Like many of the best nature reserves in the modern landscape, Dean Common is an exhausted quarry. After sand extraction ended at the site, the quarry was partially restored in some areas with appropriate scrub and tree planting and left to rewild through natural succession in others. The low nutrient subsoil left behind in disused quarries results in interesting and specialist plants and invertebrates, particularly in the early stages of colonisation and successional change.
Today, nearly 25 years on, the nature reserve is a remote gem with a rich and maturing mosaic of habitats including young woodland, dense scrub, open grassland and a series of seasonal and permanent ponds.
Tucked down Grove Lane near Spelsbury, Dean Common is best approached on foot as part of the Wychwood Way. There is no parking or bike parking at the site.