Corporate report

Oxfordshire's National Nature Reserves

Published 2 August 2014

Applies to England

Aston Rowant

Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve sits on the north western scarp of the Chiltern Hills, within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Main habitats: flower-rich chalk grassland, beech woodland, juniper scrub

Area: 159 hectares

Features of interest

The reserve’s diverse habitats support a variety of bird life including large flocks of finches and winter visitors such as fieldfare and redwing. Red kite, wheatear, whitethroat and blackcap can also be seen.

Volunteers carry out regular surveys and ring ouzel, firecrest, hobby and raven have all been spotted on the reserve. Other birds to look out for include the brightly-coloured bullfinch, yellowhammer and green woodpecker.

Thirty species of butterfly have been recorded on the reserve and key species include chalkhill blue and silver-spotted, dingy and grizzled skippers.

There is an information leaflet for this reserve.


The reserve is bordered by The Ridgeway National Trail and Swan’s Way.

The reserve is easy to access by bicycle and there are cycle racks in the car parks at Beacon Hill and Cowleaze Wood.

There is a regular bus service between High Wycombe and Oxford that stops near to the reserve at both Stokenchurch and The Lambert Arms at Aston Rowant. The Stagecoach Oxford Tube runs a frequent service between Oxford and London which stops at Lewknor village, a short walk from the reserve.

The nearest main stations are Princes Risborough, 8 miles to the north-west by road, and Cholsey, 14 miles to the south-east. Visitors traveling by train would need to travel by taxi from the station or are advised to travel to Oxford or High Wycombe and continue their journey by bus to the reserve.

The reserve is also easy to access by car and is signposted from the A40 near Stokenchurch, just off junction 5 of the M40.

There are two car parks with cycle racks and notice boards, one at Beacon Hill (signposted from the A40 near Stokenchurch), and one at Cowleaze Wood car park (shared by permission from the Forestry Commission). Voluntary car parking charges can be paid in advance or on the day using the RingGo app.

Post codes for satellite navigation systems: HP14 3YL for Beacon Hill car park and OX49 5HX for Cowleaze Wood .


For more information about the reserve, or to enquire about school trips or volunteering, email or telephone 01844 351833.

Chimney Meadows

Chimney Meadows National Nature Reserve, located in the floodplain of the River Thames, has a spectacular display of wild flowers during the summer months and often provides a safe haven for breeding curlew.

Main habitats: lowland grassland

Management: Chimney Meadows is managed by Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)

Further information about the reserve, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Chimney Meadows page of the BBOWT website.


Reserve manager

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)

Telephone: 01367 870904 or email:


Cothill NNR is known for its fens and their rich invertebrate life, but in addition the site also has open water, reedbeds and oak and alder woodland.

Main habitats: lowland calcareous fen, oak and alder woodland

Area: 2 hectares

Features of interest

Cothill NNR is part of the much larger Cothill Fen Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which is one of the most species rich lowland calcareous fen systems in the UK. A large number of scarce invertebrates have been recorded here, including southern damselfly and Desmoulin’s whorl snail.

Several uncommon plants typical of alkaline fens are found on the reserve, these include narrow-leaved marsh orchid, marsh helleborine, bog pimpernel, black bog rush and marsh valerian.

Grass snakes and lizards can often be seen and the reed beds provide cover for birds such as reed warbler and sedge warbler.

Please note that the site is dangerous in places. Deep water, floating mats of vegetation and pools in the fen pose significant hazards.


The reserve is 500 metres from the village of Cothill and can be accessed via a public footpath from opposite the Merry Miller public house.

The nearest car park is at the entrance to the Dry Sandford Pit Nature Reserve on Honeybottom Lane.

The nearest railway station is in the village of Radley, 5.5 miles to the east. The nearby town of Abingdon is well served by buses.


For more information about the reserve or to get involved in looking after the site, email or telephone 01844 351833.


Wychwood is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland in Oxfordshire.

Main habitats: oak and ash woodland

Area: 262 hectares

Management: Wychwood is owned and managed by Cornbury Park Estate, home to Lord Rotherwick and his family

Access off the one footpath is by permit only from the Cornbury Park Estate (01608 811276).

Features of interest

Wychwood is predominantly oak-ash high forest, with an occasional understorey of hawthorn, hazel, field maple, spindle, dogwood, crab apple and guelder rose. Ash is abundant with some oak, yew, horse chestnut, beech, Turkey oak, Norway maple and sycamore. Some areas are dominated by beech and sycamore has become abundant in areas where regeneration after thinning has been poor. Very little coppice woodland structure remains and there are some small areas of calcareous grassland restricted to the steep valley sides. Some of the oak and beech trees are ancient veteran trees.

Springtime ground flora includes primrose, ramsons, early purple orchid and less common plants such as herb paris and autumn crocus.

Large herds of fallow deer roam the woods with frequent spotting of roe and muntjac deer.

How to get there

The nearest train station is in Charlbury.

The NNR is 2 miles south-west of Charlbury in west Oxfordshire and is bounded by the villages of Leafield to the south and Finstock to the east.

Cornbury Park Estate, within which the NNR sits, is privately managed and the only access, which is along the boundary of the reserve, is via a permissive path running through the Estate.


For more information telephone 0300 060 3900 or email: