55 free things to do in Oxford's green spaces

Go green, run free, and go for free this summer with 55 free things to do in Oxford’s great green spaces.

These have been challenging times, not only for our physical and mental health, but also financially for many people. Social distancing restrictions are likely to remain in place throughout the summer and some facilities like leisure centres and play areas may have to remain closed for the time being.

But there are still plenty of things you and your family can do, and the good news is many of these are free.

Not familiar with all the green spaces in your area or the wider city? Now is a better time than any to get out there, explore, and reap the benefits to you and your family’s well-being from exposure to nature and the great outdoors. Here’s a list to provide you with inspiration and ideas.

  1. Go orienteering (Cutteslowe Park and Shotover Country Park)
    Where: Cutteslowe Park: Harbord Road, North Oxford OX2 8ES and A40 (North Way) OX2 7XD
    Shotover Country Park: Old Road, Headington OX3 8TA
  2. Visit Bury Knowle Park for the C S Lewis themed wooden sculptures set against the backdrop of the historic Bury Knowle House
    Where: London Road, Headington, OX3 9HZ
  3. Visit Hinksey Park late in the evening to see the sun set behind the lake and watch the bats come out to feed
    Where: Abingdon Rd, South Oxford OX1 4RR
  4. Take a walk in the woods at Shotover Country Park
    Where: Old Road, Headington OX3 8TA
  5. Visit Brasenose Wood and Slade Camp for a gentle woodland walk on flat, level pathways
    Where: End of Horspath Driftway, cross over Eastern Bypass OX4 2FF
  6. Enjoy the wide open spaces of Port Meadow and play Pooh Sticks from the bailey bridge
    Where: Walton Well Road, Jericho OX2 6ED
    Or over the railway bridge from Aristotle Lane OX2 6TP 
    Godstow Road Wolvercote OX2 8PU
  7. Visit the historic ruins of Godstow Abbey
    Where: Godstow Lock, Godstow Rd, Wolvercote OX2 8PJ
  8. Go for a riverside walk at Sunnymead Park and meadow
    Where: Wren Road OX2 7SX
  9. Spot the fossils at Rock Edge rock face in the nature reserve
    Where: Old Road, Headington OX3 8NE
  10. Get a book from a library or a charity shop and go out and teach yourself to identify the major species of trees, flowers or butterflies etc.     
  11. Hold home schooling outdoor classrooms to teach children about nature and conservation    
  12. Enjoy the views of the city and it’s dreaming spires from top of South Park
    Where: Morrell Avenue (opposite Cross Street) OX4 1NT
    Headington Road (opposite entrance to Headington Hill park) OX3 0ED
    Top of Cheney Lane, Headington OX3 7QJ 
    Warneford Lane (near the roundabout that leads to Divinity Road) OX3 7JX
  13. View the stars at night from South Park which is an official dark sky discovery location
    Where: Morrell Avenue (opposite Cross Street) OX4 1NT
    Headington Road (opposite entrance to Headington Hill park) OX3 0ED
    Top of Cheney Lane, Headington OX3 7QJ 
    Warneford Lane (near the roundabout that leads to Divinity Road) OX3 7JX
  14. Wander through the Trap Grounds nature area in North Oxford
    Where: Frenchay Road, North Oxford OX2 6TF
  15. As part of trips to Hinksey or Aristotle Lane Parks take the kids to stand on the adjacent railway bridges to enjoy the thrill of the trains going under their feet
    Where: Hinksey Park: Lake Street (off Abingdon Rd) OX1 4RW 
    Aristotle: Aristotle Lane, North Oxford OX2 6TP
  16. Do the tree trails in Headington Hill or Florence parks
    Where: Headington Road, St Clement’s OX3 0ED
    Florence Park: Rymers Lane, Cowley OX4 3JZ
  17. Find Tolkein’s grave at Wolvercote Cemetery 
    Where: Banbury Road, Cutteslowe OX2 8EE
  18. Take a stroll off the beaten track in Warneford Meadow
    Where: Roosevelt Drive Headington OX3 7XR 
    Hill Top Road OX4 1PD 
  19. Go butterfly spotting at Cutteslowe Park community woodland and go and see the exotic butterflies and other creatures in the Garden Centre in the park (entry by voluntary donation)
    Where: Harbord Road, North Oxford OX2 8NP
  20. Go Skateboarding at Meadow Lane, Sunnymead or Fry’s Hill Parks
    Where: Meadow Lane, East Oxford OX4 1TJ
    Sunnymead: Wren Rd, OX2 7SX 
    Fry’s Hill: Moorhen Walk, Greater Leys OX4 7WU
  21. See what’s in the ponds at Millham Ford or Rivermead Nature Parks
    Where: Millham Ford: Marston Road OX3 0FL 
    Rivermead Road, Rose Hill OX4 4UP
  22. Find the dragons sculptures at Magdalen Wood West and Spindleberry Nature Park
    Where: Magdalen Wood West: Atkyns Road, Wood Farm OX3 8RA 
    Spindleberry Close, Blackbird Leys OX4 6DU.
