Nature Reserves

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Chilswell Valley, OxfordWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Chilswell Valley
Managed by:Oxford City Council
OS grid reference:SP 502 037
Nearest postcode:OX1 5AP
Usual work:Scrub clearance

Chilswell Valley is a small limestone valley of about 6 hectares just outside the Oxford ring road at South Hinksey that was created by springlines draining from the Corallian ridge west of Oxford. It was bought by the Oxford Preservation Trust in 2007 and is now managed by Oxford City Council. The site supports a variety of important habitats, including reedbeds, mature woodland and limestone grassland. OCV has assisted the Oxford City Council to maintain the balance between scrub and species-rich limestone grassland through selective scrub clearance. Due to its popularity, this urban fringe nature reserve is often referred to as the “Happy Valley”.

Flora and Fauna

There are a mixture of habitats at Chilswell valley, including a reedbed to the east, calcareous grassland to the west, and a deciduous woodland in the centre. Examples of grassland flora found at this site include rock rose, liquorice, sainfoin, bee orchid and pyramidal orchid.

Conservation Management

At Chilswell Valley, preventing scrub encroaching on the species-rich limestone grassland is key. OCV assists with selective scrub clearance to stop this happening. The site also uses grazing to maintain the scrub.


Chilswell Valley is just outside the A34 section of the Oxford Ring road. Leave the A34 at South Hinksey, but head away from South Hinksey where a golf course and garden centre are outside the ring road. Chilswell Valley is accessible from Chilswell Path, or from a public footpath from South Hinksey.