Mickleton Primary School visit Greystones Farm and Nature Reserve
On the 11th July students from Mickleton Primary School visited Greystones Farm and Nature Reserve with the help of a Wardens Countryside Fund grant. The grant was the key factor in enabling this visit, paying for a Pulhams bus to transport them to and from the reserve. As a result, 29 children from Year 1 (aged 6) had a fantastic day learning about nature and the environment.
The Wardens led the morning session, making use of the Learning classroom at Greystones, with activities including leaf rubbing, a bug hunt and plant and flower identification. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust led during the afternoon with a guided walk and a story telling session. The children had a fantastic time and the wardens received some wonderful feedback from the teacher and a lovely selection of thank you cards from the children. Local schools are highly appreciative of initiatives like this as the topics link to the National Curriculum, in this case identifying trees and flowers, and is free for the school. A special thank you to Ann Nye for initiating and delivering this project.
Improved access to the countryside in Box, Wiltshire
The Wardens at work on a crisp January day © Barry Cox
Ten new kissing gates have been installed in Box Parish this winter by the Wardens. The kissing gates were funded with a Farming in Protected Landscapes grant, which was topped up with a Wardens Countryside Fund grant.
The replacement of ten stiles with the ten new kissing gates will improve access to the foot path network and encourage walkers to explore the countryside within the Cotswold National Landscape. This work is part of a wider project to improve access in Box Parish, which includes the replacement of the Lovar Walk footbridge. Box Parish has a network of 107 Public Rights of Way traversing the Bybrook Valley, linking the Parish of Colerne, South Wraxall, Batheaston, Corsham Town and the Hills to the South.
During the installation of the gates many walkers and dog walkers commented on the additional benefits these kissing gates made to their walks as they replaced stiles. A total of 145.15hrs were recorded installing the gates.
The Friendship Café
Autumn walk from Woodchester Mansion, Nov 2021
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 this year, Quenington and Woodchester Mansion. Funding from the Wardens Countryside Fund has facilitated transport while the Friendship Café have also used their minibus for walks.
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. The wardens have really enjoyed taking the women out to places they may not have visited and it is encouraging that more wardens are keen to become involved with this initiative. Walks are planned for 2022 and a family walk, for all family members, is being trialled. Margaret Reid, Head Warden
The Langley Drover
The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have led a project to replace a popular landmark with a similarly styled chainsaw-carved statue. The statue of a drover and his dog, originally erected in 2000, stands on the Gloucestershire Way footpath at the crossing of two ancient Drover’s roads on Langley Hill, above Winchcombe. It has become a very popular landmark used by walkers’ organisations as a beacon for walkers to find and to then stop a while to admire the wonderful views across the surrounding countryside. The original statue, the Millennium Man, collapsed in 2020 as the ash tree stump it was carved from slowly rotted away.
The new statue is made from cedar and was crafted by well-known wood carver Neil Gow. Mounted next to the stone wall that surrounds the base of the statue is a plaque providing historical information about the statue together with recognition of the financial contributors who made the replacement statue project possible. The carving was funded through local grants and donations including the Wardens Countryside Fund. Many thanks to the Wardens at Winchcombe for building the plinth for the Drover and to all those who helped or donated.
Hanging Hill Dry Stone Wall Restoration
A lasting legacy; an impressive landscape scale restoration by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. Photo © Russell Sach
July saw the completion of the restoration of a 400m+ section of the drystone wall that runs parallel with the Cotswold Way at Hanging Hill near Cold Ashton, South Gloucestershire. The Avon Valley Walling Team have been working on the project for about 3 years putting in over 6,000 man hours of work digging out the collapsed wall and restoring over 400 tonnes of original stone by hand.
Before they started the wall was overgrown for much of its length and inaccessible to walkers. So, the Wardens cleared the field side of the wall, and the farmer cleared the other side of the wall allowing the walling team access to the wall. The result is that now walkers along the Cotswold Way have fantastic views out over the escarpment towards Bristol, the Severn Estuary and the Black Mountains in the far distance. A significant undertaking and one to be proud of.
The Heritage Trails Project
A job well done; one of many improvements to a series of trails completed by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens in North Wiltshire.
The Heritage Trails Project was developed to encourage the local community and visitors to appreciate the historical environment and experience the natural beauty of the North Wiltshire countryside. This ambitious project was led by the Avon District Cotswold Voluntary Wardens and part funded by the Wardens Countryside Fund.
The first part of the project involved improving the Public Rights of Way (PRoW) and path furniture: stiles, gates, way marker posts and signs. In total 55.48 miles of PRoWs are included in the trails, resulting in a significant number of repairs and installations to make the trails accessible to all. Work included the installation of additional way marker posts and the replacement of some of the stiles with kissing gates, as pictures above.
The second part of the project saw the design of eight trail leaflets so that walkers can learn about local heritage and places of interest as they explore the trails. The improved paths, signage and the leaflets have inspired more people to explore the area, especially during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Brackenbury Fort – The Cotswold Wardens working with Historic England
This 2000 year old hill fort know locally as Brackenbury Ditches, is the subject of a joint project between Historic England, The Cotswold Wardens and the owner.
Drone footage of Brackenbury Ditches (c) Dale Curtis