October/November 2012: News from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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Latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Cotswold walling winners receive surprise royal presentation

HRH the Princess Royal took time out of her busy schedule to present awards to the delighted winners at this year’s Cotswolds AONB Dry Stone Walling Competition which took place on Sunday 7 October at the spectacular Gatcombe Park Estate in Gloucestershire.

Fourteen wallers across the four classes competed during the day for the cash prize and trophies at the annual competition which is supported by the Cotswolds branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA) and Huntsmans Quarries.

The winners were:

Professional class
1st Alistair Bidmead from Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire (pictured)
2nd John Byrne from Nailsworth Gloucestershire
3rd Stephen Pethick from Devon

Amateur/part-time professional class
1st Andy Deller from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
2nd Edmund Trainor from Mickleton, Gloucestershire
3rd Rob Gibson from Bedfordshire

Novice class
1st Richard Saunders from Kidlington, Oxfordshire
2nd Bridget Gibson from Bedfordshire
3rd Owen Brunsden from Northamptonshire

Beginner Pairs
1st Arthur & Robin Witchell, Gloucestershire

CPRE Award for gas pipeline project

The National Grid Wormington to Sapperton Gas Pipeline project, completed in 2010, has been selected as a winner in the CPRE Gloucestershire’s (Campaign for Rural England) Annual Awards.

The CPRE Gloucestershire Awards, held in October at Highnam Court, recognise and celebrate projects which are exemplars of good practice, demonstrate sustainability and involve improvements to the rural environment. The restoration of the landscape following the pipeline construction and carried out in partnership with the Cotswolds Conservation Board impressed the judges.

CPRE County Director, David Brooke, said: “I should like to add my personal congratulations on the excellent scheme and on the principle of conserving a considerable swathe of the Gloucestershire landscape. The judges found the detailed specification, design and workmanship in the project to be of a very high quality and well-deserving of an award.”

Pictured: Tim Vaughan, National Grid (left) with Viscount Bledisloe, Vice President, CPRE Gloucestershire.

Hedgelaying Competition

The annual North Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competition took place at Hitchen Farm, Ford, Gloucestershire on the 17 November and once again attracted many participants from across the country.

The winners were:

1st Alan Ashby, Kent
2nd Steve Budding, Leicestershire
3rd Steven Leslie, Derbyshire

1st Andrew Williams, Gloucestershire
2nd Derrick Hale, Derbyshire
3rd John Dunbar, Wolverhampton

Junior & Beginners
1st Martin Jarratt, Chipping Norton
2nd Andy Deller, Chipping Norton
3rd Jonathan Adams, Oxon

1st Clive Matthew, Leicestershire
2nd Peter Flint, Leicestershire
3rd Tony Heard, Warwickshire

Beginner Pairs
1st Malcolm Downing & Duncan Fraser, Somerset
2nd Jeremy Bainsbridge & Chris Rawlings, Oxon

Best 2011 regrowth
Open – Steve Budding
Intermediate – Derrick Hale
Junior & beginners – David Faulkner
Veteran – Peter Tunks
Beginners Pairs – J Faulkner & B Scarcliffe
Overall – Derrick Hale

Understanding and enjoying

Cotswold Way's new marker at Bath

A new work of public art has been unveiled at Bath Abbey to mark the beginning and the end of the Cotswold Way National Trail.

The unveiling ceremony was the result of an initiative between the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Bath Abbey and Bath & North East Somerset Council who have worked closely together to provide an attractive and fitting focus marking the start and finish of the Cotswold Way.

The marker takes the form of a large limestone disc set into the pavement outside the west doors of the Abbey, the official start and end of the Cotswold Way. Hand carved by local artist Iain Cotton with place names from along the trail, it provides an invitation to walk, a welcome for tired feet and food for thought for the thousands of people that visit the city and walk the National Trail every week.

Click here for further details.

Pictured left to right: Board Member Richard Lloyd; National Trail Officer James Blockley; Voluntary Wardens John Walker and Wilf Dando.

