Original article from Kent Live
Nestled between Temple Ewell and the Alkham Valley, Russell Gardens & Kearsney Abbey are a picturesque haven for families
Blink and you’ll miss it.
If you’re in the car, on the Alkham Road, you’ll be forgiven for missing one of Temple Ewell’s most stunning places.
As you come away from the beaten track, the quiet and tranquil gardens sit in all their glory, and are known to residents as Dover’s most historic parks.
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Russell Gardens is Grade II listed and Kearsney Abbey contains many Grade II listed features.
Many who grew up in east Kent will have become familiar with the beauty spot over the years, visiting occasionally.
It’s always been a peaceful place to take a walk, feed the ducks, see the majestic swans, or settle down for a picnic in the warmer months.
It was, and still is, a popular landscape for children to visit on school trips.
With its history dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries, residents have been used to having the carefully designed space on their doorsteps.
The gardens are a hotspot for families
Being a new mum, and having brought up a newborn during the back-end of the COVID-19 pandemic, going out on walks has become second nature.
So, after exhausting most of my immediate parks in Folkestone, it was time to venture a bit further afield.
I had been to Kearsney Abbey before, many years ago, and as a child. And, when I worked in Deal and Sandwich, I passed these parks twice-daily without batting an eyelid.
Pulling up in the gravelled car park, I was instantly taken back by just how quiet it was, despite the A-road being nearly always bustling with cars.
The car park itself was also particularly busy for a Wednesday morning.
My friend and fellow mum who joined me also admitted she hadn’t visited for some time, and couldn’t remember the layout.
With the babies asleep in their prams, we set off along the pathways with no particular route in mind.
On our journey we came to a woodland clearing with a rope swing, and we crossed bridges that stretched over the River Dour.
Even the ducks were friendly, straying from the ponds and coming very close to walkers and families.
But what struck me most, was the amount of like minded mums taking a stroll in the fresh air.
Despite COVID’s restrictions still stopping the newly built cafe from opening fully, there was a temporary food van on site serving toasted sandwiches and hot drinks.
When the new glass-fronted premises is allowed to open, I can envisage even more people choosing to visit.
And I can only imagine just how busy the parks get when the sun is shining and the weekend comes around.
According to Dover District Council, the doors to this new addition will open in early summer.
Russell Gardens has also had a new outdoor play area built, which is proving a hit with families.
The parks, despite always being a treasured part of the district, have undergone restoration as part of a wider project in recent years.
As part of the Parks for People project, Lottery funding is contributing to the maintenance of both parks on either side of the Alkham Road.
Those who haven’t been for some time will have noticed a new junction leading to the car park, and more spaces available than before.
There are also plans to incorporate a cycle route, and with a vision for promoting tourism, bolstering the link with the nearby Kearsney train station.
To find out more about the ongoing work at the parks, press here.
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What are you waiting for?!
Do I have to pay to park?
The car park opposite Russell Gardens is open and it’s free. While the COVID-19 guidance remains for people to socially distance, Dover District Council says it will be monitoring numbers that come and go from the car park.
A spokesman said: “We will be closely monitoring how it is used. If it becomes apparent that national guidelines are not being followed, we may be required to close the car park again.”
Alkham Road, Temple Ewell, Dover, CT16 3EE.