch, redwing and robin. Unusual birds seen included Richard’s pipit, 7 yellow browed warblers and a woodlark. Paul Holt the ranger also led guided walks at 10:00am and 2:00pm which were attended by a total of 26 people. According to everyone, it was delightful day with light winds, warm sunshine and a wealth of birds to see.

14 Sep 2018 - 8:00 p.m.

Walking around Samphire Hoe has been enlivened by the presence of a large flock of over 200 starlings. They have been busily feeding in the grassland and on the wealth of berries on the sea-buckthorn bushes, brambles and buckthorn. They constantly call and burble to one another and this sound has been the autumn sound track of the Hoe. They used to breed on the cliffs and in some of the buildings but now they occur as a post breeding season flock or passage autumn migrant. In their winter plumage they are one of the most spectacular birds to see at the Hoe.

30 Aug 2018 - 6:00 p.m.

Samphire Hoe Sunday Funday was held at the end of August. Despite it being the first day of poor weather of the whole summer, more than 400 people attended and enjoyed the event. There was a wide variety of activities such as the bug road show display and its amazing insects, the coastal collage, treasure hunt and much more. New for this year was spin painting, a bit messy but fun and the’ eels up the Dour’ a game of skill and nerve.

27 Jul 2018 - 10:00 a.m.

Samphire Hoe is one of the best places in Kent to see stonechats in the summer months. This year 7 pairs held territory on the Hoe. They are distinct small robin sized birds which have a helpful habit of perching on the top of bushes as they are looking for insect food. The males have a dark head, white collar and an orange front; the females are similar but duller. Working together with the East Kent Ringing Group a study is being carried out into the Stonechats of the Hoe. By putting colour rings onto one leg, it is possible to identify individuals and investigate where and when they are found on the Hoe. If you do see one on a visit, please call in at the Rangers hut to report your sighting. Thank you for your collaboration.

27 Jun 2018 - 8:00 a.m.

Samphire Hoe is known for its early spider orchids. This year we are delighted that the generally more abundant bee orchids which are very scarce on the site have had a record year with over 20 having being seen. They emit a scent to attract bees to ‘mate’ with the flower and in turn pollinate them. However the most common form of pollination is self-pollination as few British bees are attracted to the scent. The pollinia can be seen dangling in the photo.

24 May 2018 - 8:00 a.m.

As the days warm up in May, one of Samphire Hoe’s most characteristic insects begins to appear: the rose chafer beetles. These large shiny metallic green beetles can often be seen feeding on the pollen and petals of plants such as wild privet and bramble. The larval stage feeds on decaying plants and leaves and it can take them several years before they metamorphose in the stunningly beautiful beetles. They are quite a scarce species in Kent and Samphire Hoe is good place to see them.

20 Apr 2018 - 3:00 a.m.

Samphire Hoe is known for its early spider orchids. This year we are delighted that the generally more abundant bee orchids which are very scarce on the site have had a record year with over 20 having being seen. They emit a scent to attract bees to ‘mate’ with the flower and in turn pollinate them. However the most common form of pollination is self-pollination as few British bees are attracted to the scent. The pollinia can be seen dangling in the photo.

06 Mar 2018 - 7:00 p.m.

The Samphire Hoe Education Shelter has been chosen as one of the nine featured structures along the CHALKUP21 architectural coastal trail. Commissioned by Eurotunnel and designed by Lee Evans Partnership, the building’s form is reminiscent of the historic defensive structures dotted along the Kent coast. The Education Shelter is partially made of recycled railway sleepers from Eurotunnel. CHALKUP21 is a 21st-century architectural coastal trail that links together contemporary coastal art and architecture along the Strait of Dover. The trail goes from the Deal Pier Café to the Wing in Capel-le-Ferne. More information on

Architect Charles Holland: “Samphire Hoe is a remarkable place, an entirely man-made stretch of coastline constructed from the Channel Tunnel excavations. It has an underlying, poignant metaphor: a new piece of England fabricated from the construction of a physical connection to Europe. It is named after a line in Shakespeare’s King Lear and samphire, along with a number of other rare species of plant, bird and insect life, have returned to this new landscape which is run as a nature reserve.
The Education Shelter is a simple, curving structure that continues the theme by being clad in salvaged railway sleepers. It provides space for exhibitions and events and has a satisfying relationship with the sweet, circular timber kiosk opposite. Both are unpretentious, rugged objects that sit well within the quiet serenity of the place.”

27 Feb 2018 - 6:00 p.m.

Whilst other parts of Kent and England were experiencing lots of snow this week, Samphire Hoe had very little but enough as shown on the photos. Snow is usually a very rare sight at the Hoe. However the arrival of the Beast from the East made tempatures plummeted on the reserve.