wolvercote lakes


Upper and Lower Wolvercote lie at the northern edge of Oxford, within the ring road. The predominant feature which gives the area its character is the ancient Port Meadow which lies between the villages and Oxford providing it with an open, ancient and rural feel. OPT own and care for 25 acres here – meadows, moorings, community orchard, allotments and, since 2013, the popular Wolvercote Lakes.


Wolvercote Lakes 

In 2009 Mr Viv Kirk bequeathed the lakes, which had been in his family for two generations, to OPT. In the past, a house on stilts had stood on the site which, at times of flooding, could only be reached by punt. Until his last days, Mr Kirk could be seen walking across Port Meadow from his house in Jericho to the place where he most felt at home, with the trees, birds, his beloved traction engines and his fishing.

For years the site was protected by high fencing, to safeguard Mr Kirk’s machinery. This made the lakes invisible from the road so that many people were unaware of their existence.

OPT has transformed the area into a nature reserve, with support from Grantscape and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. It is now open daily for everyone to enjoy. In 2015 the lakes received a national award for the work from the Canal and River Trust.

Wolvercote Lakes is open to the public.

Community Orchard and Allotments

In 1934, OPT purchased this land with the support of Philip Leslie Agnew, the publisher of Punch, in memory of his son, Ewan Agnew. Part was turned into allotments, still used today, and 60 years later the remaining area became a Community Orchard. The orchard was planted by the Wolvercote Tree Group, and today many rare and unusual apples, pears and quinces flourish, many of them local varieties. OPT charge an annual rent of a basket of apples, given at the annual Apple Day at harvest time.

Read more about the Community Orchard and Apple Day here: wolvercotetreegroup.org/community-orchard/

apple day

Wolvercote Meadows                                                           

Within the ring road in Lower Wolvercote lie ancient hay meadows owned by OPT since the 1930s. Two of the fields are part of Pixey Mead, an ancient common. Managed traditionally since the 10th century, its diverse flora means that Pixey Mead has been designated for its botanical importance at both a national and European level.

There is a fascinating history to the management of the Mead, under which owners share the right to the hay crop and grazing on the land. The exact plots of land from which the hay could be taken were decided annually through the drawing of numbered balls to link an owner to the land to be cut. Grazing was unrestricted over the whole common.

In 2002, additional land including moorings on the Thames, were purchased from the De La Mare family to further protect Oxford’s green setting.

Various historic artefacts have been found here including Romano-British coins, pottery, buckles, earrings and a stud; medieval and post-medieval iron objects and a paved linear feature.

Wolvercote Meadows are grazed by cattle, and there is no public access.