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Sydlings Copse

Tucked away to the north-east of Oxford and packed into a steep valley, Sydlings Copse is a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts. A place of sheer magic for all the family - yet small enough to ensure that young or old legs don't get tired as you take a circular wildlife walk through all of the different habitats.

Sheer variety

Common lizard. Photo by Andy Fairbairn.

The diversity of this small nature reserve is quite staggering. Boasting ancient broadleaved woodland, limestone grasslands, reedbed, fen, a stream and rare Oxfordshire heathland, the reserve supports over 400 plant species. The site is also teeming with birds and insect life; butterflies include the purple hairstreak, brown hairstreak, common blue and marbled white.

Sequence of flowers

In spring, cowslips and hairy violets begin a procession of changing colour in the flower-rich grassland. This festival peaks in summer with a display of knapweed, small scabious, yellow rattle, common rock-rose, wild basil and marjoram.


The heath's gorse, with its coconut-scented flowers, attracts flocks of linnet. Lizards can often be seen basking in this sunshine on stacked log piles. Grass snakes and slow-worms can occasionally be glimpsed. The unusual nutrient-poor sandy soil provides a perfect niche for heath specialists including heather and a diverse community of solitary wasps and bees that live in burrows in the sand.

Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve

Liza Denny

Marion Gillie

Things to do & places to go

  • Try our circular Wildlife Walk (3/4 mile). Just follow the badger waymarkers.
  • Volunteer with our regular work parties on the reserve.
  • Help us manage this reserve by supporting us
  • Tweet your wildlife sightings to @bbowt
  • Sign up to our e-newsletter

Download the site risk assessment.

Nearby nature reserves

CS Lewis Nature Reserve
2 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Bernwood Meadows
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Asham Meads
4 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

3.5 miles north-east of
Map reference
SP 5535 0945
Great for...
getting away from it all
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
22.00 hectares
Walking information
Sloping; flat sections, steep slopes, soft patches; kissing gate, steps
From Headington roundabout, take Bayswater Road north through Barton; turn left on B4027; after 500m park opposite Royal Oak Farm; take bridleway for 600m, passing two small woods; reserve is on right 100m from bridleway
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.