CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Details

  • Start: Coombe Hill
  • End: Coombe Hill
  • Country: England
  • County: Gloucestershire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey:
  • Difficulty: Medium

Description

Coombe Hill Nature Reserve is a place of vistas and endless skies, of floods and farming. It's an ancient wetland landscape fringing the Severn which is again becoming rich in wildlife, a home for waders and migrating water fowl.

At this time of year the increased flow of the River Severn and local rainfall causes water in ditches and the canal to rise. By late winter the low-lying areas are usually flooded, but the towpath and higher meadows are rarely submerged.



Visitors to the reserve are encouraged to bring their binoculars, particularly in winter months when lots of enjoyment can be had watching the many migrating wildfowl from the Grundon Hide.



Migrating wildfowl


This wetland has long been important for flocks of wintering wildfowl like wigeon, shoveler, pintail and teal, as well as Bewick's and whooper swans. Migrants need food to recoup energy for the journey north and breeding, as well as undisturbed time to rest on the water. They travel between Severn and Avon wetlands for food and refuge, including Walmore Common, Slimbridge, Tewkesbury and the Trust's Severn Hams nature reserves, notably Ashleworth Ham.




Managing the nature reserve


The Wildlife Trust is currently working restoring this important wetland site. As farming became more intensive from the 1950s, with fertilisers, sprays and drainage, this site once rich in wildlife lost much of its conservation value.



Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust purchased the Canal in 1985. In 2000 it was able to acquire the meadows and then, in 2004, expand this area with a further purchase of the Southern Meadows. At 223 acres (91 ha), Coombe Hill is the largest of the Trust's four Severn Hams Wetland reserves.



It will take many years for it to again be the wildlife rich wetland of 60 years ago, but restoration is well underway:


- Keeping it wet with special banks across ditches to keep water in the reserve so the soil stays moist until late summer


- Preventing disturbance by setting out a special Breeding Grounds Protected Area


- Farming traditionally with the help of neighbouring farms


- Improving the habitat including re-shaping ditches to be more wildlife friendly


- Thinking big by working with partners and local people to maximise the opportunity to bring back wildlife and rebuild biodiversity.




Walking at Coombe Hill nature reserve


To reach the Meadows from the reserve car park at The Wharf, walk ½ mile (10 minutes) along the Canal's northern side to the reserve entrance gate. There are small signs to help you find your way around, including a circular walk which should take 1.5-2 hours to complete.



For those more interested in bird watching, there are two hides - the large Grundon hide, approached by boardwalk through Broad Meer where there are information boards to help identify wild fowl, plus the Long Pool hide on the other side of the reserve (see map).




Flood damage


The devastating floods in Gloucestershire last July were catastrophic for the Coombe Hill. Many species were swept away by the flood waters and when these receded they left much of the site choked in debris and covered in a thick brown slime.



The cleanup and repair operation is ongoing. There was an amazing public response to the subsequent appeal for funds, which has enabled the Trust to appoint a warden to coordinate the huge cleanup task. We are now seeing species slowly return and are hopeful for the coming breeding season.



Please bear these recent events in mind when visiting the site.



Wildlife Highways


Ultimately the aim of the Trust and its partners is to connect the Severn Hams, including Coombe Hill, with adjoining habitats to create one huge wildlife highway stretching the entire length of the Vale. This will help ensure species vulnerable to change stand a chance of survival, especially if severe weather events like last summer's flooding happen more frequently due to climate change.



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.




How to find Collin Park Wood nature reserve


OS grid ref SO887272


Take A38 from Gloucester to Tewkesbury. At traffic lights for the A4019 to Cheltenham by Swan Inn, take the narrow lane opposite (cul-de-sac) to the Reserve entrance at The Wharf. Park either in the small car park there or at the Swan Inn if you are a customer for good food.




At this time of year the increased flow of the River Severn and local rainfall causes water in ditches and the canal to rise. By late winter the low-lying areas are usually flooded, but the towpath and higher meadows are rarely submerged.



Visitors to the reserve are encouraged to bring their binoculars, particularly in winter months when lots of enjoyment can be had watching the many migrating wildfowl from the Grundon Hide.



Migrating wildfowl


This wetland has long been important for flocks of wintering wildfowl like wigeon, shoveler, pintail and teal, as well as Bewick's and whooper swans. Migrants need food to recoup energy for the journey north and breeding, as well as undisturbed time to rest on the water. They travel between Severn and Avon wetlands for food and refuge, including Walmore Common, Slimbridge, Tewkesbury and the Trust's Severn Hams nature reserves, notably Ashleworth Ham.




Managing the nature reserve


The Wildlife Trust is currently working restoring this important wetland site. As farming became more intensive from the 1950s, with fertilisers, sprays and drainage, this site once rich in wildlife lost much of its conservation value.



Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust purchased the Canal in 1985. In 2000 it was able to acquire the meadows and then, in 2004, expand this area with a further purchase of the Southern Meadows. At 223 acres (91 ha), Coombe Hill is the largest of the Trust's four Severn Hams Wetland reserves.



It will take many years for it to again be the wildlife rich wetland of 60 years ago, but restoration is well underway:


- Keeping it wet with special banks across ditches to keep water in the reserve so the soil stays moist until late summer


- Preventing disturbance by setting out a special Breeding Grounds Protected Area


- Farming traditionally with the help of neighbouring farms


- Improving the habitat including re-shaping ditches to be more wildlife friendly


- Thinking big by working with partners and local people to maximise the opportunity to bring back wildlife and rebuild biodiversity.




Walking at Coombe Hill nature reserve


To reach the Meadows from the reserve car park at The Wharf, walk ½ mile (10 minutes) along the Canal's northern side to the reserve entrance gate. There are small signs to help you find your way around, including a circular walk which should take 1.5-2 hours to complete.



For those more interested in bird watching, there are two hides - the large Grundon hide, approached by boardwalk through Broad Meer where there are information boards to help identify wild fowl, plus the Long Pool hide on the other side of the reserve (see map).




Flood damage


The devastating floods in Gloucestershire last July were catastrophic for the Coombe Hill. Many species were swept away by the flood waters and when these receded they left much of the site choked in debris and covered in a thick brown slime.



The cleanup and repair operation is ongoing. There was an amazing public response to the subsequent appeal for funds, which has enabled the Trust to appoint a warden to coordinate the huge cleanup task. We are now seeing species slowly return and are hopeful for the coming breeding season.



Please bear these recent events in mind when visiting the site.



Wildlife Highways


Ultimately the aim of the Trust and its partners is to connect the Severn Hams, including Coombe Hill, with adjoining habitats to create one huge wildlife highway stretching the entire length of the Vale. This will help ensure species vulnerable to change stand a chance of survival, especially if severe weather events like last summer's flooding happen more frequently due to climate change.



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.




How to find Collin Park Wood nature reserve


OS grid ref SO887272


Take A38 from Gloucester to Tewkesbury. At traffic lights for the A4019 to Cheltenham by Swan Inn, take the narrow lane opposite (cul-de-sac) to the Reserve entrance at The Wharf. Park either in the small car park there or at the Swan Inn if you are a customer for good food.



Comments

0 comments

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search