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Enjoy a 'wild' weekend at the Kent & East Sussex Railway


Monday 25 September 2023

Enjoy a ‘wild' weekend at the Kent & East Sussex Railway!

Heritage line invites visitors to learn about its biodiversity and how they can support wildlife

Things are going ‘wild' at the The Kent & East Sussex Railway this coming weekend (Saturday 30thSeptember and Sunday 1stOctober) as the famous Tenterden-based heritage railway is hosting a community event celebrating all things wildlife including revealing the findings of a major wildlife survey along the railway line.

Throughout the weekend, visitors can learn more about the nature-rich 10 ½ mile line which is home to a host of flora and fauna, as well as experience it from the train and around its pretty rural stations using nature spotting sheets and walking routes.

At Tenterden station, visitors can learn how to encourage and support nature in and around their own homes through a range of talks, interactive stalls and demonstrations provided by local groups such as: Tenterden Wildlife, the Kent Wildlife Trust, Singleton Environmental Centre, Men in Sheds and Tenterden & District Museum. Additional activities include: advice on gardening to encourage wildlife; wildflower and fungi identification; examining owl droppings;making leaf catchers; fossil excavation; how to build your own birdbox, and even how to go about taking wildlife photos.

There are also storytelling sessions (12noon and 2.30pm each day), when visitors looking for a calming moment can listen to celebrated children's author and composerJenny Bailey read from her 'Tales from Mother Earth' books which aim to inspire children about the wonders of the natural world and ignite their interest in conservation. And the choir of Rolvenden Primary School will be singing Jenny's Ark Anthem "It Matters To Me", written and composed with Chris Symons (10.15am each day).

Speakers fromthe K&ESR Sustainability and Environment Group, Kent Wildlife Trust Consultancy, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Wild Startswill outline some of the findings of therailway's major nature survey, started earlier this year (talks at 10.30am and 1.30pm). The survey has found an impressive level of biodiversity, including no less than 89 different species of bird, 14 of which are on theare on the British Trust for Ornithology's Red and Amber lists for highest conservation concern. In addition, the survey team has discovered over 40 varieties of wildflower and at least one rare species of bumblebee.

"The results of this biodiversity survey are confirmation that the K&ESR is not only custodian of an important part of British transport history but also of precious wildlife habitat with its equally precious residents - all of which our passengers can appreciate and enjoy on their visits to the railway," says Keith Barron, from the K&ESR's Sustainability Working Group.

"So when, in the mid-1800s, Colonel Stephens enabled a leap forward in rural transport by builidng the first light railway here in the Rother Valley, he inadvertently also created a unique and special nature corridor in this part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that we are committed to preserve and protect." 

The K&ESR 'Wild About Wildlife' weekend will be officially opened at Tenterden Town Station by the Mayor of Tenterden, Cllr Sue Ferguson, at 10am on Saturday 30th September.

Visit the K&ESR website for full details of events over the weekend and to book and save on



For full details of the Wild About Wildlife event, you can download the programme here:

Wild about Wildlife weekend flyer 
K&ESR Biodiversity Survey:
The survey began in April 2023 with the first of 12 bird surveys and 14 Bumblebee surveys. The bird surveys, half of the line at a time, ran until the end of June and the Bumblebee surveys will finish in October. The survey was financially supported by a grant from the Janus Foundation.

About the Kent & East Sussex Railway:The Kent & East Sussex Railway is a renowned heritage railway based in Tenterden, Kent, UK. Built by Holman F Stephens, it was the first light passenger railway in Britain in the early 20thcentury and is today one of Britain's most loved and original heritage lines. With a rich history spanning over 120 years, the K&ESR offers visitors an authentic steam and diesel-powered railway experience through 10½ miles of Wealden countryside in the beautiful Rother Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, the railway prides itself on preserving railway heritage, operating a diverse range of locomotives, and providing a unique glimpse into the golden age of rail travel.

The K&ESR is committed to sustainability and conservation. Two years ago, it set up a Sustainability Group to explore ways in which the railway could not only save energy and improve recycling but also take more steps to preserve and improve the environment. For example, the Forestry and Conservation Group has already planted thousands of trees at Rolvenden and Wittersham Road stations, and its gardening groups tend nature-friendly gardens at the stations.

The K&ESR is operated by the Kent & East Sussex Railway Co Ltd, charitable company, limited by guarantee. Registered charity No. 26248.

For further information please contact:-

Caroline Warne or Heather Packham
Kent & East Sussex Railway  /
01580 766467 during office hours

Monday 25th September 2023