June/July 2012: News from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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Latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Dry stone wallers achieve new heights

Two dry stone wallers trained in the Cotswolds AONB are on their way to becoming master craftsmen after successfully completing an advanced dry stone walling qualification with the help of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

John Hepworth from Kidlington in Oxfordshire and Ceri Jenkins from Swansea have completed the Lantra Level 3 dry stone walling course which was set up in the Cotswolds with financial support from the Ernest Cook Trust with the aim of addressing the current shortfall in advanced dry stone walling skills and techniques in the Cotswolds AONB. The course was also supported by Huntsman’s Quarries who supplied the walling stone and training venue.


Magnificent meadows

A project to conserve wildflower-rich meadows and grasslands is being piloted in the Cotswolds AONB.

The 'Saving our Magnificent Meadows' project is being led by the Conservation Board and Plantlife to restore wildlife-rich grassland by working with landowners. The pilot is being funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and, if successful, will be rolled out across the Cotswolds and eight other project areas nationally over the next three years.

Climate change adaptation farm visit

Representatives from Defra and Natural England were invited by the Board to view a range of climate change adaptation work currently taking place at two farms in the Cotswolds AONB.

Calmsden Manor Farm and Daylesford Organics near Kingham hosted the visit to demonstrate some of the climate change work they are involved with such as new and improved crop varieties, flood risk management, rainwater harvesting, woodland management and sustainable farming techniques.

The visit formed part of the climate change advisory service established with funding by National Grid.

Corporate team building activities now available

The Cotswolds Conservation Board is now providing bespoke rural skills based activities for corporate clients looking for something a little bit different.

Repairing a historic dry stone wall, having a go at the age old craft of hedgelaying or helping to restore a piece of woodland to improve the habitat for wildlife are all on offer as corporate team building days.


Voluntary wardens break records once again

Our Cotswold Voluntary Wardens once again broke records last year, dedicating nearly 47,000 voluntary hours towards the aims of the Board. Around 67% of these hours were spent undertaking valuable conservation and enhancement work on the ground.
Full details of all the work carried out by the wardens can be seen by clicking here, but some of the achievements of their work include:

18 grassland sites improved
1,086 trees planted
1,096 metres of dry-stone walls built
111 kissing gates installed
413 steps in banks constructed
18 bridges constructed
22,950m of paths and bridleways cleared

Farm & woodland update

Since our last newsletter, 2 Higher Level Stewardship, and 4 English Woodland Grant Scheme Applications have been submitted on behalf of landowners by the Board's Farm & Woodland Adviser. These applications will generate over £77,000 of income for six landowners over a five or 10 year period.

An application for forestry equipment has been submitted in the second round of the RDPE funded Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme. If successful the applicant will receive £14,741 (40% of total cost) towards a firewood processor and timber trailer.

Understanding and enjoying

Old Prison open event

Following the exciting and long-awaited news that local charity the Friends of the Cotswolds are the preferred bidder by Cotswold District Council to take ownership of the Old Prison building and site at Northleach, an open event to “show the potential” is being organised for local residents and supporters on Sunday 12 August.

The event, which will take place between 1.30pm and 4pm, will provide a unique opportunity to view parts of the site not normally open to the general public such as the Old Police Station. As well as being able to enjoy a full guided tour of the site, including the original female cell block, the courtroom, the Rural Life Collection, the Escape to the Cotswolds discovery centre, plus other exhibits including the Gloucestershire Geology Trust Roadshow, visitors on the day will also have the opportunity to hear from representatives from the Friends of the Cotswolds, Northleach with Eastington Town Council and the Cotswolds Conservation Board on their proposed vision for the future of the site. Guests will be welcome to make suggestions and are especially asked to bring any memories and anecdotes about the Old Prison site before it closed in the 1970s.


Seven Wonders of the Cotswolds announced

Following a quest earlier this year by the Cotswolds Conservation Board to find the Seven Wonders of the Cotswolds, hundreds of public votes were cast and the final seven have been named as:

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
The Rollright Stones
Cotswold limestone
Woodchester Mansion and Park
Cotswold Way National Trail
Cleeve Hill & Common
Stroud Farmers’ Market


Bath marker gets the go ahead!

