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wild Walk - Snows Farm Nature Reserve

PUBLISHED: 17:29 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 February 2013

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It wouldn't be an exaggeration to describe Snows Farm as a paradise for wildlife and people. Tucked away in a hidden valley near Slad, the reserve has a magical 'away from it all' atmosphere.

This is the landscape described so wonderfully by local author Laurie Lee. Modern life has passed the valley by and so it's a joy to visit all year round.

The landscape at Snows Farm is called limestone grasslands, one of Britain's richest wildlife habitats. This valley was too steep to 'improve' for growing crops in the 1950s, when so much of the limestone grassland in the Cotswolds was lost to agriculture. The traditional grazing of sheep and cattle continued here, which means it remained a haven for wildlife.

In 1975 the site became a nature reserve by agreement with its then owner Peter Duddridge and, in 1989, he secured its future by generously gifting it to the Wildlife Trust.

Walking at Snows Farm

There's parking for several cars at the end of Steanbridge Lane just outside the village of Slad. From here, walk down the lane through the Snows Farm gate (signed private). In front of the farmhouse cross the public footpath stile into the field and walk down to the brook and Reserve entrance gate.

As you walk down from the top of Steanbridge Lane, suddenly a panorama opens up before you - a hidden valley where grassy slopes and stony screes ascend from the tree-lined brook to beechwoods on the valley rim. Wander down, lean on the gate for a moment and listen to the brook murmur, sheep baaing and possibly a buzzard calling overhead.

The path around the reserve is not way marked, but the map suggests a route. We recommend walking to the far end along the southern side, crossing the bridge and returning along the northern side. You may either stay close to the brook or, for better views and more interest, climb and walk along under the wood.

It will probably take approximately 1.5 hours to 'amble' around the reserve, plus an additional 20 minutes to walk from the car park to the reserve. The going is moderately difficult with uneven ground throughout and many steep slopes.

The Slad Valley Way - Snows Farm is one of three Slad Valley nature reserves that can be explored via the circular Slad Valley Way walk. The other two reserves are Elliott and Frith Wood. For a copy of the walk leaflet, with full walk instructions and map, contact Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust on 01452 383333 or email info@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk.

Wildlife at Snows Farm

There's an exceptionally diverse range of habitats at Snows Farm, including pasture, old hedges, ancient beechwoods, stony screes, deadwood and the tree-lined brook.

Together, these habitats support more than 300 plant species and provide a wide range of food sources and nest sites for the 71 species of bird recorded there, including goldfinch, nuthatch, swift, skylark, buzzard and heron.

Signs of foraging and burrowing indicate a wide range of mammals, and reptiles such as the common lizard and adders may be seen on sunny days. There are also many butterfles in the pastures and woods of Snows Farm. The marbled white and small blue depend on particular limestone grassland plants while the uncommon Duke of Burgandy fritillary lays its eggs on cowslip.



Managing the nature reserve


The limestone wildflowers and animals they support have flourished here as a result of thousands of years of traditional grazing. Most of the sensitive, rarer wildflowers grow slowly and require high levels of sunlight. If grazing were not maintained they would soon be overtaken by vigorous grasses such as tor grass, and by tree seedlings which rapidly develop into scrub and then woodland.



So, the Wildlife Trust's most important task at Snows Farm is to maintain the correct grazing intensity. Too many sheep or cattle will overgraze the site, while too few will allow rank grasses and scrub to develop.


How to find Snows Farm Nature Reserve

OS Grid ref: SO887 081

On the B4070 three miles from Stroud take the narrow lane forking right into Slad Village. Follow this down to the valley bottom then climb until Steanbridge Lane ends (approx. one mile), with parking for several cars. Walk on down the land through the Snows Farm gate. In front of the farmhouse cross the public footpath stile into the field and walk down to the brook and Reserve entrance gate.

