Saturday, 24 May 2014

Wiltshire Cotswolds beauty

ONE of our favorite places to walk locally is a small valley near Castle Combe in Wiltshire and last weekend it was at its sparkling best.  The area is in the southern most tip of the Cotswolds and hence the bedrock is limestone.  Clear streams cut through deep valleys - with the ByBrook being the main one.

As many of the slopes are too steep to cultivate they are put down to permanent pasture.  Sheep and cattle graze the grassland and produce a flower rich sward full of interest and beauty.

The area supports a number of SSSIs and is home to green hairstreak, adonis and chalkhill blue butterflies, native crayfish and dippers, as well as all the normal wildlife that you would expect of such a place - it is quite idyllic really.  When we visited, Butterfly Conservation were on a field outing on West Yatton Down SSSI, with permission from the landowner.

At the start of our walk the valley bottom supports typical meadow species (MG5b) including yellow rattle and pignut.  These merge into more calcareous grassland (CG2/3) characterised by the presence of salad burnet and upright brome.

The slopes are rich with flowers

Mature ancient woodland and hawthorn hedges are interspersed between the grassland.  Some coppicing has been carried out and the ground flora of ramsons, dog's mercury and orchids have benefited.

The hawthorns were dripping with their pungently aromatic, white flowers.

Once upon a time the valley had a working mill and this has affected the layout of the water course.  These Devon Red cattle were enjoying the cool of the pool below a weir.

I heard the dipper and pointed my camera and clicked the shutter - I caught just one rather blurred image:

The area changes through out the seasons and so another visit will be on the cards very soon.

Merged image of the hillside

1 comment:

  1. As someone who is into wildlife tourism in India, it becomes imperative for us to see the world view on wildlife. Your blog does just that. Thanks!


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