Nature Reserves

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Kennington Pools, OxfordWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Kennington Pools
Managed by:BBOWT
OS grid reference:SP 520 032
Nearest postcode:OX1 5NZ
Usual work:Scrub clearance,

Created as a borrow pit when soil/sand was removed for the construction of the adjoining railway in the 19th Century, Kennington pools now provides a variety of habitats for flora and fauna that is surrounded by a rare example of UK wet woodland habitat. The raised soil bars within the pools increase the length of margin areas thus greatly increasing the number of sheltered aquatic habitats and quantity of species supported, while also helping create a variety of shallow and deep areas within the pools.

Flora and Fauna

Kennington Pools contains a diversity of wetland flora long the margins, including water dock, greater pond sedge and common valerian. Other species reported in smaller quantities along the waterside include false fox sedge, arrowhead, common skullcap, yellow iris, common marsh bedstraw, water mint, meadowsweet, branched bur-reed, common fleabane, tufted vetch, creeping jenny, water figwort, lesser water-parsnip, reed canary-grass, and marsh woundwort. Reed beds and tall herb fen provide shelter and habitat for a variety of wetland fauna including kingfishers and otters. A diversity of invertebrate species, including molluscs and a nationally scarce water beetle have been recorded within the pools. Aquatic flora include ivy-leaved duckweed, Nuttalís pondweed, water startwort, spiked water milfoil, and common duckweed. Eight species of dragonfly were recorded at the site in 2002.

Within the wet woodland surrounding the pools trees species including ash and crack willows can be found along with smaller number of silver birch, hazel, grey willow, goat willow, alder, sycamore, horse chestnut and common osier. Due to the damp conditions these trees can support a range of misses and liverworts. Shrubs such as guilder rose, elder, hawthorn, buckthorn, blackthorn, red current and black current provide food and shelter for many species at the site. The woodland floor sustains bluebell, enchanterís nighshade, wood false-brome, dogís mercury, giant fescue and remote sedge. Black bryony and hop can also be found climbing some of the shrubs and trees.

On the Eastern boundary of Kennington pools there is a drain in which the glutinous snail has historically been recorded.

Conservation Management

The aquatic and wet woodland areas are to be maintained and enhanced through careful management of the site. This includes selective opening up of some areas of the pools and woodland canopy to increase the diversity of open and shaded habitats at the site. The open areas will allow increased vegetation and also low-laying shelter for native fauna, while removing some of the trees will slow the rate at which the pools will in-fill due to leaf fall, and also prevent the pools from becoming too nutrient-rich to support a diverse range of species. Each year a few crack willows are pollarded and a few other trees thinned to increase the lifespan of the trees, provides habitat for birds, fungi, invertebrates and mosses. Selective pollarding also allows light to the woodland floor, encouraging ground flora and shrubs without impacting the overall habitat provided by the woodland.

The important habitat for birds and invertebrates provided by the tall herb fern and reedbed is protected by removal of encroaching scrub and trees. It is also aimed to create an additional pond at the site in order to increase the diversity of habitats without disturbing the ecosystem within the current pools. As in any site, invasive non-native species such as snowberry, rhododendron and Japanese knotweed are controlled in order to allow continued variety of native species.

The drain at the Eastern side of the site has rotational cutting to remove some of the vegetation to ensure the waterway is clear, while also retaining areas of shelter. This is aimed to encourage the endangered water voles, that have been spotted in the area although not yet at the site, to this habitat rich site. An otter holt is to be constructed on the Northern part of the site. A gravel path has also been added to the site in order to encourage visitors to remain on the path and thus prevent damage to the habitats at the site.


If driving it may be best to park at Redbridge Park and ride, then walk left along Abingdon Road, take the first left down Kennington Road. The entrance to Kennington Pools on is your left, opposite the entrance to Upper Road.

If heading clockwise on the Oxford ring-road, leave the Southern bypass (A4074) and head South when joining Kennington Road. If heading anti-clockwise around the ring-road, leave the Southern bypass (A4074) onto Abingdon road (towards the Redbridge park and ride). Then take the first right down Kennington Road. The site entrance is your left, opposite the entrance to Upper Road on the right.