The heat was still sweltering as we headed off at dusk towards the hide to watch wildlife with our enthusiastic guide, Leonie. My wife and I were on our first ever safari — or rather ‘stayfari’. No, we weren’t in deepest Africa, but in deepest Gloucestershire. And we weren’t on the look out for lions and elephants, but beavers.
We were staying at Lower Mill Estate, near Cirencester. Consisting of 550 acres of beautiful lakes, fields and woodlands, it’s been described as the most important private nature reserve in Europe. In Lower Mill, the houses fit around the wildlife, and not the other way round: all of them have bird boxes and bat-friendly roofs.
We arrived in our spacious lakeside apartment to find a welcome pack including a bottle of wine, milk, eggs, bacon and other provisions.