Lye Valley nature reserve

Lye Valley nature reserve

Date of Adventure: 22 May, 2023

Oxford’s hidden valley! Nestled between houses, this 8,000 year old internationally rare habitat is home to 47 species of birds, 20 species of rare plants and 37 species of rare and nationally scarce invertebrates as well as numerous reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and bees.

The walk along the boardwalk is an island of peace yet so near to the city. The sounds that dominate the air aren’t from cars, they are from birds. And they are loud! Wonderfully loud!! In March you’ll also hear frogs chorusing as a breeding frenzy takes place when they migrate back to spawn here – you’ll hear it before you see it!

Although this site comes into its own in spring and summer, it is breathtaking all through the year. So easy so feel small walking along the boardwalk as the valley rises on either side, children feel like they are in a giant’s world gazing up! Hold onto hands of little ones who may feel compelled to leap off the boardwalk into what looks like shallow puddles, some are deceptively deep!

Keep walking when you exit the boardwalk and you will link up to wet woodland, Boundary Brook and the Wildlife Corridor; or cross the Southfield Golf Course via the footpath route.

A hugely enthusiastic group of local volunteers keep this site thriving – thank you for all that you do!

If your children are like mine and love running and exploring along a boardwalk, Chilswell Valley Nature Reserve may also appeal.



Always open
No pre-booking
No cafe
Accessible on the boardwalk
3 minutes from Headington roundabout
10, or any bus that goes to the Slade or Wood Farm
Look on nearby streets for timed bays, Girdlestone Rd has some
The details


From Central Headington, access via the Slade is a footpath soon after passing Girdlestone Road. Look for the green footpath sign. There are also footpaths from the Churchill Hospital, Peat Moors, and the street called Lye Valley.

View on Google Maps


Did you


Lye Valley is part of the Wild Oxford project, a joint initiative between BBOWT, Oxford City Council and local community groups to create a more resilient network of wildlife habitats across the city which benefited Oxford’s natural heritage and improved people’s access to nature.

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