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Flying in the Cotswolds

PUBLISHED: 18:15 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:52 20 February 2013

taking to the air

taking to the air

Nick Wall of Go Flying! magazine shares the pleasures of flying and the aerial sights of the Cotswolds

Flying reveals a completely new perspective of the Cotswolds seen from on high you can appreciate just how attractive the countryside really is as its picturesque villages, woods, hills and valleys unfold before you like a magical video show.



Here, for instance, is a wonderful view of historic ridge and furrow fields at the base of the escarpment near Winchcombe, highlighted perfectly by the early morning sun. Indeed, the Cotswolds is one of the best areas in England to see this rapidly disappearing landscape feature that has been formed by ploughing since Anglo-Saxon times.



Over the centuries the ridges, where sowing took place, became higher and higher and the furrows, which aided field drainage, became deeper, so it's no surprise that where they have escaped modern farming methods they are such a prominent feature of today's landscape. To plough their furrows on the heavier soils of the Severn Vale, farmers would use up to eight oxen positioned two abreast. As they didn't use bridles or reins to control the animals, the ploughmen worked with boys who used a long stick to keep the oxen moving with a tap and it's from here, perhaps surprisingly, that many measurements with which we are familiar today have come.



The boy's stick was called a rod, pole or perch depending on locality and at 5.5 yards long it was just the right length to reach the far oxen, and not too heavy to carry. If the rod was laid four times across the field that made 22 yards; if it was laid 40 times down the field, that made 220 yards and the area was one acre, the amount that could be ploughed in a day. The breadth of 22 yards was known as a chain, the length of a cricket pitch, and the length of 220 yards was a farrowlength or as we now know it, a furlong.



Interestingly, you can still discover the effectiveness of ridge and furrow drainage today when out walking; even in dry weather some furrows can be quite boggy and can support the growth of rushes and different types of grass which makes the ridge and furrow pattern easy to see from the air even if there are no morning shadows.



Nearby the fields in the picture are the attractive villages of Stanton and Stanway. These are unspoiled nooks of the Cotswold and often missed by those who head straight to the more widely known Cotswold attractions. Many of the cottages in the two villages date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries and the lovingly restored the gardens are as exquisite as the properties themselves. Indeed, the respected Pevsner Architectural Guide calls Stanway 'architecturally, the most distinguished of the smaller villages in the North Cotswolds'.



One of the most outstandingly beautiful buildings near Stanway is the Jacobean manor house, currently the home of Lord and Lady Neidpath. For those yet to visit it, the house has a mellow, peaceful air, perhaps due in part to the delightful Guiting Yellow Cotswold stone from which it is built, and by its sheltered setting in a hollow at the foot of the escarpment. It's set close to the church, tithe barn and cottages and surrounded by an enchanting garden and ancient parkland. The charming interior gives every appearance of being lived in, and in no sense resembles a museum.


Perhaps the greatest glory of the house is its watergarden and the single-jet fountain in the Canal, opened on 5th June 2004. Originally suggested by landscape architect Paul Edwards, and engineered by David Bracey of The Fountain Workshop, the fountain rises magnificently to more than 300ft, making it the tallest in Britain and the tallest gravity-fed fountain in the world. The striking feature is driven from a 100,000-gallon reservoir, 580ft above the Canal.



Exploring features such as these from the air is a highly enjoyable way of discovering the beauties of the area and is easily achieved from the area's two main airfields, Gloucestershire Airport and Kemble Airfield, near Cirencester. Gloucestershire Airport began life as Staverton the name by which it is still locally known a municipal airport for Gloucester and Cheltenham councils in 1936. It went on to serve as an RAF training base during World War Two and is now a successful regional and business airport.



Here you'll find one of the oldest flying clubs in the country, Cotswold Aero Club, which celebrates its 80th birthday this year and offers pleasure flights and pilot training in a fleet of modern aircraft. Among the other flying schools is Aeros, well known for training airline pilots as well as private pilots, and offering trial lessons and pleasure flights around the Cotswolds. For those who prefer flying with the wind in their hair, Gloucestershire Airport is also the home of Tiger Airways which provides trial flights in wonderful vintage biplanes, and if you've always wanted to learn to fly a helicopter or simply experience what they are like, Rise Helicopters and Heliflight offer trial lessons and training.



Kemble Airfield, meanwhile, is probably best known as the home of the Red Arrows display team during the Eighties. It was built in August 1936/7 for the RAF and provided many years of vital service indeed, in the dark days of 1941 some 2,300 aircraft passed through the airfield on their way to serve with Britain's hard-pressed RAF squadrons. Nowadays there several clubs and schools on the airfield which offer trial lessons and flight training, and it has become a popular stop for visiting aircraft, perhaps in part because of the classy AV8 restaurant which is open to all, not only pilots.



