Dan Stubbins
British Wildlife 34.5 April 2023

The Cotswold Water Park – can nature coexist with large-scale recreation?

The Cotswold Water Park (CWP) is well-known for water sports, angling and other water-based activities, and is a popular holiday destination. But it is also home to nationally important numbers of wintering and breeding birds and a rich assemblage of aquatic plants. Peter Holmes, Matthew Millett and Ben Welbourn describe the history, wildlife and habitats of the CWP, and the complex balance between wildlife and people. 

Driving on the A419 between Cirencester and Swindon you may just glimpse the shimmer of water off to the side. What you will have seen is a tiny fragment of the 170+ waterbodies, reedbeds and active mineral workings (all called ‘lakes’ in this article) of the Cotswold Water Park (CWP), which straddles a 23km band on the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border.

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