This column is written by Ellen Winter, Stroud Community Wildlife Officer for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

A lone song thrush skulks out of my path looking slightly moth eaten with moulting, while speckled wood and tortoiseshell butterflies flutter under the shady trees and have spiralling scraps in sunlit stretches. But I’m not on a GWT nature reserve.

In August, bramble and hazel abound with riches racing toward ripeness in the summer sun, awaiting greedy hands and beaks.

Later, holly berries will jewel the banks with midwinter blessing, out of reach of surreptitious secateurs. But it’s not a Stroud park.

Further on, apple boughs are starting to bow under the burden of ripening Ashmeads Kernel and Gilliflower of Gloucester.

But it’s not a grassy orchard.

I pass strollers and cyclists, families and commuters.

Through a tunnel and under old bridges, with glimpses of sparkling water limned with loosestrife and yellow flag. But it’s not the canal tow path.

Thankfully separated from the whizzing traffic by banks, walls, hedges. Secluded by tree, brook and field. I see signs of overnight fox slink and badger snuffle. But I’m not on a secret byway.

Hogweed, sparkweed, bindweed and woundwort line in ragged rows wherever sunshine reaches fingers through the ash, willow and alder. But it’s not a woodland footpath.

Vineyards creep over the slopes in grassy order, wooded boundaries speak of past hedges and I pass by ponies, pastures and ponds. But I’m not on a farm.

Eventually I see mills, ponds, and moorhen, with a town tumbling up steep valley sides, and I pedal from tree-dimmed shelter of the Stonehouse to Nailsworth cycle path into everyday bustle and a well-earned café.

To make this tranquil route even more enjoyable GWT are embarking on a new cycle trail project over the next two years.

Made possible through a European Regional Development Fund project, with support from GCC and SDC, this work will create a pathway not just for humans but a richer haven for wildlife as well.

Gradually, glades cut in shady areas will let sunshine dapple the woodland floor.

More wildflowers will thrive, providing a pathside banquet for butterflies and bees, hoverflies and beetles.

Several quiet ponds will be created alongside the path, sheltering shy newts and toads. Finally small bat boxes will be sited in trees to make snug roosts for some of our tiniest mammals.

Find out more at