GWT opens pioneering Greystones visitor centre

Friday 6th July 2018

Children in Iron Age costumes at GreystonesChildren in Iron Age costumes at Greystones

Ellie Harrison, presenter of Countryfile, is one of the first people in the county to try out the attractions at Greystones, an exciting new National Lottery funded wildlife visitor centre in Bourton-on-the-Water.

At the official opening on 5 July Ellie led a hands-on nature workshop for local children, visited the site’s replica Iron Age roundhouse, tested her wildlife knowledge on a digital quiz in the Discovery Barn and explored the site’s signposted trails.

Greystones is run by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, a charity which manages 60 nature reserves around the county and inspires people to engage with the county’s outdoor places. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has been renovating Greystones – a former derelict farm – into a pioneering attraction, thanks to more than £750,000 National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Grundon Waste Management, other supporters and dozens of volunteers.


“The next chapter of the Greystones story has now begun. In it, everybody has the opportunity to immerse in nature and walk in the footsteps of our ancestors on this incredible ancient site,” Ellie Harrison 


In all, Greystones covers 66 hectares (around 80 football pitches). The site where Greystones is located has a unique history: people have gathered, lived and worked here for more than 6,000 years, and it is possibly one of the first places in the Cotswolds to be inhabited. It was particularly important during the Iron Age (about 2,500 years ago) when it became a regional centre for trading.

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “A place of discovery for people of all ages and a starting point for the exploration of the wonderful wildlife, landscape and stories of the Cotswolds, National Lottery funded Greystones has opened its doors on an exciting future for the nature reserve and its visitors. Congratulations to all the volunteers and project team who have made this project such a success.”

Greystones is located within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has been officially recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its wildflower hay meadows. The nature reserve is open to the public seven days a week throughout the year, with easy-to-follow trails taking visitors through meadows, woodland, a river and wild play features. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust specialists and volunteers work year-round to improve the site for the many species found here, which include barn owls, otters and water voles.

Greystones was bought by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in 2001. At the time, it consisted of derelict farm buildings, farmland, meadows and rivers. The charity has carried out a substantial programme to develop the site into a nature reserve and wildlife visitor centre, and is farming the land in partnership with local cheesemaker, Simon Weaver. The surrounding area has benefited from improvements carried out by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers: for example, the River Eye is now a stronghold for water voles in the Cotswolds, while the marshy fields either side of the river are home to a vast range of wildflowers.

Entry to Greystones is free, but there may be a charge for some events. To find out what’s on, visit gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk, email info@gloucestershirewildlifetrust or call 01452 383333.

The principal funder of the project is the Heritage Lottery Fund. We are very grateful to Grundon for funding the renovation of the Discovery Barn, and our thanks also go to the many other funders and supporters.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.


Attractions at Greystones

Nature reserve: noted for its wildflower hay meadows and wide range of wildlife species. Open seven days a week throughout the year with free entry
Café open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from 10am until 4pm

Replica Iron Age roundhouse built by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers using ash, oak and hazel, and with a thatched roof
Discovery Barn, currently open during special events, with interactive wildlife quiz and tactile model of the Greystones’ site

Two signposted walking trails – the Wildlife Walk and the Time-Travel Trail – which guide visitors through the site’s fascinating history and wildlife

Guided walks led by volunteers on Saturdays from July to September

Wildlife events for people of all ages

Education sessions for primary schools

Working dairy farm with Simon Weaver organic cows and robotic Freedom Milker

Track the Past route, taking visitors through 6,000 years of history at Greystones and the Cotswolds

Model milking cow

Wild play trail

Wildlife pond

Education room and education garden

Wildlife garden

Vintage tractor for children to play on


Parking

There is no public parking at Greystones and visitors must park in the village centre. There is a public car park on Station Road, which is a 10-minute walk away from Greystones; please follow the signs. Greystones is on Greystones Lane GL54 2EN.

If you are a Blue Badge holder email info@gloucestershirewildlifetrust or call 01452 383333 so a space can be reserved for you at Greystones.