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Rack Marsh

A fine old wet meadow characteristic of the Lambourn valley in days gone by, with a lovely array of wetland wild flowers and birds.

Historical site

This is how the Lambourn river valley would have looked before modern drainage and ploughing destroyed old waterside meadows and pastures. Rack Marsh is a fine old wet meadow.

A thick layer of peat has developed on top of the deposits of alluvium and gravel which the river has spread over the chalk. In this peat, the remains of a prehistoric canoe have been discovered, the wood preserved by the waterlogged conditions.

Take a look in spring

Late spring/early summer is the best time to visit this nature reserve. Among the rushes and sedges, it is possible to find patches of water avens, greater bird's-foot-trefoil and southern and early marsh-orchids.

Typical water-meadow plants to be seen include marsh valerian and common marsh-bedstraw, followed in summer by other colourful wild flowers such as common fleabane, skullcap, common hemp-nettle and water mint.

In the wetter areas, a most handsome flower, the unusual bogbean, occurs. The bogbean is one of the easiest to identify with a three-part leaf like a giant clover and pink and white flowers with fringed petals.

Smallest of snails

If you have keen eyesight, you may also spot one of the UK's rarer snails, the Desmoulin's whorl snail. It's one of the smallest at just 2mm across and is found amongst the riverside vegetation.

Songs from the sedges

Keep your ears open for sedge warblers and reed warblers and you may catch a glimpse of a kingfisher too.

Things to do

Nearby nature reserves

Snelsmore Common Country Park
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Sole Common Pond
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Avery's Pightle
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire 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

2 miles north-west of
RG20 8AQ
Map reference
SU 452 694
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
4.00 hectares
Walking information
Flat; flat paths; soft after rain; kissing gates and narrow bridges
From the A34/A4 junction head towards Newbury, following signs for the 'Watermill Theatre'; at Speen take first left (Station Road) and then left onto Lambourn Road; pass under the A34 and take first right to Bagnor, park on road before Bagnor.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01628 829574

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.