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Ardley Wood Quarry

Ardley Wood Quarry is a natural treasure trove in spring and summer with geological and medieval earthworks. Warm and sheltered, the site is especially good for butterflies, and has thriving colonies of grizzled skippers, dingy skippers and green hairstreaks.

Historic site

This quarry and nearby railway cutting have geological features of national importance - as well as abundant wildlife. The layered bare limestone rock faces give a fascinating insight into the site's Jurassic past (more than 160 million years ago). Medieval earthworks give Ardley Wood Quarry archaeological interest too.

A rich mix

Scrub, woodland and rough grassland make up the diverse array of habitats. Several seasonal ponds (which dry out in summer) provide breeding places for frogs and great crested newts. Enjoy the first signs of spring with cowslips, primroses, blue bugle flowers and a carpet of violets. In summer, look out for the common spotted-orchid and bee orchid, and later the purple flowers of the autumn gentian are usually seen on the quarry floor.

Butterflies basking

This warm, sheltered site is good for butterflies, which are not deterred by the occasional passing train. There are good colonies of grizzled skipper, dingy skipper and green hairstreak butterflies, especially near the quarry floor. Marbled white butterflies can be spotted in the taller grassy areas.

Wonders of the woods

As well as the plentiful butterflies all around the site, woodland birds nest in the trees. Listen out for long-tailed tits, chiffchaff, willow warbler and bullfinch.

Things to do

Download the site risk assessment.

Nearby nature reserves

Woodsides Meadow
6 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
8 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Upper Ray Meadows
8 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

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Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

4 miles north-west of
OX27 7NU
Map reference
SP 534 274
Great for...
geological interest
historical interest
spring flowers
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
11.00 hectares
Walking information
There is a network of small paths that visitors are free to explore, taking care with the undulating terrain. Undulating, mostly firm and flat; steep embankment to south; kissing gates.
Take first left on road from Ardley to Somerton, continue past the cottages and park on the left just before the railway bridge, on hard verge.
Dogs must be on lead
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.