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Top Bluebell Spots

Sam Bertram

4 April 2019

Startling, bright colours are one of the wonders of nature and no more than the carpet of blue flowers in our woodlands in spring.   We asked around for people’s favourite bluebell spots in Wiltshire and it’s no surprise we got an overwhelming response. So here  are our recommendations from Wiltshire locals…   1. The top spot goes to West Woods which the majority of people named as their favourite. Situated just outside Marlborough near the village of Lockeridge it’s a beautiful plantation of beech trees on a former ancient woodland site and the bluebells are magnificent.  If you want to avoid the crowds Nordic Walking with Ashley have found some lovely ones on foot. Gopher Woods has some bluebells - on the walk from Knapp Hill to Oare.   2. Closer to the Dorset border and Tisbury? Try the Larmer Tree or Win Green near Ludwell is also good as well as Ashmore just over the border in Dorset.   3. On the Wiltshire / Oxon Border you’ll find Badbury Hill near picture perfect Coleshill with its secret Second World War history. Overlooking the Vale of the White Horse it’s an Iron Age fort with a stunning bluebell woodland.   4. Devizes locals love the bluebells that grow alongside white wild garlic at Wheelers Wood on the road between Sandy lane (with its well preserved thatch cottages) & Lacock. Erlestoke wood is also a favourite and Potterne wood.   The 32 acre Oakfrith Woodland in Urchfont dates back to the 18th Century and is one of the few remaining areas of significant woodland in the Pewsey Vale. In early spring bluebells cover the woodland floor.   5. If you live a little nearer Bath, Quarry Hill Woodland on Devizes Road in Box has some lovely displays.   6. Closer to Warminster the woods around Longleat are a must visit & if you head to Heaven’s Gate at the top of Prospect Hill you’ll see more while enjoying the views across the parkland of Longleat and Longleat House.   7. Malmesbury locals recommended Sommerford Common as a good spot. Go to Brinkworth and turn up Stoppers Hill towards Minety. It’s an extensive mixed woodland run by The Forestry Commission.    8. On the Wiltshire / Berkshire border the Littlecote grounds have lovely bluebells and a beautiful Roman mosaic and the remains of a Roman Villa, so get your history fix while you’re there.   9. It’s important not to forget our treasured National Trust Properties - Lacock & Stourhead both have displays of bluebells alongside other spectacular spring flowers.   10. Closer to Swindon are Ashen Copse in Wroughton & Pinkcombe wood in Hodson. Quidhampton Woods near Wroughton are on the slopes up to Bincknoll Castle, a hill fort overlooking Swindon. Take in the panoramic views while you get your fix of blue. There's also Hagbourne Copse right in the middle of Swindon.   11. Four years ago 7000 bluebell bulbs were planted by residents and the council in Milford Hollow near Laverstock in Salisbury so should still produce a beautiful display.   12. Around Calne & Chippenham Bowood House opens it’s Woodland Garden from 28th April where you can see Rhododendrons amongst the bluebells. Mortimers Wood is just south of Chippenham near Pewsham Way – a small area of ancient woodland with recorded history dating back over 800 years.   13. Jubilee Lake in Royal Wootton Bassett has lovely bluebells in its woodlands. Complete with children’s playground and tea rooms you can stay for a bite to eat or enjoy a picnic by the lake.    14. Grovely Wood in Great Wishford is the largest tract of private woodland in Southern Wiltshire straddling the Wyle and Nadder vallies. The carpet of bluebells are stunning.   TAKE NOTE: Hopefully it’ll be dry and the sun beating down but if not don’t forget your umbrella!   Got some more suggestions? Contact us on Twitter or Facebook or email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we’ll add them in.

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Cycling with kids

Sam Bertram

25 March 2019

It’s the Easter holidays and often the best fun is discovering the countryside on foot or by bike. A family cycle ride gives lasting memories. We’ve asked around and here are some top tips on places to cycle with the kids this holiday. 1. The Learners Some trails are just too bumpy for beginners so an easy cycle path is what you’re after. Lydiard Park in Swindon gives plenty of space to practice with the added bonus of an ice cream at the end.  If ice cream is a good incentive there’s another easy trail from Devizes along the canal to the café at Caen Hill locks. Cycling around Coate Water Park in Swindon is also easy fun. 2. Fun but not too challenging Cycling along the Kennet & Avon Canal is easy, peaceful and beautiful. Start at All Cannings bridge car park and cycle towards Pewsey. Salisbury plain has lots of trails as does Savernake Forest and can provide endless fun for all the family. There are lots of off road quieter paths in the Cotswold Water Park, and being flat it’s a breeze. National cycle route 24 and 25 go through the Longleat Estate so pick it up there for a family bike ride. Brinkworth, near Malmesbury has a market with coffee shop every Wednesday morning so a reward awaits after a cycle on one of the many surrounding rural paths. The Ridgeway is great for cycling with sweeping views but can be bumpy in parts. Pick up the trail at Hackpen hill and cycle towards Avebury or from Bishopstone to the Uffington White Horse. The Marlborough Downs byway to Barbury Castle is also great fun. 3. Keen to stretch your legs a little more? There’s a great cycle trail from Salisbury Cathedral to Stonehenge. Mostly off road along the river and bridleways it skirts around Old Sarum castle remains with the grand finale being the approach to Stonehenge as you cycle up the hill. The North Wiltshire Rivers route is part of National Cycle Route 4 and links Melksham, Lacock, Chippenham, Calne, Cherhill and Avebury. The route is mostly traffic free part of which goes along the River Avon and Wilts & Berks canal as well as taking in lots of sites of historic interest. 4. The experienced who want to take it up a level Mountain biking on the Stourhead Estate – an annual permit will let you cycle at any time of the year. Tidworth free ride bike park has lots of jump and stunts.  It’s got 6 downhill tracks a progressive jump area and BMX dirt trails. No Bikes? Head to the Cotswold Water Park where you can hire bikes for all the family. Pick up a bike in Bradford on Avon and head along the Kennet and Avon Canal towards Bath or Devizes. Got some more suggestions? Please email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we'll add them to the blog. Happy Cycling!      

