Aerial Photos Of The Lower Mill Estate

Lower Mill Estate Aerial Photo

One of the lovely things about Daisy Chain is the abundance of birds to be seen. Herons, Egrets, Grebes, Terns, Swallows and Kingfishers to name just a few.  But have you ever wondered what the Lower Mill Estate looks like to them?  Some recent guests shared these great pictures taken from a drone.

Lower Mill Estate Aerial Photo

Swooping over Somerford Lagoon, Clearwater Lake is straight ahead.  To the left is Howells Mere with Swillbrook Lakes beyond. To the right beyond the green, the tennis court and the Mill Village pool is Spinney Lake, edged on the near side by the new houses with their green eco roofs.

Lower Mill Estate Aerial Photo (2)

Zooming down towards Daisy Chain you can see some people sitting on the grass enjoying the sunshine and pick out the barbecue on the lower deck – perhaps they’ll be wheeling that out in a minute to cook up some burgers and kebabs by the lakeside! That belt of reeds doesn’t just look great in the sunrise photos that guests take from their bedrooms, it’s also home to many birds – and sometimes a murmuration of starlings lands there during the winter.  Just over to the left in the corner of the lake is the handy place for slipping the canoe into the water.

Canoe Lower Mill Estate Drone

Here she is, as seen by the birds, slipping quietly across the calm waters of the lagoon. Where are they off to? Round the island before breakfast? Paddling to the reed beds to see how many different species of birds they can count? Heading across to the narrow strip of land where they can portage across and canoe on Flagham Fen to see if they can spot the beavers in the water just a few metres away from them? Or just enjoying the simple pleasure of being afloat, the freedom, the ripple of the water, being captain of your own boat, the satisfaction of learning to make the canoe go where you want with the ‘J stroke’ (turning the paddle at the end of the stroke to act as a rudder so you don’t have to keep switching the paddle from side to side). It’s just great being out on the water … I wonder if they can smell those burgers cooking yet?

Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Winter is a fabulous time to visit the Wetland Centre at Slimbridge as thousands of migrating birds over winter on the Severn Estuary. There are 12 hides with amazing views looking out over the estuary. There is also a 360 degree observation tower for a birds eye view. There’s plenty of other things to do during your visit to Slimbridge, including seeing the UK’s largest flock of flamingos, visiting the tropical house, watching the resident otters and feeding ducks, geese and swans.

For more details about Slimbridge, visit


Using a Stand Up Paddle board on the Lower Mill Estate

SUP on Lower Mill Estate

SUP on Lower Mill Estate
We have loved exploring the lakes on the Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswold Water Park in our Canadian Canoe but we have been intrigued to try out a Stand Up Paddle board (SUP).  We have seen lots of pictures of people on SUPs and have watched people using them but now it was time to try them out for ourselves.  The Family Adventure Store have SUPs for hire on the Lower Mill Estate so we headed in their direction.  We had arranged to have a board from 11am on Saturday morning.  We had imagined heading out onto the water under clear blue skies, but it was not to be.  The skies were grey and it was raining.  We weren’t too worried as we were fairly convinced that our first encounter with a SUP would end with wet clothes –  swimming things and waterproof jackets were the order of the day.  We met Jenny at the Family Adventure Store and walked to collect a SUP.  The Stand Up Paddle board the Family Adventure Store have available to hire is an inflatable version – don’t think squishy beach ball – more rigid board with a tiny internal honeycomb structure making it really firm, but not too hard to carry.   The other vital piece of equipment, other than buoyancy aids which we were already wearing, was the paddle.  A SUP paddle is much longer than a canoe paddle and the paddle part is quite shaped.  Jenny talked us through how to hold it in the water (the opposite way round to the way we would have assumed) and how to steer.  As you stand in the middle of the board you steer with the start of your stroke, rather than at the end of your stroke as in a canoe.  We carried the board down to the edge of Somerford Lagoon, the largest lake on the Lower Mill Estate.

Setting off on a SUP is very different to setting off in a canoe.  In a canoe it is helpful if someone gives the canoe a push off into the lake.  When you a standing on a SUP, the last thing you want is for someone to give the board a push, upsetting your balance and propelling you into the water without your board! We were surprised to find how straight forward it is, and were quickly exploring the lake – it’s fun being that much higher than you are when you’re in a canoe – you have quite a different view.  We quickly forgot that it was raining and enjoyed using the SUP.  The children were very keen to have a go.  We started off with them paddling while one of us sat on the back of the board, but we soon realised that they had taken to using a SUP like ducks to water and our role was redundant!  SUP Lower Mill EstateAs the children are shorter instead of using the SUP paddle they used a canoe paddle.  Within a short time we felt at home with the SUP – and decided it was time to collect our Canadian canoe so that we could have more of us on the water at one time.  The canoe is kept in the Lower Mill Estate boat park, 10 minutes walk from Daisy Chain, or a 10 minute paddle across the lake.  We discovered that the SUP was quite capable of carrying one adult and three children across the lake! At the boat park 3 of us jumped into the canoe and our son enjoyed paddling the SUP back to Daisy Chain.  It was fun to watch the terns diving as we passed by.SUP on Lower Mill Estate

By Saturday evening the rain had cleared and so it was time for a barbecue.  It was lovely to be able to barbecue by the lakeside while the rest of the family continued to enjoy playing on the lake in the canoe and stand up paddle board.  There is an island in the middle of Somerford Lagoon which is fun to paddle around.  From the middle of the lake the hungry paddlers could smell the barbecue cooking and so soon returned to shore for food!

