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Letcombe Valley

A lovely mix of chalk stream, woodland and chalk grassland creates a tranquil haven for wildlife and local people.

Community nature reserve

The Letcombe brook is a rare habitat - there are only two chalk streams in the whole of Oxfordshire and only 161 UK-wide. The clear waters are home to unusual and interesting wildlife including water vole and fish such as bullhead, brown trout and brook lamprey.

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust works with volunteers living nearby to care for this precious habitat, where kingfishers hunt across the water flashing blue as their sharp call pierces the stillness of the valley. Streamside, heron and little egret can be seen prowling the shallows for a tasty fish morsel.

At dusk, Daubenton’s bats swoop low across the lake gorging on insects at the water’s surface. Numerous springs create flushes along the streams and these habitats support an interesting range of insects, particularly rare and specialist flies.  

Variety of life

Small remnants of ancient woodland include old coppice stools around which wild flowers, such as bluebell, wood millet, common dog-violet, herb-Bennet, grow. Running along the eastern edge of the reserve is a steep bank with a flat top (the Old Bassett Road) where fragments of chalk grassland remain among the scrub.

Large ant hills survive among common bird’s-foot trefoil, field scabious, twayblade, cowslips and meadow grasses. Barn owls hunt for small mammals in this area.

Recent work

The Wildlife Trust recently carried out work on horse chestnut trees by the lake which were infected with Phytophthora, a destructive parasitic fungus that causes bleeding canker and kills the trees. Wood from the trees is being used on site to create habitat for insects, small mammals and amphibians. New trees will be planted at a community event. 

Things to do

  • Follow the self-guided nature trail
  • We regularly run work parties at this reserve
  • Come to the regular events held here, such as bird and bat watching, moth trapping and wildlife discovery days
  • 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

Seven Barrows
4 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Watts Bank
6 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Tuckmill Meadow
9 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

Location
2 miles south-west of
Wantage
Oxfordshire
OX12 9JU
Map reference
SU 378 862
Great for...
birdwatching
wildflowers
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
Facilities
Cafe
Gift shop
Size
7.50 hectares
Walking information
30% surfaced paths; some moderate slopes unsurfaced; steps, kissing gates
Parking
From Wantage take B4507 to Ashbury (Ickleton Road) for approx 0.5 miles; turn left towards Letcombe Regis. In Letcombe Regis, take Main Street past church on left; continue to Bassett Road. Park at the Village Hall or cricket club, both on the west (right) side of Bassett Road as you leave the village. Then walk a few hundred metres past the cemetery; at Blandys Farm (on the right) turn left, walk east to the track between houses, cross the pedestrian bridge to reserve entrance.
Dogs
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Yes
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01865 775476
info@bbowt.org.uk

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.