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Cliffe Pools, Kent. UK (1 Viewer)

Curlew2

Well-known member
I would like to visit Alpha Pool at RSPB Cliffe Pools in Kent but I can't find out how to access it. I tried following The Saxon Way past Cliffe Fort but there is a sign saying the footpath is closed due to erosion. The other side seems to be private land owned by an extraction company. Any help would be gratefully received and I don't mind a long walk if that is that is what is required.
 

PJSharp

Well-known member
Hi, I have used two routes to view Alpha lake. The easiest to describe is the one you tried, coming South along the Saxon Shore way from the west end of Flamigo lake. I haven't been since last winter so things may have changed, but part way through the winter the collapsed path was repaired but the sign saying the path was closed wasn't moved. Even with the path collapsed you could with care still make your way along, particularly when the tide isn't high on the Thames. Worth a look, but you have to make your own judgement on how safe this is.

The other route, from the RSPB car park (or park just before the gate) walk back towards Buckland lake and turn right before Buckland lake towards Westcourt Farm. Take the signed public footpath through the farm, and bear right towards where the railway crosses the aggregates road ahead of you. It's worth scanning the marshes South of here. Where the railway crosses the road there is a footpath going right before you cross the railway which passes through hawthorn scrub between the railway on your left and aggregates site on your right. At the end of this you reach a concrete wall at which you turn left, following this obvious path to the river. Alpha pool is on your right. The lake and reeds on the south (left) side are worth checking (Bearded Tit). When you get to the river you have to cross a bit of a drainage area which is often wet and muddy, and can be tricky to cross, wellies recommended. The bay on the Thames at this point is worth checking for waders etc. You can then walk North on the Saxon Shore way, to view the west end of Alpha. Last year RN Grebe tended to be at the extreme West end, and often BN grebe close to the far East end, with Slav Grebe anywhere inbetween... if you go, please let me know how you get on, I hope to visit myself soon.

Happy birding, and take care whichever route you take, both can be muddy and slippery, Paul
 

Curlew2

Well-known member
Many thanks indeed Paul for taking the time to provide such a detailed reply. I really appreciate it and shall certainly report back after my next visit.
 

PJSharp

Well-known member
Alpha pool update 1 December 2019

I visited Cliffe Pools today, walking the circuit around Alpha pool via Westcourt Farm, passing Cliffe Fort and back via a scan of Flamingo pool.

The route via Westcourt Farm is very wet, muddy and slippery once you clear the cement works all the way to the Thames and along. There is a significant amount of water between where this path approaches the Thames and the Saxon Shoreway path. Without wellies I had to detour South a fair distance to cross to the Saxon Shore way and then return North towards the Fort.

Before you reach the Fort the path is blocked and fenced with a sign that the path is closed due to erosion. Beyond this point and before you get to the cement works jetty much of the path is eroded in two short sections. These can be passed with care, or bypassed by the look of it by crossing through two sections of broken fence and dropping to a track alongside the pool. From here to the main part of Cliffe Pools is straightforward if muddy and slippery. I can understand why the path is closed, it isn't safe, so if you choose to follow this section, please do so using your own judgement!

If you follow the route through Westcourt Farm and are happy to return the same way once you get to the closed section you can still view much of Alpha pool.

As for birds, I saw a Red-necked Grebe on Alpha, towards the West (Thames) end, before reaching the blocked point. There are loads of Little and GC Grebe, but I couldn't pick out any other Grebes.

Flamingo is great for waders and dabbling ducks; highlights today were a Greenshank and 3 Spotted Redshank.

Happy birding, Paul
 

PJSharp

Well-known member
12 January 2020 Update

I repeated the same route around Alpha Pool on Sunday, out via Westcourt Farm and back by Cliffe Fort and Flamingo Pool. The route along the Thames is no longer blocked, or signed as closed, but there are still two sections where erosion makes the path tricky along the river. Work does appear to be underway to make it safer, but for now it is still a bit of an obstacle course!

Bird highlights: 1 each of Red necked and Black necked Grebe, plus a Kingfisher on Alpha, 2 Rock Pipits along the Thames and a pair of Egyptian Geese near Westcourt Farm.

Happy birding, Paul
 
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