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8 beautiful woodland walks to try in and around the Cotswolds

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 January 2018

Woodchester Park boathouse (c) kennysarmy CC- BY-NC- ND 2.0 / Flickr

Woodchester Park boathouse (c) kennysarmy CC- BY-NC- ND 2.0 / Flickr

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Escaping into the peace of the woodlands is the perfect way to alleviate stress with landscapes boasting ancient beeches and oaks, stretches of pretty flowers and an abundance of wildlife awaiting you. In association with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, we bring you eight enchanting woodland walks to try...

Frith Wood nature reserve

Whether you’re taking the dog for a long walk or just fancy immersing yourself in nature, the vast landscape of Frith Woods offers a number of footpaths for ramblers to choose from.

Located roughly three miles from Stroud, on the B4070 near Bull’s Cross, the nature reserve comprises of an ancient beech wood boasting an array of rare plants and, during the spring months, the ground becomes carpeted with swathes of beautiful bluebells and wild garlic.

There isn’t a specific parking area, however visitors can park their cars at a rough lay-by at Bull’s Cross and at an area just at the entrance of the B4070.

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Laurie Lee Wood

Another woodland found in Stroud is the Laurie Lee Wood. The wood is one of the four Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust nature reserves nestled in the stunning Slad Valley; the village of Slad and surrounding countryside was the inspiration behind the setting of author Laurie Lee’s classic novel, Cider with Rosie.

Bought from the author’s family by the GWT, the wood was opened to the public after an overwhelming response and over £100,000 in donations.

Park up at available space next door at Elliott (Swift’s Hill) nature reserve and explore the ancient woodland, filled with beautiful native fauna and flora, stretched over three hectares.

Woodchester Park

A leisurely ramble, which incorporates the remains of a former landscaped garden, an unfinished mansion and five lakes interspersed with woodland and pasture, the valley of Woodchester Park will appease countryside walkers, wildlife lovers and history buffs alike.

Starting at the main car park, follow the orange waymarks of the Boathouse Trail into the woods and out towards the pasture of a restored conifer plantation and the remains of house and stables of a Georgian mansion. As you continue the three and a half mile walk, you’ll pass the small ruin of a temple before making your way onto Kiln Pond.

After walking the length of Middle Pond, you’ll be able to spot the 19th century boathouse, a place once hidden in overgrown vegetation before the site was purchased by the National Trust in the nineties. Before the incline back to the car park, admire the stunning Woodchester Mansion to the right, a Victorian masterpiece which was mysteriously abandoned mid-construction.

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Siccaridge Wood

Particularly revered for its impressive display of bluebells, Siccaridge Wood is a wonder to discover not only in spring, but throughout the rest of the year too.

Buried in the Frome Valley, and between the picture-perfect villages of Sapperton and Oakridge, the woodland comprises of over 26 hectares of ash, silver birch and beech trees, as well as plenty of common and rare flowers.

Admire beautiful butterflies, cheerful birds, and an array of wild ingredients including mushrooms, while walking through the woods. The reserve also supports the dormouse under the National Dormouse Monitoring Scheme.

For those driving to the woods there’s a small lay-by at the bottom of the woodland’s hill with space for three cars, or room in the car park of Daneway Inn, a charming pub offering tasty fare and real ales.

Wychwood Forest, Charlbury

The Wychwood Forest has a long history dating back to the Neolithic Age, and the remaining woodland was enclosed in 1867 and at 870 hectares, it is the largest area of ancient woodland in Oxfordshire. Supported by the Wychwood Project, the charity encourages local people to understand, conserve and restore the woodland’s vast landscape which is inhabited by an array of plants and wildlife.

Strap up your walking boots and explore the ancient woodland on a circular, nine-mile walk beginning in the pretty town of Charlbury, which lies on the edge of the Forest. From the Rose & Crown, walk through the town where you’ll reach Cornbury Park, pass the fish ponds and across a dam.

After bearing right and crossing Manor House gardens, through the village of Finstock and climbing a wide grassy avenue, head into the beautiful Wychwood Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for the abundance of wildlife that resides in the pasture and trees, especially birds. From one woodland to another, make your way and continue through the hamlet of Chilson before finding Charlbury, and inclining back to the Rose & Crown. You definitely deserve a couple of real ales after that walk!

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Shotover Country Park, Oxford

Embrace the tranquillity, with the dog at your side, at Shotover Country Park, situated just on the edge of the beautiful city of Oxford.

Covering a massive 117 hectares on the southern slopes of Shotover Hill, the park is a cornucopia of hidden valleys, diverse woodland and varied wildlife; making for plenty of walking trails for visitors.

Packed with picnickers in the summer months and families all wrapped up for a bracing winter walk, join fellow country lovers and make the most of the gorgeous landscape all year round!

The main car park is at the top of Shotover Hill on Old Road, Headington and alternative parking can also be found at the Horspath Sports Ground. There are also plenty of entrances for those heading to the park on foot.

Just outside the region...

Working on projects alongside a number of local partners, including the Forestry Commission, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust have worked tirelessly to promote and engage visitors to appreciate the beauty and wildlife of the Forest of Dean. Here are two walks in the Forest to get you started...

Lancaut nature reserve

Pack a flask of tea and some sandwiches because you’re bound to want to spend a few hours exploring Lancaut. Hailed as one of the finest landscapes in lowland Britain, Lancaut is a precious nature reserve located in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, tucked away down a narrow lane just off the B4228.

Expect to see an abundance of wildlife from peregrine falcons and ravens nesting in the area’s south-facing cliffs, heron and cormorant down by the river, a gorgeous varied woodland and, on occasion, a seal may even make an appearance.

Also, take a few minutes to enjoy the breathtaking views stretching out across the river, woodland and limestone quarries, soaking in the tranquillity the landscape offers. Red waymarker arrows will lead you through the nature reserve and parking is available on Lancaut Lane.

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Dymock Woods

Spanning a huge 506 hectares, the ancient Dymock Woods are a joy to explore all year round but during the spring, particularly late February and March, visitors can marvel at the beauty of the daffodils.

Shrouds of the yellow flowers fill the Gloucestershire woodland, orchards and meadows, and Dymock Woods forms part of the Daffodil Way Trail which also includes Gwen and Vera’s Fields, Ketford Bank , Betty Daws Wood and Vell Mill Daffodil Meadow.

The woodland, one of the many sites that fall under the Forest of Dean, lies a few miles from Dymock and the vibrant market town of Newent, and ample parking is available for visitors at the Queens Wood Car Park, near Kempley.

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There are also these walks to try in the Cotswolds...

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