Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB – Royal Wotton Bassett

Here’s a smashing guest post from Lis Mcdermot about Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve Royal Wotton Bassett. Until recently I had no idea about this place. And, as you’ll see, it took Lis a while to realise it too!


Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

We had lived in Royal Wootton Bassett for eleven years before we realised there was a lake!

In 1940 the Town Council purchased Wootton Bassett Lake. But it wasn’t until 37 years later, in 1977 that it became Jubilee Lake Park, renamed to mark Queen Elizabeth ll’s Silver Jubilee.

2007 saw the lake area designated as a Local Nature Reserve. It is a beautiful, small area of ancient woodlands and meadows, located north east of the town, a little over a mile from the High Street.

After parking in the lake car park you can choose to either walk though a little copse or walk down the tarmac road. The latter being a much easier option for anyone pushing either pushchairs, or wheelchairs.

Taking the road

The road though has quite a steep incline as you near the lake, which can make it hard work on the way back up to the car park. The copse has a little stream that runs down through the middle. In spring months it’s with blue bells and wild garlic; a wonderful aroma.

f you choose to take the road you’ll pass the large children’s’ play area, and Jubilee Tea Rooms where you can stop for tea and cakes, or ice cream on extra hot days.

The park has plenty of activities for children including quiz leaflets. You can colllect these from either the Lake Tea Rooms, or the Town Council Office on the High Street. There are also public toilets in this area.

Seasons in the sun – or maybe the snow

If you visit the lake often during the year, you can watch the seasons change. During the spring it’s lovely to watch the family of geese swimming with their newly hatched chicks.

n the summer the meadow beside the lake is the perfect spot to sit and read, or simply enjoy the sunshine with the family. Later in the year, the trees look magnificent dressed in the Autumnal colours. The area is very quiet, and it’s easy to forget that you are on the edge of a small town.

There is also a thriving Angling Club and you often see fisherman sitting in quite contemplation around the edge of the lake with the rods. NB: You need a license for fishing.

Path and trees around a lake - Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

The walk around the lake is not that long. So, if you’re walking there for exercise, a mere one walk around never feels quite enough. It’s a somewhat small lake, as lakes go after all. Yet it’s a beautiful area, and well worth visiting.

At present during the Corona Virus pandemic, there is one-way system in place, to ensure people are able to self-distance more with ease.

For more information about the Angling Club, please contact Terry Strange on 01793 346730.

The Tea Rooms are open Thursday to Sundays 10 am to 4pm. For more information visit their facebook page: https://engb.facebook.com/Teaatthepark/

Swindon celebrates Beat the Street success once again!

Swindon celebrates Beat the Street success once again!

Swindon celebrates Beat the Street success as the town’s Beat the Street challenge 2019 ends with a massive total of 252,157 miles.

Swindon celebrates Beat the Street success - leaderboard

More than 25,979 people signed up and walked, cycled and ran during the six-week challenge which took place from 25 September to 6 November.

This year, the game expanded, with more Beat Boxes around the town, new locations and more leader boards. 

There are winners from across the 16 leaderboards, with Haydonleigh Primary School travelling the furthest distance throughout the game. Their 964 members walked, ran and cycled a total of 14,467 miles.

Celebration Event as Swindon Celebrates Beat the Street Success

Everyone who took part in this year’s Beat the Street game will attend a celebration event at Lydiard Park on Saturday, 16 November from 12pm to 3pm. The event will feature presentations and a ‘Have a Go’ activities.

Intelligent Health and the National Lottery, on behalf of Sport England and Swindon Borough Council, delivered Beat the Street to our town. The intention of the game is increasing levels of walking and cycling in Swindon.

Speaking about the success of the initiative Stuart Arthur, local co-ordinator for Beat the Street said: “It has been another fantastic game and we’ve loved hearing stories from people while we were out and about. 

Participants tell us that:

  • They love playing Beat the Street and getting fitter
  • Families are spending more time together
  • They’ve discovered new parts of Swindon
  • It brings communities together

“Although the game has finished, we will continue to work with local groups, schools and residents to encourage people to maintain those lifestyle changes that they have made during the game.”

See also: https://swindonian.me/2019/10/31/final-push-for-beat-the-street-in-swindon/ and https://swindonian.me/2019/09/13/beat-the-street-is-back/

For ideas to get outside in Swindon check out these posts on parks, gardens and open spaces: https://swindonian.me/category/parks-and-open-spaces/ and also https://swindonian.me/category/walks-and-cycle-paths/

Final push for Beat the Street in Swindon

Final push for Beat the Street in Swindon

Players of Beat the Street are being encouraged to make one final push to see how far the town can travel.

See also: https://swindonian.me/2019/09/13/beat-the-street-is-back/

Taking place until 6 November, the game has once more transformed the town into a giant game. One where residents are rewarded with points and prizes for walking, cycling or scooting around their community, tapping Beat Boxes along the way.

