One of the greatest medieval castles in England
Amidst this rural landscape, watched over by the circling red kites, it’s hard to imagine that you are standing in one of the greatest medieval castles in England. William the Conqueror and his army crossed the Thames at Wallingford in 1066 and ordered the building of the castle. Today, the remains of the castle’s massive earthworks are still capable of evoking an extraordinary sense of history.
Earth Trust manages Wallingford Castle Meadows on behalf of South Oxfordshire District Council and there is a dedicated team of volunteers who work hard to maintain the site. Wallingford Castle Meadows has been awarded a Green Flag for nine consecutive years and has achieved Green Heritage Site accreditation for the last three years.
A wildlife haven in the centre of Wallingford
As well as its fascinating history, Castle Meadows today is home to some incredibly important wildlife habitats. Deadwood piles provide habitats for a range of invertebrates, which in turn, provide food for woodpeckers and five species of bat. The meadows are also home to the rare small blue butterfly, the little owl and much more.
Snowdrops and bluebells
During your visit to the meadows make sure you wander across to the small pond which, in the 1800s, was the site of a Victorian grotto. During February the beautiful display of snowdrops heralds the first early signs of spring, and return to the same spot in May, when bluebells form a magnificent carpet of blue around the pond. There is also an expanding clump of snake's head fritillary, one of the UK's rarest native meadow flowers occurring in ancient flower-rich floodplain meadows. Look out for the purple haze of it's flowers between mid and late April.
Castle Meadows includes two floodplain meadows, a rare and threatened habitat in the Thames Valley. These meadows have lost a lot of their species richness due to agricultural 'improvement'. We are hoping that by reverting to traditional hay meadow management we can encourage some of the typical plants, insects, and birds to return.
Earth Trust is encouraging water voles to make a home at Wallingford Castle Meadows, where conditions are ideal. Water voles are under threat nationally and need our help. Find out more about supporting our wetland wildlife work, and if you need some clues about telling the difference between water voles and rats, check out this informative video.
Take a walk on the wild side
Download a self guided walk (part of a leaflet from SODC) which will guide you around the meadows visiting the important historical and wildlife highlights. A footpath links Wallingford Castle Meadows with the Thames Path allowing walks along the river to both Wallingford and Benson.
Wallingford Castle Meadows also has several accessible walks, allowing people with disabilities to enjoy the site. The SODC accessible walks leaflet can be used in conjunction with the information on the self-guided walk leaflet available above. The total length of the guided walk is around 1.5km or 1 mile and should take on average around 30 minutes. Wallingford Castle Meadows Accessible Walks
Visit the South Oxfordshire District Council website for more information about accessibility.
How to get to Wallingford Castle Meadows
Park in Wallingford town centre car parks or Cemetery Lane, OX10 8LG.
Please note access through Castle Gardens gate is limited. The gate is open:
- April to September: 10am-4pm (weekdays) and 10am-5.30pm (weekends)
- October to March: 10am-3pm
Site Management Plan
If you are interested in reading more about Wallingford Castle Meadows, you can download the full Site Management Plan and the Executive Summary of the Site Management Plan for 2012 - 2017. This plan was prepared by Earth Trust on behalf of South Oxfordshire District Council.
You can also download the Appendices here: Appendix 1 - Biological information; Appendix 2 - Strategies; Appendix 3 - Accessibility Information; Appendix 4 - Visitor Survey Results 2002-2015; Appendix 5 - Risk Assessment Form
For details of our latest events at Wallingford Castle Meadows please visit our What's On calendar.