BBQ and watersports Lower Mill Estate

The forecast for Sunday was grey – the weather forecasters seem to excel in talking down the weather.  The sun came out and we had beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds and very light winds.  Perfect weather for paddle boarding.  We set off around the edge of the lake – there is always more wildlife to be seen in the reeds at the edge and we enjoyed gliding silently towards egrets.  The SUP is able to explore slightly smaller, shallower passages than the canoe, so it was fun to explore new places.  By staying close to the edge of the lake we were able to come ashore to swap paddlers.  Whilst we discovered that it is possible to swap vessel in the middle of the lake it was slightly more wobbly, although our confidence had meant that today we were wearing shorts and t-shirts rather than swimming things!  There were lots of swans on the lake, and it was lovely to watch a couple of them running across the water, lifting off and flying across the lake.  Swan taking off

Jenny told us that a recent guest on the Lower Mill Estate had swum around the edge of Somerford Lagoon and measured it as 2.2km.  I think we’ll stick to paddling (not with our feet!)  We loved our adventures with a SUP and will definitely be spending more time on them.  The children were very excited to tell their friends about their adventures on returning to school this morning!
SUP on Lower Mill Estate

To contact the Family Adventure Store to book a SUP, or indeed a kayak or bike for your holiday on the Lower Mill Estate give them a ring on 07971 252394  Hire charges are by the day or 3 days, but have a chat about what would work for you as they are very happy to work around you.

Cotswold Falconry Centre

Harris Hawk

Cotswold Falconry Centre, based at Batsford Park, near Moreton-in-Marsh, is home to about 150 birds of prey.  Through education and fun, the centre aims to promote the greater understanding of birds of prey.  Each year Cotswold Falconry welcomes over 20,000 visitors who enjoy daily demonstrations of free flying birds of prey.  The Falconry has a history of successful breeding and has bred over 30 different species.

Cotswold Falconry Centre also offers the opportunity to have flying experiences with their birds of prey, with a range of options available, from starter experiences to owl evenings and eagle days.

A recent Trip Advisor reviewer wrote of their visit, “A fantastic day out! The flying displays were really good. You get close to owls, vultures and eagles and the knowledgeable staff explain all about the birds and how they exercise them. You can have an owl fly to your arm and the vultures swoop over your head. Brilliant! Great for adults and children alike.”


Harris Hawk

Corinium Museum Cirencester

Corinium MuseumThis week is Twitter’s International Museum Week which celebrates the many museums and galleries across the world that make valuable contributions to the arts, history and culture of so many countries. Corinium Museum is a fantastic multi-award winning museum in Cirencester.  (It won the Cotswolds Tourism Award Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2015) The Roman Town of Corinium (which we know today as Cirencester) was the second largest town in Roman Britain and contained a rich collection of Roman antiquities.  Many of these treasures are on show in the museum today.


Corinium Museum offers inspiring glimpses into Roman Life.  This is combined with a range of interactive hands on activities which bring history to life.  Visitors can experience life as a Roman, admire stunning mosaics up close and peek through the window of a Roman House.  Corinium Museum also have an award winning app which includes a museum tour, town tour and learning zone. It is a perfect way for visitors to Cirencester to learn more about Roman History.  For more details


Corinium Museum lay on a range of Children’s workshops – in April you can choose from mini-mosaics, incredible insects, and a hare on a bag.  Booking is essential for these workshops so do ring ahead!


A visit to Corinium Museum is a perfect activity for a day when the weather might not be as sunny as you would like!  The museum is open from 10am – 4pm Monday – Saturday and 2pm – 4pm on Sundays.

Pond dipping on the Lower Mill Estate


Frogspawn With the arrival of spring, the ponds on the Lower Mill Estate Nature Reserve are beginning to burst into life.  One of the first signs is frogs and toads making their way to the ponds to breed.  Children love spotting large lumps of frogspawn in the ponds, which starts off with just a tiny dot in the middle of a ball of jelly.  It’s great fun to watch the frogspawn developing over the following days and weeks and turning into tadpoles then froglets.  And then the day comes when the froglets become frogs and make their own journey away from the pond and into the big wide world (or nature reserve as it may be!)


On the Lower Mill Estate, one of the best places to look at pondlife, and for frogspawn at this time year is at Pike’s Corner.  It has a board walk that leads you to a pond with a sign showing different wildlife that can be found.  As spring warms up there will be masses of damselflies and grasshoppers. Our children spend many happy hours trying to catch grasshoppers and watching them leap!

Pond dipping


Froglife, a national wildlife conservation charity which focuses on the conservation of the UK’s amphibian and reptile species has produced a great app called ‘Dragon Finder’.  You can use it to identify reptiles and amphibians as well as their eggs, larvae and calls and to report sightings.  It is available for iPhone and Android.  The app can be downloaded from