For this walk we used: Cotswold Water Park leisure map (free & available from the Gateway visitor centre) http://www.waterpark.org
The Cleveland Lakes Nature Reserve can be accessed along pathways from several different directions. For a longer walk you can park at the Gateway centre, but the nearest parking is at “Waterhay”: turn off Spine Road, and continue down Fridays Ham Lane following the brown signs.
During the winter months this area can become flooded, and impassable in places. In Spring and Summer it is an absolute delight for the senses. With 20,000 water birds living on many of the larger lakes, it’s a great place for wildlife watching. In summer, you can see Hobbies catching dragonflies, and bats skimming the surface of the lake hunting for flies at dusk. On hot sunny days, you’ll walk through clouds of bright blue damselflies, and you might be lucky enough to see nesting Grebes. Butterflies abound, as do carpets of wildflowers from which you’ll hear the hum of bumble bees busily collecting pollen.
On this Spring day, Ground Ivy was growing alongside the trail, a beautiful little trumpet-shaped wildflower. Ground Ivy is a member of the mint family, and although it is sometimes classified as an invasive weed, we disagree! The route was covered with wonderful purple flowers, and the bees absolutely loved it.
Peacock butterflies fluttered around us, frequently landing on the pathway to open up their beautiful wings and bask in the sun. While we marvelled at Great Crested Grebes demonstrating their skill at diving for fish, a startled Heron flew over our heads, looking like a prehistoric Pterosaur straight out of Jurassic Park.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day of wildlife spotting. This area is conveniently located near to the capital of the Cotswolds – Cirencester, and is well worth exploring.
Our rating: 5/5