Following months of planning and public consultation, the Cotswold Way marker at Bath Abbey has been given the full green light.

Local artist Iain Cotton has already started work on the marker which will take the form of a circular disc of blue limestone set within the existing paving, it will be hand carved with place names from along the Cotswold Way in lettering designed specifically for the marker, surrounding a gilded acorn in the centre and will be a fitting work of public art to mark the start and end of England's newest National Trail.  A special unveiling event will take place in September.


Art along the Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way National Trail has, for many years, provided the inspiration for thousands of walkers to explore this quintessentially English countryside and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as it journeys its 102 miles along the Cotswold scarp. Now the inspiration of the trail on its many resident artists can be discovered and viewed thanks to a brand new exhibition taking place throughout this summer.

Between now and 22 September, the gardens of the Cotswold House Hotel in Chipping Campden will be the venue for the art exhibition ‘Along the Cotswold Way', showcasing some of the talented artists and sculptors who live and work along the Cotswold Way.

Picture shows wall mounted disc by ceramicist Peter Hayes from Bath

Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport

The 2012 Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport guide has been published and distributed to visitor information centres across the Cotswolds.  This year to help reduce costs and ensure that timetable information is kept up to date, the individual bus timetables are all available from the Escape to the Cotswolds website with links through to Traveline.

Click here for further details...

Strategic management and planning

Cotswolds AONB Management Plan review

A series of review workshops were held at five locations around the AONB during the consultation period for the first draft of the AONB Management Plan 2013-18. The results of these discussions, together with the written responses received will be used to prepare the next draft of the Plan. This will be issued for consultation following approval by the Conservation Board on 4th October.

Annual Review 2011/12

The Conservation Board's Annual Review 2011/12 has been published and is now available to view and download online.

This year, a more concise, 4-page publication has been produced, providing an overview of the work and key achievements of the Board during 2011/12.  The more detailed information can be viewed at: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/annual review.

People and communities

Sustainable Development Fund

Chalford Community Stores

A grant of £9000 has been awarded for the purchase and refurbishment of a new set of premises for a local shop in Chalford.  The new shop which will sell local produce, will include a post office, delivery service, internet access area and is hoped to become a social hub for the area.

Ruskin Mill College

A £4000 grant was awarded for the construction of four compost toilets as part of an 'outdoor kitchen' project at Ruskin Mill College.  The new outdoor kitchen site will cater for up to 80 students and staff per day and around 1000 members of the public through art and craft festivals held on site.  Ruskin Mill is a special needs college which has a strong emphasis on sustainable living.

Down to Earth

The Down to Earth project has received nearly £10,000 to help set up a scheme aimed at providing instruction and maintenance on the care of fruit and nut trees in domestic gardens.  As well as helping residents within the Stroud area to learn about fruit tree management best practice, the sale of the produce locally will also provide benefits to food and market outlets within the area.

Avon Valley Wardens meet with Parish Councillors

On 6th June voluntary wardens from the Avon Valley held a small reception for parish councillors from the district at Doynton Village Hall. The initiative was taken in order to strengthen the relationship between parish wardens and their parish councils, increase cooperation and to explain the work of the voluntary wardens and the Conservation Board  in the AONB. A total of 23 councillors came along, representing 15 councils from South Gloucestershire, Bath and NE Somerset and Wiltshire authorities.

The meeting was successful in strengthening relationships that already exist and in forming new relationships between the parish wardens and their parish councils. It is planned to repeat the event in the future.

New garden at Malmesbury Primary School opened

An official opening of a new outdoor classroom garden at Malmesbury CofE Primary School, constructed with the help of Voluntary Wardens, has taken place.

The new garden, designed by teacher Jill Cainey, has enabled children to see and be involved with a project from initial design through to the completed garden and has helped the children gain a better understanding of their local environment.

At the centre of the garden is a a circular dry stone wall seating area which was constructed by Voluntary Wardens, and contains a pebble mosaic designed as part of a school competition.