Final push for Beat the Street in Swindon - last year's winners with mayor Kevin Parry
Last year’s winners Ferndale Primary School

Way more than 500 miles

Residents have already travelled an incredible 217,000 miles so far in the competition. However, with a mere one week left, players are encouraged to push themselves even harder to see how far Swindon can go and if players can beat last year’s record-breaking total of 313,353 miles.

Schools, community groups and workplaces are battling it out for the chance to win prizes of up to £200 in vouchers for books, sports or fitness equipment.  

The team currently topping the total points leaderboard is Haydonleigh Primary School. Their 956 team members have travelled more than 12,000 miles so far.

However, everything could change at the top of the 16 leaderboards as this week’s theme is ‘Go Celebrate’ and every Beat Box in the game will be giving out double points until 6 November.

Additionally, all Beat Boxes will give out triple points on the final day until the game ends at 7pm.

The winners will be announced shortly after the competition ends.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “We’re already seeing the top schools and teams in Beat the Street going the extra mile as we enter the final part of the competition. With the chance to score double and triple points during the final week, all teams have the chance to climb the leaderboards and take home one of the top prizes.

“It would also be a bonus if we could beat our record-breaking total from last year. So let’s get out there and get tapping!”

Visit app.beatthestreet.me/swindon to keep up to date with the leaderboards and to find out more.

The GWR Park

The GWR Park

The GWR or Faringdon Road Park

The GWR Park, in the centre of Swindon’s award-winning GWR Railway Village conservation area began life in 1844 as a cricket ground. In that year, the GWR bought land from Lt.Col.Vilett, a local landowner. That land, to the west of the new Railway Village, between Faringdon Road and St Mark’s Church became first a cricket ground and later the GWR Park – known also to some as The Plantation or Victoria Park. 

Aside from cricket, the park played – and still does play – a big role in the social life of the the railway village residents and wider Swindon. As such it occupies a special place in Swindon’s history.

Read a detailed history of the park here: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/download/…/id/…/history_of_faringdon_road_park.pdf

The Children’s Fete


The Children’s Fete is Swindon’s oldest summer event – dating back to 1866. Organised by the Mechanics’ Institution, it ran until 1939 (except during the Great War) and was only halted by the outbreak of WWII. In 2003, the Mechanic’s Institution Trust revived the tradition and have run it most year’s since. 

The Trust maintains the tradition of providing a free piece of cake to all the children attending. Thus, the event has once again become a popular and recognisable part of Swindon’s social calendar.

Sadly, the ornamental, formal gardens, along with the cricket pavilion, the bandstand and glasshouses are long gone. There’s a lovely archive photo of the park here on the Historic England website.

GWR Park first world war memorial

The park does though have a small play area for tiny tots. And, installed in November 2018, in the park’s northwest corner, a WWI memorial. It affords a peaceful spot for some quiet contemplation. 

A park with a view

What makes this park stand out is what you can see from it. As you walk around the park you can see several of Swindon’s land marks. There’s the water tower and UTC, St Mark’s Church of course. Then there’s Park House and – towering over everything, the David Murray John Tower. Not forgetting the view up to Radnor Street cemetery.

And besides all that, and despite the fact that the glasshouses and ornamental gardens are long on, it’s a lovely park. As soon as you’re a few steps inside it the traffic noise of Faringdon Road recedes and it’s all tranquil greenery.

He’s Out!

This article from Swindon Web. ‘Faringdon Park was also the venue for one of cricketing most unusual moments, when in 1870 the great W.G.Grace (world renowned as one of the greatest players ever to pick up a bat and ball) was dismissed for a duck in both innings when playing for Bedminster against the New Swindon side.’ And that’s not cricket!!

And the Swindon Advertiser on the same topic: https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/12863957.there-but-for-the-wg-grace-how-swindon-railway-worker-humiliated-cricket-icon/

How to get to the park

https://www.swindon.gov.uk/directory_record/8465/faringdon_road_park

First World War Memorial: GWR Park

First World War Memorial: GWR Park

I’ve been meaning for long enough to get some photographs of the GWR Park First World War memorial on the blog. It had its unveiling back in November 2018.

Some photographs of the unveiling here, on the South Swindon Parish Council website.

The memorial commemorates the centenary of the cessation of WWI hostilities. Designed by Dr Mike Pringle (of the Richard Jefferies Museum), it depicts different aspects of the First World War.

The location in the northwest corner of the GWR Park was selected because that’s where the sun goes down.

Made from five steel panels, GWR Park first world war memorial sculpture features cut out designs of: a horse’s head, a Lee Enfield rifle, a gun carriage wheel and the red cross of the Swindon Royal Army Medical Corps.

Artist Mike Pringle said ‘the pointed steel panels would be redolent of the sharp rooftops of the GWR works, described by soldier and Swindon author Alfred Williams as looking like the teeth of a giant saw blade.’

