Iffley Meadows

Iffley Meadows

Iffley Meadows

The sight of thousands of purple and white chequered snake's-head fritillaries at these ancient wet meadows will take your breath away.


1.5 miles south of city centre

OS Map Reference

A static map of Iffley Meadows

Know before you go

33 hectares

Entry fee


Grazing animals



Flat overall; rough underfoot in places, wet patches all year; kissing gates, gates, 30m 1 in 4 ramp from road to towpath


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

March to August

About the reserve

This sweep of floodplain meadows on the banks of the Thames sits just a stone's-throw from the centre of Oxford, but is a peaceful haven for wildlife. Each year Iffley Meadows plays host to an incredible wildlife spectacle, as thousands of Oxfordshire's iconic flower, the snake's head fritillary, cloak the meadows in purple.

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)
Snakes head fritillary

Snake's head fritillary by Andy Fairbairn

Flourishing fritillaries

Each April, Iffley Meadows plays host to a wonderful widlife spectacle where you can enjoy Oxfordshire's iconic flower, the snake's-head fritillary, in bloom in its natural surroundings. Before BBOWT took over management of the nature reserve in 1983, a mere 500 of these flowers could be found. As a result of BBOWT's careful management of the site and controlled grazing, numbers of fritillaries have shot up to over 89,000 - a huge success story.

Orange tip and cuckooflower

Orange tip on cuckooflower by Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Precious meadows

These wet meadows crossed by old river channels with willow-lined ditches have a rich diversity of wildlife typical of old, unspoilt meadow land. They were once a widespread feature of our river systems, but many have been lost to drainage and farming. In spring, the blooms of cuckooflower mark the start of a colourful sequence of wild flowers in the meadows. The orange-tip butterfly can be seen fluttering from flower to flower laying its eggs. Later, the yellow of buttercups and the reds and purples of great burnet and knapweed come to the fore.

Rich ditches

Several species of dragonfly and damselfly patrol the vegetated ditches during the summer. Warblers can be heard chattering in the reeds - Cetti's warbler can be distinguished by its loud, 'explosive' song.

Snake's head fritillary count at Iffley Meadows

Watch BBOWT's team perform the annual snake's head fritillary count at Iffley Meadows nature reserve.