A wood once owned by the family of author and naturalist Laurie Lee has opened to the public on what would have been his 99th birthday.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust raised £35,000 from almost 1,000 donations and bought the three-hectare Trantershill Wood in the Slad Valley. Boasting beautiful carpets of bluebells in spring, it will be a public nature reserve and a means of preserving Lee’s powerful legacy. The Trust also plans to cut back parts of the woodland, allowing sunlight to come through and flowers to flourish.
The author’s most famous novel, Cider With Rosie, was set in Slad, with Lee’s childhood in this rural pocket of Gloucestershire inspiring his fiction. Millions of copies of the book have been sold worldwide since its publication in 1959 and visitors have flocked to Slad to see the beautiful landscape so memorably described in Lee’s prose.
“The Slad Valley is a magical place, made extra special for so many of us through Cider with Rosie,” said Roger Mortlock, chief executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. “Thanks to the enduring appeal of his work, Laurie Lee draws visitors from all over the world. Exactly a year ahead of Laurie Lee’s centenary celebrations, this is a great way to demonstrate his contribution to this wild corner of the Gloucestershire countryside.”
Laurie Lee died in 1997 – he is buried in the churchyard in Slad. He spent much of his life working to protect the flora and fauna of the Slad Valley, so the acquisition of his wood and pledge to keep it safe and prosperous is a fitting gift to his memory in the lead up to the centenary of his birth.
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