Elmley is the only family owned and managed National Nature Reserve in the UK. Located in North Kent, on the Isle of Sheppey, Elmley offers visitors of all ages the chance to connect and engage with nature, whether they are there for the day, or staying overnight. With breathtaking views across the grazing marshes, and the Swale to the south, the 3,300 acre estate is the perfect place for a family day out during the school holidays and at weekends.
Arrive at the Reserve, and enjoy the 2 mile drive to Kingshill Farm from the entry gate, where from your car, you can have your own UK safari experience. Elmley is renowned for its conservation efforts, with particular focus on breeding wading birds. More than forty species of bird breed and raise their young at Elmley. Lapwing, redshank and grebe are some of the species that can be seen with their chicks. One of the most evocative sights during the spring has to be the swooping displays and 'peewit' call of lapwing over the marsh. Brown hares and their young leverets can also be spotted.
Walk the trails, head to the hides, and Elmley's in-house wildlife guide will be hosting nature-based children's activities throughout the holidays, as well as a range of wildlife tours.
Refuel at Elmley's new Cowshed Cafe which is open daily serving simple but delicious lunches, snacks and an array of refreshments.
The Reserve will be open from Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets can be booked online or are available to buy on the gate.
Day visit tickets are £6 for adults and children are free with an adult ticket purchase.
The Reserve offers a range of accommodation suited to families, from beautiful bell tents during the summer months, to shepherd's huts and cabins, and Elmley Cottage which sleeps up to ten people. Elmley's Kingshill Farmhouse hosts guests in their individual rooms, on a bed and breakfast basis, and is suitable for families with children over 12 years old (or with babies under 2).
Wherever you stay at Elmley, it is truly an escape into nature, with the far-reaching views across the marsh unmissable. With walking trails, plenty of space to roam and explore, and wildlife to watch, as well as a secret beach that is open to staying guests at high tide during the summer months.
Guests can self-cater, book hampers for delivery, or dine in Kingshill Farmhouse in the evening (over 12s only). Elmley's Cowshed Cafe is open during the day for light lunches and snacks.
Wildlife tours, both group and bespoke, can be arranged with Elmley's in-house nature guide for those who are keen to see more of the species found on the Reserve.
Bell tent / shepherd's hut stays from £125 per night.
Image gallery below - all pictures credited to Rebecca Douglas Photography