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The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens celebrate 40th Anniversary

Features by Adam No Comments »

They have been working to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds since 1968 and are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year. The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens are the voluntary arm of the organisation that exists to conserve and enhance the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds Conservation Board. Wardens carry out valuable conservation projects in the AONB and help to promote the area by encouraging the public to enjoy it.

There are now over 340 Cotswold Voluntary wardens but back in 1968 when they were established it was Head Warden, Major Ray Clarke’s job to recruit volunteers. Employed by Gloucestershire County Council to help found the Wardens, he set to work and by 1970 there were over 200 members.

The current Head Warden, Colin Boulton said:

“ It was no surprise that the number of warden’s swelled so quickly and that it stands at over 340 today. It is testament to Major Ray Clarke’s hard work but also to the dedication of those who have been wardens over the years and those who now make up the service. It also illustrates the great sense of achievement and fulfillment there is to be had from working voluntarily to care for an area that is well loved by so many. “

The Wardens will be celebrating their 40th year with a week of activity in the early summer, including parish walks in the north Cotswolds, family focused walks across the area, a public conservation work party in the south and a special event to mark the anniversary at the Royal Agricultural College.

A series of 15 short walks that are suitable for those using wheelchairs, power scooters and pushchairs has also been created to mark the 40th Anniversary. ‘Walks on Wheels’ which will be available to the public in the spring has been given the stamp of approval by access professionals and disability groups and all of the routes have been tested.

Wardens complete thousands of hours of conservation work every year and in 2006-7 broke their own record by collectively working over 40,000 hours. Their conservation work covers everything from walking route improvements, such as path clearance, gate installation and bridge building, to drystone walling, hedgelaying, scrub clearance and restoration of historic features. Wardens also lead hundreds of guided walks every year and hold stands at shows across the AONB.

Over the past 40 years, the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have achieved a great deal:

  • 1975 – Guided walks programme established – it continues to this day with over 300 walks a year.
  • 1976 – Drought in Britain. Participants on walks requested not to smoke for fear of fire.
  • 1980s – Wardens won two awards for their work. The Tidy Britain Award for their ‘Clean up the Cotswolds’ campaign and the Carnegie Interpret Britain Award for audio visual presentations on their work.
  • 1981 – Over 400 people attended Prestbury village guided walk.
  • 1991 – The Wardens Way and Windrush Way were created by wardens.
  • 1990s – Wardens work to create easy access (stile free) routes and lead wheelchair walks
  • 1993 – 25th anniversary celebration held at Royal Agricultural College.
  • 2001 – Wardens create an alternative Town and Village walks programme to allow visitors to continue to enjoy the AONB despite Foot and Mouth restrictions.

Website details: The Cotswold Voluntary Warden service

Clean up your act, urge waste watchers

Features by Adam No Comments »

Claire Blizzard (left) and Caroline Ballinger with the rubbish dumped
Photo: Cotswold District Council Environmental Wardens Claire Blizzard (left) and Caroline Ballinger with the rubbish dumped between Baunton and Calmsden

Litter louts are being urged to clean up their act by Cotswold District Council’s new waste watchers.

Caroline Ballinger and Claire Blizzard were astonished by the amount of rubbish they found dumped along a quiet country lane in the District.

In a mile-long stretch of road between the villages of Baunton and Calmsden, north of Cirencester, the Council’s two Environmental Wardens picked up:

  • A discarded fireplace
  • Nine car tyres
  • Fuel tank from a car
  • Concrete block
  • Number plate and wheel trim
  • Enough bottles and cans to fill two large boxes
  • Bin bag full of general litter
  • Broom, bicycle pump and three plants pots

“Most people who live in the District are really keen to keep the Cotswolds clean and to do their bit to reduce waste and to increase recycling,” said Caroline. “However, a small minority of selfish individuals can spoil the environment for everyone else.

“We were amazed by the amount of rubbish that had been dumped along this very short stretch of road – it completely filled the back of our van.
“We would urge these people to stop dumping rubbish in the first place. It’s a totally avoidable problem and Council Tax payers pick up the bill for cleaning it up.”
Fly-tippers can be fined up to £20,000 and one of Caroline and Claire’s roles will be to actively investigate offences.

They will also be encouraging community groups to join in Cotswold District Council’s annual Spring Clean this March and April to target local litter ‘grot spots’.

“We wouldn’t expect local community groups to pick up fireplaces or fuel tanks but litter-picking volunteers can make a big difference to their local environment in a very short space of time,” said Claire.

“Last year, nearly 50 organisations took part in the annual Spring Clean, including parish councils, schools, Scouts, Brownies and WI groups.

“We hope even more groups will join in this year’s clean-up. So why not make it a fun, community event and get everyone involved?”

The Council supplies waste sacks, gloves, tabards and litter-picking tools for the Spring Clean and events organised through the Council will be covered by its insurance.

