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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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Top Bluebell Spots

Sam Bertram

25 April 2018

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. Note for dog owners:  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 Knap Hill to Oare.   2. Closer to the Dorset border and Tisbury? Try the Larmer Tree or one local described a magical bluebell wood you can see from the road. Leave Clementine’s Shop, and continue to the Bath / Shaftesbury road. Just before the road there is a hump back bridge and to the right a stunning bluebell wood with a stream running through it. (Please note: unknown if on private or public land so please check if investigating!). 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. Three years ago 7000 bluebell bulbs were planted by residents and the council in Milford Hollow near Laverstock in Salisbury so fingers crossed they 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 December 2017

We saw a peek of snow before and after Christmas so just in case there's more 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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Our members favourite walks

Sam Bertram

12 May 2017

May is a great time to get out into the open countryside when temperatures are warmer but it’s not too hot. Our members all give their top tips on things to do in Wiltshire. Here are some of their favourite walks.   South Wiltshire   1. Well Natural - a fabulous independent health shop in Salisbury say a scenic walk at Old Sarum at sunset is the best.   ‘Salisbury residents will be familiar with the beautiful history of how the city came to be at its current location. The gothic Salisbury Cathedral was built in that location following the decision from the previous settlers of Old Sarum, a historic hill fort which was once a thriving village and visited by many famous Royals including William the Conqueror, to move the Cathedral and build a city around it. The Old Sarum hill fort was still lived in until more recently, but is now a place of historic significance and managed by English Heritage. In the evenings, when the weather is nice, you can walk up to the ruins of the old Cathedral and watch the sun set in the distance. You get a fantastic countryside view and can also see the ‘new’ Cathedral standing prominently in the view overlooking the city. Highly recommended, just make sure to wear suitable footwear as the terrain can be rough.’ Location   2. Great Wishford’s Simply Bluebell’s favourite is the Roman Road in Grovely Woods.    ‘What could be better than running, walking or cycling along the Roman road in Grovely. Far from the madding crowd with a tree lined walk that changes dramatically with every season, but is particularly spectacular in autumn. Fragrant with bluebells in spring, cool and refreshing in summer and mystical in the snow.’ Location   3. Clementine’s shop near Tisbury loves a walk around the lake.     ‘I have grown up near the Fonthill Lake and have always enjoyed talking a stroll around the lake. You can walk some of the way around the lake, with lovely views.’ While you’re there it’s really worth popping in to see Clementine’s shop and their new café. Location   The epicentre of our county   1. Brittany and Guy Murphy from Michelin starred The Red Lion East Chisenbury love to recharge the soul on the wide open spaces of Salisbury Plain as do Wiltshire Life pub of the year The Swan in Enford.    Pete and Emma Jeffries of the Swan say ‘The single reason we decided to stay put. Salisbury Plain is on our doorstep and we absolutely love it! We walk our dogs, Digger and Pickle, on the plains every day and love the peace and quiet it offers. You can walk for miles with no fences or gates and enjoy great open expanses of our countryside. From the pub car park, you can be on the plains in minutes and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see parachutists from Netheravon airfield making their descent, the Hercules carriers practising at Upavon as well as deer. We can let you know of the best walks from the Pub. It’s gorgeous in the sunshine but there’s even a beauty in the rain!’ Location   Closer to Swindon?   1. The Pear Tree in Purton love strolling around the extensive grounds of Lydiard Park in Swindon.    ‘It’s an under-used Wiltshire resource which deserves a better profile. It combines pleasure, leisure and history. We particularly love the Walled Garden which is carefully tended and the staff are always happy to answer questions and share their knowledge.’ Location   2.      Buckerfields Barn love to walk on ‘The Ridgeway, the earliest known thoroughfare in Europe, imagine those who have followed the route over the last 10,000 years, watch the soaring birds of prey, embrace the big sky views and listen to the silence.’ Location   3.     Overtown manor regularly walk around Barbury Castle to see Wiltshire’s beautiful countryside. Location   4.     Little Dan Designs love a stroll around Jubilee lake in Royal Wootton Bassett. Location   The Marlborough and Pewsey Downs   1. Beverley Hams from A Piece of Cake By Bev loves to walk on the Ridgeway on Fyfield Downs.    ‘It’s just beautiful, the views are amazing, and great walking underfoot. Fantastic if you have a dog because of the wide open spaces’. Even better is the fact that once you’ve done the walk your even most justified in having one of her delicious tray bakes which she delivers! Location   2. Garp and Liis from Sticks and Stones café and lifestyle shop in Woodborough say..    ‘On our days off (rare, but it does happen) Garp and I love walking. Our favourite places are West Woods for the bluebells, Kennet and Avon canal to see the boats or kite flying on Woodborough Hill’. They make a fabulous cup of coffee so stop in after for refreshment or one of their delicious lunches. Location   3.     Indigo Antiques is also a fan of the Pewsey Downs    ‘The meadows around Adams Grave Longbarrow is at the summit of Walkers Hill. A wonderful place to walk in all seasons with a beautiful view across the Pewsey Vale. Walk up from the main road along the spine of the hill to get to the summit. Just above the huge Alton Barnes chalk White Horse, maintained by the local community. The hillside is full of a wonderful array of native wild flowers. I feel privileged to live in such a beautiful part of Britain.’ Location   4. Digger and Mojo also love that area   ‘A fantastic walk at any time of year. Park and cross the road and walk up to the White Horse – check out its spindly legs – the 19c workers refused to dig a wider outline after the architect in charge ran off with their wages…! Children are always fascinated by the sheer scale of something so familiar they’ve seen from the car. The Pewsey Vale and beyond spreads before you; at 295m above sea level, you’re at Wiltshire’s highest point. Over the seasons you may spot rare wild flowers, paraponters and corn circles. Blow away the cobwebs or walk off your Sunday Lunch.' Location   5. Meadow in my garden 'One of our favourite walks is near Oare. It's a beautiful circular walk that starts at the centre of the village and takes you on a half hour loop.' Location   6.     Balmain & Balmain say 'Walking through the Brails is a must, plus at the same time you can take in The Wilton Windmill, and end up in Great Bedwyn for refreshment'. Location   7.     Radish loves likes the Old Railway path Marlborough - 'The old railway will take you all the way to Chiseldon, but you can make it as long or short as you like. We like to walk with our little girl in her buggy and our two boys on their bikes for an enjoyable weekend breath of the beautiful Wiltshire outdoor.' Location   Nordic walking with Ashley runs all her walks around that area which is a great way of seeing the beautiful countryside while exercising. We've tried it and it's fab.   Devizes   1. The George and Dragon in Rowde love a walk around Caen hill Locks. Owner Chippy Day says.. ‘This is a 2 mile walk around 26 canal locks, all cascading down the hill so they are an impressive sight. At the top lock is a cute café which is a welcome stop, fab ice-creams, cakes and tea, just what’s needed to keep going half way around.’ If you’re looking for a delicious pub lunch to round off the walk or a pint then The George & Dragon is just up the road. Location   2.     Pink boutique like Drews pond in Devizes   'A stunning woodland walk whatever the season. This provided a therapeutic walk for patients from the old hospital which closed in 1995.' Location   Forest   1. Tiffinie from The Wiltshire Liqueur Company challenges you to walk through Savernake Forest without getting lost. Her tip is to take lots of water! If it’s a shorter walk or a picnic she’d no doubt recommend one of her liqueurs for a warming tipple. Be in awe of the big old trees in the only privately owned forest in Britain. Michelin starred the Harrow at little Bedwyn also love the forest. Being foodies Roger and Sue love to forage for wild mushrooms and truffles. Ollie and Lauren Hunter from The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat also love to forage. Ashley and James Wilsey and family from The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn favourite path in Savernake is down by St Katharine’s, where there is a gem of a church set in amongst the trees and fields. ‘Sometimes you can hear the church bells ringing as you wander along the forest paths.’ Location   Chippenham   1. Fairfax Antiques ‘Visit our local Maud Heath’s Memorial column on Wick Hill; Maud Heath was a widow from East Tytherton village who died in 1474 and left land to provide an income to maintain a causeway from Wick Hill to Chippenham for the benefit of the country folk taking their goods to market. We all love to walk to the ancient Maud Heath's Causeway, a pathway in rural Wiltshire rising above the Avon floodplain on sixty-four brick arches, carrying an undistinguished country road between Bremhill and Langley Burrell.' Location   Closer to Bath Hannah from Gyidance (dance movement psychotherapy) loves a mid-morning walk through box woods to The Greenhouse, Wadswick 'A great way to get energised for the day with a trek up the hill and into nature. Met by wood-land Pigs and landscapes of beauty, Box Woods takes you into a maze ….. and leads you to an array of treasures, including The Greenhouse Restaurant. At the heart of the unique complex for older populations, The Greenhouse serves exquisite dishes in a light, yet warm and cosy environment as well as offering spa, health and beauty treatments. A must!' Location   See our top tips map for more recommendations from our local independents on things to do.    

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