A Walk Around Oxford

We planned a day in Oxford and arrived into the city’s rail station mid morning.  Oxford is located mid-way between London and Birmingham both approximately 60 miles (96 km) away and with trains from London Paddington taking from only 52 minutes it makes an ideal day out from the capital.

Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle

It was a bright, pleasant morning and so pleasing to be able to be out and about once again.  We started our walk in the Oxford Castle Quarter, a ten minute walk away.  On leaving the station by its main entrance we walked up Hythe Bridge Street before making a right turn by Royal Oxford Hotel.  From there it was just a short stroll down Park End Street to reach Oxford Castle.

St. George's Tower, Oxford Castle
St. George’s Tower, Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle is a partly ruined Norman castle which suffered extensive damage during the English Civil War.  The site served as the Royal Castle from where the city and the upper reaches of the Thames Valley were administered for seven hundred years.  From the 18th century the remaining building became the city’s prison and following its closure in 1996 has since been re-developed into a hotel and visitor attraction.  We’d arrived a week before the museum was due to re-open but I’d like to take a tour on a future visit to the city to view the 18th century cells and climb to the top of St. George’s Tower for some panoramic views of the city.

Oxford Castle Quarter
Oxford Castle Quarter

Surrounding the castle are several bars and restaurants, all currently looking beautiful with an abundance of flowering wisteria covering their terraces.  After popping into one of the cafes there for our morning cappuccino’s we were ready to set off again, this time for a spot of shopping in the modern Westgate Centre located close by via a landscaped walk along Castle Mill Stream.

Westgate Shopping Centre, Oxford
Westgate Shopping Centre, Oxford

The shopping centre is named after the West Gate, a former gateway into the city centre during the 17th century and is home to over 100 high street brands.  We popped into John Lewis which is one of our favourite stores and also a branch of Uniqlo for a look around, before moving on.

Oxford Botanic Garden
Oxford Botanic Garden

Our next destination, The Oxford Botanic Garden was just ten minutes away and easily accessed via Queen and High Streets to its home on the aptly named Rose Lane (Standard admission £5.45).  Oxford became the first botanic garden in the UK in 1621 at the country’s oldest university.  The garden acts as a resource for research, education and conservation of future generations of botanists.

Ornamental Pond, Oxford Botanic Garden
Ornamental Pond, Oxford Botanic Garden

The garden is divided into various sections with the walled garden featuring a medicinal collection of species.  The geographic borders consist of collections covering the Mediterranean, South Africa, South America, New Zealand and Japan highlighting the diversity of these regions.

Alpine Rockeries at the Botanic Garden, Oxford
Alpine Rockeries in the Botanic Garden

The Lower Gardens border the River Cherwell and contain ornamental collections including the rock garden with its many Mediterranean plants.  Being a gin lover I was very interested to view the Gin Border in which plants commonly used in the production of the spirit are grown.

Glasshouses, Botanic Garden, Oxford
The Botanical Garden Glasshouses

Strolling through a stone archway we’d arrived at the seven glasshouses which despite being closed looked beautiful surrounded by flowering tulips.  We were able to peer through the windows to get a glimpse of the Water Lily House and the Tropical Jungle to tempt us back when they re-open.

View from Oxford Botanic Garden to Magdalen Bridge
View from Oxford Botanic Garden to Magdalen Bridge

This stretch of river adjoining the garden is a private footpath for garden visitors only and the views of the large number of punts surrounded by Spring flowers looked stunning.  It was just so sad to see them out of use, but hopefully not for much longer.

The Broad Walk, Christ Church Meadows, Oxford
The Broad Walk, Christ Church Meadows, Oxford

As we were leaving the garden dark clouds threatened and there was the occasional spot of rain, but not to be deterred we continued with our walk as planned.  It was just a five minute walk to Christ Church Meadows, a park formed when Cardinal Wolsey purchased a large amount of land to build Christ Church College in 1525.  We entered through a gate at the eastern end of the Meadow close to the garden.  The meadow still belongs to the college sitting on its north facing side. The meadow is enclosed by the rivers Cherwell and Thames, the latter being known as the Isis as it flows through the city.

Jubilee Bridge, Christ Church Meadows, Oxford
Jubilee Bridge, Christ Church Meadows, Oxford

As we wandered along the Broad Walk the skies became leaden and there was the occasional clap of thunder which soon turned into a torrential storm.  As there was nowhere suitable to take shelter we put up our hoods and plodded on.  The waterside paths are well maintained but large puddles soon formed and my shoes squelched with the downpour.  Thankfully the storm passed within 15 minutes and I was again able to get my camera out.  The college maintains a herd of Longhorn cattle which graze on the meadow for much of the year but were either elsewhere or taking shelter as we passed.

