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Lye Valley News

An alkaline fen ecosystem restoration project

M/Sc. dissertation by Brookes student Adam Bows on fen restoration in the Lye Valley (and in Chilswell Valley and Raleigh Park) is available here as a PDF

Estimating the Carbon Stock in the Lye Valley’s peat fen

M.Sc. dissertation by Brookes student Darcey Haldar, together with an estimate by Judy Webb of the carbon in the North Fen based on this data, is available here as a PDF

Biodiversity in Oxford City

A paper written by Dr Judy Webb in March 2022

Land west of 75 Town Furze

The Friends of Lye Valley are objecting to a third planning application for a development on this land:
full details here

Chairman's report for 2020–2021

Available here in PDF format

The importance of Lye Valley

Document produced by the Friends of Lye Valley describing the importance of the valley and the need for special measures (including Supplementary Planning Guidance) to protect its internationally important wetland habitats and associated species and its ecosystem and other functions:


Judy Webb explains here why you should keep your dog out of the ponds in the Lye Valley:

Need to preserve peatlands

Letter from Judy Webb published in the Oxford Times of 25 February 2021 about the need to preserve peatlands such as the Lye Valley within Oxford City;
Carbon and peat letter Oxford Times 25 Feb 2021

Many congratulations to Dr Judy Webb, Chair of Friends of Lye Valley, who was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2021 New Year Honours for ‘Services to Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats in Oxfordshire’.
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Lye Valley Slideshow

Flowers and insects in the Lye Valley


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Chairman's Report on 2019–2020

Judy Webb's report on the work done in the Lye Valley in 2019/20, plus future plans and recent news

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Woman's Hour Power List: Our Planet

Huge congratulations to our Chair and inspirational ecologist, Dr Judy Webb, on her inclusion as No. 25 on the Radio 4
Woman’s Hour Power List 2020

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Sustainability strategy for Lye Valley

This letter from Judy Webb, published in the Oxford Mail of 4 November 2020, expresses concern that there is no Sustainability strategy for the Lye Valley between now and April 2021:

Oxford Mail 4 November 2020

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Midweek work sessions

These sessions for members of the Friends of Lye Valley group
are on Wednesdays 9–11am
All tools supplied. Outdoor clothing and sturdy boots needed

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Ponds at the head of the valley

The interception poinds that collect the run-off from Headington's roads after rain have become silted up, and they are being cleared in October 2020

Work on the Interception Ponds (PDF)

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Oxford Mail, 31 July 2020: “Activist calls for Headington's
Lye Valley to be protected from concrete

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Video: The Lye Valley SSSI (North):
Under threat by an Oxford City Council development

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Letter in Oxford Mail of 18 August 2020

Letter from Jonathan Saunders

Lye Valley free online jigsaws


Why not have a go at online jigsaw depicting the Lye Valley and its flora and fauna (warning: very addictive)? Below are easy ones with 42 pieces and harder ones up to 169 pieces.

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Proposed development at 2 Dynham Place

Excavations for the proposed development of two three-bedroomed houses at 2 Dynham Place will cause irreperable damage to the fragile water supply to the Lye Valley fen

Letter from Dr Judy Webb published in the Oxford Times on 26 March 2020

Letter re 2 Dynham Place

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Judy Webb and Heather Armitage speak about the Lye Valley

The Lye Valley was promoted by Oxford City Council during Oxford Volunteer Week in June 2019

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Lye Valley article in 'Limited Edition'

The Lye Valley stars in this Oxford Times ‘Limited Edition’ article by Wendy Tobitt of BBOWT in June 2018.

