September 1, 2019
A tour of this 8 thousand year old, internationally rare, alkaline spring fen, which supports 20 species of rare plant, 27 scarce invertebrates as well as thriving populations of reptiles and amphibians.
Assemble inside the entrance to Lye Valley off the Slade, Headington, Oxford. This entrance is along the pavement just south of junction of Slade with Girdlestone Road – a gap between the houses and is indicated by a green footpath sign. Map ref SP54918 06069. There is no parking in the entrance, but on a Sunday there is parking available on Dene Rd or Bulan road, a short walk away. By bus take a 4, 4A, 4B, 4C or U5 to Peat Moors or a 10 to Wood Farm. Stout walking shoes recommended, but if you want to actually see the rare fen flowers, wellies are essential as they are in the wettest areas. There is a boardwalk through most of the North Fen SSSI area and we will go on down the valley on the footpath through hospital trust land to the confluence of the Lye and Boundary brooks, then up the Boundary brook on the western side of the Churchill hospital (some of this footpath can be a bit boggy if weather wet). Then we will cut through the hospital on the south side back through the Churchill field, perhaps to see contrasting dryland meadow flora. Then we will return up the valley on the boardwalk to the Slade entrance. Bring water if weather very hot.