Know before you go
Parking informationTake Faringdon Road through Watchfield, past the military college; approaching Shrivenham, as road bends sharp left, turn right onto Pennyhooks Lane; 100 m past Shrivenham Park Golf Club turn into surfaced car park.
Sloping; bumpy, waterlogged in winter; kissing gate
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to August
About the reserve
This peaceful Oxfordshire reserve is made up of an L-shaped meadow with a stream and a small spinney or woodland copse, known as Ratcoombe Copse. Beautiful views of the wet meadow can be enjoyed from the wildflower-rich limestone grassland on the higher valley slopes.
Life in the stream and fen
A stream fed by a spring on the higher ground runs through the longest leg of the reserve where kingfishers can sometimes be spotted. The southern marsh-orchid has reappeared here after restoration work by BBOWT. The fen lies alongside the stream, marked by marsh-marigold, meadowsweet and great willowherb. Fens like this, supporting a rich variety of insect life, are a rarity in Oxfordshire.
Dragonflies of the old channel
The stream runs into Tuckmill Brook. In the 12th century, its course was altered to help power a tucking mill. Tucking was the local word for beating cloth in a mixture of fuller's earth and water to increase its density. The remains of the original brook line can be seen meandering across this part of the reserve. Dragonflies and damselflies are plentiful in the wetter areas. Thick hedges attract nesting chiffchaffs and bullfinches.