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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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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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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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