Bluebells in the Cotswolds

Bluebells

Bluebells

As we all begin to enjoy the warmth of the sun again, we are reminded of the beauty of the English countryside in spring.  From the middle of April, woodlands around the Cotswolds burst into life with a fabulous blue haze of bluebells.  Nature puts on a show like no other, with swathes of delicate bluebells carpeting ancient woodlands.

Early bluebells

There’s something truly captivating about wandering through a bluebell wood during the fleeting weeks of mid-April to early May.  It’s a reminder to seize the moment,  cherish the beauty that surrounds us, and to make the most of nature’s fleeting gifts. There are many locations within reach of Daisy Chain, on the Lower Mill Estate in Cotswold Water Park. Here’s our pick of some of the best:

  1.  Siccaridge Woods lie north west of Cirencester and is a semi-ancient woodland rich in wildlife and boasting a carpet of bluebells in spring. 
     
  2. Harebushes Wood is a hidden gem within Cirencester itself, and is accessed through the Norman Arch by Cirencester’s Abbey grounds.  
     
  3. To the west of Cirencester lies Badbury Clump. where there was once an Iron Age Hill Fort at the top of Badbury Woods.  Badbury Clump is very popular as its beech woods team up with bluebells for a spectacular display of nine acres of bluebells.  
     
  4. Silk Wood at Westonbirt Arboretum the national arboretum is a glorious woodland in Spring with the carpets of bluebells.  Whilst at Westonbirt visitors can enjoy the 300m Tree top walkway which takes you 13 metres up into the tree canopy and children will enjoy the 1 mile Gruffalo trail.   
     
  5. At Batsford Arboretum, visitors will enjoy a huge range of flowering spring bulbs from snowdrops to hellefores, daffodils and narcissi and shady glades of bluebells.   
     
  6. Further afield, West Woods in near Marlborough is a large plantation of beech trees on a site of an ancient woodland.  West Woods has fantastic displays of bluebells in late spring and a good network of trails allow easy access.  It is very popular with walkers and photographers alike.

As the days grow longer and the warmth of spring envelops the countryside, why not venture into the Cotswolds and experience the fleeting beauty of bluebell woods for yourself?  Take a moment to pause, to breathe in the sweet scent of wildflowers, and to lose yourself in the tranquility of nature’s embrace.  After all, these moments of magic are what memories are made of.

Enjoy exploring!

Bluebells

 

Cirencester Hare Festival

Cirencester Hare Festival

The hare has a special place in the history of Cirencester. In 1971, a mosaic bearing a hare was found close to the River Churn and is now the symbol of the Corinium Museum where the mosaic is now housed. Last year, the summer Cirencester was invaded by 50 giant hares which had been decorated by artists and celebrities. The Hare Festival has just returned to Cirencester with 30 small hares hidden around Cirencester. Visitors can pick up a ‘Hare Passport’ from the Tourist Information Centre at Corinium Museum and then each time they spot a hare they can note down it’s name and have their passport stamped. Each of the hares is decoraed in a unique style.

The one pictured, ‘Hare’s Wally’ can be round in ‘Gift’ in Cirencester. Photo via their facebook page.

Cirencester Hare

A BBQ with a view

A BBQ with a view

We had the hard job of test driving the new barbecue at Daisy Chain over the weekend – it was tough, but somebody had to do it! It did a great job, happily feeding 11 hungry mouths, and producing the best chicken and vegetable kebabs ever! While waiting for the food to cook you can sit on the lakeside, or go for a quick paddle in the Canadian Canoe…you just need to remember to come back before the food all disappears! We’ve also fitted an additional fridge, so there’s plenty of space for your meat, salad…and a few drinks too…

Orchids at Clattinger Farm

Clattinger Farm Orchids near Lower Mill Estate

Two weeks ago when we visited Clattinger Farm, a fabulous lowland meadow of international importance for its hay meadow wildflowers, it was filled with cowslips and snakeshead fritillaries. We looked for orchids and there were just a small handful – in the sort of numbers that you would expect to find in usual places where orchids grow. We returned to the field this weekend and it is now overflowing with orchids in spectacular numbers – such a rare and beautiful sight. They will continue to flower during May and into June.

