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Wallingford Castle Meadows

One of the greatest medieval castles in England

Wallingford Castle Meadows

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. In 2017, Wallingford Castle Meadows was awarded its tenth consecutive Green Flag, and Green Heritage Site accreditation for the fourth year in a row.

A wildlife haven in the centre of Wallingford

Bug hotel at Wallingford Castle Meadows

As well as its fascinating history, Castle Meadows today is home to some incredibly important wildlife habitats. Deadwood piles provide homes and food for a range of invertebrates, which in turn, are a foodsource for woodpeckers, other birds and five species of bat. The meadows are also home to numerous wildflowers and plants, the rare small blue butterfly, the little owl and much more. 

In May 2017 some local Cub groups constructed this fantastic bug hotel, which will provide even more places to shelter for invertebrates, and possibly hedgehogs and amphibians too.

Snowdrops and bluebells

Snake's head fritillary at Wallingford Castle Meadows

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 its flowers between mid and late April.

Rare habitats

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. 

Threatened species

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; 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


Further information

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

Events

For details of our latest events at Wallingford Castle Meadows please visit our What's On calendar.

Wallingford

For further information about Wallingford and its history please see the Wallingford Town Council website.