On Saturday I was invited by Ben Devine, a wildlife engagement officer at the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to meet to discuss a very exciting proposed plan to develop a number of audio trails of the Welcombe Hills.
Many people don’t know that the Welcombe Hills are a highly protected nature reserve which although owned by Stratford Council is managed by the WWT. You can check them out >here<.
For me personally it’s an exciting project as it combines two of my passions, The Welcombe Hills (where I walk my dogs most days) and the use of technology to share information (I work in internet marketing).
The way it will work is that you will download an audio file (an MP3) onto your smart phone, plug in your head phones and you set off on your walk with your personal guide in your ear telling you what’s going on around you. There will be 8 trails in total. I’m lucky to have been invited on the steering committee so will be able to provide you with updates as we go. The audio trails will be free of charge and in time we’ll be able to provide links to them from here.
Below is a press release from The Warks Wildlife Trust outlining the funding of the project and further info.
A Wild Welcombe to Lottery grant for source of Shakespeare’s inspiration
A nature reserve said to have inspired Shakespeare has received £40,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to reveal its heritage secrets.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WKWT) will use the grant, along with £2,000 from Stratford District Council, to transform the way Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve’s history and natural surroundings can be explored.
The 12-month project, called A Wild Welcombe, will see the Trust team up with young people from Playbox Theatre to create a brand new audio trail and interpretation boards. Starring the young theatre members, the audio trail will be available for download and through an app to lead visitors around the reserve’s natural and archaeological features, breathing life into the historical narrative and folklores behind them.
While the area has strong Shakespearian connections, they are not the only stories the reserve has to tell. The trail and boards will also cover topics including the Clopton family, a number of listed historical structures, ancient trees and a variety of plants and wildlife – information which is currently not available for visitors.
Young participants will take on the role of researchers, writers and performers. As well as gaining transferable skills in radio scripting and sound engineering, they will also work closely with local history enthusiasts from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon Library and the Stratford Society who will share their knowledge and passion for the area’s rich history. In keeping with the Trust’s commitment to encouraging a love of nature, the majority of the project will take place outside and be closely linked to the natural surroundings.
WKWT are currently successfully carrying out two other HLF funded projects, one to improve and conserve the landscape of Tame Valley and the A Wilder Career Choice project which provides trainees with a range of practical skills essential for the effective management of wildlife habitats.
Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “We’re delighted to support this project through our Young Roots programme and it’s a welcome addition to the work they’re already doing in their other HLF funded projects. Young people are the future custodians of our heritage and it’s fantastic to see Playbox Theatre members taking such a central role in creating an engaging gateway into the relatively unknown history of the nature reserve and surrounding area.”
Project co-ordinators Youth Engagement Officer Matt Cox and Wildlife Engagement Officer Ben Devine will also support those involved to develop their own set of activities to unlock the stories behind ten different historical features.
Matt said: “I am very pleased that we have received the funding from HLF. This project represents something quite different from what the Trust has done before, but I think the superb partnerships we have created with Playbox Theatre and the local history groups will set us up for a great success and a really exciting opportunity for young people in the area to create a high-quality audio trail that will really add value and interest to the area.”