The Cotswolds is “an area of outstanding beauty”. They are situated in the beautiful south central England. Overall the Cotswolds cover six counties; the main ones are Gloucestershire, West Oxfordshire and South Western Warwickshire. The Cotswolds is built up of many country villages and including the towns of Chipping Norton, Broadway, Burford and Stroud along with many others. Within the Cotswolds are the Cotswold Hills which roll into one another eventually creating the Cotswolds edge above the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham. The Cotswolds are well known for the yellow Cotswold stone which the majority of buildings in the Cotswolds are made from.
“Cotswolds” is thought to be a combination of two very old English words. Wolds are gentle hills and Cots are sheep enclosures. It would make sense then that The Cotswolds means an area of gentle hills with plenty of sheep. The Cotswolds Hills have miles upon miles of dry stone walls and the picturesque Cotswold landscape is completed with hidden river valleys. Centuries ago the Cotswolds was made wealthy by the wool trade and the results of that wealth can be seen in the many fine manor houses and churches throughout the area.
The Cotswolds is rich in Neolithic remains with about 80 long barrows of the Cotswold-Severn type. Belas Knap is one of the largest, whereas you need to crawl inside Hetty Pegler’s Tump. There are also a number of causewayed camps dating from this period with a fine example at Crickley Hill. The Bronze Age is represented by the remains of some 400 round barrows concentrated on the Cotswold.
Two surveys conducted by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust recorded a staggering 83% decline in water vole number in the county. In 2009, the Trust conducted another survey on sections of the rivers Churn, Coln, Windrush, Leach, Dikler and the Slaughter Brook and 19 parishes were identified with small & isolated populations. The loss and damage of their habitat and the ferocious predation by the non-native American mink has pushed the water vole to the very edge of survival. A 4-year programme is being undertaken working with Cotswolds landowners to control mink, improve the river habitat and educate local people. This programme also supports a whole range of other species water shrew, otter, kingfisher, brown trout, dragonfly, damselfly, water crowfoot, caddis fly, dipper, bullhead and the white clawed crayfish. For more information please visit www.gloucesterwildlifetrust.co.uk