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Anger over dogging at beauty spot in Crabbles Bottom, Higham

Locals are fighting to reclaim a beauty spot blighted by randy doggers not far away from schools.

Crabbles Bottom, a 27-acre ancient orchard and meadow in Higham, has become the site of choice for deviant sexual activities, according to residents.

Used condoms were left strewn across the meadow
Used condoms were left strewn across the meadow

Over the last few months neighbours and dog walkers say they have noticed increased sightings of vehicles pulling up and shifty men disappearing into the shrubbery.

They are reported to be using a footpath beside an underpass to access an ancient meadow off Crutches Lane.

Inside the woodland hotspot, dubbed "The Den" by locals, floors are littered with condom wrappers and wet wipes are left strewn across branches.

Separate pathways have been forged either side of the foliage to provide a swift exit for those discovered in the act.

The soiling of the grounds, designated a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, has aroused fears locally as it is located not far from private Gads Hill School and Higham Primary School.

Suspicious men in vans have been seen stopping by the side of the road
Suspicious men in vans have been seen stopping by the side of the road

"This is going on all times of the day", warned one resident who did not wish to be named.

"It is going on in the orchards and in the back seats of vans. We are also seeing the paraphernalia that is going with it."

The resident of more than 20 years says "The Den" was discovered around three months ago and he has stumbled upon the men, white and mainly between the ages of 20 and 50, taking part on more than one occasion.

"If you didn't know this was there you would never see it," he explained.

On one occasion on Sunday he says he encountered three men on a public footpath and told them to move on. They left "sheepishly".

"If that is what they want to do that is up to them but it is where you do it," he said.

Wet wipes have been discarded in various locations in Crutches Lane
Wet wipes have been discarded in various locations in Crutches Lane

"It is disgusting and it is disrespectful, there are a lot of families living here."

A listing for the location appears on the website, doggingaction.co.uk.

It reads: "Crutches Lane, hang around the middle of lane, loads of fun at night in woods and around the field, it’s out of the way from people as well."

But neighbours are quick to point out sightings are not confined to the twilight hours.

"This is not a night time thing they are also going in the morning," said a resident.

A dog walker remarked how she often noticed men pulling up on the side of the road during the day.

"Some are very young," she said. "I just put my head down and don't make eye contact."

The entrance to the meadow dubbed "The Den" by locals
The entrance to the meadow dubbed "The Den" by locals

Meanwhile, a short journey up the road similar problems have been reported at a lay-by off Gravesend Road by the Wainscott bypass.

Garage worker Jason, said: "Some times there are a couple of guys looking very suspicious.

"Tuesday morning I saw a guy get out with nothing on his bottom half, walk out and get into another car."

He says activity of this kind became less common after increased police patrols.

"Police drive down for a few days and then you don't see it happen," he said.

But not long after they are back, he adds, with many using the lay-by as a toilet, urinating and defecating in the lane.

Locals have become concerned over sexual activity taking place in Crabbles Bottom
Locals have become concerned over sexual activity taking place in Crabbles Bottom

Gad's Hill School bursar Barry Golding said they had been made aware but staff and pupils had not reported anything untoward.

"One neighbour contacted us but we are not aware of the staff or pupils observing anything inappropriate," he said.

"We have robust safeguarding arrangements in place and our kids are well educated in how to risk assess.

"If there is anything we can do to support the police or local authorities we will."

Police have been contacted for comment.

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

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