Pasqueflowers at Barnsley Warren SSSI, April 2022
Barnsley Warren is a 61.3-hectare SSSI just north of Cirencester. This steep-sided dry valley contains the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Gloucestershire Pasqueflower Reserve, which is a 5.3-hectare (13-acre) site.
Barnsley Warren is considered to be one of the main pasqueflower strongholds in the UK, as the plant is now found growing on just a few chalk and limestone grasslands. The main stronghold of these rare plants is at Therfield Heath, in Hertfordshire, which has an estimated 60,000 plants. Lesser numbers of pasqueflowers are found growing in the Chilterns, Cotswolds, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and on the Dorset/Hampshire border.
More pasqueflowers at Barnsley Warren than anywhere else in the Cotswolds
According to Wikipedia, the pasqueflower population at Barnsley Warren has been estimated at over 20,000 plants. More of them are found growing here than anywhere else in the Cotswolds.
Pasqueflowers are now so rare that they are classified as Vulnerable on the Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain.
My visit to Barnsley Warren…
There was only a small window of opportunity to visit Barnsley Warren because the weather was so variable. I don’t mind a bit of rain, but winds are a different matter entirely.
I had a choice of waiting a few more days until there was a “gentle breeze”, but I feared that most of the pasqueflowers would have finished blooming by then. Because of that, I picked the next least windy day, but upon arrival it was clear that I’d have my work cut out trying to focus on the fast-moving flowers.
Down in the bottom of the valley all was fairly calm, but on the steep hillside it was nigh on impossible to find any spot with a lack of movement. I would say that in terms of the weather this was one of the most challenging photoshoots I’d ever done. I began to regret the two-and-a-half-hour journey I’d made to get there, realising that because the plants are growing on the side of a hill it makes this SSSI a perfect wind tunnel. I really should have known better, as it was pretty much the same last year.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Barnsley Warren pasqueflower photos turned out, so it turned out to be a worthwhile trip after all.