PICTURESQUE Ditchley Park estate once again proved the perfect backdrop for a celebration of nature.

Wychwood Forest Fair returned to the estate’s Lodge Farm for the first time since 2015 and, just like three years ago, the sun was shining throughout the day.

Some 3,500 visitors poured into the park grounds near Charlbury for Sunday’s fair organised by charity The Wychwood Project to promote the diversity and richness of the natural world.

Demonstrations of rural craft and old-fashioned Rowan working horses were dotted around the environmentally-friendly event alongside more common features including a pig roast, town band and fun fair.

However crowds seemed most excited by the furry friends on show, with ferret racing and a dog show proving particularly popular.

Families and young children were especially drawn to the animals on show, which marked a change in demographic compared to previous years.

Project director Sharon Williams said: “A lot of people said to us that there were many more families and youngsters than normal, which is very encouraging.

“We want young people interested in the project so this was really heartening to see.

“They would have all had a great time connecting with nature and the environment and hopefully they will go and tell people about what they did.”

The forest fair aims to showcase the working and leisure activities of people living within the bounds of the old royal hunting forest of Wychwood.

However those after a more traditional country fair were not disappointed, with tea and cake stalls and a beer tent ensuring visitors left with full stomachs.

An army of up to 80 volunteers worked from April to organise the charity’s biggest event of the year and Ms Williams paid tribute to all those who helped out.

She said: “We’re hugely grateful for their support and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

All proceeds went to a good cause, with the money raised supporting the Wychwood Project’s wildlife and landscape conservation work across 120 square miles and 41 parishes, mostly in West Oxfordshire.

The charity aims to encourage residents in the district to understand, conserve and restore its ‘rich mosaic’ of landscapes and wildlife habitats.