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Cycling with kids

Sam Bertram

25 March 2019

It’s the Easter holidays and often the best fun is discovering the countryside on foot or by bike. A family cycle ride gives lasting memories. We’ve asked around and here are some top tips on places to cycle with the kids this holiday. 1. The Learners Some trails are just too bumpy for beginners so an easy cycle path is what you’re after. Lydiard Park in Swindon gives plenty of space to practice with the added bonus of an ice cream at the end.  If ice cream is a good incentive there’s another easy trail from Devizes along the canal to the café at Caen Hill locks. Cycling around Coate Water Park in Swindon is also easy fun. 2. Fun but not too challenging Cycling along the Kennet & Avon Canal is easy, peaceful and beautiful. Start at All Cannings bridge car park and cycle towards Pewsey. Salisbury plain has lots of trails as does Savernake Forest and can provide endless fun for all the family. There are lots of off road quieter paths in the Cotswold Water Park, and being flat it’s a breeze. National cycle route 24 and 25 go through the Longleat Estate so pick it up there for a family bike ride. Brinkworth, near Malmesbury has a market with coffee shop every Wednesday morning so a reward awaits after a cycle on one of the many surrounding rural paths. The Ridgeway is great for cycling with sweeping views but can be bumpy in parts. Pick up the trail at Hackpen hill and cycle towards Avebury or from Bishopstone to the Uffington White Horse. The Marlborough Downs byway to Barbury Castle is also great fun. 3. Keen to stretch your legs a little more? There’s a great cycle trail from Salisbury Cathedral to Stonehenge. Mostly off road along the river and bridleways it skirts around Old Sarum castle remains with the grand finale being the approach to Stonehenge as you cycle up the hill. The North Wiltshire Rivers route is part of National Cycle Route 4 and links Melksham, Lacock, Chippenham, Calne, Cherhill and Avebury. The route is mostly traffic free part of which goes along the River Avon and Wilts & Berks canal as well as taking in lots of sites of historic interest. 4. The experienced who want to take it up a level Mountain biking on the Stourhead Estate – an annual permit will let you cycle at any time of the year. Tidworth free ride bike park has lots of jump and stunts.  It’s got 6 downhill tracks a progressive jump area and BMX dirt trails. No Bikes? Head to the Cotswold Water Park where you can hire bikes for all the family. Pick up a bike in Bradford on Avon and head along the Kennet and Avon Canal towards Bath or Devizes. Got some more suggestions? Please email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we'll add them to the blog. Happy Cycling!      

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Helping our wildlife

Sam Bertram

26 February 2019

The environmental challenge facing us is big but there’s much we can do close to home to help. We spoke to Paul from Meadow in my Garden, a Devizes business that not only creates wild flower seed mixes to attract pollinators to gardens but is driving change by educating people about the small steps they can take towards improving our environment. What would you say to people who feel the challenge is too great? ‘We’ve lost more than half of our wildlife in our lifetime so there is no option, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Our seed mixtures are like a food store for pollinators. Not having a big garden is no excuse. Even if you have the smallest bit of patio you can do an awful lot for pollinating insects. We have a very simple mixture called floral planter that is suitable for window boxes, doesn’t grow too tall and is extremely tolerant. The pollinators will love it and the display is beautiful.  We all need to do our bit so that the environment can be preserved for our children and future generations’. How should people change their thinking? ‘We need to think about how we can be kinder to our environment and that everything has a benefit. Do we really have to use pesticides or should we be looking at thinning weeds rather than eliminating them? Every bug and weed has a role too and we need to think about how we can be more sympathetic to our world. Every spoonful of soil has more living organisms than there are humans on the planet’  What about our public spaces? ‘There is so much we can do in our towns and cities. Roundabouts and verges, in fact any unloved space is perfect for planting wild flowers. Not only does it fill the spaces with an abundance of colourful, beneficial flowers but it can be a really low cost, low maintenance option. The Clean up group in Devizes started because of the build-up of rubbish in the town. Together with them we started with planting one roundabout last year and hope to extend it.  CURDS (Clean up Roundway and Devizes squad) is run by Zena Robson. If interested in joining the group visit Devizes in Bloom on Facebook to see their next meeting dates. We work nationally with lots of groups such as Team4Nature and would love to chat to anyone willing to help make our public spaces better for wildlife. If you see a space that could be better utilised get in touch with us. We also love to do talks for garden clubs, WI meetings and the like. We’re happy to give seeds to any worthy cause’. Tell us a bit more about your seeds ‘We have a comprehensive range of seed mixes that all have a different focus. While some are good for providing butterfly habitats, others are good for sowing under trees. Some can be used for pest control in an allotment, whereas others are a food source for bees, which is great for gardens but also good if you’re a beekeeper. They are an incredibly low maintenance way of filling space with flowers that give a profusion of colour right through the season and help wildlife.’ http://www.meadowinmygarden.co.uk/  

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