2018 brought real challenges for the organisers of the now famous Daffodil Weekend events in Kempley and Oxenhall. Wild fluctuations in weather patterns saw temperatures swing from -5C to nearly 14C in one week. The first weekend at Kempley visitors experienced four inches of snow; the next they were able to sit outside in bright sunshine at Oxenhall. This year visitors had an integrated programme, which allowed them to see what was available over the two-week period and change plans accordingly.
A new event was also added, the Open Day at the Countryside Restoration Trust Farm near Much Marcle, located right on the county boundary between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Visitors were given the chance to see how farming and wildlife can comfortably co-exist. Farmland bird numbers are plummeting across England, along with the disappearance of insect pollinators. Awnells Farm demonstrates that there is another way that works.
More than 120 people took part in the six walks that took place at Kempley and Oxenhall. Numerous others joined the short walks at Betty Daws Wood, led by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, whilst others wandered along the trails and tracks through the Forestry Commission Woodlands.
The daffodils survived the weather and gave visitors a chance to see glades of the golden county flower. A great success this year was the walk from Oxenhall led by local farmer Michael Bentley from Bentley Castle Fruit Farm and Howell Rees from Kempley. The walk opened up the fascinating history of Oxenhall with tales of the investments in coal and iron ore mining, brickworks, canals and railways and a chance to see the remains of this, our industrial archaeology. Despite the weather at Kempley, the three, five mile walks on a chilly Saturday gave visitors a chance to see local orchards, the scheduled ancient monument of St Mary’s Church, local craft cider makers and the countryside.
Overall the events have raised nearly £4,000, much needed finance for the upkeep of local historic churches and the village halls that remain at the centre of rural life. It also brings together town and country, giving visitors from a great distance a chance to meet local people. They were also able to sample excellent home produced food and drink.
On the day, volunteers manning the car parks and serving the food were also able to exchange stories about what it is like to live in this glorious countryside on the borders of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The organisers are very grateful to these volunteers. In 2019, the organisers plan to offer more walks and include all on-going events in the month of March and early April for visitors to enjoy.