Forest of Dean’s daffodil weekends – a real harbinger of spring

Gwen___Vera_s_field(rev 0)
The wild daffodil splendour of Gwen and Vera’s field, Forest of Dean (copyright Caroline Aistrop)

If you fancy seeing a real riot of nature this weekend or next weekend, the Oxenhall and Dymock Daffodil weekends are a must. They’re a celebration of the wonderful sign of the coming spring which we all love to see – the daffodil. In this case, it’s the wild daffodil which grows in profusion through the woods and fields around three villages – Oxenhall, Kempley and Dymock. Never mind those hosts of golden daffodils in the Lake District, Wordsworth could easily have been writing about his walk through the countryside in the Forest of Dean.

Each village takes it in turn to host the weekend – last week’s was due to be in Kempley but was cancelled due to the snow. This weekend is centred at the Oxenhall village hall and next weekend, Dymock village hall is the host. Today and tomorrow, the wardens from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust will be leading guided walks around Betty Dawes Wood, a trust reserve which is one of the jewels of the daffodil woods. The walk is just 1.5 miles long and flat, on the whole, so a good place for a family outing if you’ve got small children. The wood will probably be muddy after all the recent rain and snow so go prepared with wellies or walking boots. There’s also a 5 mile guided walk leaving from the village hall at 10am.

After the walks, be sure to leave time for a visit to the village hall to indulge in the delicious cakes, pasties or even a lunch. The cakes are usually fab, home baked by the villagers themselves. Plus there’s a plant and white elephant stall, and an exhibition in the church by the local history society. All the monies raised go to local clubs and good causes. Dymock’s weekend includes a craft fair in the village hall.

All-in-all, I love these weekends and revel in the shear ‘Englishness’ of them plus the infectious enthusiasm and love of the volunteer for ‘their’ daffodils and their villages. These weekends are the real annual harbingers of spring for me.

More details about Oxenhall’s weekend: http://www.wyedeantourism.co.uk/whatson/all/e-1372-Oxenhall_Daffodil_Festival 

More details about Dymock’s weekend: http://www.wyedeantourism.co.uk/whatson/all/e-136-Spring_Fayre__Daffodil_weekend 

wild daffodil single flower

Cheerful snowdrops at Cherington Pond

Cherington Pond - bank of snowdrops Feb 2018 Caroline Aistrop

Cherington pond is a jewel of a place, hidden away at the bottom of a secluded valley not many miles away from Stroud but feeling like it’s in its own world. It offers a variety of different wildlife in one small area – the water birds that live on the open water plus those that prefer the seclusion of the woodland that wraps itself around the pond; the shallow stream leading into the pond where once a pre-occupied water shrew bumbled along looking for food, quite oblivious to my great bulk standing just inches away. But in February and early March, it’s the spectacle of the snowdrop carpet gracing the woodland floor that makes this an ideal place for a Sunday (or any day come to that) stroll instilling a feel-good factor that far out-weighs a bucketful of prozac.

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Summer fun in the countryside for kids

Photo - 2 girls walking along footpath backview Pezibear

In the past, I’ve lead walks helping families get closer to wildlife and be inspired by the outdoors. A regular comment that took me aback was parents admitting that these events helped them discover places where they could take their children in the future. Even though they really wanted their children to spend time amongst nature, they didn’t know where to go ‘out there’ in the countryside.

So, here are five places I’d recommend where families can have some fun, fresh air and do a bit of wildlife watching (and all for free):

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