We visited Shotover country park, Oxford yesterday for a nice family walk but I was so pleasantly surprised to see the bluebells lining the hills in full bloom. I will be honest; This has not really been my “go-to-place” for Bluebells as I prefer Badbury Hills or Stoke Woods but Shotover has gone on the list for sure!
If this is your first visit, then stick to the well marked paths. There are three way marked trails to guide you through the park. They all start in Mary Sadler’s Field just opposite the car park. You can find the Map HERE
Now, the country park does not have “play equipment” but it has something better; “a beach” with small gullies of muddy stream and semi sandy pits around it. It is not huge by any means, in fact, if you don’t know about it, you may just pass by it without giving it much attention, but if you are reading this blog, you SHOULD NOT!
The weather was glorious; Children were playing around the sandpit while adults were having a music party on the plain of the hill right by the “beach”. It was a dry day (and there has been no rain in the past week), so there was the right balance of mud and sand to play, though the sand was actually blowing around with wind or when the kids decided to create a sand storm and started throwing it on each other. Ay spent a good one hour digging there, trying to build a dam and then create a tunnel across one of the sand pits, until he started becoming friends with the other children and they randomly decided to play tag!
Tips – DO NOT GO IN YOUR FINEST CLOTHES! Take your wellies, some spades (for digging in the stream and sand pit, though Ay was happy using his hands), may be a kite on a good day, a picnic basket, and you will have an amazing time! I can totally see the mud/ stream getting totally dry in very hot spells, or the area getting really muddy in rain, so choose your visit carefully!
There are some hills to climb up and down on almost all of the trails. As you walk down and enjoy the woodland, you can also hear the beautiful natural symphony of birdsongs. I believe their summer visitors (Black Cap, Garden and Willow Warbler) join the resident choristers; Blackbird, Wren and Song Thrush. There are dens to explore and lots and lots of tree trunks. to climb. There is also a rope swing tied up in one of the trees to and another one higher up, with some sort of obstacle course around it (basically a few ropes hanging down from huge trees). You can also find hidden treasures around the park, using Geocaching, if you are into it! They do pony rides up there at weekends and school holidays via Pony Pursuits.
CS Lewis nature reserve is quite close and soon the frogs will be out in full glory! You can potentially walk from one to another but I would suggest driving if you have younger legs. Bury Knowles park is not too far away either
All in all, a fantastic FREE day out!
In spring and summer Shotover’s woods are carpeted with wild flowers. Celandines and Wood Anemones are first, then Bluebells. As spring turns to summer Common Spotted Orchids and later Bettony and Saw Wort bloom along woodland rides where White Admiral butterflies soar. In Summer the meadows at the bottom of Shotover are rich with the Knapweed, Oxyeye Daisy and other wild flowers.Visit them before they are cut in July.