Aviation in Gloucestershire doesn't stop there just down the road from Kemble there are two gliding clubs; Cotswold Gliding Club at Aston Down, a few miles from Cirencester, and the Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club at Nympsfield, perched on the Cotswold edge above Stroud and providing stunning aerial views along the Severn Valley and across to the mountains of Wales. It was from Nymspfield's scenic site that the great naturalist Sir Peter Scott flew for many years and the Duke of Edinburgh was introduced to the sport of gliding (he is a patron of the British Gliding Association). For those who wish to discover the pleasures of silent flight and soaring through the air with the ease of a bird, a trial lesson in a two-seater glider is easy to arrange and a never-to-be-forgotten experience.



Flying is gloriously enjoyable and gives a whole new perspective to life, and it doesn't have to be that expensive either. A trial lesson is highly recommended whether you want to learn to fly or not, because it is great fun, provides wonderful views of the area and is the experience of a lifetime. The instructor will look after you and, since all school aeroplanes have to be maintained to a very high standard, you will be quite safe.



What's more, under the instructor's guidance you can try flying for yourself and discover that aircraft are actually quite simple and relatively easy to learn to fly if you can drive a car you can fly an aeroplane or a glider. With the instructor covering the dual controls, but not actually flying the aeroplane, most people can be guided through the basics of flying for themselves.



To give you a chance to get your feet off the ground and look at the county from a new perspective for yourself, Cotswold Life has arranged a discount with local flying clubs simply cut out the coupon, contact one of the clubs listed and go along to get a bird's eye view of the area's stunning sights.



Coupon



Go flying with us! SAVE 10%




Here's your chance to see your superb countryside from the sky or perhaps you've always wanted to learn to fly. Whatever your reasons for getting airborne, Cotswold Life has teamed up with local flying schools to save you 10% on the cost of a trial lesson, whether you want to fly in an aeroplane or a glider. All you have to do is call one of the clubs below, arrange a time and take this voucher along to help you get in the air it's that easy.




CONTACTS



Cotswold Aero Club


Aviation House


Gloucestershire Airport


Staverton


GL51 6SP


Tel: 01452 713924


www.cotswoldaeroclub.com



Aeros Gloucestershire


Hanger SE4


Gloucestershire Airport


Staverton


Cheltenham


GL51 6SP


Tel: 01452 857419


www.aeros.co.uk



Tiger Airways


Gloucestershire Airport


Staverton


Tel: 08456 445670


www.tigerairways.aero



Bristol & Gloucestershire Gliding Club


Nympsfield


Nr Stonehouse


Gloucestershire


GL10 3TX


Tel: 01453 860342


www.bggc.co.uk


Flying reveals a completely new perspective of the Cotswolds seen from on high you can appreciate just how attractive the countryside really is as its picturesque villages, woods, hills and valleys unfold before you like a magical video show.



Here, for instance, is a wonderful view of historic ridge and furrow fields at the base of the escarpment near Winchcombe, highlighted perfectly by the early morning sun. Indeed, the Cotswolds is one of the best areas in England to see this rapidly disappearing landscape feature that has been formed by ploughing since Anglo-Saxon times.



Over the centuries the ridges, where sowing took place, became higher and higher and the furrows, which aided field drainage, became deeper, so it's no surprise that where they have escaped modern farming methods they are such a prominent feature of today's landscape. To plough their furrows on the heavier soils of the Severn Vale, farmers would use up to eight oxen positioned two abreast. As they didn't use bridles or reins to control the animals, the ploughmen worked with boys who used a long stick to keep the oxen moving with a tap and it's from here, perhaps surprisingly, that many measurements with which we are familiar today have come.



The boy's stick was called a rod, pole or perch depending on locality and at 5.5 yards long it was just the right length to reach the far oxen, and not too heavy to carry. If the rod was laid four times across the field that made 22 yards; if it was laid 40 times down the field, that made 220 yards and the area was one acre, the amount that could be ploughed in a day. The breadth of 22 yards was known as a chain, the length of a cricket pitch, and the length of 220 yards was a farrowlength or as we now know it, a furlong.



Interestingly, you can still discover the effectiveness of ridge and furrow drainage today when out walking; even in dry weather some furrows can be quite boggy and can support the growth of rushes and different types of grass which makes the ridge and furrow pattern easy to see from the air even if there are no morning shadows.



Nearby the fields in the picture are the attractive villages of Stanton and Stanway. These are unspoiled nooks of the Cotswold and often missed by those who head straight to the more widely known Cotswold attractions. Many of the cottages in the two villages date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries and the lovingly restored the gardens are as exquisite as the properties themselves. Indeed, the respected Pevsner Architectural Guide calls Stanway 'architecturally, the most distinguished of the smaller villages in the North Cotswolds'.



