Welcoming the Friendship Café to the Cotswolds National Landscape
Women from the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have been walking with women from The Friendship Café at Chequers, Gloucester since 2018. Walks have been led by the wardens along a variety of picturesque locations, including Stanton, Stanway, Lower Slaughter and Woodchester Mansion. The walks have been very well received, with the offer of a walk being rapidly taken up and the enjoyment of all easy to see on the day. Women of many nationalities have come along on the walks and it has given them the opportunity to get to know each other better.
A recent Caring for the Cotswolds grant was used towards walking equipment, maps, high vis jackets and walking poles. These items have improved the walking experience for the women and foster greater independence. On the latest walk, pictured above, the walk was in and around the historic market town of Cirencester, taking in a section of Cirencester Park. The walk was 3 miles, and flat – to make sure everyone could participate.
For more information on the Friendship Café visit https://thefriendshipcafe.com/
A great place to volunteer, meet new people and enjoy nature
Hidden at the end of a bridle way on the outskirts of Wotton-under-Edge, lies 100 Acer Wood. The sloped site is small – just 2.5 acres – but has lots of variety with woodland, open areas and a stream. Over the last 18 months a growing band of volunteers have helped restore the site and improve it for wildlife. The volunteers have laid a large section of hedge, cleared undergrowth swamping young trees and created open areas for wildflowers and insects. A number of new trees have been planted – an ongoing task – to replace ash trees with die-back and others that have succumbed to squirrel damage. A Caring for the Cotswolds grant has helped fund tools, trees, fencing and an onsite toilet. These resources facilitate the management of the site but and importantly, improve the volunteer experience. For more information visit the 100 Acer Wood Facebook Page.
An inspiring space for the community in beautiful surroundings
The new shelter at Westonbirt Arboretum officially opened on 17 May © Forestry England
A new woodland shelter has been opened at Westonbirt Arboretum. The project was led by those who would be using the space: community groups worked on the design of the shelter as well as on the building process, embodying the idea of the space being ‘by the community, for the community’. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum applied to Caring for the Cotswolds and secured our biggest single funding contribution to date. The shelter will now be the heart of the arboretum’s community programme, and provide participants a ‘home’ that provides a safe and familiar space that they can take ownership of. This project is a wonderful reminder of the valuable contribution members of Caring for the Cotswolds can make to people and nature throughout the Cotswolds. More info here: Westonbirt Arboretum Community Shelter | Forestry England
Preserving a three-acre traditional orchard at Wolds End, Chipping Campden
The Campden Society successfully bid to Caring for the Cotswolds towards a project that will help preserve a three-acre traditional orchard at Wolds End, Chipping Campden. The project involves pruning the oldest trees to safeguard them from being damaged in high winds, a survey of the trees and tools to enable ongoing management by the volunteers. Pruning the trees prolongs their life and promotes health. The survey of the trees, as well as the grassland, will improve understanding of the site and inform future management.
Traditional orchards, once commonplace, are now increasingly rare. They are excellent for wildlife; the trees of different ages and unimproved grassland provides habitat for a range of species. The proximity of Wolds End orchard to the town of Chipping Campden also makes it unusual. Whilst there is no public right of way, the orchard is open to the local community through regular volunteer work parties and four main events throughout the year: Blossom Time, Summer Picnic, Apple Day & Harvesting, and Wassailing. This year, the orchard will be open to the public for Blossom Weekend from Sat 30 Apr to Mon 2 May.
Bringing the environment and history to life in Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire
Limpley Stoke is a village in the southern Cotswolds in the Avon valley between Bath and Freshford. A Caring for the Cotswolds grant has funded the design and installation of three new information boards: in the park (pictured above) by the church, and near the Best Western Hotel entrance and opposite the Hop Pole Inn. The locations were selected because they are key routes for residents and visitors walking into and around the village.
The creation of the Environment and History information boards has been the culmination of diligent work carried out by many villagers and researchers over the years. Environment research has included the obtaining of habitat maps from the Association of Local Environmental Records. Over the years various history documents have been produced on the village, and information from these has been incorporated into the boards. A QR Code can be found on the boards for further information sources.
Community Shelter at Westonbirt Arboretum
Caring for the Cotswolds is proud to be supporting the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum with our biggest grant to date. The community shelter has been designed and built with the help of the people that will ultimately use it. The structure will be seriously impressive once finished and will act as a hub for educational events and activities at the Arboretum.
The project is engaging and working with a wide range of schools, charities and community groups. Graham Anstey, Community Shelter Development Officer (pictured above) says “We hear from the schools and colleges we work with that the students carry their engagement and confidence back with them, and often talk about their positive experience of being part of the programme.”
The shelter is currently under construction and scheduled to be complete by summer 2022.
See here for more info: https://www.fowa.org.uk/what-we-do/projects/community-shelter-project
New projects supported by Caring for the Cotswolds!
