Original article from Kent Live
Over the past year, people seemingly grew closer than ever with nature as the great outdoors became the centre for socially distant meet-ups.
Whether it was walks with a friend, summer picnics or local staycations, Kent locals appreciated their stunning surrounding scenery like never before.
This week also saw the celebration of Earth Day, which sees people around the globe encouraged to think about environmental protection.
To pay homage to the nature of the county, we've taken a look at some of the most stunning nature spots on our doorstep.
With its stunning views of Ramsgate's white cliffs and its flower-laden fields, it's easy to understand why Pegwell Bay is David Attenborough's favourite Kent location.
The nature legend has been a regular visitor of Pegwell over the years.
The site's location is where the estuary of the River Stour meets the English Channel, which helps make it so special.
It means you get pools of fresh water in the marshy land between the coast and the sea.
The panoramic views are perfect for an Instagram-worthy photo too.
In the summer the grass is filled with flowers such as orchids and broomrapes and when it's wintertime, the foreshore and mudflats attract thousands of wading birds including dunlin, sanderling and grey plover.
As such, Pegwell Bay is popular with birdwatchers, walkers and bikers alike.
Swanscombe Peninsula is what Natural England describes as an "area of open mosaic habitat on previously developed land".
It's an "estuarine habitat" which connects Ebbsfleet Valley to the River Thames.
The site features chalk pits, wetlands, grazing marsh and salt marsh.
It's a haven for nature and is home to nationally important collections of invertebrates, breeding birds and five species of vascular plant.
Swanscombe has been in the news recently over talk of building a 'Kent Disneyland' on the site.
The area was given protected status earlier this year to deter those plans for now.
Knole Deer Park
There are over 1,000 acres of glorious country park to enjoy in Sevenoaks.
The majority of the parkland is managed by the Sackville family's Knole Estate and the National Trust looks after about 100 acres of the land.
Whilst the park is a great pull for dog walkers in the area, it's not just the furry friends who can be seen prancing around Knole.
There's a 350 strong herd of deer on the land, both of wild sika and fallow breed.
Knole Deer Park is such a fantastic site it brings in visitors from around the country – although that caused issues during lockdown earlier this year.
When hundreds flock to Botany Bay on a summer day it can be anything but tranquil but, when it's quiet, it's a natural spot to marvel at.
The beautiful cliffs overlook the sand and its tides mean that ends of the beach become cut off at times.
Botany is also known for having some great geological finds with plentiful fossils in the area.
The water has won a Blue Flag for its quality and is a great location for some watersports too.
Some beach cleaners got more than they bargained for earlier this year though, finding something not so natural on their shift.
When you see Hambrook Marshes in all its glory, catching the sunset of an evening, it's hard to believe it once almost became a car park.
The area was nearly spoilt by an extension to Wincheap's park and ride but thanks to local community efforts it still thrives today.
Hambrook Marshes is owned by Love Hambrook Marshes Trust and sits on what used to be a 40-foot deep quarry.
Gravel and sand were taken to build the road that now by-passes Canterbury.
Today, it's an area of stunning nature that runs activities in conservation and land management.
It's a hotspot for walkers, runners and cyclists too.
Wye Downs Walk
If you can manage the hills of Wye Downs Walk, you're in for a treat at the top.
The site offers incredible views of Devil's Kneading Trough, the most famous steep-sided dry valley of the Downs.
There are also many rare species of Orchid to spot around the place.
As well as being known for its beauty, Wye Downs Walk has a fascinating history.
The village was once a Roman camp and in the 17th century, it became the birthplace of Aphra Behn, thought to be the first English woman to work professionally as a writer.
Lower Leas Coastal Park
When planning a day outdoors in Kent, you're often left picking between a park and the seaside.
At Lower Least Coastal Park you get the best of both worlds as the green space sits right beside the Kent coastline.
The park runs from Folkestone to Sandgate and is hidden by a built-up urban environment around it.
Inside, there's a children's play area and an amphitheatre that hosts summer concerts.
Even though the park can be full of children playing, it also prioritises its nature with sensitive habitat management allowing wildlife to thrive.