  23. Visit Raleigh Park in Botley and view the ‘dreaming spires’
    Where: Harcourt Hill, Raleigh Park Road and Yarnells Hill, Botley OX2 9AS
  24. Explore the extensive Iffley Meadow Nature Reserve
    Where: Donnington Bridge Rd OX1 4UP
  25. See how many species of dragonfly you can spot at Barton Linear Park’s wetland area
    Where: Barton Village Road OX3 9LA
  26. Walk the boardwalks through a reed beds at Chilswell and Lye Valleys
    Where: Chilswell Path, South Hinksey OX1 5AP 
    Lye valley: entrance adjacent to 169 The Slade, Headington OX3 7HP
  27. Discover Aston’s Eyot, a large, hidden, semi-  wild green space just a stone’s throw from the busy Iffley Road
    Where: Entrance by the side of the scrapyard at the bottom of Jackdaw Lane (off the Iffley Road OX4 1SR)
  28. Play Tennis at Botley, Hinksey or Cowley Marsh Parks where courts are free to use if you have rackets and balls (but please book online in advance to reserve a court at Hinksey/Botley - no need to book for Cowley Marsh – where nets are hard mesh)
    Where: Botley Park: Botley Rd OX2 0BT
    Hinksey Park: Abingdon Rd OX1 4RR 
    Marsh Road, Cowley OX4 2HH
  29. Play table-tennis on the tables provided in Florence, Bury Knowle, Cowley Marsh, Botley or Cutteslowe Parks (bring your own bats and balls)
    Where: Florence Park: Rymers Lane, Cowley OX4 3JZ
    Bury Knowle: London Road, Headington OX3 9HZ 
    Cutteslowe:  Harbord Road OX2 8NP
  30. Organise a family or household game of cricket using the artificial wickets at Cowley Marsh, Grandpont or Botley parks
    Where: Marsh Road, Cowley OX4 2HH
    Grandpont Recreational Ground, Whitehouse Road OX1 4QH 
    Botley Road OX2 0BT 
  31. Organise a family or household game of rounders at your local park    
  32. Go and see the wonderful murals on the canal bridges at Frenchay Road and Elizabeth Jennings Way
    Where: Frenchay Road OX2 7AF
    Elizabeth Jennings Way OX2 9PZ 
  33. Go for a long walk around Burgess Field (off Port Meadow) and listen to bird song
    Where: Access via Port Meadow, Walton Well Road OX2 6ED – follow the path to the right  
    Or over the railway bridge from Aristotle Lane OX2 6TP and follow the raised path to right on the meadow
  34. Join one of our weekly conservation volunteer sessions - please contact parks@oxford.gov.uk for details 
  35. Take a photo of your favourite spot or wildlife you see and share with us on social media
  36. Do a drawing/painting of your favourite spot or individual plants or flowers etc. and share with us on social media
  37. Have a picnic lunch in a different park each day/weekend    
  38. Explore St Sepulchres and Holywell historic cemeteries with their many unusual gravestones
    Where: Accessed via narrow alley beside Londis Store 81 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6EA 
    Holywell: 10 St Cross Road OX1 3TU 
  39. Study outdoors in a peaceful park location     
  40. Use picturesque park backdrops to take family group or post-wedding service photos
  41. Go fly a kite on a windy day
  42. Play Frisbee 
  43. Play hide and seek
  44. Go on a bug hunt in your local nature area
  45. Learn how to play hopscotch - lots of active fun for just the price of a piece of chalk to mark out the game on the path in your local park     
  46. Use coloured chalk to create artwork on the path in your local park    
  47. Join Oxford Rocks UK on Facebook - paint a rock, hide it and make someone’s day when they find it
  48. Go geocaching - the world’s largest treasure hunt
  49. Climb a tree (or just hug one if you don’t like heights)    
  50. Go cloud watching - just lay on your back in your local park, relax and enjoy one of nature’s greatest art shows. This can become addictive, and you may also want to start learning about their different characteristics, names and why and how they form     
  51. Get fit and lose weight - no need to spend money joining a gym, half an hour to an hour doing walking circuits of your local park each day works wonders for your physical and mental health    

    Autumn only

  52. Collect blackberries (mid/late Aug) and conkers (late Sept/early Oct)     
  53. Enjoy the autumn colours in Florence, Bury Knowle and Headington Hill parks
    Where: Florence Park: Rymers Lane OX4 3JZ
    Bury Knowle: London Road, Headington OX3 9HZ 
    Headington Hill: Headington Road OX3 0ED
  54. Collect leaves and twigs and make a collage or draw round different shaped leaves collected to create artwork    
  55. Go fungi spotting in Shotover County Park (October) - but please look/photograph but don’t touch
    Where: Old Road, Headington OX3 8NE