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Park Life

As spring flowers paint the city with a rainbow of colour, here are some great places to spot wildlife. This list was kindly compiled by Lita Doolan - you can also check out Lita's other reviews here.

South Park – Headington Hill

Enjoy an iconic landscape of the spires from the park's highest point. This view was famously painted by Turner as he entered the city. Across the road is Headington Hill Park with its arboretum.

C.S. Lewis Community Nature Reserve – Lewis Close

Find a bench to enjoy a sense of peace within this woodland. Smell the bluebells, listen for woodpeckers and watch waterfowl in the pond. It is said to have been an inspiration for Narnia. The land belonged to C.S. Lewis; his old house is nearby.

Florence Park – Rymers Lane

Tranquil tree-lined paths offer relaxing walks and a bandstand gives a nostalgic nod to childhood here. Follow the stream that runs through this traditional family park and spot pollinators making a beeline for the planted wildflowers.

Port Meadow – enter via Walton Well Road

The wildflowers growing on this ancient site include buttercups, white clover and thistles. Home to the native Port Meadow ponies, this is where Iron Age settlers grazed their livestock.

Lye Valley Nature Reserve – East of the Churchill Hospital

Keep an eye out for soldier flies, glow worms and several rare plants (that are on the England Red List) living in this ancient habitat.

Bury Knowle – London Road, Headington

The areas of this park that are undergoing re-wilding offer a comfortable tree trunk to sit on to enjoy a moment of quiet. Within this landscaped park, wooden sculptures inspired by characters from childhood stories are waiting to be stumbled upon.

Rock Edge Local Nature Reserve - south-east end of Windmill Road, Headington

A layer of Upper Jurassic limestone juts out of this compact nature reserve. The pit is thought to have been a former boundary between a coral reef and the surrounding shallow sea.

University Parks – Parks Road

The Parks are bound by River Cherwell to the East and contain gardens of scientific interest. Look out for golden oats, wisteria and lilac here and a selection of oak and pine trees. In the open spaces, games of rugby, cricket, lacrosse and quidditch are played.

With more grassland than you can shake a stick at, there is a perfect haven of stillness close at hand to offer a colourful view of nature this spring.

It's also worth remembering that some of Oxfordshire's gardens and reserves remain open. Wander amongst the trees down at Harcourt Arboretum or buy tickets online to visit Cogges Farm's 15 acres of open space, which includes outdoor play, an orchard, a walled garden, fields and the farmyard itself. Otmoor RSPB Reserve, a haven for birds and other wildlife on the floodplain at Beckley, is also open to visitors wanting some peace in the great outdoors.

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