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Dry Sandford Pit

The marvellous array of habitats at Dry Sandford Pit attracts a diversity of plant and animal life. The exposed pit cliffs are brilliant for spotting solitary bees and wasps, as well as fossil remains from southern Britain's ancient under-sea past.


Nationally important

Geological wonders, nationally scarce fen and rich insect life make Dry Sandford Pit a nature reserve of national importance. Its extraordinary mosaic of fossil-rich cliffs, limey fenland, ponds, streams, chalk grassland, scrub and woodlands are all bursting with plants and animals, including rare species. The exposed layers of Dry Sandford Pit's low sand and limestone cliffs illustrate the various stages as the sea that once covered Oxfordshire receded. The cliffs contain many corals and visible fossils of marine creatures dating back to the Jurassic era.

Honeycombed cliffs

The cliff faces are very important for wildlife. Restoration work has cleared away scrub from these cliffs and trees have been coppiced. Solitary bees and wasps, including the five-banded tailed digger wasp, have burrowed into the soft sandy layers creating a honeycomb of tiny holes.

Flowery fen

In June, common spotted-orchids flower in the fen area, following twayblade in May and tens of thousands of beautiful marsh helleborines in July. Dotted amongst these are the purple spikes of the clove-scented marsh fragrant-orchid. Please take care not to trample this area. 

Explore Cothill Fen, one of the most diverse wildlife area in Oxfordshire, by downloading our circular walk leaflet

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Your photographs of Dry Sandford Pit

Share your photographs of Dry Sandford Pit with us! Add them to our Flickr group, and tag them with 'Dry Sandford Pit'.

Nearby nature reserves

Parsonage Moor
0 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Lashford Lane Fen
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Hitchcopse Pit
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

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Reserve information

2 1/2 miles north-west of Abingdon, in Cothill village
OX13 6JW
Map reference
SU 4674 9953
Great for...
geological interest
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
7.50 hectares
Walking information
Undulating, steep cliffs; firm paths, some moderate slopes; kissing gates
In Cothill village, 100m west of Honeybottom Lane - Church Lane junction turn left into surfaced car park
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.