Membership of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust costs from just £2 a month. Join on-line at www.gloucestershirewidlifetrust.co.uk, phone 01452 383333 or visit the Trust's Conservation Centre at Robinswood Hill Country Park, Gloucester.

This is the landscape described so wonderfully by local author Laurie Lee. Modern life has passed the valley by and so it's a joy to visit all year round.

The landscape at Snows Farm is called limestone grasslands, one of Britain's richest wildlife habitats. This valley was too steep to 'improve' for growing crops in the 1950s, when so much of the limestone grassland in the Cotswolds was lost to agriculture. The traditional grazing of sheep and cattle continued here, which means it remained a haven for wildlife.

In 1975 the site became a nature reserve by agreement with its then owner Peter Duddridge and, in 1989, he secured its future by generously gifting it to the Wildlife Trust.

Walking at Snows Farm

There's parking for several cars at the end of Steanbridge Lane just outside the village of Slad. From here, walk down the lane through the Snows Farm gate (signed private). In front of the farmhouse cross the public footpath stile into the field and walk down to the brook and Reserve entrance gate.

As you walk down from the top of Steanbridge Lane, suddenly a panorama opens up before you - a hidden valley where grassy slopes and stony screes ascend from the tree-lined brook to beechwoods on the valley rim. Wander down, lean on the gate for a moment and listen to the brook murmur, sheep baaing and possibly a buzzard calling overhead.

The path around the reserve is not way marked, but the map suggests a route. We recommend walking to the far end along the southern side, crossing the bridge and returning along the northern side. You may either stay close to the brook or, for better views and more interest, climb and walk along under the wood.

It will probably take approximately 1.5 hours to 'amble' around the reserve, plus an additional 20 minutes to walk from the car park to the reserve. The going is moderately difficult with uneven ground throughout and many steep slopes.

The Slad Valley Way - Snows Farm is one of three Slad Valley nature reserves that can be explored via the circular Slad Valley Way walk. The other two reserves are Elliott and Frith Wood. For a copy of the walk leaflet, with full walk instructions and map, contact Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust on 01452 383333 or email info@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk.

Wildlife at Snows Farm

There's an exceptionally diverse range of habitats at Snows Farm, including pasture, old hedges, ancient beechwoods, stony screes, deadwood and the tree-lined brook.

Together, these habitats support more than 300 plant species and provide a wide range of food sources and nest sites for the 71 species of bird recorded there, including goldfinch, nuthatch, swift, skylark, buzzard and heron.

Signs of foraging and burrowing indicate a wide range of mammals, and reptiles such as the common lizard and adders may be seen on sunny days. There are also many butterfles in the pastures and woods of Snows Farm. The marbled white and small blue depend on particular limestone grassland plants while the uncommon Duke of Burgandy fritillary lays its eggs on cowslip.



Managing the nature reserve


The limestone wildflowers and animals they support have flourished here as a result of thousands of years of traditional grazing. Most of the sensitive, rarer wildflowers grow slowly and require high levels of sunlight. If grazing were not maintained they would soon be overtaken by vigorous grasses such as tor grass, and by tree seedlings which rapidly develop into scrub and then woodland.



So, the Wildlife Trust's most important task at Snows Farm is to maintain the correct grazing intensity. Too many sheep or cattle will overgraze the site, while too few will allow rank grasses and scrub to develop.


How to find Snows Farm Nature Reserve

OS Grid ref: SO887 081

On the B4070 three miles from Stroud take the narrow lane forking right into Slad Village. Follow this down to the valley bottom then climb until Steanbridge Lane ends (approx. one mile), with parking for several cars. Walk on down the land through the Snows Farm gate. In front of the farmhouse cross the public footpath stile into the field and walk down to the brook and Reserve entrance gate.

Membership of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust costs from just 2 a month. Join on-line at www.gloucestershirewidlifetrust.co.uk, phone 01452 383333 or visit the Trust's Conservation Centre at Robinswood Hill Country Park, Gloucester.

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