Letcombe Valley

M Bailey

Letcombe Valley

A lovely mix of chalk stream, woodland and chalk grassland creates a tranquil haven for wildlife and local people.

Location

2 miles south-west of
Wantage
Oxfordshire
OX12 9JU

OS Map Reference

SU378862
A static map of Letcombe Valley

Know before you go

Size
8 hectares

Entry fee

No

Parking information

In Letcombe Regis, park at the Village Hall or cricket club on Bassett Road. Walk a few hundred metres past the cemetery; at Bland Farm (on right) turn left, walk east to the track between houses, cross pedestrian bridge to reserve entrance

Grazing animals

Yes

Access

30% surfaced paths; some moderate slopes unsurfaced; steps, kissing gates

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

March to August

About the reserve

Community nature reserve

The Letcombe brook is a rare habitat - there are only two chalk streams in the whole of Oxfordshire and only 161 UK-wide. The clear waters are home to unusual and interesting wildlife including water vole and fish such as bullhead, brown trout and brook lamprey.

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust works with volunteers living nearby to care for this precious habitat, where kingfishers hunt across the water flashing blue as their sharp call pierces the stillness of the valley. Streamside, heron and little egret can be seen prowling the shallows for a tasty fish morsel.

At dusk, Daubenton’s bats swoop low across the lake gorging on insects at the water’s surface. Numerous springs create flushes along the streams and these habitats support an interesting range of insects, particularly rare and specialist flies.  

Variety of life

Small remnants of ancient woodland include old coppice stools around which wild flowers, such as bluebell, wood millet, common dog-violet, herb-Bennet, grow. Running along the eastern edge of the reserve is a steep bank with a flat top (the Old Bassett Road) where fragments of chalk grassland remain among the scrub. Large ant hills survive among common bird’s-foot trefoil, field scabious, twayblade, cowslips and meadow grasses. Barn owls hunt for small mammals in this area.

Recent work

The Wildlife Trust recently carried out work on horse chestnut trees by the lake which were infected with Phytophthora, a destructive parasitic fungus that causes bleeding canker and kills the trees. Wood from the trees is being used on site to create habitat for insects, small mammals and amphibians. New trees will be planted at a community event. 

Things to do

Follow the self-guided nature trail. We regularly run work parties at this reserve. Come to the regular events held here, such as bird and bat watching, moth trapping and wildlife discovery days. 

Take a virtual tour of Letcombe Valley

Contact us

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