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Elmley Nature Reserve

Muddy says: Who needs to leave the country for a safari holiday when you have Elmley Nature Reserve waiting in Kent for you – the only National Nature Reserve in England where you can spend the night.

Who needs to leave the country for a safari holiday when you have Elmley Nature Reserve waiting in Kent for you – the only National Nature Reserve in England where you can spend the night.

Ok so we are not talking lions and tigers and bears (oh my) but since 1991, Elmley Nature Reserve has been deemed a National Nature Reserve and is an internationally recognized site for the the conservation of rare birds, plants, animals and insects. During the winter months, the sky can be filled with tens of thousands of wildfowl, which make an unforgettable sight of cloud-like murmurations and flocks in formation. Let the hands-on Geography lesson begin here for you and your family, the ultimate romantic getaway if you wish to leave the younger generation behind or an alternative break-out space for a forthcoming work away weekend.

With 3,200 acres, Elmley provides the perfect place for your little ones to explore and get closer to nature. It’s a family-run farm with approximately 700 cattle grazing the pasture each year plus chickens, ducks and tractors to admire! There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from – whether it’s Kingshill 18th Century Farmhouse which has been recently renovated to provide a homely but luxurious stay or Elmley Cottage, a new open plan space with incredible views on three sides of this charming cottage.  It is also worth considering the Ferryman’s Hut overlooking the Elmley Ferry crossing with wonderful water views and prime viewing point for neighbouring owls and hares or bell canvas tents during the summer months, plus some very cute (and nicely done) Shepherd’s huts.


Big plus point is that they know how it can be tricky travelling with children so they are well set-up for families – baby and child equipment is available on request – and they can deliver home cooked meals to your hut, giving you the freedom of self-catering without having to cook!

And if it’s peace and solitude that you are after then Elmley has this in abundance too. Guests can enjoy long, quiet walks across the rugged countryside, and get back to nature by cooking on the wood burning stove. Sign us up for the Little Owl – a cozy Shepherd’s hut with a large picture window from the foot of the bed looking out onto unspoilt views across Elmley Island. Little Owl guests also have access to a barn owl watching spot which looks onto the oak trees the barn owls nest in. With massages available at your hut, why would you ever want to leave?

If you wanted to share this gem of a place with your family and friends, then you have the perfect set-up for a party or wedding with Kinghill Barn, a spectacular traditional Kentish barn, which is available for hire. Kinghill Barn is a rustic wooden building with all the original features intact, and completed with twinkling fairy light canopies surrounded by a wide-range of accommodation for all of your nearest and dearest. Just expect a few extra wildlife guests in the congregation!

We can highly recommend Elmley for family celebrations, friend’s gatherings, or why not take over the whole place and hire the huts too. It could also work for an alternative work space  for companies looking to immerse themselves in nature or to gather for yoga retreats – a wonderful hideaway is awaiting you.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent