With the warmer months upon us and the opportunity to start exploring beautiful parts of the country presenting itself once more, we’re sharing a few of our favourite walks in an Area of Outstanding Beauty close to our heart: The Cotswolds.
From discovering ancient Cotswolds’ footpaths to foraging for fungi, a world of wonder awaits on our very own doorstep. How you explore it is up to you…
MEET THE FLORA AND THE FORNA
From ancient stone circles to rolling green hills, the Cotswolds’ walking trails are among some of the best in the UK. And spring is a particularly beautiful time to explore them with delicate bluebells, sunny primrose and wild garlic carpeting the way. We recommend the beech woods at Frith Wood Nature Reserve near Stroud, or the stunning circular walk from charming Charlbury through the neolithic Wychwood Forest. Be sure to look out for the 12th-century medieval church at Shorthampton.
HAVE FUN FORAGING
Combine walking with a taste of the countryside on a Gloucestershire Foraging Course. Booking now for the summer, walks last around three and a half hours and teach guests to identify an array of edibles from the local area. In spring, the first leaves of dandelions and chickweed are tender enough to go in salads, while the young shoots of goosegrass and early nettle tops are the perfect addition to soups, omelettes and pasta dishes. Mushrooms are also on the menu. The St. George‘s variety appears around the saint‘s day and is delicious fried in butter and served on toast.
MAPPING OUT THE BEST UK WALKS
Explore further with Slow Ways. The project is calling for 10,000 volunteers to help walk, test, record and review a network of walking routes connecting every town in England. It may surprise you to know that, while there are thousands of kilometres of trails across the country, there is no definitive map to help people walk off-road between towns and cities. Slow Ways aims to change that, and last year some 700 volunteers collaborated to produce a first draft of the Slow Ways network, creating a stunning map.
OUR WOODLANDS PLEDGE
Creating more UK woodland is vital to all of us, whether we live in the heart of the countryside or in the city. Woodlands offset the effects of climate change; they also give us cleaner rivers and air, support new natural habitats and help lessen damage caused by flooding. And while it takes a tree a long time to reach maturity, many of the beneficial effects of planting new woodland take root straight away.
From 2021, we’ll be planting over 50,000 trees each year, over half of them here in the UK. To hear more about how we’re trying to be better and play our part, you can read our 2021 Sustainability Pledge.