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User:Tristan Thomas/Cotswold Water Park

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Towns and Villages in the surrounding area[edit]

Will be a colourcoded map of the Water Park & surrounding area.
Bibury
Only 15 miles away and once described as "the most beautiful village in England" by William Morris, Bibury is one of the most visited villages in the Cotswolds.
Bourton-on-the-Water
Just over 20 miles away is the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, often described as the Venice of the Cotswolds.
Burford
At a similar distance to Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford was recently voted sixth in US Forbe's "Europe's most idyllic places to live".
Cheltenham
Cheltenham is widely famed for it's racecourse, but it is also the source of a great number of fashionable shops and brands, just over 20 miles away.
Cirencester
A short cycle of 5 miles away lies Cirencester, once the Roman capital of the Cotswolds.
Gloucester
30 miles away sits Gloucester, famous for it's rugby team and picturesque docks.
Stow-on-the-Wold
One of the most famous Cotswold towns, Stow-on-the-Wold is 25 miles away. Well worth a visit for its quaint craft and art shops.
Swindon
Swindon is infamous for its ugly housing and building developments, but in recent years, this has drastically changed, with thought going into planning. Best for its excellent array of shops and restaurants.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

Thanks to an ice age xxxx years ago, much of the area has plentiful gravel and sand deposits just below the surface. In the last fifty years, these have begun to be quarried by mineral companies, resulting in the creation of 147 pits, which have been remodelled into lakes. Initially, when digging, no thought was given to potential uses after gravel extraction and so the pits were dug with steep sides in rectangular shapes, making them totally unusable for wildlife, fishing and water-sports. In later years, they were often remodelled and sold to individual buyers, resulting in the lakes currently being owned by more than 40 individuals, the majority of whom use them privately. Recently, however, the potential of the area has been realised meaning that the Water Park area is now host to a myriad of pleasure lakes, hotels and second homes. And there is still more-according to the Cotswold Water Park Society, 7 mineral companies are currently extracting 2 million tonnes of gravel and sand a year, with permission granted for a further 3.7 square kilometres. Current estimates reckon there are supplies for more than 50 years still present.

Orientation[edit]

The Water Park is split into two main sections-East and West. The Western section is the collection of lakes enclosed by Somerford Keynes, South Cerney and Ashton Keynes. The Eastern section is the collection surrounding Fairford. A central section is beginning to emerge as the majority of quarrying is currently taking place in that area and will do in the future, namely the area between Cricklade and Down Ampney. Down between the East and West section is the A419; a main trunk road joining the M4 to the M5. Broadly to the North is Cirencester and to the South is Swindon, both major towns, with Swindon bordering on a city. You are likely to be staying in or near the Western section, which is where the majority of public lakes are, including hotels, pleasure lakes and holiday homes.

Climate[edit]

The Water Park, as with all of the UK is not the hottest part of the world, but by no means is it unpleasant. Summers are typically warm and damp, but not too much of either and winters are generally mild and wet, with snow rare. This means that it it is pleasant enough to take part in most activities all year round, save for the occasional cold snap. It is advisable however, to "be prepared"! The weather can change quite suddenly and in the summer it is not uncommon to have rain followed by sunshine followed by rain again! The majority of the time you will be treated to a beautiful English day, with no rain, wind or sleet!

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Getting to the Water Park by train is easiest by aiming to finish your journey at Kemble Station, just outside of Kemble (surprisingly!) This is normally achieved by going via Swindon, which is serviced by very frequent services from London Paddington, as well as other major cities. From Kemble, your best option is a short taxi journey to your destination, but if public transport is the only option, then there are buses from Kemble to other locations, although it is worth checking whether it might be quicker to get a bus straight from Swindon.

By car[edit]

The Water Park is about 12 miles from Junction 15 on the M4 and about 30 miles from the M5. It can also be reached within an hour from Oxford, Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol and Salisbury. Arriving by car is the easiest method of transport, as it can be useful for getting around during your stay. However, not having a car is by no means the end of the world, as the area is rightly famed for its walks and bike rides!

By bus[edit]

In order to reach the Water Park by bus, you normally need to go via Swindon, which can be easily reached from London and other major cities. From Swindon, there are then many services running between the surrounding villages, however, although reliable, these are often infrequent to the smaller villages, so it's necessary to check before you travel.

