Nature Reserves

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Cutteslowe Meadow is a complex of ponds on the floodplain of the River Cherwell, next to the Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park. The site is owned by Oxford City Council, and is home to several rare and important wetland plant species. One of the rare plant species, called Greater Water-parsnip, has been planted out in a pond at Cutteslowe as part of an ex-situ conservation programme, jointly run by Oxford Botanic Garden and Freshwater Habitats Trust, with help from local expert Judy Webb. A total of 10 plants were translocated from the botanic gardens in 2019, and are doing very well. Freshwater Habitats Trust dug the original ponds at Cutteslowe Meadow in 2003, work which was funded by Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment (TOE). The site does not have public access.

Flora and Fauna

Tubular Water-dropwort, another rare wetland plant that is protected as a Priority Species in England and Wales, colonised the site naturally. In addition to the rare wetland plants, the ponds at Cutteslowe Meadow support Common Toad, a UK BAP species that is undergoing significant declines. Grass Snakes use the site and various dragonfly species breed in the ponds. In unmanaged areas of the floodplain, rank vegetation provides shelter for small mammals, birds and invertebrates.

Conservation Management

The ponds at Cutteslowe have to be managed to prevent tall, rank vegetation from taking over. Some of the rare plant species require sparsely-vegetated, muddy pond-edge habitat, and management is required to maintain this. Regular management work at Cutteslowe Meadow includes cutting and raking reed and tall vegetation, digging up willow saplings and mowing pond vegetation. This helps to keep the sward level short in the ponds, allowing the rare plant species to flourish. Oxford City Council undertake a lot of management on site, with additional work currently taking place as part of Freshwater Habitats Trust's 'Saving Oxford's Wetland Wildlife' project.


Leave Oxford on the Banbury Road (A41625) and drive to the Cutteslowe Roundabout. Turn right onto the A40 (heading east). Take the second turning on your left (the entrance to one of the Cutteslowe Park car parks, note that you'll have to pay to use the car park) and then immediately turn right onto a track closed by a locked metal field-gate. Continue along the track, under the pedestrian footbridge, to the end of the track. The meadows are in front of you.