Nature Reserve

Around Temple Ewell Lydden and Temple Ewell Nature Reserve overlooking Temple Ewell from the north, and the neighbouring village of Lydden, is the Lydden and Temple Ewell Nature Reserve.

This area of ancient chalk grassland, two hundred acres in all, is owned and managed by The Kent Wildlife Trust and was declared a National Nature Reserve in August 1998.

Aside from the periodic clearance of invading scrub, the regular grazing of livestock plays a vital role in the management of the downland. These practices have gone on for centuries and as a result the area is home to an immense variety of wild flowers. Where the turf is short, carpets of Wild Thyme are found along with Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Eyebright, Rock Rose, Centuary, Chalk Milkwort and Small Scabious. Marjoram and Greater Knapweed prefer areas where the grass is long.

Several species of Orchid appear throughout the summer, among them are; Bee, Fragrant, Burnt Tip and the specially protected Early Spider Orchid. During the late summer, Autumn Gentian, Devils Bit Scabious and Autumn Ladies Tresses come into flower.

About thirty species of butterflies have been recorded on the reserve. Several Blues, including Chalkhill, Small, Common and Adonis, breed here. Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns inhabit the taller grasses. 1999 was a record year for the rare Silver Spotted Skipper. Before its introduction to two other sites, this was the only site in Kent where this butterfly could be found.

Other insects include several species of Grasshoppers and Crickets, like the Great Green and the rare Wart Biter. The Wart Biter Cricket was said to have become extinct from this site in the 1970’s. It was reintroduced in recent years and is now breeding successfully, although its numbers are still being carefully monitored.

The resident bird species include Linnets, which nest among the gorse thickets, Yellow Hammers, Sky Larks and Meadow Pipets. Kestrels are often seen hovering over the steep slopes of the downland. Green Woodpeckers are sometimes seen breaking into the anthills after the insects on which they feed. Summer visitors such as Black Caps, White Throats, Lesser White Throats and Willow Warblers may be seen in the wooded areas and surrounding hedgerows.