Nature Reserves

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Burnt Mill Meadow, Old MarstonWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

'These are ancient meadows, with ridge and furrow showing arable on flat land above the wet bank until around 1640, after the Civil War. Then arable was abandoned, so they have been permanent pasture for the last 300 plus years and are diverse as a result.'
Sally Gillard, regular volunteer at the site

Management by volunteers (with permission from Oxford City Council, who own the land) became necessary because of a change in the grazing regime of the tenant farmer from light horse-grazing all year round to very infrequent sheep-grazing, which is insufficient for the flora. The bank cannot be mown for hay like the rest of the field, as it is a bit too steep and wet for machinery. Sheep are not that keen on grazing-down long rank vegetation, so neglect, and development of tall rank sward, would eventually have lost us these and other special flowers on this site.1

Burnt Mill meadow from Almonds Farm meadow - photo by Marilyn Cox

A list of some of the conservation tasks that have been carried out at the site previously can be seen here .

'Grazing is now too intermittent to provide the short turf it loves, so we scythe and rake twice a year. Lots of other good plants there including marsh valerian in spring and, even now, last devil's bit scabious flowers. Found 3 harvest mouse nests as well and water vole evidence!
Judith Webb, 2019, Twitter


Leave central Oxford heading north on the Banbury Road. At Summertown turn right on the B4495 (Marston Ferry Road). After approximately 1.5km turn left onto Oxford Road into Old Marston. Where Oxford Road bears sharp right into Elsfield Road, turn left onto Mill Lane (a cul-de-sac). The access lane to the Victoria Arms is on your left 200m further on down Mill Lane (drive past Cromwell House, where royalist forces negotiated the surrender of Oxford in 1646). Please do not park on the access lane to the pub, or in the pub car park. There is unrestricted parking on Mill Lane. Walk down the lane to the pub and turn right (i.e. north) on the public footpath that runs between the pub and the river Cherwell . Walk through a kissing gate and Burnt Mill Meadow is immediately in front of you.

1: Reserve page on Judith Webb's personal site, <>