To register for the Spring Clean 2008, please contact Cotswold District Council’s Waste Communications Officer Mike Harris on (01285) 623123.

Litter louts are being urged to clean up their act by Cotswold District Council’s new waste watchers.

Caroline Ballinger and Claire Blizzard were astonished by the amount of rubbish they found dumped along a quiet country lane in the District.

In a mile-long stretch of road between the villages of Baunton and Calmsden, north of Cirencester, the Council’s two Environmental Wardens picked up:

  • A discarded fireplace
  • Nine car tyres
  • Fuel tank from a car
  • Concrete block
  • Number plate and wheel trim
  • Enough bottles and cans to fill two large boxes
  • Bin bag full of general litter
  • Broom, bicycle pump and three plants pots

“Most people who live in the District are really keen to keep the Cotswolds clean and to do their bit to reduce waste and to increase recycling,” said Caroline. “However, a small minority of selfish individuals can spoil the environment for everyone else.

“We were amazed by the amount of rubbish that had been dumped along this very short stretch of road – it completely filled the back of our van.
“We would urge these people to stop dumping rubbish in the first place. It’s a totally avoidable problem and Council Tax payers pick up the bill for cleaning it up.”
Fly-tippers can be fined up to £20,000 and one of Caroline and Claire’s roles will be to actively investigate offences.

They will also be encouraging community groups to join in Cotswold District Council’s annual Spring Clean this March and April to target local litter ‘grot spots’.

“We wouldn’t expect local community groups to pick up fireplaces or fuel tanks but litter-picking volunteers can make a big difference to their local environment in a very short space of time,” said Claire.

“Last year, nearly 50 organisations took part in the annual Spring Clean, including parish councils, schools, Scouts, Brownies and WI groups.

“We hope even more groups will join in this year’s clean-up. So why not make it a fun, community event and get everyone involved?”

The Council supplies waste sacks, gloves, tabards and litter-picking tools for the Spring Clean and events organised through the Council will be covered by its insurance.

To register for the Spring Clean 2008, please contact Cotswold District Council’s Waste Communications Officer Mike Harris on (01285) 623123.

Plans for gas pipeline within Cotswolds AONB to be put on hold

Features, Places by Adam No Comments »

Board responds to National Grid Announcement

The organisation that exists to oversee the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds Conservation Board has welcomed National Grid’s decision to postpone plans to build a pipeline, which would cut through parts of the 790 square mile protected landscape.

National Grid had been seeking the Secretary of State’s consent to build the 44km natural gas pipeline from Wormington in Worcestershire to Sapperton in Gloucestershire.

National Grid have said that the reason for the turn around is that revised figures show that gas demand for the West of England is not rising as fast as originally forecast. It has said that that situation will be kept under review because the pipeline may be needed in the future.

The Director of the Cotswolds Conservation Board Martin Lane said:

“The Board can only welcome the decision to put plans to build the pipeline on hold. We objected to the environmental impact statement for the proposed pipeline because it did not consider an alternative route outside of the AONB.

At the time we wrote to the Department of Trade and Industry, (now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) stating our objection and this resulted in a request for National Grid to investigate alternative routes outside the area.

An alternative route that had a much lower impact on the AONB was identified and should a review of the pipeline lead to the plans being put back on the table the Board will be strongly advocating a full re-examination of the options available with an emphasis on routes outside of the AONB.”

About the Cotswolds AONB:

With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk

A blot on the landscape – flytipping

Features by Tony 1 Comment »

Fly tipping

Why do these people dump their rubbish in the countryside?

Flytipping has been a problem in the countryside for a long time. Wherever you go in the countryside, be it main road or by-road, somebody has decided to dump their rubbish in a convenient layby or gateway.

That person has made a decision not to take their rubbish to their nearest landfill site but to drive into the countrside and to dump their rubbish wherever they can without being seen or traced.

Why do they do it? Are the landfill site charges too high and the restrictions too severe? Are there not enough landfill sites? Or is it a mentality problem of a small minority that we will never overcome?

What do you think? Post your comments here on our Cotswold Chatterblog site.

Results of rural skills contest brighten up Cotswold roadside

Features by Adam No Comments »

Hedgelaying competitionA length of hedge along a quiet lane in Gloucestershire, between Chipping Campden and Shipston-Upon-Stour was transformed over the weekend to produce a sight well worth taking a look at.

The annual North Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competition was held on Saturday 17th November and resulted in a beautifully laid length of hedge along May Lane, the road into the village of Ebrington just off the B4035.

Competition organiser Mark Connelly, from the Cotswolds Conservation Board said:

“The competition attracted many spectators; even people who were intending to take a walk through the countryside changed their plans and stopped to watch the hedglayers at work.

The finished results really are quite stunning to see and a fine example of a traditional rural craft that is kept alive by events of this kind.”

