The Oxford Festival of Nature is nearly upon us! Running for two weeks from 1st June, it will amaze, astound and fascinate families across the city. Organised by Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trusts, the highlight of the festival is the Wild Fair on the 2nd June at the Oxford Museum of Natural History; a day of wildlife activities, creature rafts and mini beasts awaits!
But you don’t have to hold out until then to get your little ones engaged in the outdoors – why not visit a nature reserve that you have never been to before and let them experience the wonder of nature for themselves? Here are some of our favourites…
A little known nature reserve once belonging to C.S Lewis and the inspiration for ‘Narnia’. This beautifully quiet spot has a pond, perfect for pond dipping and full of toads in the spring, as well as steeply rising woodland which adventurous little ones will love scrambling up. Download the Children’s Discovery Trail before you go and follow the map to complete the quest! Oh, and did we mention there is a fairy door trail there this half term? Magical!
It’s worth the 40 minute drive from Oxford to this stunning nature reserve in the Chiltern Hills near Henley-on-Thames, you can easily lose yourself here for a day as there is so much for the whole family. Pick up a backpack from the Interpretation Centre, full of activity and spotter sheets, and follow the Nature Detectives Trail through woods and glades, or track the badger waymarkers for the Wildlife Walk, only one mile so perfect for little people. Aside from all this family fun, the summer flowers at Warburg Nature Reserve are a delight for the eyes and attract the most wonderful rare butterflies. An absolute favourite of ours and a jewel in the crown for the Wildlife Trusts.
You may have ridden your bike through Bernwood Forest (if not then we recommend!) without straying into the meadows, but this is not to be missed in the summer months when the wildflowers are in full bloom and butterflies are aplenty. The Forestry Commission’s Butterfly Trail runs past the end of the reserve, pick it up and follow the two mile route through woodlands and fields. Why not print off a Nature Detectives Butterfly spotter sheet before you go and see how many you can tick off!
Small, yet perfectly formed. Previously described as one of the richest habitats in middle England, this gem of a nature reserve is only 3.5 miles out of Oxford and supports a hugely diverse array of wildlife. Lizards can be spotted lounging on log piles and grass snakes are sometimes spied slithering through the green (EEEEK!) The ¾ mile wildlife walk is the ideal opportunity for little ones to explore under logs and collect leaf treasures or pick a summer posy of wonderful wildflowers.
We stumbled across this nature reserve on their Springwatch open day and were astounded to discover this patch of wilderness in suburban North Oxford just off the canal, it felt like a secret and tranquil sanctuary. We wandered up the boardwalk and spent an exciting afternoon pond dipping, exploring and playing games – lots of hide and seek opportunities amongst the trees. The newest addition to the site is a swan and her cygnets, if you are very lucky you just might spot them.
Check out Oxford Mumbler’s Gardens and Natural Beauty Spots page here for more outdoorsy ideas!
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