I love the BBOWT nature reserves around Oxfordshire and Sydlings Copse, just a few miles north east of Oxford is a lovely spot to go for a family walk.
Free to go and open all year around, you reach Sydlings Copse Nature reserve by first walking down a wide bridleway.
I’d told my kids it was a perfect place to go bird watching in Oxfordshire but my youngest started by refusing to walk as it looked too far. The ground of the bridleway is all sandy and my eldest had the ingenious idea of drawing a line with a stick to be followed. It’s only 600m and we pretty much ran down it.
Follow the bridleway down past two small woodlands on your right hand side then take a right and you’ll see the sign for Sydlings Copse. You pass through a kissing gate and you’re immediately into the copse of trees.
The path splits left and right and you can select either one to go on a 3/4 mile wildlife walk loop. The ground starts as hard packed mud which you could get an off road buggy over on a dry day if you just want to hang about in the woodland, however if you’re going on the walk, there are a number of gates, steps and narrower patches so it’s really an on foot walk or with a baby carrier. Dogs are welcome too but they must be on the lead.
There are two great bird watching spots if you have a head for heights. My boys were up the ladder to the bird hide in a flash and we ended up staying here for ages.
We took the path to the left as you arrive and checked out the wildlife walk which is great for kids as there’s a variety of terrain. After the woods, the nature reserve opens up to a grassy area before slipping back into the trees.
Covering 22 acres, the wildlife walk at Sydlings Copse takes in ancient broadleaved woodland, limestone grasslands, reedbed, fen, a stream and rare Oxfordshire heathland, The Oxfordshire nature reserve supports a staggering 400 plant species.
Just follow the circular badger signs for the walk and keep a look out for birds and insects. We also spotted a fantastic den in the woods about half way around the walk which was a good stopping point to explore.
After some fun playing in the stick den, we counted the steps down the path to a little bridge over a stream. I think this would be a lovely little spot to paddle in with wellies or a little paddle in the summer as it’s shallow and easy to access.
I always enjoy a walk that has such variety to explore and even better when it’s a circular walk.
Sydlings Copse Getting There & Parking
From Headington roundabout, take Bayswater Road north through Barton; turn left on B4027; after 500 m park opposite Royal Oak Farm; take bridleway for 600 m, passing two small woods; the nature reserve is on right 100 m from bridleway.
There is no car park for Sydlings Copse and there are signs up outside the Royal Oak Farm not to park on their driveway. We managed to park on the grass verge close to the gate that you pass through to get to the bridleway.
Find more great walks with kids in Oxfordshire in the handy Red Kite Days guide.