In all, 26 hedgelayers were given the chance to pit their skills against others in four classes, designed to match their abilities; Open, Veteran, Junior Beginners and Novice and Beginners pairs.

The competition was organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board and supported by The National Hedgelaying Society. It was held courtesy of DE and DM Drinkwater and Sons.

The results

Class First place Second place Third place
1 – Open Steve Budding Andrew Holding Steven Leslie
2 – Junior and Beginners Richards Payne Guy Robins Clive Gilligan
3 – Veteran Tony Heard Peter Flint Geoff Stephens
4 – Beginner pairs David Lee & Richard lane Will Devey & Tom Duffy  
Best lady hedgelayer Julia Thomas
Best regrowth Open Steven Leslie
Best regrowth Junior beginners Andrew Williams
Best regrowth Veteran Geoff Stephens
Best regrowth Overall Steven Leslie

Five-year Cotswold conservation project comes to close

Features, Places by Adam No Comments »

A 2.8 million pound project that has helped to ensure that the Cotswolds retains its natural beauty is nearing completion. The Caring for the Cotswolds project, which was supported by a £1.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund Grant has been tackling the key elements that make the area unique.

It is one of the first pioneering ‘landscape scale’ projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has helped to ensure that the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is conserved and enhanced for future generations.

In delivering the project the Cotswolds Conservation Board paid special attention to:

  • The drystone walls that are a distinctive feature of the AONB
  • The limestone grasslands that were greatly reduced in number decades ago due to intensive farming but are now being restored by conservationists and farmers to provide a rich habitat for a diverse range of animals and plants, including up to 25 species of butterfly
  • Conserving the local distinctiveness of the field patterns, hedgerows, trees, towns, villages and buildings that make the Cotswolds unique
  • A major interpretation project aimed at helping the public understand and enjoy the Cotswolds AONB

Niel Curwen Chairman of the Cotswolds Conservation Board said:

“When you walk or drive through the Cotswolds landscape and take time to reflect upon the characteristics that make the area unique, it is worth remembering that, although they appear to have been there for ever, the features that catch your eye may well have been carefully cared for and tended recently.

“Very often, we see a view that pleases and find ourselves appreciating it for its timeless beauty but the satisfying balance and composition of some of the most stunning vistas in the area has very often been given a helping hand in the recent past by farmers, land managers and conservationists.”

The project, which ends this December has covered a wide spectrum of conservation work, from using conservation grazing to ensure that wildflower grassland sites in target areas flourish to providing rural skills courses to encourage more people to learn to repair drystone walls.

North Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competition 2007

Events, Features, Places by Tony No Comments »

Hedgelaying. Image (c) the National Hedge Laying SocietySaturday 17th November  Cutting 09.00 – 14.00  – Prize Giving 15.30 approx.
The Ford Bridge Ground, Ebrington, Chipping Campden,Gloucestershire

This Competition is taking place at Ebrington by kind permission of D E and D M Drinkwater and Sons and is supported by the National Hedgelaying Society.

Hedgelaying. Image (c) the National Hedge Laying SocietyThere will be Four Classes – (1) Open – (2) Junior, Beginners and Novice -(3) Veterans – (4) Beginners Pairs. Hedging will be in the Midland Style and Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each class. Spectators are very welcome.

The National Hedgelaying Society is committed to conserving hedgerows through traditional skills. Hedgerows are a prominent feature of the North Cotswolds landscape and help to define the uniqueness of the British countryside and are an important wildlife habitat. Some hedgerows mark historical boundaries such as parishes and manors. These hedges can predate the period of enclosures in the 18th and 19th centuries when most of the hedgerows that we see today were planted to enclose the open fields and sheepwalks. Hedgerows require sympathetic management if we are to preserve them for future generations.

Hedgelaying is a traditional form of management in the North Cotswolds and helps to keep the hedges vigorous and healthy while also providing a very effective stock-proof barrier.

The way hedges are laid depends on where the animals are kept, what kind of animals are kept, the local hedge plants, altitude, wind or snow expectations etc. so each region in the UK has it’s own traditional style.
The Midland style, also known as Bullock style, was designed to keep big heavy bullocks in their field. This style is mainly found in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire – traditional beef rearing areas. There is a slight variation for a Worcestershire style.

The main points are:-

  • Stake sides face road or plough land
  • Brush is the animal side to stop them eating new growth
  • Hedge slopes towards the animals, as stakes are driven in behind the line of the roots
  • Strong binding is below the top of the hedge

(The Worcestershire style has a single binding and the Brush is trimmed level with the binding)

For further information and Registration Forms contact:-
Cotswold Conservation Board
Mark Connelly
Fosseway
Northleach
Gloucestershire
GL54 3JH
Telephone 01451 862006
E Mail mark.connelly@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk

Photos used with kind permission of the National Hedge Laying Society http://www.hedgelaying.org.uk/

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