Laurie Lee Wildlife Way, near Slad

Laurie Lee Wildlife Way, near Slad

The six-mile circular walk explores the stunningly beautiful Slad Valley, immortalized by Laurie Lee in his best-selling novel, Cider with Rosie. The valley remains largely the same as it was during the author’s childhood, as does Slad’s church, school and The Woolpack inn.

The trail links four nature reserves and 10 cedar-wood poetry posts, each of which features one of Lee’s poems. An 11th poetry post can be found in nearby Stroud’s Museum in the Park, which, amongst its local collection, features some of the author’s possessions including an old school desk and report.

The walk begins at the reportedly haunted Bulls Cross. Be warned, it takes on average three to five hours to complete and includes one particularly steep section near the beginning. It heads up through Longridge Wood and the Snows Farm Nature Reserve, which has been farmed this way for over 1000 years.

As you enter into the ancient Laurie Lee Wood, which dates back to the 1600s, keep your eyes peeled for a gap in the branches for a gorgeous view of Slad village across the valley. The poetry post here is appropriately inscribed with the poem ‘The Wild Trees.’ The trees in this woodland include beech, ash and yew; you may be even lucky enough to spot a bird’s nest orchid.

The climb up Swift’s Hill is worth the effort for the magnificent views from the top. The poetry post here features the poem ‘Field of Autumn.’ From here, you will be able to spot the roof and spire of Holy Trinity Church in Slad, where Laurie Lee is buried in the churchyard; a stained glass window in the church commemorates the author. Look in a southwesterly direction and you will be able to see as far as the River Severn.

Swift’s Hill is a designated nature reserve. Depending on the time of year, you might spot any number of up to 130 species of wildflowers and 14 species of orchid, as well as pretty common blue and marbled white butterflies. Keep your eye out for kestrels, skylarks and green woodpeckers too.

Further on, you will come across the war memorial close to the Slad Road. It commemorates soldiers from the First World War, the beginning of which coincides with the year of Lee’s birth. Reflecting on the walk so far, it is not hard to imagine yourself back to the time of Laurie Lee’s youth.

The trail finally leads into Frith Wood, which is one of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves and home to 200-year old, soaring beech trees. The 10th poetry post can be found here and is inscribed with the poem ‘April Rise.’ This woodland is particularly beautiful during bluebell season.

At some point before, during or after the walk, it is worth popping into The Woolpack for a drink or meal. This lovely old pub was Laurie Lee’s local and you can even sit in his seat by the bar.

The Laurie Lee Wildlife Map is available from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds here.

Images copyright Sara Chardin

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