Our Land tourism business networking event

Around 40 businesses and tourism representatives from across the Cotswolds enjoyed a business networking event recently at the Organic Farm Shop, Cirencester to help celebrate and learn more about the Our Land sustainable tourism project.

Inspiring talks and presentations were given by Justin Francis, Responsible Travel; Mark Connelly, Cotswolds Conservation Board; Neil Warren, Centre for Climate Change and Business Solutions, plus Cotswolds Chef, Rob Rees.

As well as being able to provide a useful networking opportunity with other like-minded businesses, the event helped to raise awareness of the importance of landscape to the visitor experience and some of the special features of the AONB, as well as give practical advice on sustainable travel and using local produce.

Click here for further details and to view the presentations.

Tourism first for nature conservation

UK National Parks & Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty partner with RSPB South East to improve responsible rural tourism.

The RSPB, the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe, joins Our Land to highlight how tourism can help with the conservation of our countryside.

The RSPB has long standing relationships with UK Protected Landscapes, however this is the first time a partnership has been created with a specific focus on responsible tourism.

To launch the partnership, Our Land’s network of tourism businesses in the Cotswolds AONB and 8 other protected landscapes in the South East, join the million strong RSPB members and over 20,000 volunteers who are part of the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement, which aims to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2020.

Through the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement, Our Land’s tourism businesses will receive advice and support about steps they can take to help wildlife. In turn, as part of Our Land's "conservation mapping" Love Our Land campaign, all the RSPB's nature reserves and conservation work in the National Parks and AONBs are being included on Our Land so that visitors can experience them for the first time alongside places to stay and things to do.

Click here for further information.

Access seminar

This year's Cotswolds AONB Access Seminar, held on 30 October at Aldsworth Village Hall, attracted a wide range of groups involved in public rights of way including highway authorities, Ramblers Association, British Horse Society, landowners, Voluntary Wardens, Local Access Forums, tourism businesses and carriage drivers.

The seminar entitled ‘Cotswolds on a Bootlace’, focused on examining recent cuts to the rights of way sector and how these can be managed in the future.
Key points arising from the seminar included: the important role of volunteers and the community in maintaining rights of way and the need to build on this in the future; the economic value of rights of way and how future funding opportunities could be sought eg through visitor giving schemes and new partnerships. Priority areas resulting from the seminar will be incorporated into the Boards’ Business Plan 2013-16.

Outdoor learning for school pupils

On 1st October, children from Enstone Primary School were invited to visit the Ditchley Estate, Oxfordshire to learn more about bees, wildflower meadows and farming, as part of the Cotswolds AONB education project, coordinated by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens.

Estate Manager Geoff Burroughs introduced the children to bee farming and the importance of wildflower meadows in providing important habitats for bees and other insects.

Other points of interest were shown to the children such as log piles used for the new biomass boiler, and at the house the children were privileged to be given a guided tour of the Winston Churchill rooms not normally accessible to the public. During the afternoon the younger ones, some as young as four, were invited to see the magnificent White Park bull but the biggest hit was for the farm manager, Robert Hobill, to allow them to climb on to the tractors and combine harvester. 

Strategic management and planning

Launch of consultation on future management of Cotswolds landscape

Businesses, landowners, residents and visitors are invited to consider a range of proposals concerning the future management of the Cotswolds AONB.

The second draft Cotswolds AONB Management Plan 2013-18 sets out a series of policies and actions to help guide public bodies, landowners, businesses and individuals on how they can play their part in looking after the Cotswolds landscape and encouraging others to appreciate and enjoy its natural beauty.

The plan covers a number of themes including rural land management, tourism, biodiversity, transport and development, health and wellbeing, and the historic environment. Views on the draft plan are now being sought by the Board and the deadline for responses is 13 January 2013.

Click here for further information.

People and communities

School benefits from sustainable development funding

Outdoor classroom for Northleach School

A project to reclaim an area of scrubland on the perimeter of Northleach School and convert it into an interactive outdoor classroom area has opened.

