Nature Reserves

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Crecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire Street MapGoogle MapPhotos

Crecy Hill, Tackley
Local Nature Reserve & County Wildlife Site
Managed by:Tackley Parish Council
OS grid reference:SP 484 212 (Farm yard)
Nearest postcode:OX5 3EJ (Farm yard)
Usual work:Scrub clearance, fencing, construction of gates, stiles, steps and footpaths

Created in 1997, Crecy Hill Local Nature Reserve is a County Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve in Tackley, ten miles north of Oxford. Sloping steeply down to the main railway line, the River Cherwell and the Oxford Canal, it is a beautiful site managed by Tackley Parish Council with the aim of preserving the 3 acres of unimproved limestone grassland.

Geography

The steep, East-facing limestone bank was created in 1850 when the Great Western Railway cut into the side of the Cherwell Valley to lay the Oxford to Banbury railway along the north-south lines of the Oxford Canal and River Cherwell. This sunny limestone bank, high above the valley floor, is home to many grasses and wild flowers typical of the calcareous grassland habitat, and the array of insects, birds and mammals that these plants support.

Flora and Fauna


Salad Burnet

Bird's Foot Trefoil

Over 100 wild flower varieties and more than 15 types of grasses have been recorded on the site. Amongst the calcareous grassland key 'indicator' species are pyramidal orchids, bee orchids, fairy flax, common broomrape, dwarf thistle and wild basil, and rare bee orchids have occasionally been recorded. Over 100 insect species have been seen on the reserve, including a variety of damsel flies, ants and bees as well as over 20 types of butterfly, such as the small blue. The reserve is also home to lizards, slow worms and toads.

Conservation Management

The main conservation aims are to maintain and enhance the species diversity of the grassland, and to retain scrub within existing areas. Cattle and sheep graze the site in the Winter and early Spring to control invasive coarse grasses and encourage the growth of the many species of wild flowers found here. Woolly thistle and ragwort are removed so the grassland is kept in a suitable condition to allow grazing. OCV have assisted by erecting fences that allow control of the sites to be grazed, and to ensure that the animals remain on the grassland area of the site. This was a large-scale training project undertaken in 2008 and 2009 to replace the post and wire stock fencing that runs along the upper boundary.

Scrub (hawthorn, blackthorn etc.) is retained for 10-20% of the reserve, and is managed with the assistance of OCV by cutting on rotation to maintain a mosaic of patches of differing ages, which will benefit a wide range of wildlife, especially birds and invertebrates.

OCV have built and maintained gates, stiles, steps and footpaths to improve access to and around the reserve, linking up with existing public footpaths, bridleways and the Oxford Canal National Trail.

Directions

From the A4260 Oxford-Banbury Road, north of Oxford. Traveling north, take the first turn to Tackley. Go down the hill, past the church into the village. Go past the Gardiner's Arms pub, past the Village Shop on your right, and a phone box on your left. As you hit a very sharp left-hand bend you'll see a track straight up a hill ahead of you. Head straight up the track (take care as this is a well-used public bridleway) and as you bear round to the left you'll find a barn and a yard where you can park or secure your bike.