In autumn 2021, the Caring for the Cotswolds grant scheme opened to new applications. In January 2022 six of the applications were approved by the Grants Panel. In total, £6,000 was awarded. One of the projects, pictured above, is Wolds End Orchard in Chipping Campden. The project was proposed by The Campden Society and focuses on the restoration and management of this traditional orchard. Not only will the wildlife benefit from this project, there will be lots of opportunities for community involvement through volunteering, events and visits. A summary of new projects is below:
|100 Acer Wood Conservation Trust||Hedgerow/ orchard planting & tools for management|
|Friendship Café & Cotswold Wardens||Equipment, clothing & maps to facilitate walking groups|
|Long Newnton Parish Council||Wild flower verge creation & management over 3 yrs|
|The Campden Society||Management & restoration of a traditional orchard|
|Tysoe Parish Council||Community engagement & conservation project|
|Wotton Area Climate Action Network||Wildflower plants & interpretation|
Sladebank Woods revisited
We revisit Sladebank Woods CIC almost a year after they were awarded a Caring for the Cotswolds grant and boy, have they been busy! The grant helped pay for the surfacing of new access paths around the woodland, a compost loo and the construction of the woodhenge, which is used as a focal point for visiting groups. A number of the visiting groups were also involved in its construction; a real community endeavour. The project has been attracting lots of (well deserved) attention, featuring on BBC Points West in September. Also, look out for the March 2022 issue of Cotswold Life, in which Martin Jakes, the woodland owner, shares his thoughts, passions and plans for the woodland.
Tormarton Village Pond
The village of Tormarton is in South Gloucestershire, located just north of the M4 motorway. The village boasts many historic buildings including, St Mary Magdalene church which dates back to the 12th century. Another little gem at the centre of the village is the village pond. It is quite large, relative to the village, and has two access points from the High Street leading to a seating area. Two years ago, a Caring for the Cotswolds grant paid for an interpretation board that explains the various features of the pond, its surroundings and the wildlife on site. For such a small site, there is a lot to see – testament to the importance of good quality fresh water habitats. The pond has lost many of the mature ash trees that surrounded it; a result of ash die-back. However, the trees have been pollarded (a high cut) rather than felled so that they will continue to provide valuable habitat for insects, birds and mammals in the years to come.
New Footbridge near Rissington Mill
Before and after photos of the completed footpath improvements © Nicola Chidley
A well-used footpath that runs from Bourton on the Water to Little Rissington has benefited from a new footbridge in a notoriously wet and muddy spot. The project, which took several years planning, was developed by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens working with Gloucestershire County Council Public Rights of Way team and the local landowner. It took several months to arrange the Environment Agency licence, materials and access but finally on a couple of damp October days the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens spent their mornings constructing the footbridge on site. Further along the same path, the wardens also replaced a broken gate and handrail to ensure the onward path is easy to use.
This is a legacy project of the North Cotswold Walkers Charity (NCW), which wound up its operations earlier this year. NCW donated its residual funds to Caring for the Cotswolds with funds ring-fenced for access projects in the North Cotswolds after its closure. One at these projects was at Rissington Mill where £1,100 was allocated to the work. The bridge has been well received by local walkers and will be appreciated by visitors on a popular path between Bourton-on-on-the-Water, Rissington Mill and Wyck Rissington/ Little Rissington.
Stroud Landscape Project receives welcome boost
A challenging project has been delivered by the National Trust (NT) at Boundary Court Farm, sandwiched between Selsley and Woodchester near Stroud. A Caring for the Cotswolds grant was used to purchase and install a new water trough for the NT’s herd of Belted Galloway cattle. The trough is supplied from a water source at the top of the hill in Selsley and the pipe had to be laid a meter underground following an old woodland track!
The new trough will enable the NT to extend the grazing regime at Boundary Court Farm. The extension will see over seven hectares of a species-poor grassland bank being restored. The restoration of the bank at the farm is an important element in the Stroud Landscape Project. As the bank gradually begins to support more wildflowers over the coming years, the team will be able to harvest the seed – further expanding the successful programme of collection and sowing.
A wonderful circular walk can be enjoyed around Boundary Court Farm with access points and parking near St Mary’s Church, North Woodchester.
Chalford Parish Council launches new biodiversity trails!
Early in 2021, Chalford Climate Action Network received a grant from the Cotswold National Landscape’s Caring for the Cotswold scheme. Dr Grace O’Donovan explained the group’s objectives and how the grant was used. “We have a range of initiatives to reduce our community’s use of carbon and become more sustainable. This has included enhancing several habitats around the Parish, including planting a spinney of 150 trees. Next, we wanted to create trails so everyone could enjoy these sites and learn why they are so valuable. In particular, we wanted to encourage people to visit varied and lesser-known parts of the Parish, so the trails go through grassland, ancient woods and along The Thames and Severn Canal and the River Frome.” If walked in full, the trail combines four established protected areas and two new wildlife sites developed by the Network’s Biodiversity Action team.
A trail leaflet is available, but around the walks there are five information boards, which in addition to advice on what can be seen, offer a QR code to direct people onto the trail’s website. “Then you can download either a GPS or Google Earth file which will guide you round the walk. Local schoolchildren visit the sites too, and search for all the unusual plants and animals. They are very good at finding them – perhaps because they are closer to the ground than adults!”