Amelia Bolton, 9, and Carrie Bolton
Shorne Woods Country Park has been treasured by its users for years.
The award-winning green space has been used by thousands since it opened in 1987, with families, dog walkers, fitness enthusiasts and many more enjoying all it has to offer.
As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the park is protected by Natural England, an organisation that aims to maintain and improve the country’s natural environment.
However, one of the options being considered by the government for a Lower Thames Crossing, linking Kent with Essex, would see Shorne Woods torn in half.
As you look around at the landscape, it is hard to imagine.
As well as four hectares of land, teeming with beautiful flowers, trees and wildlife, the park has exercise trails, fishing lakes, children’s adventure playgrounds and an eco cafe, complete with pizza oven and smoker.
There is even a pond especially for dogs to enjoy a dip.
An inclusive approach is important, according to operations manager Amanda Dunk.
She said: “The philosophy behind this park is that we want to provide something for everybody.
“We have areas for young children and we provide education facilities, but equally we have easy access around the park for anyone with disabilities.
“We also provide facilities for adults, such as teacher training, and we have a cafe if you just want to have a coffee with your friends.”
Operations manager Amanda Dunk shows Alex Matthews a map of the park
The green space attracts 400,000 visitors annually and is busy all year round, enjoying its peak times during the summer and Easter school holidays.
Many visitors live close by but it also attracts people from far and wide.
Taking advantage of its idyllic natural environment on Friday was a group of foreign oil traders, completing one of the park’s team-building activity days.
The group, which included people from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Nigeria and China, were brought to Shorne by London events company Confidence Capital.
The park runs team-building courses, here a mixed group of mostly Russian oil traders start work on a rope bridge.
Lucien Jack, the organiser, said: “For us to take our delegates out to the countryside is great. We feel very lucky to come to Shorne today because it’s so close to London and we can have a great experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city.”
There is a strong emphasis on education at the park.
Mrs Dunk said: “The whole point of having easy access is to help all people appreciate the countryside.
“Kent is supposed to be the Garden of England, after all, and if young people, especially, can come out and learn a little bit about the surrounding open space and really develop a passion for nature that’s something you carry through life, a respect for green spaces, and that’s important for us.”
A decision on the Lower Thames Crossing is due to be made in the autumn.