View from Christ Church Meadows, Oxford
View from Christ Church Meadows, Oxford

It had brightened up a little by the time we reached the Jubilee Bridge which links the Meadow with the college sports ground.  The bridge was installed in 2013 on the site of a former punt crossing.

Christ Church College, Oxford
Christ Church College, Oxford

After the bend in the river, splendid views of Christ Church came into view. Although noted for its famous college it is also home to Oxford’s Cathedral which has its own world famous choir.

War Memorial Garden, Christ Church College, Oxford
War Memorial Garden, Christ Church College, Oxford

We left the riverside by the main entrance to the college alongside the War Memorial Garden at St. Aldates.  This attractive small garden is a permanent memorial to the men and women who lost their lives in the Second World War and subsequent conflicts.

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

Continuing on our way and managing to dry out a little following the storm it was a ten minute level walk to Radcliffe Square, the home of the magnificent Radcliffe Camera.  The building was designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and was completed in 1749.  Camera is Latin for room and the Radcliffe Camera containing the Radcliffe Science Library was where we were heading next.

Courtyard of the Bodleian Library, Oxford
Courtyard of the Bodleian Library, Oxford

The Bodleian Old Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and is the main research library of the University of Oxford.  It contains over 13 million printed items and is the second largest library in Britain after the British Library.  Whilst it was not yet open to the public, it was still a thrill to be able to walk through its courtyards which are absolutely stunning with their architectural and academic details.

The Bodleian Library, Oxford
The Bodleian Library, Oxford

We had now arrived on Broad Street which is home to Trinity and Balliol Colleges.  Visiting the colleges is currently suspended but when they re-open, I recommend touring several of their buildings and beautifully manicured quads.

Broad Street, Oxford
Broad Street, Oxford

Our tour of the city then took us to the Oxford Covered Market, a  five minute walk taking us along to the market hall.  This historic market just off the High Street was established in 1774 and it was good to see traditional butchers, greengrocers and a wonderful cheese stall.

Oxford Covered Market
Oxford Covered Market

After stocking up on cheese, there was just one more place we wanted to go and that was for a short walk along the Oxford Canal which we accessed from Hythe Bridge, about ten minutes away on George Street.  Although Oxford is most famous for its colleges, it’s also the starting point for the Oxford Canal Heritage Trail and with the  weather  better than it had been all day, it seemed a good opportunity for a canal side walk.

The Oxford Canal Heritage Trail starting point
The Oxford Canal Heritage Trail starting point

Marking the start of the heritage trail is a circular monument commemorating the bi-centenary of the canal.  After reading the plaque we strolled along the towpath passing a row of houseboats on our way.  The towpath borders the castle mill stream to one side and the canal to the other.

Isis Lock, Oxford Canal
Isis Lock on the Oxford Canal

As we approached Isis Lock we noticed a boat about to pass through so we paused  to watch for a few minutes.  I think it must have been one of the smallest locks that I’ve ever come across as it was so narrow.  I discovered that the original Isis Lock was twice the width that it is today to enable wide barges laden with goods to pass through but in 1844 it was made smaller to only admit narrowboats.

Jericho on the Oxford Canal
Jericho on the Oxford Canal

We spent a few minutes chatting to the boaters who told us they had just picked up the boat the previous day but had soon got used to handling it.  Setting off again we passed the base of the boat hire company College Cruisers who have a fleet of boats named after Oxford Colleges.  We spotted Keble, Pembroke and Nuffield all brightly painted as we walked along.

Canal boat moored by Jericho Bridge, Oxford
Canal boat moored by Jericho Bridge, Oxford

Nearing Jericho, which was Oxford’s first planned suburb, we admired Victorian houses with pretty rear gardens leading down to the canal.  We would have loved to have continued as far as Wolvercote but were conscious of the time and needed to return to the station.

The footpath from the canal back to Oxford Station
The footpath from the canal back to Oxford Station

Just before the Isis Lock we followed a signpost to the station which cut a large corner off our walk, saving us quite a lot of time.

 

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A day in Abingdon, Oxfordshire

A walk along the Kennet & Avon canal in Newbury

 

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Oxford Walk Pinterest

 

79 thoughts on “A Walk Around Oxford

  1. Pingback: Day 2. Exploring Durham Cathedral and University – Love Travelling Blog

    1. Wonderful post! I dream of my stay in Oxford in 2019 when I took an adult education course there through the University of Virginia. What a magical place. While we stayed for a week at Trinity College, I arrived early and was able to stay at Christ Church College on a B&B basis because it was between terms. I stayed in the Meadows building that is shown at the top of your post! Don’t miss Evensong in Christ Church Cathedral and hearing the bells of Tom Tower toll each night just after 9 pm!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a beautiful area! I loved your pictures from all around Oxford and reading more on this wonderful place. I think that Lewis Carrol was studying at Christ Church when he wrote ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and some of the people he knew there were the inspirations for his characters…strange story to come from such a beautiful place. -Meg

