The Swale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Swale
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Groynes towards Seasalter - geograph.org.uk - 1033231.jpg
Area of SearchKent
Grid referenceTR 001 665[1]
InterestBiological
Area6,509.4 hectares (16,085 acres)[1]
Notification1990[1]
Location mapMagic Map
Designations
Official nameThe Swale
Designated17 July 1985
Reference no.299[2]

The Swale is a tidal channel of the Thames estuary that separates the Isle of Sheppey from the rest of Kent. On its banks is a 6,509.4-hectare (16,085-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest which stretches from Sittingbourne to Whitstable in Kent.[1][3] It is also a Ramsar internationally important wetland site[4] and a Special Protection Area under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.[5] Parts of it are a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I,[6] National Nature Reserves,[7][8][9] a Kent Wildlife Trust nature reserve[10] and a Local Nature Reserve.[11]

History[edit]

A distance shot of the two Swale crossings.

The name "Swale" is Old English in origin, and is believed to mean "swirling, rushing river", or "rushing water".[12] The Swale was originally part of a river. Prior to 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. Two ferry services also crossed the Swale, one between Oare and Harty, and the other between Murston (near Sittingbourne) and Elmley (another former hamlet on the Isle of Sheppey). 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 later Sheppey Crossing.

Nature[edit]

Birdwatching hide on the Kent Wildlife Trust reserve at Oare Marshes
Sunset over the Swale

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. Since 1968, it has also been a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[13]

Birds[edit]

The Swale notably provides habitats for the following birds:

See also[edit]

  • Swale (local government district)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Designated Sites View: The Swale". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  2. ^ "The Swale". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Map of The Swale". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Designated Sites View: The Swale". Ramsar Site. Natural England. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Designated Sites View: The Swale". Special Protection Area. Natural England. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  6. ^ Ratcliffe, Derek, ed. (1977). A Nature Conservation Review. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0521 21403 3.
  7. ^ "Kent's National Nature Reserves". Natural England. 2 August 2014. Archived from the original on 24 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Designated Sites View: The Swale". National Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Designated Sites View: Elmley". National Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Oare Marshes". Kent Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on 2018-01-23. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Designated Sites View: South Bank of the Swale". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  12. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1960), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (4th ed.), Oxford: OUP, p. 455, ISBN 978-0-19-869103-7. Mills, A. D. (1998), A Dictionary of English Place-Names (2nd ed.), Oxford: OUP, p. 335. While Ekwall takes the origin of this name to be identical with that of the Yorkshire river, Mills says it is "probably identical".
  13. ^ "SSSI The Swale" (PDF). www.sssi.naturalengland.org.uk. 1968. Retrieved 12 November 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°21′43″N 0°52′23″E / 51.362°N 0.873°E / 51.362; 0.873