Jumping Downs

Introduction

Jumping Downs

Jumping Downs is a 14 acre chalk downland site, with stunning views and diverse flora, including orchids.

Key habitats:

Chalk grassland, ancient woodland

Ownership/Management:

Jumping Downs Trust

Size:

5.5 ha

Designations:

Local Wildlife Site; Local Nature Reserve;
falls within Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Facilities available at this site

  • Parking
  • Interpretation Panels
  • Education Pack

About the Site

The site’s hillside slopes attracted motorbike scramblers for much of the 20th Century but when the site came up for sale, members of the local community clubbed together to buy the land and formed a Trust in order to manage it. In 2001, the newly formed Jumping Downs Trust came to the Kentish Stour Countryside Project for help and advice with management.

Since that time, the motorbike tracks which scarred the site were re-profiled and have now vegetated over. Initial surveys revealed the grassland on this south-facing slope to contain a rich diversity of chalk downland flowers. Consequently, Jumping Downs was entered into an Environmental Stewardship Agreement to ensure sensitive cattle grazing, mend fencing, improve access and signage and to encourage educational visits. In June 2003 the site was officially launched as a new Local Nature Reserve and work continues to organise events, surveys and children’s activities.

Reptile surveys have revealed that adder, viviparous lizard and slow worm are resident. A mammal survey showed that wood mice live at Jumping Downs and pygmy shrew were found at some of the reptile survey sites!

Jumping Downs is a very peaceful site much visited by birds; a kestrel can often be seen riding the thermals, a hobby has been spotted several times, and sparrowhawks use the adjacent Covert Wood. Winter brings redwings and field fares as well as chaffinches, goldfinches and long-tailed tits.

However, it is the wildflowers that make this site so special, and a visit during the summer months is a must.Plants of note include bee orchid, pyramidal orchid and horseshoe vetch.

Make Jumping Downs a place to visit as part of a longer walk in the Kent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Elham Valley Way passes through the edge of the site and there are lovely walks through Covert Wood.

Visiting

By car 

From Barham Village, follow Valley Road out of village towards Elham. When you leave village take the first road on the right. Follow road through South Barham Farm, Jumping Downs is about 0.5 miles on the right. Parking is limited to layby opposite gate. Alternatively park on left hand side of Valley Road before you turn right towards Jumping Downs and walk along the lane. Access is via kissing gate.

By bus

Route number 17 (Folkestone to Canterbury via Elham) passes through Barham village.

 

Transport Links to this site

  • Bus

Jumping Downs Photo Gallery

Click images to view larger