The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Stuart Fawkes Nature Reserve is relatively close to Minchinhampton and makes a pleasant walk of about 6 km. Note, however, that there is a modest amount of up-and-down, and some parts of the route can be very muddy after wet weather. It is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), designated under the name Box Farm Meadows, because it hosts the largest UK population of the rare meadow clary, Salvia pratensis, known only at 21 UK sites. The meadow clary flowers in June and July.
The assumed starting point is the Bell Lane car park, though there are several alternative points where the route can be joined.
- Walk north-west, more-or-less along the boundary of the Common that runs from Minchinhampton Primary School, keeping the boundary on your left.
- Cross Dr Browns Road and continue west. The most obvious path follows the top of a stretch of Minchinhampton Common's "Ramparts".
- Keep following the boundary until the Common opens out to your left and right. Keep following the line you have just been walking. (You do not need to follow the boundary wall here.) You will have a golf course tee-off on your right and straight ahead (you are now facing a little south of west) you will see Windmill House, at the end of Windmill Road surrounded by trees. Head just to the right of this aiming point, crossing Windmill Road and keeping the raised Ramparts on your right.
- Turn south, towards Box, and keeping the Ramparts and golfers on your right continue along the clear path, passing the Common Road car park to your right.
- Cross Common Road and continue in the same direction towards the houses of Box village, heading for a corner of the Common where property boundaries on your right and in front meet at a right angle. Here, right in the corner, you will find the entrance to a footpath heading between the houses.
- Descend this footpath into the main road of Box, and turn left following the road until it turns sharply to the left.
- Shortly after the left turn, look for a footpath sign pointing to the right along an unmade track.
- Two public footpaths diverge from this track, but you should continue until you reach a gate into the Stuart Fawkes nature reserve.
- Walk into the field, where the Meadow Clary can be seen in June and July.
- Take the gate into the lower field on the right and continue down the middle of the field to a style at the far side.
- After the style, cross the access track to the house on your right and enter the top of the small Iron Mills Common, which has excellent views over the Weighbridge Inn and down the valley towards Nailsworth (and a convenient bench from which to enjoy them).
- Turn left along the upper boundary of this small common and descend to the road. Continue along this road until a minor road branches right down towards Longford's Mill, and just before the Mill, look out for a footpath sign on the left taking you back to the north.
- Follow this path along the stream. (This section of the route can be relatively muddy, and waterproof footware is an advantage after periods of particularly wet weather.)
- Cross two styles and climb the steep bank to the gate in the far corner of the field, giving access onto Chapel Lane. (Note a footpath diverging to the left follows the stream described in another post on this site noted for its tufa deposits. This is an alternative route back to Minchinhampton.)
- Follow Chapel Lane back the centre of Minchinhampton.
- Natural England SSSI Designation
- Natural England Citation for Box Farm Meadows.
- DEFRA "Magic" Map of Box Farm Meadows SSSI.