Once inside Lye Valley Nature Reserve you’d never know you were surrounded by houses in Oxford. It has SSSI status due it’s 8000 year old rare habitat, home to rare fenland and plants and a wonderful spot to go for a little family walk.
The Lye Brook, from which Lye Valley took its name, was once the centre of a large boggy area known by various names including ‘Hogley Bog’ and ‘Bullingdon Bog.
Lye Valley Boardwalk
The boardwalk that runs through was loved by my kids. There’s something very appealing about seeing where it will lead to on a mini adventure. It’s not very long so ideal if you have a toddler but you can extend the walk beyond the boardwalk and into the woods.
While the boardwalk itself would be suitable for a buggy or wheelchair, unfortunately the access from the road to the start of the boardwalk isn’t. There’s quite a muddy patch just before the boardwalk starts. However, if it’s been dry and you prepared to risk it or have some help then you could just about manage I think.
Lye Valley Frog Spawn
The transformation of tadpoles into froglets (tiny frogs) is really quite amazing. Frog spawn tends to appear around the end of February and into March.
Almost at the end of the Lye Valley Nature Reserve boardwalk there are two ponds on the right hand side. When we visited they were full of frog spawn, a little froglet nursery!
We kept very still and quiet (with a little difficulty) and heard the croak of frogs and even spotted one. It’s really important NOT to remove any frog spawn from here to protect this unique environment. Dogs are welcome a Lye Valley Nature Reserve but there are notes up reminding you not to let them off the lead, jumping into the pond.
Lye Valley Walk Oxford
You can carry on your walk after the boardwalk too on unpaved pathways through a wooded area.
There’s a little stream that runs along on the left and then you can cross over at a bridge. It’s easy to get down to the stream from the bridge and the water isn’t deep so this would make a lovely paddling spot in wellies or in the summer.
When we visited there was a fallen tree next to the bridge so of course that’s the way my kids had to cross! We ended up spending so much time here that we didn’t venture on any further from the bridge and stream.
Lye Valley Nature Reserve Parking & Directions
From central Headington proceed down Windmill Road on to the Slade, and turn right into the nature reserve soon after passing Girdlestone Road. There’s a little free sign pointing in. Doing down the path a short way and you’ll see the boardwalk on your left.
There are also footpaths from the Churchill Hospital, Peat Moors, and the street called Lye Valley.
There is no car park for Lye Valley Nature Reserve. Parking can be found on the surrounding residential streets e.g Girdlestone Road. Beware that parking restriction do apply so you’ll need to look out for the ones that allow you to park for 2 hours.
If you like the idea of a boardwalk nature walk in Oxfordshire, check out my review of the Hinkey Heights habitat trail
You can also find lots more family walks in Oxfordshire inspiration on the website.