Back to reserve map

Hook Norton Cutting

Renowned for its Jurassic fossil interest, this former railway cutting is also a wildlife gem for birds, butterflies and flowers.

Railway past

This former Great Western Railway track was used to transport iron ore from the north Oxfordshire town of Hook Norton to the blast furnaces of the Midlands and south Wales. It is composed of two sections of line separated by an old railway tunnel (which does not belong to BBOWT and is not accessible).

Wildlife highlights

The southern section has open, sunny banks of limestone grassland studded with a galaxy of wild flowers including woolly thistle, oxeye daisy, fairy flax and wild carrot. The northern section has areas of woodland and areas of scrub. These ring out with birdsong in spring and summer. Among the many species recorded nesting here are great spotted and green woodpeckers, garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat and goldcrest. The cutting is also notable for its populations of bees. Butterflies, including marbled white, common blue and red admiral, are numerous.

Exposed cliffs

The cutting is of special geological importance because of its exposed Jurassic oolite limestones which contain many fossils, and are stained red by the presence of iron oxide. Recently, scrub has been cleared to allow better views of these. The retaining walls along the track are a lichen and moss-spotter's dream.

Things to do

Nearby nature reserves

Lamb's Pool
2 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Glyme Valley
4 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Tysoe Island
7 miles - Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

7.5 miles south-west of
OX15 5JR (northern section)
Map reference
SP 360 323
Great for...
geological interest
lichens and mosses
Best time to visit
Jan - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
8.00 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Walking information
Steep slopes; flat, firm path; some loose stone; stiles, steps (no access to railway tunnel)
0.25 miles south of Hook Norton village on unclassified road to Swerford, park on hard verge
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01865 775476

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.