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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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Favourite sledging spots

Sam Bertram

31 January 2019

Snow is here & a while ago we asked around for people’s favourite sledging spots.  Here’s the feedback.....   1. Cherhill Monument near Calne – watch out it can be very fast in places!  You can also see one of Wiltshire’s White Horses while you’re there.   2. Bradford on Avon golf course has been frequented by some mini thrill seekers.   3. The hill above Alton Barnes on the Pewsey Downs is not for the faint hearted. Hold on to your sledges.   4. Head to Heaven’s Gate at the top of Prospect Hill and enjoy the views across the parkland of Longleat and Longleat House before you jump on.   5. Closer to Swindon? Try Coate Water Park, Liddington Hill or the Lawns Woods in Old Town.   6. If you’re in Chippenham head to Monkton Park.   7. Locals love Treacle Bolley in Marlborough or try corner field off the London Road.   8. If you live near Salisbury Plain Widdington Motorcross field at Widdington Farm near Upavon gives a good ride.   9. Take in history while you sledge at Avebury.  Going between the stones can be terrifying but it’s easy to stop at the bottom of the hill.   10. In Malmesbury the place to go is The Worthies - near the entrance to Reeds Farm, opposite the Co-op and below the cricket club and another great spot opposite Willis Brothers at Cowbridge (on the B4042).   11. Bratton Alps is popular amongst locals. Go up Stradbrook into Imber Road for fantastic sledging.   12. TAKE NOTE: No sledging trip is complete without a cup of hot chocolate waiting at home at the end & be careful!   Got some more suggestions? We really want to hear about good sledging spots nearer Salisbury, Westbury & Tisbury area. Email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we’ll add them in.  

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A wild swim in Wiltshire?

Sam Bertram

22 June 2018

Things are hotting up so we thought we'd dig up our blog from 2016 on people’s favourite wild swimming spots in Wiltshire. Brace yourself it can be cold…   1. Lots of people voted for Farleigh Hungerford near Trowbridge and it’s no wonder.  Founded in 1932 the Farleigh & District Swimming Club is believed to be the oldest river swimming club in the world. Many have memories of glorious summer days spent in this beautiful spot - a deep but narrow stretch of the River Frome above a weir. There are lawns and steps into the water, changing huts and even a portaloo. You can find them on Facebook – Farleigh and District Swimming Club   2. Slightly south of Farleigh Hungerford there’s a large weir pool set amongst the trees at Tellisford.  Park at the top of Vaggs Hill and access it from there.   3. Lake 32 in the Cotswold Water Park near Swindon is great for those who want to stretch out and have more than a paddle.  They also hold triathlons there for those up for a challenge.   4. Near the Oxfordshire border is Buscot Weir – a large deep pool with tree swings and lawns.    5. A little beyond the borders in Lechlade there’s a good swimming spot in the Thames, upstream from the town.   6. Just near the abbey in Lacock is Bide Brook Weir which is popular for a summer splash. There is a large deep pool and some rope swings. Park at the NT car park and walk down the road past the river before turning left into a field via a stile in the wall.   7. Closer to Warminster in the village of Heytesbury there’s a lovely spot to cool off in the River Wylye. Take the path at the back of Mill Street.   8. Another spot in the River Wylye can be found between Hanging Langford and Steeple Langford - perfect for families and kids. It’s a little on the cold side but you can always warm up on the grass verge which is also perfect for picnics. There’s a small car park off Duck Street directly opposite the swimming spot.   9. Dip into the River Avon in Fighledean near Amesbury. It’s extremely popular so try to go at non-peak times if you can. The water is fairly deep so you get a decent swim but brace yourself – it can be cold! Look out for the long stone wall of Figheldean House and turn down the cul-de-sac opposite.   10. Ten minutes’ walk from Salisbury centre is the Old Mill at Harnham. There’s a paddling part which is great for small kids and a deeper stream for swimming.   11. There’s also a swimming spot in the River Nadder in Teffont Evias. It’s a small secret pool but it is on a fishing beat so don’t swim if fishermen are there.   12. Near the Hampshire / Berkshire border in Great Bedwyn you can find the ‘Dog Hole’ pronounced ‘dogole’ which is a small pool fed by the river.  Only really deep enough for kids it’s much loved by children in the area. Just head down Frog Lane and past the village hall and you can find it after about 500 yards. The River Dun is also great for paddling – it’s cold so will definitely cool you down!   13. Heading back towards Marlborough someone mentioned enjoying swimming in the river by Axford.   14. Closer to Malmesbury swimming in the river at Little Somerford seems to be a favourite.   Got some more suggestions? Contact us on Twitter or Facebook or email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we’ll add them in. Looking for a useful resource? http://www.wild-swimming.com/  

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2018 New Year bucket List

Sam Bertram

31 December 2017

Here’s our suggestions on some resolutions & what you should be aiming to see & do in 2018 to make the most of this beautiful county. Plan for one a quarter and you’ll find it incredibly achievable and rewarding! 1. Our environment is in a fragile state but it’s not that hard to all do our bit to help. You can reduce your impact on the environment - use less plastic - buy beeswax wraps, take your coffee cup with you to avoid using disposable coffee cups, buy bamboo straws, wooden toothbrushes. Buy produce from local companies rather than supermarkets to avoid all the supermarket packaging.  Local Devizes company Meadow in my Garden make wild flower seed mixes that encourage pollinators to gardens and sell animal homes for some of our precious wildlife. You don’t need to have a big garden for wild flowers & they not only look stunning but also help our busy bees, butterflies and ladybirds. They’re also looking for volunteers to help fill public spaces with wild flowers. Get in touch if you think you can help. 2. Look at your grocery list and think what you can source locally – there’s so much fabulous food & drink available right here in Wiltshire. Visit your local butcher or become a regular at a Wiltshire Farmers Market so that local always makes its way onto your table. We are also setting up a Food Assembly in Marlborough putting locals in touch with local food so sign up to hear when it launches. You shop local produce online and go to the same venue every week to pick it up. If you feel like a tipple look no further than The Wiltshire liqueur Company – also fabulous ingredients for any recipe. It not only supports your local economy but when it hasn’t travelled it’s better for the environment and tastes better too! 3. Experience some of the amazing pubs & restaurants in the county - It’s important to support your local pub & restaurant, but once in a while it’s worth going further afield.  In Wiltshire we have The Good Food Guide’s best dining pub in the country - The Michelin Starred Red Lion, East Chisenbury.  Winner of the Wiltshire Life best pub in the county in 2017 is The Swan in Enford. Don't miss The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn described by Tom Parker Bowles as ‘Three steps to foodie heaven’ & recently featured in The Telegraph as one of Britain's cosiest pubs, The George & Dragon in Rowde with their fabulous seafood & rustic luxurious rooms with a touch of Soho House, The Michelin starred Harrow at Little Bedwyn which has been AA and Decanter’s Restaurant of the Year amongst other accolades, and The Wheatsheaf Chilton Foliat where local sourcing is at the heart and was recently shortlisted in The Sustainable Restaurant Association's Food Made Good Awards. For a casual lunch or for the best coffee try the lovely Sticks & Stones in their lifestyle shop in Woodborough. For a healthy treat pop into the Cafe at Well Natural in Salisbury. 4. Regular bracing walks are a great way to stay fit. Visit a new part of the Wiltshire countryside & walk somewhere new – there are stunning walks from the North Wessex Downs to the Nadder Valley. Our members have lots of top tips on things to do – whether it’s walking the ancient Ridgeway, an invigorating walk across Salisbury Plain or a walk around Fonthill Lake near Tisbury you’ll be pleased you ventured there.  5. Look after yourself. Our wellbeing members will help you get on the right track in the New Year.  Love Food in Marlborough is launching Love Food to go - healthy nutritional meals for delivery and Nordic Walking instructor Ashley Sandy can help you get fit and have fun while exploring the beautiful outdoors and is offering ski fit classes to get you ready for the slopes. If you know someone struggling with life encourage them to try new things - dance psychotherapist Gyidance might be able to help. 6. Make it to at least one of Wiltshire’s events or festivals. Racehorses have been trained in Wiltshire for over a Century so have fun watching Barbury Races – a great day out for all the family. Kick off your shoes at a music festival or there are plenty of Arts Festivals around the county - Salisbury, Trowbridge & Devizes and fabulous theatre at Illford Arts Festival near Bradford on Avon. Marlborough have a literature festival & there are plenty of Food & Drink Festivals throughout the summer. See our events calendar. 7. Take in one of our national treasures – Stourhead near Mere is the second most visited National Trust Property. However, there are plenty more to choose from – Avebury (the ‘better’ stone circle), Lacock Abbey, Wardour Castle near Tisbury, Great Chalfield Manor and Garden (featured in ‘Wolf Hall’), The Courts Garden in Holt or Old Sarum near Salisbury.  And don’t forget the marvellous Salisbury Cathedral and Malmesbury Abbey or Castle Combe, said by many to be the prettiest village in England or The Merchant's House in Marlborough to see how a wealthy 17th Century Merchant would have lived. 8. Learn something new - how often do you wish you could do something better? There are plenty of places offering courses – Marlborough College Summer School has every course you can imagine and it’s a fun way to spend a week. Organise a nutritional cookery course at your home with Love Food. 9. Don’t always default to Amazon – if you’re looking for a gift or new items for the home stop and think if you could buy from a small local company.  You’ll be amazed at the unique things available as well as how affordable they are too.  We have lots of gift ideas for both him and her so check those out before going global!  And lots of ideas for the home too. Here's to a fabulous 2018!

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