Sue Bradley from the Glouces­ter­shire Wildlife Trust ex­plores the wild side of Al­ney Is­land

The long days of Au­gust are a great time to go out ex­plor­ing and en­joy be­ing close to na­ture, whether it’s the wilds of Al­ney Is­land just out­side Glouces­ter or the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings of Cirences­ter Park, as Sue Bradley re­ports

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE -

Al­ney Is­land lies less than a mile from the cen­tre of Glouces­ter but is a world away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city, and there’s no bet­ter time to ex­plore it than dur­ing the drier sum­mer months.

This 2.1 mile long site lies within a sec­tion of the River Sev­ern that splits into two chan­nels, start­ing at ‘Up­per Part­ing’ at the north­ern tip and merg­ing at ‘Lower Part­ing’ in the south. For cen­turies it was used as the low­est river cross­ing point to Wales and re­mains the spot at which the Sev­ern Bore reaches its peak, a phe­nom­e­non that’s best viewed from Telford’s bridge at Over or The Lower Part­ing. Al­ney Is­land is said to be the place at which the Dan­ish king Cnut fought and de­feated the English king Ed­mund Iron­side in 1016 and was once the site of a 1.5 mile-long race­course.

Al­ney Is­land’s po­si­tion within the UK’S long­est river means flood­ing is a com­mon oc­cur­rence, and it’s for this rea­son that the site is gen­er­ally used as farm­land, al­though there are also a few houses too. It’s mostly main­tained as pas­ture, which is used for graz­ing hardy rare breed cat­tle, in­clud­ing Old Glouces­ters, with the grass cut for hay in the sum­mer.

Some 198 acres of the site are des­ig­nated a na­ture re­serve, man­aged by Glouces­ter City Coun­cil and as­sisted by reg­u­lar work par­ties known as The Friends of Al­ney Is­land. It con­tains wet grass­land, broadleaf trees and other wa­tery habi­tats, all of which at­tract a range of wildlife.

In the sum­mer the na­ture re­serve is awash with wild flow­ers, in­clud­ing or­chids, which

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