Green graphic which reads "welcome to the Dorothy House Interactive Nature Trail"

A wellbeing space to connect with nature

Situated just off the public footpaths from the Kennet and Avon Canal at nearby Avoncliff or Limpley Stoke, the Dorothy House Interactive Nature Trail in Winsley is a perfect spot to take a pause and learn more about the incredibly bio-diverse species found in the calcareous rich grassland meadow.

As a Hospice, our vision is of a society where death is part of life. Through its seasons, nature reminds us of the fragility of life and offers peace and solace from sadness and overwhelm. The Dorothy House Interactive Nature Trail is the next step in our ambition to open up the site to anyone wishing to find a wellbeing space to reflect in nature, or to find serenity in grief.

Yellow smudge graphic which reads "fun for all the family"

Incredible habitats

From impressive yellow ant eco-engineers to fireflies, Bechstein bats and cucumber-scented grasses, there is much to wonder at whilst enjoying the stunning views across the Wiltshire valley.

Interactive app

Access our free augmented reality app using a smartphone; take selfies with the creatures you discover along the trail and learn more about the natural cycles of life and death. Please note, you do not need to download the interactive app before arriving at the trail.

Fascinating facts

Throughout the trail, on or off the interactive app, you will be able to dive deeper into nature’s weird and wonderful secrets. From amazing owl eyes, to how fireflies glow, there is plenty to discover no matter how old you are.

Collect digital stamps

Keep everyone entertained and take on the challenge via our interactive app to collect 8 digital stamps along the trail route. With each stamp you collect, find out more about the flora and fauna along the way.

Art installation

The trail incorporates the stunning light installation, Firefly Woods, created by internationally renowned artist, Bruce Munro and that features 800 fireflies; each one a constellation of separate small lights dedicated in memory to a loved one who has died.

Nature rubbings

Families seeking to go tech-free can opt to try out nature rubbings created by the Hospice’s Creative Arts Therapists and explore the fascinating life cycles represented on the eight interpretative trail boards. Crayons and paper are provided at the first interactive board.

A community collaboration

In part to an ongoing partnership with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and generous fundraising donations received from The Rotary Club of Chippenham, the trail offers the wider community the opportunity to visit the beautiful grounds at the Inpatient and Day Patient units in Winsley and discover more about the proven benefits of being connected with nature.

Pause and take a moment to appreciate the beautiful view over the valley. Listen to the chirping of the birds in the trees, and the buzzing and humming of insects, taking note of the vibrant but peaceful sounds of nature all around you.

Illustration of a lavender plant

Trail etiquette

  • Our gardens are maintained by volunteers so please take any litter home with you.
  • Bees are working in the meadow. Please be respectful of their environment and do not stray too close to their hives.
  • You are welcome to bring your dogs on the trail, but please keep them on a lead and pick up after them.
  • The paths may become uneven and slippy in wet weather. Please mind your step – we cannot accept responsibility for any injuries that occur whilst participating in the trail.
  • To preserve the natural habitats on site, two boards are not accessible by wheelchair. All other boards are situated along the tarmac path. Please refer to our map here for more information.

For further information about the use of our Interactive Nature Trail app, please visit our privacy policy.

Bat Tour, 3 July 9:30pm - 10:30pm

Join local bat enthusiast, Richard Mann, who will have available a bat detector to help us hear the local bats. He will also share fascinating facts about the bats and the special ones that call the area around Dorothy House home.

The Nature Trail Bat Tour will follow our Interactive Nature Trail in which you’ll experience the glow of the stunning Firefly Woods light installation.

Keep to the marked paths

When accessing the trail, please be mindful that we are a working Hospice with patients, families and staff on site at all times. Please, therefore do not stray from the clearly marked trail.

Parking

To allow for plenty of accessible parking for our clinical staff, patients, and family members, we kindly ask that you park in our bottom car park. Please follow signs for ‘overflow parking.’

Toilets

Toilets are accessible during office hours via main reception at the front of the Hospice. Out of hours, the Seven Stars pub is a short walk away.

A sustainable success!

Thanks to the minimal disruption to the lower grassland meadow, we have not only successfully sequestered a large area of soil carbon, but preserved a unique habitat for invertebrates, rare grasses, bats and birdlife.

Accessed by carefully carved out pathways, visitors can discover more about the impact of rewilding and consider ways in which they too can create bio-diverse habitats in their own gardens. The Nature Trail is one of many examples of how the Hospice is working innovatively to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve its sustainability goals.

Death as a part of life

While meditating on the vitality of life, so abundant on our Nature Trail, it is important to remember that death goes hand in hand with life.

Nature showcases this relationship every day, but as a society we are often keen to avoid conversations about death and the dying process.

As a Hospice charity, we are here for our community in life and death. We have created this Nature Trail to offer opportunities for anyone to have honest and open conversations about the end of life.

Seb Chester-Phillips, Young Person's Ambassador

Our Young Person’s Ambassador, Seb Chester-Phillips visited our Interactive Nature Trail just before it opened on 19 May and shared his personal reflections on what nature means to him since the death of his mum, Amanda in 2016. Seb is generously using his personal experience of losing his mum aged 12, not only to offer support to young people who are sadly grieving the death of a parent but also to help educate and inform our community about the importance of destigmatising death for young people. 

A space to find peace, solace and to connect with nature

In nature we see the harmony of life and death, with death supporting life, not diminishing it. We hope that our nature trail provides you with peace and solace; somewhere you can find space to reflect and remember, and connect with nature.

Whether you have a relationship with Dorothy House Hospice Care or not, we are here for our community when you need us most. For end of life care, bereavement support or fun events and challenges, we’re here.

 

Free resources

If you, a friend or a loved one is living with a life-limiting illness, we’re here with practical and clinical information and emotional support.

Whatever your question, find free support on making your will, living with an illness and supporting people in grief by clicking the ‘access resources’ button below.