Blean Woods


Blean Woods

This ancient woodland is one of the most extensive in southern England, forming part of the Blean – a belt of several large woodlands to the north and west of Canterbury of tremendous conservation value.

Key habitats:
Ancient semi-natural woodland

RSPB, Natural England

90 ha

Site of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserve, Special Area of Conservation

Facilities available at this site

  • Parking
  • Disabled Access
  • Waymarked Trail
  • Interpretation Panels

About the Site

Parts of this particular woodland are privately owned, with restricted access, but most of it is an RSPB nature reserve, incorporating areas owned by English Nature and the Woodland Trust. The site is perhaps most notable for its colonies of the exceptionally rare heath fritillary butterfly, and internationally important areas of oak-hornbeam woodland. Blean Woods is also an excellent reserve for birds including nightingales, nightjars, nuthatches and tree creepers.

Historically, the Blean was managed by coppicing which has been re-established through much of the wood. Some of the sweet chestnut coppice is being converted to mixed coppice and high forest – habitats that support more wildlife. It may surprise you to know that open areas with few or no trees are of great value within the woodland as a whole, and are being deliberately created. Here heather grows on the acidic soils, and these mini-heathlands, characteristic of the Blean, are perfect habitat for nightjars and other important species.

With traditional management, past and present, so much in evidence, and such large areas of ancient woodland remaining, the Blean as a whole cannot be underestimated in its significance. It is, in its own way, as valuable as other more widely known wooded areas, such as the New Forest and the Forest of Dean.


By car

From Canterbury take the A290, Whitstable Road. After 1.5 miles, turn left, signposted Rough Common, then follow the signpost for the reserve on your right.

By train

Canterbury West (1.7 miles), Canterbury East (2.4 miles)

By bus

Route number 3B from Canterbury passes close to the site.

By bike

National Cycle Route 1 passes close to the site.


Transport Links to this site

  • Bike
  • Train
  • Bus

Blean Woods Photo Gallery

Click images to view larger