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CS Lewis Nature Reserve

Home > Oxford > Escape the City | Nature | Walks
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published November 24th 2016
Up on the outskirts of Oxford is a small nature reserve maintained by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. It may sound unassuming, but they acquired it from the estate of CS Lewis, who bought the land to develop the reserve. So the natural beauty of the place has been preserved, with the addded magic of it being part of CS Lewis' heritage, a window into Narnia.

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Ducks on the main pond

There are some maps to help you learn about the reserve and orientate yourselves.

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Map of the reserve

The first area you come across is a big pond. Surrounded by trees, and dug from clay, it is rich in all kinds of wildlife. Toads, birds, plants, trees... it's all here.

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Across the pond

On one side is a stone bench built into the land. It is a beautiful place to sit and watch the world go by in its own right. Imagining CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien meeting here to discuss their latest creations makes it even more atmospheric.

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Stone bench

The BBOWT now look after this reserve, allowing it to be kept open to the public and cared for. They are always looking for volunteers to help if you are in the area for longer than a brief visit. It is also used for school study trips including pond-dipping experiences. Elements of this use can be seen across the reserve including, for example, bird boxes on trees. It's a great place to watch nature.

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Bird box - great for bird watching

Paths wind their way around the reserve and you can just wander. If you want to follow a proper trail, however, or are just feeling a bit unsure about which way to go, then there are signposts around the reserve. There is a children's discovery trail available on the BBOWT website

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Walking route directions

Views around the reserve are gorgeous. Risinghurst is already above Oxford, and the small hill in the reserve gives you occasional peaks across the local countryside. Within the reserve there are great views too, be it across the wood or reflected in the pond. In the spring there are banks of bluebells, in autumn, carpets of copper leaves. Every season is lovely here.

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Reflections in the pond

There is a second pond, again surrounded by trees, but much smaller. You will find this part of the way up the hill. Lewis supposedly wandered around the reserve while writing The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and for all Narnia fans a walk in the reserve is a great chance to enter into the atmosphere of his word.

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The second pond

The reserve was part of Lewis' estate, by his house, The Kilns. The Kilns is still inhabited, running as a scholarly centre as well as a place to visit. They run house tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but these need booking well in advance. If you are having a full day out rather than just a walk, it's a great chance to get an insight into Lewis' life, with his library, bedroom and sitting room preserved for visitors to see.

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The Kilns

The entrance is not marked, but is at the end of Lewis Close. Look out for the new house called Narnia on your right as you head in.

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The entrance - a little hidden

The hill in the reserve and its basic parks mean that it is not easy to navigate with prams. There are routes round which you can manage, as long as you don't mind lifting them up steps sometimes. Wheelchair users would not be able to get around. Parking is on the street outside the reserve, but there is not much space available. A brief circuit of the reserve takes 30-40 minutes, but you could easily spend several hours here.
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Why? An inspiration for Narnia, and a lovely walk today
When: Always open
Where: Lewis Close, Oxford
Cost: Free
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sounds idyllic
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|6075) 1880 days ago
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