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

 

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

 

 

Snakeshead fritillaries and Orchids in the Cotswolds

snakeshead fritillary

snakeshead fritillary From mid April to the end of May the Cotswolds are home to some magnificent displays of wild flowers.  The spectacle begins in North Meadow, Cricklade with a spring time display of snakeshead fritillaries of international importance.  A staggering 80% of Britain’s snakeshead fritillaries grow on this 110 acre site.  The meadow is open to the public and guided walks are also arranged.

The times for these as well as an accompanying walk leaflet can be found at http://www.crickladeinbloom.co.uk/cricklade_north_meadow_guided_walks.html

orchids CotswoldsJust a 20 minute walk from Daisy Chain lies Clattinger Farm, a precious remnant of Britain’s ancient hay meadows.  The farm is considered the finest remaining example of a typical lowland hay meadow in the UK. It has never been treated with any agricultural chemicals and is one of the finest wildflower meadows in Europe.  As well as being home to snakeshead fritillaries it is also home to a range of orchids including the green-winged, early marsh and burnt orchids.  The volume of orchids within the meadow has to be seen to be believed! A visit in May is a must.Orchids Cotswolds

More information about Clattinger Farm can be found at http://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/Reserves/clattingerfarm

Do contact us if we can help you out with somewhere to stay during your wild flower safari in the Cotswolds! We have a number of mid week breaks available in April, May and June.

 

Pond dipping on the Lower Mill Estate

Frogspawn

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 http://www.froglife.org/dragonfinder/app/