In my job I’m able to build up flexi time, so I get the option to have the occasional morning or day off. I may have had that opportunity for over a year now, but it still feels strange going out without N. Recently I had a Friday off and decided I was going to visit various gardens and nature reserves that I never usually get the chance to visit.
Minster Lovell Hall
First on the list was Minster Lovell Hall. The ruins have been on my places to visit list for a while now but I’ve never got round to visit. Obviously it would have been perfect to visit around dawn or dusk but that seems too much effort to work out timings and actually get there.
I don’t know why but when I read about Minster Lovell Hall ruins, I imagined them to be these ruins against a beautiful blue sky in a huge filled with nothing around it. Of course I got this totally wrong.
When you arrive in the village of Minster Lovell you get to see some of the beautiful chocolate box cottages as you drive up the lane towards the church. If you’re visiting the ruins, you want to park just outside the church where there are a few parking spaces. I’d recommend arriving early on a sunny day. I arrived just in time to get the last parking space before an organised group turned up to visit.
This is where it got complicated. From the car park you can’t see the ruins and there’s no sign. Don’t make my mistake and go wondering half a mile down the road in the wrong direction. You reach the hall through the church.
The ruins have a signs around the site so you can read up about the history of the Hall. Minster Lovell Hall was built in the 1430s by William, Baron of Lovell and Holand – one of the richest men in England. It was later home to Francis, Viscount Lovell, a close ally of Richard III. Eventually it ended up abandoned and eventually demolished in the 18th century . You can get up as close as you want walking around the ruins through the archways and a long by the River Windrush.
It’s in a beautiful riverside setting with so much greenery around at the moment it’s hard to get photos other than ‘green’ shots. But I spotted quite a few people getting their cameras out, including a guy with a tripod talking through his process to another man. Even with the history group listening to their talks, the ruins were so quiet and peaceful. Just a distant lawnmower humming in the background.
There’s a few places to sit and just watch the river flow by. But apart from the ruins and a bit of nature it’s just perfect for a fleeting walk around. Plus of course if you’re like me, you have to stop and take a few pictures on the drive out through the village and those gorgeous thatched cottages.
If you’re stopping in to see Minster Lovell Hall on the way through to somewhere else, there’s plenty more to see nearby, because you’re right on the edge of the Cotswolds near Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold. If you time it right and can find it, you can even check out Foxholes nature reserve with its bluebells.
With Foxholes nature reserve not far away I decided I’d try and check out the bluebells. It’s definitely not the easiest place to find. I have the sat nav written directions and even map coordinates and I still couldn’t find the nature reserve for definite. I wish nice nature reserves had better signage because so frequently the hidden away and you have to take a punt and hope that you’ve gone in the right direction.
Foxholes nature reserve
There is supposedly a car park down a track alongside the woods, however it was advised to park in the layby becuase the track is potholes at the moment. After driving around for quite a while, I eventually found the lay-by that was suggested for parking on the website. When I walked along the track, I was glad I hadn’t attempted to drive down in my AWD car. It was literally mud, puddles and potholes.
The past down towards a nature reserve is alongside the woods and I could spot the Bluebells there. However the woods a private property so there was no getting in to take photos. It didn’t stop me from taking a few photos along the it is.
I made a mistake though never go to a nature reserve without taking wellies with you. Because it have been dry for a couple of days before and was very warm the day I was there I decided walking trainers would be suitable. They weren’t. I reached halfway down the track then heard the sound of a car rumbling up towards me. A Discovery came creeping up through the potholes. They were brave attempting to head down in the car.
By this stage I’d realised that wellingtons were really the only option for reaching the nature reserve and that I was going to have to turn back without seeing the carpets of bluebells. Maybe next year.
So my day out wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, but I really enjoy going out and seeing different areas of the countryside. Since taking an interest in photography, it’s aking me to more places then I would have gone to previously.
Maybe I’ll try and track down some bluebells a little closer to home this weekend if the rain holds off.
Have you managed to get out to see any Bluebell Woods this year?
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