Glouces­ter Wildlife Trust on the wild side of the Golden Val­ley

The sul­try days of sum­mer are com­ing to an end and the trees are pre­par­ing to put on their au­tumn colours. Sue Bradley dis­cov­ers a val­ley that’s spec­tac­u­lar in Septem­ber and quizzes ce­ram­i­cist Mary Rose Young on her wild life

Cotswold Life - - CONTENTS -

Stroud’s Golden Val­ley is a cel­e­brated beauty spot, par­tic­u­larly in au­tumn when tree leaves blaze yel­low and or­ange. This area ly­ing be­tween Chal­ford and Sap­per­ton is well known to train pas­sen­gers who travel through it on their way to Kem­ble and be­yond; in­deed Queen Vic­to­ria de­scribed it in her jour­nal as “pretty and pic­turesque” fol­low­ing a jour­ney made dur­ing the 19th cen­tury.

Ven­ture be­yond the tracks to find a hid­den world; a wildlife-rich cor­ri­dor of wood­lands, the River Frome and the re­mains of the Thames and Sev­ern Canal, which na­ture has grad­u­ally re­claimed over the past few decades.

No visit to the Golden Val­ley – also known as the Frome Val­ley - is com­plete with­out a stroll through Sic­caridge Wood near Sap­per­ton, a semi-nat­u­ral an­cient wood­land that’s been cop­piced for cen­turies and is home to a va­ri­ety of wild crea­tures and plants such as herb paris, lily-of-the-val­ley, an­gu­lar solomon’s seal and bird’s nest or­chid. It’s a place of great beauty through­out the year but par­tic­u­larly in spring, when sweet-scented blue­bells turn its floor to a sea of blue and wild gar­lic fills the air with its dis­tinc­tive fra­grance and sends up its emer­ald leaves and con­stel­la­tions of white flow­ers.

Sic­caridge Wood is one of the few places in the Cotswolds in which the hazel dor­mouse makes its home, num­bers of which are closely mon­i­tored as part of a na­tional scheme, while huge wood ant nests can be found on the ground and sil­ver washed frit­il­lary and comma but­ter­flies flit around the open rides.

Just be­yond the wood is Daneway Banks, the steep sides of which have al­most lu­nar-like bumps made by gen­er­a­tions of yel­low meadow ants. This na­ture re­serve is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of lime­stone grass­land and sup­ports a wide range of wild flow­ers, in­clud­ing com­mon rock rose, wild thyme, mar­jo­ram and cowslip; a num­ber of orchids can be found here - frog, green winged, bee, fly and greater but­ter­fly.

It’s also home to the large blue but­ter­fly, which has been suc­cess­fully

Blue­bells by Dave Kil­bey

Large blue but­ter­fly by Dave Sim­cox

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