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Oakley Hill

Chiltern gentian is the star of this isolated and beautiful chalk downloand reserve, perched on the Chiltern escarpment.

A hidden gem

Hidden behind the imposing, but now peaceful, chalkpits at Chinnor, Oakley Hill is made up of old downland, scrub and beech woodland.

Rare grassland

Chalk grassland like this - once common along the escarpment - is now rare due to a decline in grazing and invasion by scrub, but BBOWT is looking after this rarity by using traditional methods.

Chalk soil specialists

Wild flowers such as Chiltern gentian, wild thyme, chalkhill eyebright, clustered bellflower, pyramidal orchid and yellow-wort thrive in this poor soil.

Wayfaring-trees, often found around chalk grasslands, display clusters of creamy white flowers in spring. In late summer, butterflies, such as the comma, drink juices from their ripe berries.

There are a few remaining juniper plants here. Once a dependable early coloniser of open grassland, juniper is now uncommon in the Chilterns.

Life in the dark

Very little grows under the dense shade of the beech wood canopy. Look out for the bird's-nest orchid, which appears to seek out the darkest parts of the wood. This plant requires no light, instead getting all its nutrients from dead material in the soil. It takes its name from its mass of short, thick roots, said to resemble a birds's nest.

You may find bluebells and dog's mercury growing in glades created by fallen trees.

Things to do

Your photographs of Oakley Hill

Share your photographs of Oakley Hill with us. Just add them to our BBOWT flickr group and tag them with 'Oakley Hill'.

Nearby nature reserves

Chinnor Hill
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Grangelands and The Rifle Range
6 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

1 mile south of
OX39 4RR
Map reference
SU 753 994
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Nov
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
13.00 hectares
Walking information
Sloping ground, firm but bumpy; kissing gate
On the B4009 south out of Chinnor, turn left at Crowell and park near Shepherd's Crook pub; walk up track, take left onto Ridgeway to find reserve on right.
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.