Farthinghoe Nature Reserve is 4 miles west of Brackley and is maintained by Brackley & District Wildlife Group. The site, covering about four hectares, was once part of a railway between Brackley and Banbury and now consists of a patchwork of woodland, meadows and glades managed to achieve a diversity of habitats for wildlife.
Regular working parties cut the meadows to encourage meadow flowers, manage the woodland to encourage flora and areas of older scrub are cut back to promote ground level growth. The many benches and steps are maintained and the pond area has been developed to encourage aquatic life. Recent projects have seen areas of Blackthorn cleared-allowing the ‘dead’ land underneath to burst back into life having been starved of sunlight. These new vibrant areas will be a haven for butterflies and nesting birds.
The pond area was enlarged in 2012 for two reasons. One was to clear the choked up existing pond and by making it larger allow for different wet areas encouraging growth of both reed beds and pond life, cleaning the water, (a lot of which comes from the main road) before flowing into the Purston Stream. The second reason was to stop flooding of the lower part of the reserve during heavy rainfall. Building an earth bund has worked well and lowering one bank of the original stream creating a ‘flood plain’ filled with willow has created a very pleasing area. Not just for human visitors but also moorhen and kingfisher which have both been seen visiting the new pond.
Over 100 species of bird and over 350 moth species have been recorded and there are Roe Deer, Muntjac, Badgers and Foxes along with grass snakes and thousands of insects.
In summer the air is filled with warblers including blackcap, garden warbler, willow warbler and chiffchaff. Coal tit, marsh tit and long tailed tit are resident and are joined in winter by siskin, redwing, finches and buntings. Great spotted and green woodpeckers can be seen and sparrowhawk and buzzard are often seen overhead.
Many flowers found here are unique to the area, fragrant agrimony is found in only a few locations in the county, it’s likely that species such as yellow loosestrife, bluebells, snowdrops and fritillary originated from the station masters garden and orchard which was once located along the eastern edge of the reserve, close to Stock Meadow (so called as this is where livestock were held prior to being loaded on the train and taken to Banbury Market).
In spring, sweet violets, primroses and cowslips are in bloom everywhere and ragged robin can be found on the damp meadow with sneezewort, trefoils and vetches. In summer the meadows are coloured with knapweed, ox-eye daisy and St-John’s wort.
The wildlife groups fundraising has meant they have purchased both a moth trap and bat detector. The moth trap accounting for the increase in recorded moths and the bat detector confirming the presence of both pipistrelle and long-eared bats-especially in the old cutting.
*Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a lead. The reserve is to protect wildlife. Please remember poo bags and take home any mess your dog may make. We manage the reserve and dont enjoy ‘finding’ mess on our shoes or tools.
The reserve is four and a half miles west of Brackley on the A422 to Banbury. Midway between Farthinghoe and Middleton Cheney, close to the recycling centre, take the Purston Lane turning and park on the railway bridge where there is a kissing gate. OS grid reference SP518403