Know before you go
Parking informationPark in designated BBOWT car park at the entrance to the reserve. Please don't park in Chimney hamlet.
You can use a bridleway, public footpaths and permissive paths to access much of the reserve - see map in car park. The Thames Path National Trail runs through the reserve along the river.
Flat terrain, bumpy underfoot, boggy in winter; bridge and gates. Wellingtons required to cross ford at Great Brook and Duxford, may be impassable if water level is high.Some paths and the two bird hides are suitable for people with limited mobility. Contact BBOWT for further information.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitJan - Dec
About the reserve
Restoring a wildlife haven
Once a commercial farm, the rich wildlife of this remote and tranquil place has been restored since the Trust started looking after it in 2003. Fields once planted with wheat and barley are now colourful, species-rich wildflower meadows. Previously heavily grazed pastures are now nationally-important wetlands and home to wading birds. This type of habitat is important for its remarkable diversity of plant-life and as a home to nationally declining wading birds such as curlew, which breed here.
In spring and summer these grasslands are transformed by an ever-changing display of wild flowers that attract busy communities of insects. In April and early May cowslips are in flower, whilst in June and July, plants such as yellow rattle, common knapweed, oxeye daisy and pepper-saxifrage can be found in abundance.
Wonderful wetland vista
The large hide overlooking our wetland area provides views of feeding cormorant, little egret and kingfisher. At the smaller hide, which overlooks our northern pond, you can see little grebe, jay and long-tailed tit.
A Living Landscape
Chimney Meadows is our largest nature reserve and its fields are part of an ancient landscape, created by the Thames and shaped by centuries of farming. It forms part of the Upper Thames Living Landscape, a Wildlife Trust project to create space for wildlife and people together.
Chimney Meadows is one of three of BBOWT’s most charismatic wildflower meadows that have been named Coronation Meadows. HRH Prince Charles, as patron of RSWT, Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Plantlife, initiated the Coronation Meadows project. It celebrates the historic and extraordinary diversity of meadows, and encourages the creation of many more in the next 60 years through seeds and green hay from the Coronation sites. Coronation Meadows represent a certain ethos; an attitude towards farming, rearing livestock and an appreciation of the value of farmland wildlife that has allowed these fragments of flower rich grassland to survive over the decades. Chimney Meadows, Moor Copse and Upper Ray Meadows are prime examples of a Coronation Meadow because they are rich in a wealth of wild flowers. On each reserve there are meadows which have been regenerated using green hay from nearby land, a natural spread of species from field to field. The meadows are managed carefully using traditional farming methods, sometimes with rare breed livestock for conservation grazing. Ancient hedgerows and tracks connect each meadow to the next these are just as important for wildlife as the meadows themselves. They help to create patchworks of habitats greater than their individual parts. Coronation Meadows is supported by Biffa Award.
Duxford Old River
In 2017 the Trust was able to purchase Duxford Old River, 113 acres of floodplain meadow adjacent to Chimney Meadows, which contains an ancient meander of the original River Thames. The plan is to let Mother Nature lead the way in making it a haven for wildlife. For this reason public access to Duxford is limited, but you can see it across the river from the Thames Path.
Thank you to our supporters
The Heritage Lottery Fund supported the Wildlife Trust in 2003 when BBOWT had the opportunity to buy the land at Chimney Meadows and transform it into a wildlife haven. Since 2013 WREN, a Landfill Communities Fund distributor, has funded management work at Chimney Meadows through the Biodiversity Action Fund. In 2017 the generosity of many individuals, several charitable trusts and the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled the purchase of Duxford Old River.
Reserve champions - BBOWT members supporting their favourite reserve: Jackie and Eric Lewis-Leaning
Things to do
Come along to one of our seasonal guided walks for all ages and interests. There are two bird hides for bird watching, both with wheelchair access.
Volunteer! We run regular work parties on the reserve.