I suppose that once an area of resources is no longer a viable source it is necessary to abandon it. The economical pressure on any enterprise involved in large scale recovery of resources when that resource is running out to give up the land is greater than the returns justify.
The result is, when digging gravel, sand and such, is the creation of large, water filled holes. The best thing to do with the spaces is to give them up for conservation. You cannot build in them, and filling them in for building is contentious because by the time they are filled with water the dicky birds have arrived, and all that is left is to make sure the place is stocked with fish.
This is Leybourne Lakes Country Park near Snodland created from redundant gravel pits. I have seen the place, seen the signs and heard about the lakes, and on this day being alone, my sister deserting me for a wedding, I nipped in to have a look.
The first impression was that of watching rabbits eating the grass in the car park – I counted eleven munching contentedly – and how close I came to them before they decided to move. The next good impression was the parking charge, which was reasonable allowing me plenty of time to explore. Amazingly I could see the North Downs from the pathways and picked out the chalk pits of Bluebell Hill and the hills wandering out toward Boxley and Detling. Once I looked beyond the rows of Noddy Houses of Lakeside Development.
The lakes have a water sport facility that does not include motorised boats offering board sailing, kayaking, swimming and scuba diving. Close beside the facility there is a snack bar operating at the weekend (an ice cream stall really) and a place for feeding the birds.
I was amazed at how tame the birds were, which is not quite what I would like but, birds being what they are, a free feed is always welcome. At least I was able to look a Coot or two in the beady eye, examine a few geese although the ducks are always, wisely, suspicious, and watch a flock of Swans grovelling.
The park has a few exclusive areas which is good, and has paths that enter from surrounding residential areas, but most of the pathways are multi use as they put it, right of way for pedestrians, suitable for cycles and wheelchairs. Easy walking and a place that is worth visiting at different seasons to watch and enjoy the changes.
At times there were some beautifully tranquil scenes and I am sure that in Spring and early Summer the place will be sparkling. It is also near enough to warrant a winter visit.
It is worth exploring the paths around the area and incorporating part of the park in a circular walk. It is close to the busy A228 and Snodland which, for its ancient buildings and church must be worth a visit. However, the park is a pleasant place set in what was once a dull and dreary region dominated by a cement works and scruffy industrial plots. They are still there but on my visit I was barely aware of them. The Lakes are a pleasant addition to the Medway valley and for a visitor to the Medway Towns a must, if only to offer relief from the towns’ landscape and busy roads. The bonus is that they can be reached by rail from Strood.