Westwell Gorse

Jim Asher

A pocket of limestone grassland within the surrounding farmland where wild flowers and insects thrive.


0.75 miles north of Westwell
2.5 miles south-west of Burford
OX18 4LY

OS Map Reference

A static map of Westwell Gorse

Know before you go

3 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

On A40 west of Burford turn left onto B4425; after 1 mile, park on soft verge between dry stone wall and farm track on right 20m from reserve

Grazing animals



Flat; rough ground; steps


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

March to August

About the reserve

Prickly past

More than 100 years ago, this area was set aside for raising furze (gorse) and other fuel for the poor parishioners of Westwell. Although this practice came to an end in the middle of the 19th century, the land continued to be administered by the Westwell Charities - luckily for its wildlife. The southern boundaries of the reserve are edged by restored Cotswold dry stone walls.

Flower haven

While surrounding land became intensively farmed arable fields, this small area of limestone grassland has remained a haven for pyramidal orchid, common twayblade, early-purple orchid, harebell, small scabious, purple milk-vetch and the nationally rare down-fruited sedge, whose numbers have dramatically increased thanks to sympathetic management.

Butterflies and birds

As well as the wild flowers, there are extensive growths of lichen on the blackthorn to inspect. Rides cut through the scrub provide sheltered open areas for a variety of butterflies. The scrub is also attractive to nesting and roosting birds. A small pocket of woodland, planted in the 1970s, has wild cherry and hawthorn which attracts a variety of songbirds.

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)