The Swale Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Convention)
The Swale, United Kingdom
MARINE PROTECTED AREA
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The name The Swale refers to the strip of sea separating North Kent from the Isle of Sheppey.
The name "Swale" is Old English in origin, and is believed to mean "swirling, rushing river", or "rushing water". The Swale was originally part of a river. Before the formation of the English Channel in about 6500 BC, the eastern coast of Great Britain extended much further into the area of the present-day North Sea, and the Isle of Sheppey formed part of mainland Britain. The channel now occupied by the Swale comprised a river valley facing eastwards. As sea-levels rose, water occupied the whole length of the valley, dividing today's Isle of Sheppey from the mainland.
When the Romans arrived in Britain, the Swale extended much wider than it does today, with one part of the Isle of Sheppey — now called the Isle of Harty — a separate island. The Isle of Harty is no longer separate but the marshlands now gradually filling the channel delineate it. The channel needs constant dredging to allow use of the busy waterway.
The Swale is crossed at its western end by two bridges: the Kingsferry Bridge and the new Sheppey Crossing.
The Swale forms both a National Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area: the eel grass, Ray's knotgrass, white seakale, glassworts and golden samphire support rare and uncommon migrant butterflies and moths, including the Essex emerald, the ground lackey, the clouded yellow butterfly and rare hawk-moths.
The Swale notably provides habitats for the following birds:
Alex Farm Pastures • Alkham, Lydden And Swingfield Woods • Allington Quarry • Aylesford Pit • Baker's Hole • Bourne Alder Carr • Brookland Wood • Charing Beech Hangers • Chattenden Woods • Chequer's Wood And Old Park • Cheyne Court • Church Woods, Blean • Cobham Woods • Combwell Wood • Cowden Meadow • Cowden Pound Pastures • Dalham Farm • Darenth Wood Dover To Kingsdown Cliffs • Down Bank • Dryhill • Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay • East Blean Woods • Ellenden Wood • Farningham Wood • Folkestone To Etchinghill Escarpment • Folkestone Warren • Gibbin's Brook • Great Crabbles Wood • Great Shuttlesfield Down • Greatness Brickworks • Halling To Trottiscliffe Escarpment • Ham Street Woods • Hart Hill • Hatch Park • High Rocks • Hoad's Wood • Holborough To Burham Marshes • Hollingbourne Downs • Hothfield Common • Houlder And Monarch Hill Pits, Upper Halling • Hubbard's Hill • Ileden And Oxenden Woods • Knole Park • Larkey Valley Wood • Lenham Quarry • Lullingstone Park • Lydden And Temple Ewell Downs • Lympne Escarpment • Lynsore Bottom • Magpie Bottom • Marden Meadows • Medway Estuary And Marshes • North Lade • Northward Hill • Oaken Wood • Oldbury And Seal Chart • One Tree Hill And Bitchet Common • Orlestone Forest • Otford To Shoreham Downs • Otterpool Quarry • Park Wood, Chilham • Park Gate Down • Parsonage Wood • Pembury Cutting And Pit • Peter's Pit • Polebrook Farm • Preston Marshes • Purple Hill • Queendown Warren • River Beult • Robins Wood • Romney Warren • Rusthall Common • Sandwich Bay To Hacklinge Marshes • Scord's Wood And Brockhoult Mount • Scotney Castle Seabrook Stream • Sevenoaks Gravel Pits • Sheppey Cliffs And Foreshore • Shorne And Ashenbank Woods • Sissinghurst Park Wood • South Thames Estuary And Marshes Southborough Pit • Spot Lane Quarry • Stodmarsh • Sturry Pit • Swanscombe Skull Site • Tankerton Slopes • Thanet Coast • The Swale • Tower Hill To Cockham Wood • Trottiscliffe Meadows • Walland Marsh • Wansunt Pit • Wateringbury • West Blean And Thornden Woods • Westerham Mines • Westerham Wood • Wouldham To Detling Escarpment • Wye And Crundale Downs • Yockletts BankList of Sites of Special Scientific Interest by Area of Search
Coordinates: 51°21′48″N 0°52′12″E / 51.36328°N 0.87008°E / 51.36328; 0.87008
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