One of the most outstandingly beautiful buildings near Stanway is the Jacobean manor house, currently the home of Lord and Lady Neidpath. For those yet to visit it, the house has a mellow, peaceful air, perhaps due in part to the delightful Guiting Yellow Cotswold stone from which it is built, and by its sheltered setting in a hollow at the foot of the escarpment. It's set close to the church, tithe barn and cottages and surrounded by an enchanting garden and ancient parkland. The charming interior gives every appearance of being lived in, and in no sense resembles a museum.


Perhaps the greatest glory of the house is its watergarden and the single-jet fountain in the Canal, opened on 5th June 2004. Originally suggested by landscape architect Paul Edwards, and engineered by David Bracey of The Fountain Workshop, the fountain rises magnificently to more than 300ft, making it the tallest in Britain and the tallest gravity-fed fountain in the world. The striking feature is driven from a 100,000-gallon reservoir, 580ft above the Canal.



Exploring features such as these from the air is a highly enjoyable way of discovering the beauties of the area and is easily achieved from the area's two main airfields, Gloucestershire Airport and Kemble Airfield, near Cirencester. Gloucestershire Airport began life as Staverton the name by which it is still locally known a municipal airport for Gloucester and Cheltenham councils in 1936. It went on to serve as an RAF training base during World War Two and is now a successful regional and business airport.



Here you'll find one of the oldest flying clubs in the country, Cotswold Aero Club, which celebrates its 80th birthday this year and offers pleasure flights and pilot training in a fleet of modern aircraft. Among the other flying schools is Aeros, well known for training airline pilots as well as private pilots, and offering trial lessons and pleasure flights around the Cotswolds. For those who prefer flying with the wind in their hair, Gloucestershire Airport is also the home of Tiger Airways which provides trial flights in wonderful vintage biplanes, and if you've always wanted to learn to fly a helicopter or simply experience what they are like, Rise Helicopters and Heliflight offer trial lessons and training.



Kemble Airfield, meanwhile, is probably best known as the home of the Red Arrows display team during the Eighties. It was built in August 1936/7 for the RAF and provided many years of vital service indeed, in the dark days of 1941 some 2,300 aircraft passed through the airfield on their way to serve with Britain's hard-pressed RAF squadrons. Nowadays there several clubs and schools on the airfield which offer trial lessons and flight training, and it has become a popular stop for visiting aircraft, perhaps in part because of the classy AV8 restaurant which is open to all, not only pilots.



Aviation in Gloucestershire doesn't stop there just down the road from Kemble there are two gliding clubs; Cotswold Gliding Club at Aston Down, a few miles from Cirencester, and the Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club at Nympsfield, perched on the Cotswold edge above Stroud and providing stunning aerial views along the Severn Valley and across to the mountains of Wales. It was from Nymspfield's scenic site that the great naturalist Sir Peter Scott flew for many years and the Duke of Edinburgh was introduced to the sport of gliding (he is a patron of the British Gliding Association). For those who wish to discover the pleasures of silent flight and soaring through the air with the ease of a bird, a trial lesson in a two-seater glider is easy to arrange and a never-to-be-forgotten experience.



Flying is gloriously enjoyable and gives a whole new perspective to life, and it doesn't have to be that expensive either. A trial lesson is highly recommended whether you want to learn to fly or not, because it is great fun, provides wonderful views of the area and is the experience of a lifetime. The instructor will look after you and, since all school aeroplanes have to be maintained to a very high standard, you will be quite safe.



What's more, under the instructor's guidance you can try flying for yourself and discover that aircraft are actually quite simple and relatively easy to learn to fly if you can drive a car you can fly an aeroplane or a glider. With the instructor covering the dual controls, but not actually flying the aeroplane, most people can be guided through the basics of flying for themselves.



To give you a chance to get your feet off the ground and look at the county from a new perspective for yourself, Cotswold Life has arranged a discount with local flying clubs simply cut out the coupon, contact one of the clubs listed and go along to get a bird's eye view of the area's stunning sights.



Coupon



Go flying with us! SAVE 10%




Here's your chance to see your superb countryside from the sky or perhaps you've always wanted to learn to fly. Whatever your reasons for getting airborne, Cotswold Life has teamed up with local flying schools to save you 10% on the cost of a trial lesson, whether you want to fly in an aeroplane or a glider. All you have to do is call one of the clubs below, arrange a time and take this voucher along to help you get in the air it's that easy.




CONTACTS



Cotswold Aero Club


Aviation House


Gloucestershire Airport


Staverton


GL51 6SP


Tel: 01452 713924


www.cotswoldaeroclub.com



Aeros Gloucestershire


Hanger SE4


Gloucestershire Airport


Staverton


Cheltenham


GL51 6SP


Tel: 01452 857419


www.aeros.co.uk



Tiger Airways


Gloucestershire Airport


Staverton


Tel: 08456 445670


www.tigerairways.aero



Bristol & Gloucestershire Gliding Club


Nympsfield


Nr Stonehouse


Gloucestershire


GL10 3TX


Tel: 01453 860342


www.bggc.co.uk

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