By plane[edit]

The Water Park is within easy driving distance of Bristol Airport at about 50 miles, as well as Heathrow, Southampton and Birmingham, all of which are under 100 miles away. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a light aircraft, then you can fly in to the recently renamed Cotswold Airport, just outside the village of Kemble and experience the pure luxury of private aircraft flight! From the major airports, it is simplicity itself to hire a car or hop on a train to Kemble, via Swindon.

Get around[edit]

Getting around in the Water Park is pretty easy thanks to the relatively short distances involved. By far the best way is to cycle or walk. As detailed later, there are a multitude of excellent cycle paths and footpaths and many attractions are within an easy distance. The closest cycle hire firm is xxxx in yyyy. However, if you do need to go that little bit further afield, there are many taxi firms in Cirencester and Swindon, all of which offer decent rates and reliable service. The closest to the Water Park is probably xxxx, but they are all very similar. As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few small bus routes visiting the surrounding villages, but you are best advised to check in advance, as these can occasionally require a much longer journey than wanted.

See[edit][add listing]

Nature Reserves[edit]

  • Clattinger Farm, (Go along the Malmesbury to Cirencester road (A429) and then turn at the village of Crudwell, towards Eastcourt. Turn left at Eastcourt for Oaksey. At Oaksey turn right at the first mini-roundabout and straight on at the next one (for Ashton Keynes). 1.5 miles after the railway bridge turn right towards Minety. The reserve entrance (look out for a stile) is marked about 0.5 miles on the right, opposite the entrance to Swillbrook Lakes Nature Reserve. There is parking on both sides of the road at grid reference SU 017937.), [1]. Clattinger Farm is a hay meadow which has been owned by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust since 1996. According to the trust it is considered the finest remaining example of enclosed lowland grassland in the UK. It also has legal protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is part of a larger Special Area of Conservation. The best time to visit is in June, when the wildflowers the meadow is renowned for are in full bloom. Look out especially for a variety of orchids and the nationally rare Carex Filiformis, better known as the Downy-fruited Sedge. Earlier visits during April will yield views of the famous Snakeshead Fritillary, which can also be seen at North Meadow Nature Reserve. Be aware that the hay is cut in July, so visits then won't be much! Wiltshire Wildlife Trust also request that you keep to the edge of the field to avoid damaging the flowers and that dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a short leash at all times. This is a beautiful meadow well worth a quick visit and photo stop. (51.6385,-1.98406) edit
  • Cokes Pit, (Park at Keynes Country Park and walk along the footpath alongside Lake 32 until you reach a wooden gate. Pop across the road and you're there.), [2]. Cokes Pit is managed by the Water Park Society and has been since 2002. A former gravel pit it is now a Local Nature Reserve and according to the society "is home to breeding reed bunting, tufted duck & great crested grebe; water vole, water shrew and nightingale; vast numbers of dragonflies; and lesser bearded stonewort. In the early summer months it is worth visiting Coke's Pit at twilight, when the bats are flying low over the water catching their supper - if you are lucky you will see both the Daubenton's bat and the smaller Pipistrel." There is a large central information board along with smaller, more detailed boards around the edge on the boundary footpath. (51.638476,-1.95282) edit
  • North Meadow, (The meadow is a 20 minute walk north-west of Cricklade, where there is parking and a bus service. There is limited parking on the roadside about 300m from the meadow, which becomes very busy in the spring.). North Meadow is one of the most famous reserves in the area, mainly for its large collection of Snakeshead Fritillaries. It is a Special Area of Conservation and is managed by English Nature. Spring is the best time to see these fritillaries, along with marsh marigold and cuckooflowers. During the summer, the meadow explodes into life, with insects and birds aplenty. The flowers mainly consist of colourful haymeadow flowers, such as greater burnet, cowslip, meadow buttercup and yellow rattle. There is disabled access, but beware that during the winter the meadow is often flooded, making most access impossible. Please always stay to the footpath and enjoy a great view of English countryside and nature!  edit
  • Swillbrook Lakes, (Head north on the A419, until you reach the junction to turn onto the Spine Road. Turn left there and continue until you reach a left turning into Minety Lane. Half a mile down there are the lakes, with parking on either side of the road.). The place to go for birdwatching! Run by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, this is an amazing spot to see those flying creatures all year round. During the spring, look out for warblers and nightingales in the hedges. By the summer, the area has been taken over by dragonflies of every variety, followed later by hobbys to feast on them! During the autumn the ducks begin to arrive in preparation for the winter. Look out especially for the spectacular plumage of the drakes.  edit

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