The school, which received a £5000 grant award from the Sustainable Development Fund earlier this year, has renovated the site to include a vegetable patch, wildlife area, outdoor learning area and performance amphitheatre. Students now have the opportunity to learn about sustainable living through interactive activities such as growing their own vegetables and being able to observe local wildlife in the garden.

For further details on the Sustainable Development Fund, go to: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/sdf

Friends of the Cotswolds' appeal receives £20k boost

Conservation charity, the Friends of the Cotswolds, has received a huge boost to their fundraising activities to help save the Old Prison at Northleach, thanks to local waste management company Grundon.

The Oxfordshire-based company, Grundon Waste Management Ltd, has donated £20,000 via the Landfill Communities Fund to help the Friends secure the future of the Grade II* listed Old Prison building at Northleach which was put on the market by Cotswold District Council last year. The Friends of the Cotswolds are the preferred bidder by the council to take ownership of the Old Prison building and site at Northleach which houses the Cotswolds Conservation Board and the Escape to the Cotswolds discovery centre.

Simon Randall Chairman of the Friends of the Cotswolds said: “We are extremely grateful to Grundon for this generous donation which is a massive boost to our fundraising activities. We hope to be able to complete the purchase by Easter 2013 and then the real hard work to create a truly vibrant community, visitor and educational centre begins.”

Anyone wishing to help with this project either via donations or practical hands-on help please contact: friends@friendsofthecotswolds.co.uk or by visiting: www.friendsofthecotswolds.org

A festive 'lock-in' at the Old Prison

Following on from the successful open day held in August at the Old Prison, Northleach, the Friends of the Cotswolds organised a rural themed Christmas event and ‘lock-in’ on the afternoon of Sunday 2 December to help raise funds for the Old Prison Appeal. 

Helping to boost the fundraising activities was local district councillor, Chris Hancock who offered to be ‘locked up’ for 24 hours in one of the prison cells. Cllr Hancock recorded his experience during the night and is hoping to raise more funds from colleagues, friends and local people.

The event attracted hundreds of people from Northleach and further afield who came to enjoy a range of rural skills demonstrations including green woodworking, blacksmithing and wool spinning, plus badge-making for children, music supplied by the Chedworth Silver Band and carol singing around the Christmas tree, kindly donated by Lord Vestey, Patron of the Friends of the Cotswolds.

To donate, please visit www.everyclick.com/friendsofthecotswolds

Lauren and Stephen join the team

Lauren Judson and Stephen Westmore have recently joined the Board’s team at Northleach.

Lauren has recently completed a Master’s degree in Town Planning at the University of Reading, and has just started a 6 month internship with the Conservation Board. During her time with the Board, she will be undertaking a data management role with the key aim of producing a ‘State of the Cotswolds Report’ to coincide with the publication of the new AONB Management Plan in March 2013. Lauren is also looking forward to gaining valuable experience working within the rural conservation sector.  She lives in Stanton St Quintin near Malmesbury.

Stephen has recently taken over the Farming & Woodland Officer role from Charles Robinson who left to start up a new post with Natural England.  His role is divided between preparing and submitting Environmental Stewardship schemes on farmland within the Cotswolds AONB and encouraging landowners to enter into the English Woodland Grant Scheme within the Cotswolds Ancient Woodland Priority Area.

Stephen, from Gloucester, graduated from Harper Adams University College with a degree in Countryside Management and is now in the process of completing a Master’s degree in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry at Myerscough College. He has also previously worked in forestry, arboricultural and countryside sectors.

Diary dates

Cotswolds Conservation Board Annual Forum
Friday 1 March 2013, Forest Green Rovers, Nailsworth

Rural Skills Courses

Stone masonry taster day: Mon 10 December, Filkins, Oxfordshire
Woodland Coppicing: Suny 6 January, Coberley Gloucestershire
Stone Masonry Taster Day: Tues 8 January, Filkins, Oxfordshire
Beginners Hedgelaying (Midland style): Sat 12 - Sun 13 January, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire
Blacksmithing Taster Day: Sun 13 January, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Beginners Hedgelaying (Somerset style): Sat 26 - Sun 27 January, Luckington, Wiltshire