Wild Oxford

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Discover the wild places of Oxford!


Find out what’s going on in Oxford's parks and green spaces, get involved with the Wild Oxford Project by volunteering, or just get out there and enjoy the wild places in the city!

Scroll down for site information, habitat survey data and volunteer work party dates.

What is the Wild Oxford Project?

We want to inspire people of all ages to explore and discover the wild green spaces in Oxford. Working in partnership with Oxford City Council on 4 of their nature reserves; Chilswell Valley, Rivermead Nature Park and Lye Valley, and Raleigh Park.

  • running events for families throughout the city,
  • organising interesting walks and talks,
  • running workshops on traditional conservation skills including coppicing, hedgelaying and scything,
  • providing support to volunteer groups in the city.

Find out what's on in Oxford.

Discover Oxford's hidden gems

Chilswell Valley

Chilswell valley.

Chilswell Path, South Hinksey, OX1 5AP

Take a short walk from South Hinksey, or a slightly longer walk from Abingdon Road, and you will stumble upon this wonderful gem of a reserve, known locally as Happy Valley!

  • Chilswell Valley may have got its name from "Child’s Well". It was believed that the spring which feeds the fen here had healing qualities for sick children, and also helped cure infertility.
  • A board walk takes you through a reed bed and fen and into a steep sided wet woodland with ancient gnarly oak and ash. From here you can follow the stream and walk back along the limestone grassland.
  • In the summer you will see a wonderful array of orchids, intriguing wild liquorice and other beautiful wild flowers.
  • You have every chance of catching sight of a sparrowhawk, or buzzard hunting around the reserve.

Rivermead Nature Park


Rivermead Road, Rosehill, OX4 4UP.

You might not expect to find this place in the middle of Rose Hill housing estate, blocked on two sides by the Southern Bypass, and with the River Thames on its other boundary. But sure enough this wonderful little piece of wilderness exists in the middle of an urban setting.

  • The pond here is notable for its vast of array of fresh water invertebrates.
  • It’s also famous for the toads which make their way back here each year to spawn.
  • A tiny spring opens into a flush, which has formed a tiny fenland. The fen then disappears into the dense woodland while the water makes it way down to the Thames.
  • The hedge on the reserve boundary, which has recently been laid by local volunteers, offers a view of the reserve from the street. Why not venture down and see what’s over the hedge?

Lye Valley

Lye Valley.

169 The Slade, Headington, OX3 7HP

In Headington, surrounded by roads, hospitals and housing, is a truly remarkable piece of Oxford’s natural history – the Lye Valley! Take a walk down from the busy streets off The Slade and you will discover a land that time forgot.

  • This place was studied by Tudor botanists. Some of their plant samples can still be found at the Oxford University Herbarium today.
  • Parts of Lye Valley (most notably the fens) are designated as SSSI’s, and it's easy to see why! 
  • The reserve has one of the best examples of a calcareous valley fen.
  • The reserve is noted for more than 300 plant species, including 20 that are on the Rare Plants of Oxfordshire register.
  • Take a walk around the reserve this summer and you will see orchids, the delicately striped flowers of Grass-of-Parnassus, lizards, slow-worms and a huge variety of birds.
  • To find out more - visit the Friends of Lye Valley web page: http://www.headington.org.uk/lyevalley/index.html

Raleigh Park

Westminster Way Entrance: OX1 5AA

Just off the busy ring road between Botley and North Hinksey climb up to the top of the hill for spectacular views of Oxford.

• A series of springs here once helped supply Oxford with Water and the remains of “ye olde conduit” can still be seen today.
• Limestone Grassland, Calcareous Fen and Scrubland make the site ideal for spotting wildflowers and a huge variety of birds.
• A stream and series of ponds make Raleigh park an ideal place to explore wetlands.







Visited any Wild Oxford site recently? We’d like to know what you think – please take the time to fill in a short visitor survey.


Get involved! Join our Bog Stars Team!

Logo designed by St Claires College Students


Work Party dates Winter/Spring18:


Saturday the 13th of Jan - Chilswell Valley

Saturday the 27th of Jan - Rivermead

Saturday the 10th of Feb - Raleigh Park

Saturday the 24th of Feb - Raleigh Park - Hedgelaying with Oxford City Council

Saturday the 10th of March - Lye Valley

Saturday the 24th of March - Chilswell Valley

Saturday the 7th of April - Rivermead

Saturday the 12th of May - Lye Valley

Saturday the 26th of May - Raleigh Park

Chilswell Valley Work Party Dates:

Monday the 22nd of Jan

Monday the 19th of Feb

Monday the 19th March

Monday the 16th of April

Monday the 21st of May

Sydlings Copse Work Party Dates:

Friday the 26th of Jan

Friday the 23rd of Feb

Friday the 23rd of March

Friday the 20th of April

Friday the 25th of May


 If you would like to be added to the Wild Oxford mailing list please contact Andy Gunn: andygunn@bbowt.org.uk.

Sessions run from 10am to 3pm (unless stated)*

Please bring lunch, outdoor clothing and sturdy boots. All tools supplied. Tea and biscuits also supplied!

Recent Photos from the reserves

Please send in any photos to share with the Wild Oxford Community:


A well earned rest from scything at Chilwell Valley.







Judy Webb's most recent reports for Chilswell Valley, Lye Valley and Rivermead are available to download in the file attachments below.


FilenameFile size
wild_oxford_project_rpt_lye_valley_jw_final_08.05.2015v2.pdf2.8 MB
wild_oxford_project_rivermead_jw_report_2014-2015_final_11._05_2015.pdf3.6 MB
wild_oxford_project_jw_report_chilswell_-_final-v2_26_05_2015.pdf4.12 MB
w._oxford_proj_chilswell_valley_jw_app._iii_species_recs_for_rpt_2015.pdf609.81 KB
w_oxf._rpt_jwlye_valley_append._3_4_and_5_combined.pdf409.85 KB
w._oxf._rivermead_sp._records_app2_jw_final11.05.2015.pdf215.77 KB
chilswell_wild_ox_project_-_jw_report_2015-16_final_23_11_2016.pdf4.35 MB
appendix_-_chilswell_valley_species_table_2015-16.pdf340.18 KB
wild_oxford_project_rivermead_report_2015-2016_and_app_1_final_23_11_2016.pdf4.59 MB
appendix_2_wild_oxford_project_rivermead_report_jw_species_table_2015-2016.pdf240.4 KB
appendix_3_rivermead_insect_survey_-_j_and_b_ismay_18_04_2015.pdf188.64 KB
lye_valley_wild_oxford_jw_2016_report_plus_app_1_and_2_-_23_11_2016.pdf6.32 MB
appendices_3_and_4_-_transects_a-b_and_c-d_data_-_w._side_lye_valley_n._fen_sssi_02_09_2015.pdf768.69 KB

Volunteer with us

Snakeshead Fritillaries Survey by BBOWT

Do your bit to help local wildlife.

Find out about volunteering opportunities here.

What's on

Nature Tots - College Lake

Thursday 18th January 2018,
10.00am - 11.30am

Venue: College Lake Nature Reserve

Join us at College Lake with your pre-school little ones for seasonal nature discovery, games, craft, fun and exploration. Booking essential. Nature Tots is suitable for pre-school children. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Remember to dress for the outdoors!

See all events