Do you believe in fairies?

Fairy glen at Bishopstone
The Fairy Glen

If you grew up in or around Herne Bay in the 1960s or 70s you probably do, thanks to the fairy glen at Bishopstone.

It was a legendary landmark for years because of the hard work of resident Jim Robinson, who turned the bottom of his garden into a magical woodland wonder, with painted crazy paving, fairy houses and gnomes.

Visitors loved it, particularly those who stayed at the caravan parks nearby, and rolling an old penny down the tube ‘for the fairies’ was a popular pastime.

Sadly the fairies have moved on, but there is still much to enjoy in the Glen, with paths and bridges criss-crossing the valley and woods. Whether you choose to explore the clifftop (but staying away from the edge!) or the beach below, there’s enough to keep the whole family amused for a morning or an afternoon.

The Oyster Bay Trail runs around the Glen on its way from Herne Bay to Reculver and the Glen makes a good picnic spot en route.

The area is more properly known as Oldhaven Gap, for it is a gap between two sand cliffs. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the geological features and the range of species found there.

Bishopstone Glen is also known as Oldhaven Gap - the photo shows the gap between the cliffs where it was formed
Bishopstone Glen is also known as Oldhaven Gap

The cliffs are a haven for geologists because they show London Clay on top of Oldhaven Beds, and fossils up to 60 million years old have been found there – most notably by beachcomber JE Cooper, whose finds are on display at Herne Bay Museum and Gallery.

But there are also rare butterflies and digger bees as well as a host of flora and fauna.

Do you have memories of the 'fairy glen'? If so, we'd love to hear from you and publish your recollections. Just email

About digger bees at Bishopstone Glen

digger-beeMining bees, or digger bees as they are often called are solitary and nest in burrows in the ground. Each mining bee female usually digs her own individual burrow to rear her own young. Large numbers of these bees may nest near one another if soil conditions are suitable, as they are at Bishopstone. Mining bees are not aggressive and seldom, if ever, sting. The presence of numerous bees flying close to the ground, however, may constitute a nuisance for some people. Sometimes large numbers of males will fly about the same spot for several days in a mating display.

There are about 100 species of mining bee in Britain, most resemble honey bees, but are smaller in size. Their burrows can be 60 cm deep and the clump of pollen takes the mother bee 6 or 7 journeys to gather with each load being around half her body weight. Once the pollen clump is the right size she lays an egg on it.

Digger bees Bishopstone Glen
Digger bee nests

Mining bee burrows may be located wherever there is exposed soil and good drainage. They are frequently found nesting in banks, such as along road cuts or any type of excavation, but may also be in level ground as well. The holes are about 6 mm (1/4 inch) or less in diameter. They are sometimes surrounded by a small mound of soil that the bee has brought up to the surface. Burrow structure varies according to species, but often there is a vertical tunnel with smaller side tunnels that terminate in a single cell.
The female mining bee stocks each cell with pollen and nectar she collects from flowers and then deposits an egg on the food mass. The larva hatches and consumes the stored pollen and nectar. When mature, it becomes a pupa, or resting stage, and finally becomes an adult bee. The adult bees overwinter below ground in the burrow site. During the next spring or early summer the adults emerge, mate, and the females begin burrow excavation. Mining bee populations can fluctuate dramatically from one season to the next.

A video shot from a 'drone' aircraft from the seashore adjacent to the Bishopstone Glen car park.