Renowned for its Jurassic fossil interest, this former railway cutting is also a wildlife gem for birds, butterflies and flowers.


near Chipping Norton
7.5 miles south-west of Banbury
OX15 5JR (northern section)

OS Map Reference

A static map of Hook Norton Cutting

Know before you go

8 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

0.25 miles south of Hook Norton village on unclassified road to Swerford, park on hard verge

Grazing animals



Steep slopes; flat, firm path; some loose stone; stiles, steps (no access to railway tunnel)


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

January to August

About the reserve

Railway past
This former Great Western Railway track was used to transport iron ore from the north Oxfordshire town of Hook Norton to the blast furnaces of the Midlands and south Wales. It is composed of two sections of line separated by an old railway tunnel (which does not belong to BBOWT and is not accessible).

Wildlife highlights
The southern section has open, sunny banks of limestone grassland studded with a galaxy of wild flowers including woolly thistle, oxeye daisy, fairy flax and wild carrot. The northern section has areas of woodland and areas of scrub. These ring out with birdsong in spring and summer. Among the many species recorded nesting here are great spotted and green woodpeckers, garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat and goldcrest. The cutting is also notable for its populations of bees. Butterflies, including marbled white, common blue and red admiral, are numerous.

Exposed cliffs
The cutting is of special geological importance because of its exposed Jurassic oolite limestones which contain many fossils, and are stained red by the presence of iron oxide. Recently, scrub has been cleared to allow better views of these. The retaining walls along the track are a lichen and moss-spotter's dream.


Contact us

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Contact number: 01865 775476
Contact email:

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)