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I only had a couple of hours in Oxford whilst doing a day tour around western UK from London. Oxford was the last stop of the tour, and it was already 16:00 and dark when we arrived (I went in the wintertime), so I didn’t get to see much of the town. Oxford looks really different in the daylight, and I hope to return for a longer period of time (and in the daytime!) to check it out. Thanks for posting your adventure there!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed this tour of such a historic and notable city. The Camera was an interesting construction. The Jubilee Bridge seemed so modern, a bit out of place. The profusion of flowers made for a great photo by the boats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What fun to take am Inspector Morse tour of Oxford. Even though I’ve only been there twice I feel I know the city quite well from watching Morse, Lewis and Endeavour! Thank you for your much appreciated thoughts Shane and thankfully just one more week for you to wait until your pubs re-open. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ThingsHelenLoves

    Oxford is such a timeless place. So much history but I think the student population keep the city feeling youthful, if that makes sense? Lovely images, perfect capture of the punts and the flowers blooming on the riverbank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oxford is definitely missing its students, bicycles and foreign tourists but just for once it was so nice to have the city almost to ourselves. Thanks for taking the time to comment and enjoy this sunshine whilst it lasts.

      Like

  6. Great post and amazing photos, Marion! 🙂 I am in love with Oxford and had no idea there’s so much to see and do. I would love to go on a walking tour of the downtown, browse for souvenirs at the Covered Market, go punting on the River Cherwell, take a tour of a medieval castle, stroll in a pretty garden, and enjoy a drink in a historical tavern. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oxford is lovely at all times of the year but especially so at the moment without its overseas tourists. It was good for us but not so for all the hospitality businesses, let’s hope they pull through and survive. Thanks for commenting Aiva. Best wishes, Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It is a lovely atmosphere and I cant understand why so many police TV shows use that area as their base of focus so because of all those scenes on TV I think it is as familiar to me now as my own retirement area. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi, Marion. I loved this post, as it showed me some of what I missed. I stayed at Balliol and so it was a great spot to explore the centre, but as I had only two and a bit days, I missed everything else. When I come back, that will be my first stop, for sure, exploring more of the area around Oxford. Loved the place and staying amongst the beautiful buildings of Balliol was like being in a fairytale.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Returning to Oxford will be something for you to look forward to when it’s possible to travel further afield again Coral. It really is a beautiful city and staying at Balliol must have been a unique experience. Hope things are going well for you. Marion.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the many places we have never been, but must now go Marion. It is always great to explore the castles, even if partly ruined. Glad you were prepared for the rain and carried on. We were out in a shower here a week ago and I realized that my “waterproof” coat was no longer waterproof, so remedied that problem before the next rain. Love the leafy towpath along the canal. Such a pleasant place to walk. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hopefully you’ll be able to fit in a visit to Oxford next time you are over in England Allan. It definitely lives up to its reputation as the city of dreaming spires. Have you watched Inspector Morse on television as it was filmed there? Hope your weekend is going well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is high on my list for next time. Have been to Cambridge so many times but never Oxford, an almost criminal imbalance. Looks like you had much better wether for this one. Loving all the architecture and the amount of greenery on offer throughout. The Radcliffe Camera is the pick of the bunch for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Radcliffe Camera is my favourite building in Oxford too Leighton and I’ll look forward to returning sometime when it’s back open to the public. It’s usually such a crowded city so it made a change to have the place mostly to ourselves and not having to dodge past tour groups, but on the other hand, very bad news for local businesses. Thanks for your continued interest in my posts. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post on Oxford. Next time I visit, we’ll hopefully be able to climb to the top of St. George’s Tower and admire the view like you. Hope you have a good weekend. Marion

      Like

  11. It’s a lovely city with so much to see and enjoy (and some great pubs too!). Sad to see it so quiet in your pictures, but I’ll bet that made it a lot easier to explore rather then when it’s packed with foreign visitors.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. We really like Oxford. In former times we were several times there for working at the Bodleian Library and now we like to visit Oxford as tourists. You present Oxford very well.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. What a great Saturday morning stroll – thanks Marion, I’ve really enjoyed this! How beautiful is the wisteria in one of your photo’s. And I was quite happy (again) to read that South Africa’s plants are exhibited in the Botanical Garden 😊. Love the old buildings and the walk along the canal … yes, this was a great virtual hike 👍🏻.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wisteria is at its best here at the moment but like cherry blossom it doesn’t last very long. Oxford is a beautiful city, normally packed with students and overseas visitors so it was nice to have it to ourselves. Have a good weekend too! Marion

      Liked by 1 person

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