All posts by Candice Snelling


On 18th May 2024, GVCV explored the walking route from the new Clavell and Hind brewery outside Cheltenham to the Coombe Hill Nature Reserve – highly regarded for its wading birds and butterflies.

Exploring outside Cheltenham on a pub based amble

The group bravely navigated muddy puddles and a few outgrown spots to reach the reserve. After the pitstop for a drink/ice cream the group returned to the brewery for lunch and a well earned pint.

2024.02.25 tree planting & pruning at lodge farm, emley castle, GVCV TASK

On Sunday 25th February 2024, GVCV volunteers met Tim & Nola Lea at their farm in Emley Castle. 

The farm is managed under ‘higher level stewardship’ a government scheme that provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England in return for delivering environmental and wildlife benefits on their land. Tim and Nola have transformed their farm over several years into a haven for wildlife.

The group helped on three key tasks and in reward were treated to an excellent cooked lunch of venison and veggie lasagne.  

The first task was replacing native trees which has died. This involving shifting metal tree guards and replanting new trees in a new location to increase their chances of survival.

Tree guard group rolling

Second task was removing ties from the trees that had survived.  This isn’t as simple as it sounds as the photos shows.

Requires long arms and a ‘can do’ attitude

Third task was a spot of pruning of the orchard planted by GVCV many years ago. It was rewarding to see how quickly the trees have grown.

Candy and her big long pole

Thanks to Tim and Nola for a great day and for taking some photos.


On Sunday 28th January 2024, 10 GVCV volunteers met Meyrick from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) at Westgate Park in Gloucester.

The wildlife trust has big plans to transform this slightly unloved urban park into an arboretum for the benefit of the local community and wildlife.

In glorious sunshine the group worked together to plant, stake, protect and mulch a range of new trees onsite. The group also helped clear litter to give the park a lift.

Thank you to everyone that attended. Great first task of the year.

Morning tree planting briefing from Meyrick
Sian showcasing a very well planted tree
A Golden Acer to brighten up the park in autumn


On Saturday 20th January, GVCV ventured out for a post-Christmas meal in Cheltenham. After a pre drink in a highly recommended real ale pub – the Rotunda – the group enjoyed the Thai based delights at the Giggling Squid restaurant (conveniently next door to the Rotunda).

The GVCV January social is always an opportunity to ‘regift’ unwanted Christmas presents and this year was no exception. It’s always potluck what you get 😊.

With 16 people it was tricky to get a good group photo, but rest assured the group enjoyed the meal and the pre pub visit.

 A good start to a year of conservation tasks.


Tidenham Chase, outside Chepstow, is largest remaining fragment of lowland heathland in Gloucestershire. The site is managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife trust who are expanding the heathland through conversation grazing and tree removal. The site is important for a range of wading birds such as jacksnipe and woodcock. Adders, slow worms and lizards can also be found on the heathland.

On 21st/22nd October 2023, a band of brave volunteers from GVCV headed over the River Severn for a weekend residential. Working alongside the resident (but thankfully docile) long horn cattle the group helped to clear and burn young self-seeded silver birch trees on the heathland.

Sian and Nige cutting in the rain on day 1

Dave provided a good fire on the first day which kept us going until Sunday afternoon. The group cleared trees from significant section of the health while ‘working around’ the long horn cattle. The cattle joined our efforts and were always ready to take a ‘munch’ on the silver birch leaves as felled trees were pulled to the fire for processing.

Cattle making themselves comfortable around the fire site
Sunshine at the end of a hard day’s work on Sunday

It was an enjoyable trip with the bonus of eating and staying together in Chepstow. Congratulations goes to Richard for finding the nice micropub on Friday night.


On Sunday 1st October 2023, GVCV returned to Chruchdown to complete annual pond clearance work. The ponds at Churchdown support a range of wildlife including birds, dragonflies and newts. Regular autumn/winter clearance is important in maintaining healthy ponds.

Before – Chris and James hunting for the first pond
After: Pond three – now with clear water
Pond crew after a hard days work


On Saturday 9th September 2023, volunteers from GVCV combined a task and social activity (best of both worlds). In the heat wave that the UK experienced at the start of September the group spent the morning ‘raking down’ a recently cut limestone wildflower meadow. The Hay Rake is important to maintain the low nutrient levels which are preferred and a range of limestone meadow plants including rare orchid species.

The hay removed from the land was transferred to a neighbouring farm as winter animal feed.

Following a morning of hard work the group enjoyed a well-earned BBQ and beer.

Raking down the meadow – removing the hay to help maintain low nutrient levels


Cows winter grazing following hay day – an important element for the management of the site

2023.06.23   Churchdown SUMMER TASKS VISIT

On Sunday 18th June 2023, volunteers from GVCV spent a warm day working in the wildlife area at Chruchdown Parish Park. Tasks included mulching young trees to help them cope with the warm weather, path widening and conducting a basic plant survey of the meadow.

The group also cleared Himalayan Balsam from along the brook. Clearing the Balsam prevents this invasive plant from damaging the sides of the brook and spreading to other areas.

Ant showing Balsam pulling in full flow.

Lucy ensuring we pull all the Balsam – its good at hiding between the bramble and nettles

2023.04.02 – Emley Castle

GVCV Task @ Emley Castle – Sunday 2nd April 2023

The weather was with us for this year’s task at Emley Castle. The sun was shining as we helped local landowners (Tim and Nola) to clear bramble from a deer fence in need of repair, prune the orchard and remove willow from an area managed for bog loving plants.

Tim and Nola provided a fantastic lunch for the volunteers to say thank you for our efforts. A great farm site managed for wildlife with great hosts.


Edward helping clear bramble for his Duke of Edinburgh Award …


… with a little help from Sian and Candy.

f001e170-5af8-41e6-b142-6f329f8d89a1.JPGOrchard before pruning …

aaf41e40-39c8-44e5-a8ed-075391298bc3.JPG and after.

Lunch – normally we have lunch outside and bring our sandwiches so this was a special.

2023.03.25 – Social at the Beacon Inn

GVCV Social @ The Beacon Inn – Skittles and Dinner – Saturday 25th March 2023

Skittles is a great way for our Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers to show off their skills beyond cutting, planting and burning. On Saturday 25th March 2023, the group met for dinner and skittles at the Beacon Inn in Harefield (well worth a visit).

Despite our best efforts, Dave B won again this year and was duly awarded this 2023 medal to add to his growing collection.

A group of people in a room

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Anthony in action

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Dave B being awarded his medal by Dave E