Wigwell Nature Reserve


This 7.2 hectare local nature reserve, owned by Thames Water and managed by the Wychwood Project, mainly consists of unimproved calcareous grassland.  The steeply sloping meadows are a riot of colour in the summer months when many species of wildflower come into bloom.  These include Birds-foot-trefoil, Lady’s bedstraw and the nationally scarce Meadow clary.  The UK’s population of Meadow clary, once a common flower, has decreased significantly. Wigwell is now one of only 21 sites across the country where Meadow clary can be found.

The reserve lies on the Oolite limestone of the Wigwell Valley in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A stream runs throughout the reserve and plants such as Marsh marigold and Ragged robin grow in the marshy ground beside the water. 

Conservation management of the reserve includes over-winter grazing to control grass and scrub growth and allowing flowers to grow and go to seed during the summer months. 

At of the end of the 19th century Wigwell was used for water abstraction by The Charlbury Water Works Co. and many capped springs can be seen across the site.  The water was pumped by a windmill to a reservoir on Ditchley Road from where it was distributed throughout the town.  The company ceased training in 1940 and the site was eventually taken over by Thames Water.  Water extraction stopped in the 1960’s and the land has been managed for conservation since 1994.

In the interest of nature conservation, please keep to the footpath, please do not pick the flowers and keep your dog on a lead.

The entrance to the reserve is next to the Scout Hut on Nine Acres Lane, Charlbury, OX7 3QZ

51°52'31.9"N 1°28'59.4"W