If you live in the Cotswolds, you are never far away from some truly stunning countryside. I love our beech woodlands with their carpets of bluebells and trees that tower above like natural cathedrals, it is where I go to think, relax and play and where I feel at home. But the places that really hold the wow factor for me are our wonderful limestone grassland commons. This is where I go when I need a special boost of energy that I only get from standing at the top of a hill, feeling the wind in my face and seeing the meandering Severn shimmering in the distance.
Not only does every single one of the limestone commons provide us with these stunning, breathtaking views, they are also hugely important havens for wildlife – insects (think butterflies, glow worms, crickets…), birds, bats and of course a whole plethora of wildflowers. These species are all part of an intricate web of inter-dependence and mostly need open, sunny conditions created by grazing animals.
So, here is our new spotter sheet for limestone grasslands in May. The best time for wildflowers is June and July but the first orchids are now out, accompanied by swathes of cowslips and hawthorns in full bloom.
The skylark song (on the spotter sheet) will feature in tomorrow’s post about bird calls but you can also find it here.
Rodborough and Minchinhampton Common, Painswick Beacon, Sheepscombe Common, Cranham Common, Leckhampton Hill and Cleeve Hill are just some, fine examples of limestone grassland. Government advice, of course, is not to undertake any non-essential travel but to start your exercise from your doorstep.
Most of our grassland commons are looked after by local councils, Natural England or conservation charities like the National Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. If you enjoy your local greenspaces like the commons, why not consider supporting these organisations if you are able to, either financially or through volunteering.