August/September 2012: News from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Photo: @ShortTitle@
Latest news from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Rural skills courses continue to grow

The Cotswolds AONB Rural Skills Programme now offers an even greater range of course subjects for people wanting to learn something new or brush up on existing skills, with the addition of courses in rustic spoon and stick chair making.

Taking place in the picturesque ancient woodland of ‘Heartwood’ in Limpley Stoke near Bath, participants can learn how to work and carve freshly felled wood into a useful and decorative kitchen utensil or their very own rustic chair.

Further details are available at

Farm and woodland update

Work on Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and English Woodland Grant Schemes (EWGS) in the Cotswolds AONB has progressed with two HLS and three EWGS applications recently submitted to Natural England on behalf of landowners. A further two HLS and four EWGS applications have been approved including a 10-year Woodland Management Plan, plus the first Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant in the Cotswolds is currently being undertaken to improve access within an ancient woodland.

Charles branches out

The Board is saying farewell to Charles Robinson who is leaving the team at Northleach to take up a new position with Natural England as Land Management Adviser. Charles joined the Board a year ago as Farm & Woodland Adviser, during which time he has worked with a number of farmers and landowners on Higher Level Stewardship and English Woodland Grant Schemes, securing over £14,000 worth of income for the Board and enabling the improved management of more than 1,300 Ha of land in the AONB.
In his new role, Charles will be based back in his home town of Taunton and will cover the Quantocks AONB and part of Exmoor National Park.

Climate Change Advisory Service

The Board’s new Climate Change Advisory Service, established at the beginning of this year with funding from National Grid, has helped over 50 farms and forestry businesses to date in the Cotswolds. In accordance with the Board’s Climate Change Strategy adopted in June, local businesses have been able to take advantage of free help and advice concerning carbon auditing, energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and resource management improvement plans.

More recently, assistance with developing funding bids has been provided to Dowdeswell Forestry and Charlton Abbotts Forestry  with the aim of enhancing their sustainability and green business credentials.

For further details, contact James Lloyd, telephone: 01451 862033.

Walling Diaries by Andrea Keys

Read Andrea’s interesting account of how one trainee put her newly acquired skills into practice to repair her own dry stone wall.

Click here to read Andrea’s story.

Understanding and enjoying

Old Prison Open Day

An open day was held at the Old Prison, Northleach on Sunday 12 August, attracting hundreds of local residents and supporters.
The event, which was organised by local charity the Friends of the Cotswolds who are the preferred bidder by Cotswold District Council to take ownership of the Old Prison site, provided a unique opportunity to view parts of the site not normally open to the general public such as the Old Police Station and cellar. Guided tours were on offer throughout the day plus the members of the local WI branch were on hand to serve refreshments.
A wide range of ideas and suggestions were collected from visitors throughout the day, plus around £2000 was received in donations which will go towards the Friends of the Cotswolds current fundraising appeal for the Old Prison.

To see a news item on the event by Cotswold TV, click here

For further details, visit:

Autumn/Winter Cotswold Lion

The Autumn/Winter 2012 edition of the Cotswold Lion is now available to view and download.

Packed with features and articles on the Cotswolds AONB including the lumps and bumps of the landscape, the Seven Wonders of the Cotswolds, stargazing, news from the Conservation Board and around the area, plus the popular guided walks programme which contains 120 varied and interesting walks throughout the AONB between now and the end of March.

To download your copy, click here.

Cotswolds Discoverer will continue into 2013

The Cotswolds Discoverer scheme, launched in May as a 6-month pilot scheme, will continue into 2013.

The new integrated bus/rail ticket aimed at encouraging greater use of public transport by visitors to the area, was set up by the Board with the support of First Great Western, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire County Council, Cotswolds Tourism and a number of local bus operators. Over 70 tickets were sold during the first few weeks of the scheme and plans are in place to enhance its promotion, create more online itineraries and encourage more people to consider using public transport to and around the Cotswolds.

For further details, go to:

Our Land - sustainable tourism in the Cotswolds continues apace

An increasing number of tourism businesses across the Cotswolds have been declaring their passion for the landscape as well as their support for local communities and the environment by signing up to Our Land.

The groundbreaking sustainable tourism project launched last year across 9 South East Protected Landscapes, now features more than 50 ‘live’ businesses and 77 products from the Cotswolds AONB and surrounding area. To promote the website and its products further, a new weekly e-zine has been launched by featuring news, products, competitions and special offers.
A special event for Our Land businesses in the Cotswolds will take place on 14 November.

For further details, contact Nicola Greaves or visit

People and communities

Projects benefit from sustainable development funding

Chedworth Environment Group

A grant of nearly £6,000 has been awarded to Chedworth Environment Group to restore the ecological health and enhance the biodiversity of a publicly-accessible pond and its surrounding area, as well as implement a plan for its future sustainable management. By working in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and St Andrews C of E Primary school the project will restore the 0.5 hectare and UK BAP Priority Habitat recognised site to its former glory and ensure that it is maintained as an asset to the local community and environment for many years to come.

Churn Project

A project aimed at helping unemployed people living in the Cirencester area to access employment opportunities and the surrounding AONB countryside for fitness and pleasure has been awarded a grant of over £9,000.
This unique project will help the group acquire a range of new skills including how to build a bike from scratch, service it and keep it roadworthy. As well as being coached in road cycling safety, the group will research, design and market a circular cycle ‘treasure trail’ which will start in Cirencester and take in parts of the AONB. In the longer term, the project aims to increase confidence, improve work opportunities and greater social inclusion, as well as encourage participants to access, explore and appreciate the natural beauty of their surrounding area.

Nationwide go countryside

Six members of staff from the Nationwide Building Society spent a day working with our voluntary wardens as part of their corporate volunteer programme.

The staff, who are employed at the Nationwide Head Quarters at Swindon, wanted to spend a day working on conservation activities and felt that the Cotswolds AONB, through the voluntary wardens, offered just the sort of thing they were looking for.

Working with wardens from South District, the Nationwide staff got involved with scrub clearing activities at Swells Hill near Minchinhampton Common - and thoroughly enjoyed it.   As staff are allowed 2 volunteer days, they are looking forward to returning to the AONB next year.

Diary dates