A fascinating mosaic of fossil-rich cliffs, fenland with ponds and streams, grassland, scrub and woodland set in an old quarry.

Location

2.5 miles north-west of Abingdon
Oxfordshire
OX13 6JW

OS Map Reference

SU 467 997
A static map of Dry Sandford Pit

Know before you go

Size
8 hectares

Entry fee

No

Parking information

Surfaced car park, 100m west of Honeybottom Lane/Church Lane junction in Cothill village

Grazing animals

Yes

Walking trails

0.5 mile Wildlife Walk around reserve

Access

Look out for temporary signs warning of a footpath that's closed while we repair a footbridge. Undulating, steep cliffs; firm paths, some moderate slopes; kissing gates

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

Nationally important
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.

Honeycombed cliffs
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.

Flowery fen
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. 

Contact us

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Contact number: 01865 775476
Contact email: info@bbowt.org.uk

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)