Wychwood National Nature Reserve
Wychwood NNR is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural oak and ash broadleaved woodland in Oxfordshire. The reserve is predominantly oak and ash high forest, with an occasional understorey of hawthorn, hazel, field maple, spindle, dogwood, crab apple and guelder rose. Ash is abundant, along with some veteran oaks and beeches, yew, horse chestnut, beech, Turkey oak, Norway maple, and sycamore. Very little coppiced woodland remains and there are some small areas of calcareous grassland, restricted to the steep valley sides. The Wychwood NNR is notable for its plant life, and springtime ground flora includes primrose, ramson and early purple orchid and less common plants such as herb Paris, adder’s tongue fern and autumn crocus. The reserve also contains some calcium-rich marl lakes, which are abundant in insect life such as dragon and damselflies, newts, frogs and toads. Large herds of fallow deer roam the woodlands, and roe and muntjac deer are also frequently spotted.
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About The area
Located at the heart of England, Oxfordshire enjoys a rich heritage and surprisingly varied scenery. Its landscape encompasses open chalk downland and glorious beechwoods, picturesque rivers and attractive villages set in peaceful farmland. The countryside in the northwest of Oxfordshire seems isolated by comparison, more redolent of the north of England, with its broad views, undulating landscape and dry-stone walls. The sleepy backwaters of Abingdon, Wallingford, Wantage, Watlington and Witney reveal how Oxfordshire’s old towns evolved over the centuries, while Oxford’s imposing streets reflect the beauty and elegance of ‘that sweet city with her dreaming spires.’ Fans of the fictional sleuth Inspector Morse will recognise many Oxford landmarks described in the books and used in the television series.
The county demonstrates how the strong influence of humans has shaped this part of England over the centuries. The Romans built villas in the pretty river valleys that thread their way through Oxfordshire, the Saxons constructed royal palaces here, and the Normans left an impressive legacy of castles and churches. The philanthropic wool merchants made their mark too, and many of their fine buildings serve as a long-lasting testimony to what they did for the good of the local community.
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