Day out at Monkton Nature Reserve – Ramsgate, Kent
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
What a delight to come across this little gem located near Ramsgate. Monkton Nature Reserve is a 16 acre wildlife oasis located in a former chalk quarry. We arrived for opening time of 10am and ended up staying nearly 6 hours.
Easy free parking on site. The site is run by volunteers who were very happy to welcome us and explained all the options. There are a number of nature trails around the reserve, all free. We opted for the fairy trail and dinosaur trail and the reception desk provides a clipboard, with a laminated clue sheet, and pencil for you to complete the trails.
On entry, there is a fantastic little museum which includes whale vertebrae, lots of insects and butterflies, some fossils and also a table of animal bones which children are able to handle. This went down a storm with the kids as we examined the horses jaw and they declared the horse hadn’t been very good at brushing his teeth! There are also some taxidermy animals which the children enjoyed having a close- up view. There is also a model of the bat cave which had my son fascinated.
There is a window for viewing the bird tables, it was lovely to get so close- up to the bird feeders and to watch all our feathered friends enjoying their feeds. A volunteer offered us some worms, which we held out in our hand and a little robin came to have a snack. The robin was very friendly and kept us company around some of the walks.
The fairy trail kept us busy and we enjoyed finding the fairy doors and little houses. Whilst walking the fairy trail, do remember to look up for fairies too, as we found some wire fairies in the trees. The dinosaur trail was a highlight as you have to search for large hidden jars, when you find them you open the jars and inside is a laminated sheet with some interesting facts about dinosaurs and questions to answer for the trail sheet. The upper section of the quarry is a lovely woodland with more fairy houses, some lovely benches to stop and enjoy the views and also a great bird hide. Inside the bird hide is a pair of binoculars to help with your bird spotting, along with some lovely charts to help identify the birds.
All the walking had worn out the little legs, so we headed to the café area. We had packed our picnic lunch and there is a lovely selection of benches on the lawn and the café welcome picnics. I must add there is also a huge ‘activity box’ cupboard by the outdoor picnic benches, and its filled with toys. What a lovely surprise, it kept the children busy playing, so much so that I was able to sit and enjoy my lunch in peace, priceless for a Mum! We also bought hot drinks and some cake from the café and I was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable prices. Inside the café has recently been redecorated, and it has a lovely children’s book corner, with books about nature and animals.
My son enjoyed seeing the bat cave by the little pond, albeit we didn’t see any bats on our visit (he is a huge fan of bats and understands they are nocturnal). There is also a nice bird hide and little pond with nice decking around it, in which they operate pond dipping sessions (small charge for pond dipping).
On the day we visited, it seemed we were the only visitors. Our visit cost £10 for myself and the children, and on the way out we upgraded to annual family membership for £25, of which the £10 was off set, so very reasonable overall. There is also a astronomy obesrvatory, which had the children asking lots of questions. With the annual membership, you also get emails about the stargazers sessions, which we will go along to in due course.
We have since been back to Monkton on a Friday, when they had the bird exhibition (free) and the children enjoyed meeting owls and even a young raven. The café was happy for us to leave our cooler bag there whilst we explored more of the nature trails.