Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve
This delightful nature reserve near Canterbury boasts the largest reedbeeds in the South East of England. There are miles of well laid out footpaths taking you past the reedbeds, wet grazing meadows and lagoons where you will see a wide variety of wildlife. Look out for bearded reedlings, bitterns, marsh harriers, sandpipers, grebes, kingfishers and rare garganey ducks. You may also see water voles, weasels or even an otter. There are also several bird hides and an observation mound.
The Stour Valley Walk also runs through the reserve so you could follow this footpath along the River Great Stour towards Canterbury which lies a few miles to the west of Stodmarsh.
There's also the Grove Ferry Walk which starts at the eastern end of the reserve. Grove Ferry is a popular spot for starting walks in the area. You'll find a car park, picnic area, boat trips and a fine riverside pub here.
At the western end of the reserve you'll also find the Westbere Marshes and the noteworthy town of Fordwich. Fordwich is notable as Britain's smallest town and also has a great pub with a dining terrace overlooking the Stour.
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
In the village there's the historic Red Lion Inn for some post walk refreshments. The inn dates to the 15th century and includes a large attractive garden for summer dining. You can find them at postcode CT3 4BA for your sat navs.
The reserve is a nice place for a dog walk though you are asked to keep them on leads. They are not allowed on the sign-posted 'Short Circuit Nature Trail' and the 'Nature Trail Extension'.
The Red Lion mentioned above is dog friendly.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
In Canterbury you could pick up the Elham Valley Way and follow the waymarked footpath south to explore the worthy village of Barham with its 14th century church and Grade I listed 17th century Broome Park.
The Wickhambreaux Walk starts from the nearby village and visits the reserve. It will additionally take you through the Newnham Valley which lies just to the east. Here you can enjoy a walk along the Little Stour, a tributary of the Great Stour. The village is also well worth exploring with its 13th-century parish church, clapboard mill with working water wheel and a medieval village green.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Kent Walks and the Kent Downs Walks pages.