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Parsonage Moor

A fenland wilderness rich in botanical gems, moths and dragonflies.

Wetland wonders

This atmospheric fenland reserve is particularly rich in plants for its size - more than 300 different species have been recorded here. The carefully managed fen, a nationally rare habitat, is fed by several springs. The tussocky landscape includes an abundance of black bog-rush and blunt-flowered rush and many uncommon fenland mosses.

Other wetland habitats are large areas of reedbed, open water, wet woodland and ancient woodland, made up of alders and willows. There is also an area of ancient woodland.

Fenland flowers

Extensive areas of peat, fed by limey water, have resulted in a mix of soils and plants. Unusually, there are both 'lime-loving' and 'lime-hating' plants here. Many orchids can be seen including southern marsh-orchid and the nationally-scarce narrow-leaved marsh orchid, all lime-loving flowers. Many small sedges can be found here, including long-stalked yellow-sedge. Another lime-hater, the graceful grass-of-Parnassus, produces large white flowers on a single stem in August and September.

Predatory plants

Among the lime-hating plants are some intriguing insectivorous species. Butterwort is the most common of these and has violet-like flowers and traps insects on its sticky, yellow-green leaves, while bladderwort traps insects underwater.

This site is also excellent for birds and insects. Look out for the day-flying scarlet tiger moth, and dragonflies and damselflies, including the nationally-rare southern damselfly. Rare soldier flies are also found here including the clubbed general and silver colonel. 

Ruskin Reserve, a Rothschild Reserve

In May 1912, the banker and expert naturalist, Charles Rothschild founded the Society for Promotion of Nature Reserves – the organisation that would become the Wildlife Trusts. His vision was to identify and protect the best places for wildlife, and these became known as Rothschild Reserves. Parsonage Moor is part of what Oxford botanists at the time knew as the Ruskin Reserve.

Things to do

Your photographs of Parsonage Moor

Share your photos of Parsonage Moor with us. Just add them to our BBOWT flickr group and tag them with 'Parsonage Moor'.

Nearby nature reserves

Dry Sandford Pit
0 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Lashford Lane Fen
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Hitchcopse Pit
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

3 miles north-west of
OX13 6JW
Map reference
SU 461 997
Great for...
lichens and mosses
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
5.50 hectares
Walking information
Flat; wet ground; boardwalks, kissing gate
Park at Dry Sandford Pit Reserve car park; walk west to Cothill village and take footpath on right (String Lane) opposite the Merry Miller pub for 0.25 miles.
Guide dogs only
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01865 775476


Factsheets and guides for your visit

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.