COTSWOLD voluntary wardens have excelled themselves this year, clocking up nearly 44,000 hours enhancing areas of outstanding natural beauty.

The latest figures show that last year was another record-breaker for the wardens who form the voluntary arm of the Cotswolds Conservation Board and recorded a total 43,772 hours worked by 280 active volunteers across the Cotswolds AONB - worth more than £300,000.

Despite a number of work parties and guided walks being cancelled due to persistent bad weather in December, the wardens still managed to surpass their previous year’s total.

Cotswolds Conservation Board volunteer co-ordinator, Becky Jones, said: “It has been another fantastic year. Once again we are extremely grateful to wardens for the thousands of hours dedicated to help look after the AONB and encourage even more people to enjoy and explore our beautiful countryside.”3 Head warden David Colbourne said: "It has been an exceptionally productive year. Thanks to our wardens, we have been able to make many significant and tangible contributions to the activities of the Conservation Board.”

Overall, 70 per cent of the wardens’ time is spent on a variety of conservation and enhancement work, and the rest on organising guided walks, attending shows and promoting awareness.