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Appeal dismissed

The appeal against a second planning application (refused on 12 December 2017) to build four houses on land west of 75 Town Furze (which is directly above the Lye Valley South Fen) was dismissed on 21 December 2018:

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Local Plan Preferred Options Document

The Friends of Lye Valley response can be seen here

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Lye Valley granted new protective status

The Lye Valley's extraordinary hydrological and geomorphological features – its “Living Geology” – has been recognised by its new protective designation as Local Geology Site by the Oxfordshire Geology Trust:

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Local Geology site proposal for Lye Valley

Oxfordshire Geology Trust have proposed the Lye Valley be designated a Local Geology Site in recognition of its extraordinary qualities: see application

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Open Day held on 25 June 2017

Information and photographs on website of Judy Webb

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Vision for the Lye Valley

The FOLV's Vision is to conserve and/or restore the whole of the Lye Valley as a natural continuous green area of land with a mosaic of different wet and dry habitats

See separate page

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Development of Warren Meadow

The development at Warren Meadow is to go ahead:
see separate page

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Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)

Join the Wild Oxford Project in Lye Valley
Outdoor clothing and sturdy boots needed.
Please contact Andy Gunn on andygunn@bbowt.org.uk
or 01865 775476 Ext. 237 or 07834 975162 for details of location.

All sessions run from 10am–3pm but feel free to come and go as you like on the day. Tasks to suit everyone.

Hot drinks and cake/biscuits are provided at all sessions, but please bring lunch if you plan to stay all day.

  • Future sessions to be announced
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Oxford Times 1 September 2016

Left: Article from Oxford Times of 1 September 2016 about green spaces in Headington and the Local Plan



The Grass of Parnassus

The fragile and rare Grass of Parnassus, first named by Matthias de L’Obel in 1570 when he found it growing in Hogley Bog (i.e. the Lye Valley), flowered again at the end of August 2014, hidden amid squelchy pools cloudy with tufa. 

Dr Judy Webb has captured the stages of the buds’ unfolding in a series of pictures, from the male stage with anthers folded over stigma and the false nectary staminodes clear, through anthers bending out and opening one at a time stage, to the female stage where the anthers are gone, the ovary turns pink, and the stigmas are now uncovered and receptive to pollen on top of the ovary. Then follows the new seed pod. Characteristically one heart-shaped leaf encircles the stem

It was first noted in this wetland in 1640, but has probably been here since the last Ice Age. The Lye Valley is the most southerly place that the grass is found in England.

Oxford Mail, 30 August 2014:
Ice Age flower is still quite at home in balmy Headington

Grass of Parnassus thumbnail

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“Flowers ’n’ Bees” stroll round Rock Edge on 17 July 2016

Passing round insects 17 July 2016 Dr Judy Webb showed us some of the varieties of bee attracted by the wild flower meadow, and a parasitic wasp

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Judy Webb's tour of the Lye Valley 6 July 2016: Oxford Mail report
Walk, July 2016

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Did You Know?

Proportionately there are more rare plants in the Lye Valley than in any other city site – at 20 species this is a third of the 61 species on the County Rare Plants Register found within all the nature sites in and around Oxford that are managed by Oxford City Council.

See our Chair, Dr Judy Webb’s, detailed report on the state of the Lye Valley for the Wild Oxford Project. It’s the ONLY fen (alkaline bog) to show such fast return to its former glory in Oxfordshire.  Formerly there were 10 really good alkaline fens.  Of these, 8 are being lost to natural succession to wet woodland through lack of management. Only Cothill fen and the Lye Valley fen are actually improving, due to having management. The Lye Valley fen – thanks to its volunteers, Oxford City Council, BBOWT, Oxford Conservation Volunteers – and not forgetting the Friends of Lye Valley – is getting better and better!  But it still needs our help and protection.

Read all about it!

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Oxford City Council consultation on Draft Corporate Biodiversity Strategy 2015–2020
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Annual General Meetings

The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Lye Valley is usually held at St Francis Church Hall, Hollow Way in August, but no AGM was held in 2020 or 2021 because of the pandemic.

The agreed minutes of the AGMs held from 2013 to 2019 can be seen below

2013 AGM   •   2014 AGM   •   2015 AGM   •   2016 AGM   •  2017 AGM   •   2018 AGM   •   2019 AGM

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Friends of Lye Valley, 2013–2022