A fascinating mosaic of fossil-rich cliffs, fenland with ponds and streams, grassland, scrub and woodland set in an old quarry.
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.
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.
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.
Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve
Peter Creed: "A little jewel box filled with bees, butterflies and orchids."
Things to do
- Explore Cothill Fen, one of the most diverse wildlife area in Oxfordshire, by downloading our circular walk leaflet
- Try our circular Wildlife Walk (1/2 mile). Just follow the badger waymarkers.
- Look out for our seasonal guided walks.
- We run 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.
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'.
Species and habitats
- Grassland, Wetland, Woodland
- Polypody, Common Spotted orchid, Cowslip, Guelder-rose, Hart's-tongue Fern, Hemp-agrimony, Marsh Helleborine, Marsh-marigold, Musk Mallow, Spindle, Twayblade, Water Mint, Wayfaring-tree, Great Green Bush-cricket, Marbled White, Common Carder Bee, Leaf-cutter Bee, Red Mason Bee, Red-tailed Bumblebee, Ruby-tailed Wasp, Tawny Mining Bee, White-tailed Bumblebee, Common Frog, Common Toad, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Moorhen, Redwing