Non-local Walks

A shorter walk that involves a car-ride (5-10 miles) to a local area with wildlife interest. The walk length will normally be up to five miles, suitable for a morning or afternoon expedition.

First walk of the year was to Waterhay, a reserve in the Cotswold Water Park, just outside Ashton Keynes. Weather damp and warm (around 7 degrees C). We had sightings of Coot, Pochard, Wigeon (including a large grazing flock) Gadwall, Mute Swan, Comorant, a flight of Lapwing, Tufted Duck, Golden Eye, Great-crested Grebe (including a displaying pair) and a large white wader which may have been a Large Egret or a Spoonbill - we couldn't see. Also Crow, Blackbird, Chaffinch and a Buzzard foraging over one of the lakes. Not a bad haul for a mizzley day - and the beer and company at lunch was good too!

Contributed by Karen Colebourn and Tony Metcalfe

 

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This is an excellent short walk devised by Tony Metcalfe which, having plenty of shade, is ideal for a sunny day in May. At this time it also has the promise of seeing the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly, and also butterfly orchids, on Strawberry Banks nature reserve. The total length is about 5.3 km (about 3 miles) with a modest amount of climbing up to the top of Strawberry Banks.

  • Park in the long lay-bye between Old Neighbourhood and the entrance to Chalford High Street. 
  • Walk towards the "Lavender Bake House" (in the Cirencester direction) until you can pick up the entrance to the canal towpath.
  • Follow the towpath for approximately 2km, going under two road bridges. 
  • After the second bridge, arriving at Baker's Mill cross the bridge over the canal onto the road and turn right (back in the Chalford direction).
  • Follow the road back across the canal and keep left in the direction of Chalford.
  • Take a rising track into the woodland below Strawberry Banks along a public footpath.
  • Explore the two fields of this nature reserve, which are rich in wild flowers and butterflies. 
  • Descend along the stream and cross over stepping stones. Note the "tufa" on the stream bed.
  • Take a rising track to Oldhill Woods (name as marked on the OS map - possibly also know locally as Three Groves Wood). There are numerous tracks through this wood the required route is broad, stays high, runs west.
  • Follow the track through woods to Valley Corner, swinging north into Dimmel's Dale.
  • Descend back to Chalford and pick up the canal again to return to your car.

 

This walk passes through Strawberry Banks nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it is managed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and has open access at all times. The fields, surrounded by woodland, are Oolitic Limestone grasslands supporting a stunning variety of flora and fauna. During our brief visit the Early Purple orchid, Greater Butterfly orchid, Common Spotted orchid, Wild Columbine, Common Rockrose, Milkwort and Sainfoin providing vivid splashes of colour throughout the grassland. Strawberry Banks is a local hot spot for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly and judging by the number of photographers there, one of the most photographed. Marsh Fritillaries breed in the same patch year on year. They are found on the wing from mid May to early June with the males emerging first. The male is usually smaller than the female and slightly darker, although the colour of both sexes can vary from bright to dull and pale to dark. This was very evident during our visit. The food plant for the caterpillars is Devil's-bit Scabious and the female prefers those growing in a warm sunny position to lay her eggs on.

Strawberry Banks is the highlight of the walk but the woodlands and the pathway running between the river and canal offer many delights, Dippers skimming over the water or bobbing up and down when perched to the slanting sunlight through the fresh green leaves. Enjoy nature at it's best.

Marsh Fritillary

Marsh Fritillary at Strawberry Banks

Strawberry Banks

Sainfoin, Strawberry Banks

 

The 6.6km (4.2m) walk follows the Cotswold Way from the car park near Harefield Beacon amongst the magnificent beach trees of Standish Woods. It is superb on a sunny day in the Spring when the bluebells are exceptionally abundant. The return is across the valley climbing to Harefield Beacon, rejoining the Cotswold Way back to the car park (about 220m or 700' of climbing in total). This could be completed in two hours at a brisk pace, but we always find that we linger taking photographs in the woods, or enjoying the view from Haresfield Beacon. Allow at least 30 minutes extra!

Hunter's Hall is near Kingswood on the road from Dursley to Tetbury. Our typical Sunday walk usually involves lunch at a pub, so we were able to book a table for lunch at Hunter's Hall and leave several cars in the car park while doing this walk. You should allow yourself about two hours to do the 8.5km (about 5 milles), with about 170m of climb (500'). The views when looking over Lasborough when descending to Newington Park are delightful, and there are a couple of opportunities to observe water foul on small lakes. Most of the walk is through woodland or meadow. 

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