Chimney Meadows, Bampton
"A place where you could spend a day in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wildlife."
- Matt Jackson, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust
Set in an ancient landscape, created by the Thames and shaped by centuries of farming, it is hard to believe that Chimney Meadows was intensely cultivated farmland little over a decade ago. Fields once planted with wheat and barley are now colourful, species-rich wild-flower meadows. Once heavily grazed pastures are now nationally-important wetlands and home to declining wading birds such as curlew, which breed here.
Header image (above) © Natural England/Peter Wakely
How to get there
From the A420 take right signposted Tadpole Bridge and Bampton, turn right just after Tadpole Bridge towards Chimney to reach the car park
Species to spot
Best time to see: April - May
Easy to spot with its yellow cup-shaped flowers nodding at the end of tall stems. The name cowslip allegedly derives from ‘cowslup' - an old term for cowpat - since where the cow 'slupped' this flower was often found.
Best time to see: All year
Curlew are very large, tall waders, about the same size as a female pheasant. The sound of the curlew's display call ('Cur-lee') is unmistakeable and can be heard from February through to July on its breeding grounds. Image (c) Damian Waters (www.drumimages.co.uk)
A small breed which often grows two pairs of horns. Their wool is coarse and black, fading to brown in sunlight and grey with age. Able to thrive in rough grazing conditions, they are good choice for controlling scrub. Image © Adam Somerville/CC BY-SA
Developed in the South West of Ireland, they are the smallest breed of cattle in the British Isles and produce excellent beef and milk. Dexters can be black, red or dun in colour, and can be horned or polled.
Image by the RBST