The GWR Park is an integral part of Swindon’s GWR Railway Village Conservation area – voted England’s favourite in 2018. Read more about that here on the Swindon Civic Voice website.

Aside from this sculpture in an agreeable green space, there are other good reasons to visit the railway village. The Mechanics’ Institution trust, run regular volunteer-led tours around the village. They usually post the dates and times etc on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mechanicstrust/

They also manage the Baker’s Cafe, central community centre and the railway cottage museum. For opening times for that see their Facebook page above.

The Glue Pot pub in the village is always worth a visit for their real ales. And now there’s the Baker’s Community cafe too, formed from the old Baker’s Arms public house.

Check out their Facebook page for opening times, menus etc: https://www.facebook.com/bakerscafe.sn1/

The Baker’s Community Cafe in the GWR Railway Village
River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1

River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1

20th June 2018

Discovering the River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1

Every once in a while, as Jess Robinson describes below, she and I go a-wandering round odd/random/interesting bits of Swindon.

Some time ago now we went checking out some of the town’s roundabouts – more interesting than it sounds. Read about that EXPOTITION here.  And part two of that adventure here – in round and round we go again.  

I’ve always known that Swindon, and West Swindon is green. Very. But this work makes West Swindon’s verdant quality ever clearer.
So here we go: discovering the River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1

Continuing our occasional series, “Jess and Angela wander interesting parts of Swindon”, we ventured out on a sunny day to discover what the River Ray Parkway was all about.

If you live or have wandered in the south-west/south-east parts of Swindon you may have come across the odd dark green metal signpost. Some of them still contain actual signage – as you can see in the image below. 

This one is at the Kingshill end of the canal towpath. It reads:

River Ray Parkway sign 1 - River Ray Parkway walk

Coate Water Country Park
Lydiard Country Park
Old Town Rail Path
Wroughton
Kingshill Canal

NB: The direction in which they point isn’t reliable. Many of them have been turned around by mischief makers.

They’re labelled,where they’re readable: River Ray Parkway.

stump of river ray parkway sign
stump of river ray parkway sign

About the River Ray Parkway Route

The River Ray Parkway is a green walking and cycling route, introduced in 1991 as part of the Great Western Community Forest scheme, it ran for 8 miles from Coate Water to Moulden Hill. The route was expanded from the original effort to create the Swindon Old Town Rail Path, developed with the help of Sustrans, then a small Bristol group formed to create better walking and cycling routes.

Today the route is mostly maintained as National Cycle Network route 45, started by Sustrans with a National Lottery grant in 1995.

Our starting point

We started out at the Moulden Hill end, and wandered along the route of NCN45, looking for the first sign. The purpose built NCN signs are quite obvious in the landscape …

National Cycle Network 45 sign

National Cycle Network 45 sign
The sign shows a person and bicycle icon, with the letters “45” underneath.

The direction shown reads:
Swindon Station 3
Chiseldon 8
Avebury 18

But the green Parkway signs tend to blend into the trees so it took a while to find one.

After leaving the roads we walked through a long leafy corridor, spotting our first Parkway sign as we were almost at Shaw Forest Park (Shaw Tip on the River Ray Parkway map!).

The route from here follows the edge of the Shaw Forest Park (pop in for a wander across the hill), past the Swindon Lagoons which have signs describing the habitat readable through the fence.

Continuing south east, we catch up with a tributary of the actual River Ray, and follow it underneath the Great Western Way dual carriageway, around the giant Mannington Rec sports ground + park and into Bridgemead retail park.

River Ray Brochure (map side)
River Ray Brochure (map side)
Brochure copy scan courtesy of Swindon Local Studies,
Swindon Librar
y

A link to a map below

For PDF of map go here: River Ray Parkway trail map

From the map, you will notice that the River Ray Parkway follows two routes from Wootton Bassett Road to Rivermead, we followed the eastern route.

The western route follows the western tributary of the River Ray, via Westlea Park and alongside Westlea Primary school. It follows the current NCN route 45, and the Western Flyer, a newer route created recently to provide a cycling-commuter route into the town centre.

(See also: The Western Flyer) 

The end of the River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1

We ended up this first half of the River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1 route with a cuppa at John Lewis, which is on the western part of the route.

On the embedded map you can see our route, follow the green markers from the north west corner (darker green marker), clicking on the markers will show images of the signs we found. The blue markers are the signs on the western route, as found by Jess the previous week.]

Kissing gate - River Ray Parkway Walk Part 1
Old kissing gate along the River Ray Parkway

The River Ray Parkway Walk Part 2:

For the second half of the walk go here: https://swindonian.me/2019/08/09/discovering-the-river-ray-parkway-part-2/

See also:

Richard Jefferies Old Town walk part one  and Richard Jefferies Old Town walk part two