Clattinger Farm Orchids near Lower Mill Estate

Clattinger Farm is the next farm to the Lower Mill Estate and well worth a visit during your Cotswold Family Holiday.

For more details visit http://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/Reserves/clattingerfarm

 

Pasqueflowers in the Cotswolds

Pasqueflowers in the Cotswolds

Another hidden gem waiting to be discovered in the Cotswolds is the Pasqueflower This rare wildflower has been lost from many of the places where it used to grow, but on the Barnsley Warren Nature Reserve, just north of Cirencester it is thriving, with a population of approximately 20,000 plants.

Geoffrey Grigson, writing of the pasqueflower in ‘The Englishman’s Flora’ wrote that it has, “…a fair claim to being the most dramatically and exotically beautiful of all English plants.”

The Barnsley Warren Nature Reserve is also home to cowslips, early purple orchids and violets and has a good butterfly population. Rabbit and brown hare help to maintain the short grassland and common lizards can often be found on areas of bare scree.

It looks like being a good year for the Pasqueflower, so if you would like to see it plan to go soon…and remember to tread carefully!

Pasqueflower near Lower Mill Estate

 

 

Lower Mill Estate Aerial Photograph

Lower Mill Estate Aerial Photograph

We’ve been having such fabulous weather over the last couple of weeks it made us think of this brilliant photograph of the Lower Mill Estate in Cotswold Water Park where Daisy Chain is. Daisy Chain is set on the lakeside with perfect uninterrupted views across Somerford Lagoon, the largest lake on the Estate. Guests can enjoy using the Canadian Canoe to explore and enjoy a different view of the wildlife. There are lots of peaceful walks to enjoy as well as cycle rides and then there is the ArtSpa where you can take relaxation to the next level. Indoor and outdoor heated pools, a sauna, steam room and Spa treatments. Hmmm….holidays.

To view an interactive version of this photograph visit https://cotswoldfamilyholidays.com/lower-mill-estate/

 

Lower Moor Farm Nature Reserve, Wiltshire

Lower Moor Farm Nature Reserve, Wiltshire

Just a mile down the road from the Lower Mill Estate is Lower Moor Farm Nature Reserve. It forms the gateway to three more reserves: Clattinger Farm, Oaksey Moor Farm Meadow and Sandpool Farm.

Lower Moor Farm is made up of three lakes, two brooks, ponds and wetland scrapes which are joined by ancient hedges, woodland and meadows. Mallard Lake is a site of special scientific interest as a marl lake which is rich in stoneworts.

There are two bird hides which give fantastic view of the birdlife…and the otters too!

At the visitors centre you can pick up a Children’s discovery trail to keep children engaged as you walk around. There is also a replica Iron Age hut which children enjoy exploring.

For further information about Clattinger Farm, and to download maps prior to your visit http://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/Reserves/lowermoorfarm

Lower Moor Farm Nature Reserve near Lower Mill Estate

 

Cycling Holidays in the Cotswolds

Cycling Holidays in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is a fabulous base for cycling. As guests arrive at Daisy Chain their cars are often loaded with bikes. The Lower Mill Estate itself has very safe roads where some of our guests have learnt to ride their bikes for the first time. Cycling is a brilliant family friendly activity which children can enjoy from a very young age. The 550 acre nature reserve has lots of paths and tracks that can be explored by bike, and then when you venture off the estate a whole world of cycle paths opens up to you. National Route 45 of the National Cycling Network passes through Cotswold Water Park, linking Chester with Salisbury. The full route travels 270 miles.

The Sustrans website is a fabulous resource for researching safe cycling routes. Have a look at http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map to find out about routes in your part of the country.

Cycling Cotswold Family Holidays Lower Mill Estate 

Otters in Cotswold Water Park

Otters in Cotswold Water Park

Otters in Cotswold Water Park

Cotswold Water Park is home to a healthy population of otters, but it remained a mammal that I hadn’t ever seen in the wild…until yesterday morning.  We had a magical time by one of the lakes on the Lower Mill Estate watching the otters diving for fish.  There were four otters who were went about their fishing with our family being a very happy audience.  We were amazed by the number of times they did synchronised dives.  Enjoy watching some of the footage we took!

http://youtu.be/RAVznCULaG4