Animal Bridge Lets Our Furry Friends Visit National Trust Property

By Richard Moss | 13 April 2006
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photo of a road passing under a bridge covered by saplings

Mice, voles and all manner of wild animals can now safely cross the A21 bypass. © Pat Morris

Ever an organisation to cater for the needs of even its smallest and unassuming visitors, the National Trust has just installed special access facilities en route to its Scotney Castle Garden and Estate at Lamberhurst in Kent.

The UK’s first wildlife land bridge will ensure that mice, voles and all manner of wild animals can now safely cross the A21 Lamberhurst bypass – securing the traditional land route to the Scotney Estate for both people and wildlife.

photo of a wide gravel track through a new plantation

Back in the 1830s, the original West Drive into Scotney Castle was laid out in keeping with the estate’s renowned picturesque style. Courtesy National Trust

At the time of the construction of the bypass in 2005, the Trust and the Highways Agency began a consultation about the lack of access across the road, which as well as effectively severing access, also threatened the traditional route of rare hazel dormice, known to be native to the area. A bridge was the only solution.

“This bridge is the first of its kind in the UK, and as such, is a significant step forward in conservation terms,” said Dr Pat Morris, Chair of the National Trust Nature Conservation Panel.

“It’s tangible evidence that with research and planning, people and wildlife can live and travel side by side.”

photo from the head of the bridge looking out over the A21

Green cover has been planted to provide for the safe passage of shy small mammals as they scurry out of the sight of predators. Courtesy National Trust

New planting covers the bridge, which in its first full season of growth should provide for the safe passage of shy small mammals as they scurry across out of the sight of predators.

The bridge will also benefit reptiles, insects and other small creatures that would otherwise find a four-lane bypass an impenetrable barrier in their search for mates and safe breeding places.

“It’s great to think that creatures great and small could be making their way to us this year,” said Caroline Binder, Property Manager at Scotney Castle. “Our gates are open, and the wild animals will be made just as welcome as our human visitors.”

For the benefit of human visitors, Scotney Castle Gardens and Estate in Kent is the ruins of a 14th century moated castle, surrounded by romantic gardens and set in a beautiful wooded estate. See the National Trust website for opening arrangements: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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