Our Parks and Green Spaces Team share some of their favourite walking routes in the city below.
Canal, meadow and river walk
A pleasant, leisurely walk from Oxford city centre, taking in a stretch of the Oxford Canal Heritage Trail, the ancient green space of Port Meadow and a section of the River Thames towpath. The walk starts and ends at the southern terminus of the Oxford Canal on Hythe Bridge Street
The route entails between just over an hour to an hour and a half of actual walking depending on your pace, but you will undoubtedly wish to linger at a number of locations along the way.
Distance: 3 miles
Points of interest along the route include:
- Colourful residential narrow boats at the start of the canal walk
- The Italianate St Barnabus Church to the right just after Isis Lock, with its attractive, distinctive chimes
- Rows of large Victorian houses and their canal-side gardens
- Port Meadow, with its sweeping views, cattle and horses and birdlife
- A now redundant railway track swing-bridge, and a Great Western Railway iron footbridge preserved in the company’s livery, found close together towards the end of the walk just before you re-join the canal
The route: Join the Oxford Canal at Hythe Bridge Street and head north along the towpath until you reach Isis Lock. Go over the humpback footbridge at the lock and continue straight ahead. Stay on the towpath and pass under the next two bridges (a metal footbridge and the first brick bridge) and continue until you come to the third bridge (also brick), but don’t pass under it, leave the canal just before and join the footpath to the left along the front edge of Aristotle Lane Recreation Ground.
When you reach the corner of the Rec where the path meets the road look up towards the left and you will see a large green metal footbridge over the railway line. Walk towards and over the bridge and just a little further on the other side you will reach Port Meadow.
You are now at the mid-way point of the walk and will undoubtedly wish to take some time to enjoy the views over the meadow. To continue the walk take the trackway to the left until you reach the gates and road entrance and then staying on the meadow take the rough track to the right until you reach a wooden bailey footbridge. Cross this bridge and then go over the second footbridge immediately to your left and join the Thames towpath heading south.
Continue along the towpath until you reach a humpback footbridge, but don’t go over it, stay on the towpath which bends round sharply to the left and pass under the low railway bridge (and it really is low so mind your head!). Just after this point the towpath reaches a side road; cross this and re-join the towpath the other side and continue until you come to, and then and cross an old iron footbridge painted in the colours of the Great Western Railway. You are now back at Isis Lock; turn right over the humpback footbridge and re-join the canal towpath for the short walk back to the start point.
Enjoy the green spaces and waterways just beyond the walls of Jericho
Jericho might not have a park of its own, but there are some wonderful green spaces on the doorstep to explore and enjoy; and there’s a network of pleasant, traffic free canal and river towpaths leading directly to many of them, and to the city centre and railway station.
To get to the city centre, bus and railway stations via the canal towpath
The steps up to the footbridge from Jericho leading on the canal towpath are located at the end of the flats on the corner of Mount Place and Canal Street, where there’s a little public garden.
Once you come down the steps the other side of the footbridge, turn and head in the direction going back underneath the bridge (keeping the canal to your left) and it’s only a ten minute walk along the towpath to end of the canal where is reaches Hythe Bridge Street. From there turn left and it’s only a further five minute walk to the bus station and city centre, or turn right and it’s only a further five minutes to the train station.
Port Meadow via the canal towpath
Once you come down the steps on the other side of the footbridge continue straight ahead along the towpath (keeping the canal to your right) and after just less than ten minutes you will reach a brick bridge, but don’t go under it, walk up the ramp to the left just before it. When you get to the top of the ramp take the middle of the three roads on the left (the only one that goes slightly up hill) and after only a few more minutes you will reach entrance gate on to Port Meadow, where the road ends.
Burgess Field and Aristotle Lane via Port Meadow
Burgess Field is only accessible from Port Meadow. To get to it turn right when you enter the gate on to the meadow as described above and follow the narrow concrete slab trackway all the way to its end and you will reach the kissing gate leading on to the field.
About three quarters of the way along the trackway leading towards Burgess Field you will pass a path leading off to the right which goes up to a large green footbridge over the railway. If you take this path, and go over the bridge and down the alley the other side, it will take you to Aristotle Lane Park (on the right at the end of the alley). This park is located directly adjacent to the canal and by turning right on to the canal towpath here you can walk back to the Jericho footbridge to create a circular walk.
Aristotle Lane Park and Trap Grounds via the canal towpath
If you just want to take the quickest route from Jericho to Aristotle Lane Park head along the canal towpath in the same direction as you would to go to Port Meadow, but this time when you reach the brick bridge continue underneath it and walk on for a further ten minutes until you come to a little wooden footbridge over a stream on your left which leads on to the park.
If you stay on the canal towpath for a further five minutes past the park you will come to the Trap Grounds on you left just before the next bridge.
Canal, Meadow and river circuit walk from Jericho (approx. 3 miles)
From the Jericho footbridge follow the route to Port Meadow via the canal as described above. Once you enter the meadow through the gate, instead of taking the track right to Burgess Field take the smaller rough path straight ahead and after a short distance you will reach a reach a wooden bailey footbridge over the river. Cross this bridge and then go over the second footbridge immediately to your left and join the Thames towpath keeping the river to your right. Continue along the towpath until you reach a humpback footbridge, but don’t go over it, stay on the towpath which bends round sharply to the left and passes under the low railway bridge (and it really is low so mind your head!). Just after this point the towpath reaches a side road; cross this and re-join the towpath the other side and continue until you come to, and then and cross an old iron footbridge painted in the colours of the GWR. This will lead you back on to the canal, turn left along the towpath and continue until you come back to your starting point at the Jericho footbridge.
For those feeling further adventurous staying on the canal towpath past the Trap Grounds will eventually lead you to Wolvercote; and to create a really long circuit walk you can continue from there to Godstow where you can join the River Thames towpath back up to the bailey bridge across to Port Meadow and from there you can head back towards the canal and Jericho.
To get to the University Parks from Jericho you will need to take to the roads but this extensive green space is only a ten minute walk away.
Walk through to the Woodstock Rd from Walton Street along the side of the new Jericho Health Centre and past the Observatory building, and when you reach the Woodstock Rd cross over and head in the direction of the city centre past the Royal Oak pub. Approximately 300 hundred yards past the pub take the path to the left along the back of St Giles Church which brings you out on to the Banbury Rd. Cross this using the pedestrian crossing next to the church and once the other side head down Keble Rd just to the left When you come to the end of this fairly short road look to your left and you will see the railings and entrance gate in to the park just the other side of the road junction. However, it's better to use the crossing just to the right of the junction to get across it.
Please note this park is locked half an hour before dusk each evening.
Break out for lunch to stretch your legs and clear your head
Stuck at the desk sitting down all day? Failing to take a proper lunch break?
If you work in Oxford city centre, just a 20 minute walk away from the desk each day will help with your resilience and general well-being; you will feel less tired and more energised. If you work in central Oxford you are surrounded by beautiful architecture and wonderful green spaces; so just take a few minutes each day to soak it up and chill out.
15 to 20 minutes brisk circular walks from Oxford city centre
Picturesque Merton and Christ Church: Head down Blue Boar Street at the back of the Town Hall and continue in the same direction down Bear Lane. When you come to the end of the lane bear round to the right and follow the road which becomes Merton Street. After a about a hundred yards you will see a tall iron railing entrance gate on your right just before the junction with Magpie Lane. Walk through this and follow the path to the end where comes to a T-junction with a wider gravel path. Turn right here and head back towards St Aldate’s along the front of Christ Church College. When you reach the road head uphill back towards St Aldate's and the Town Hall.
Quiet lanes and beautiful buildings: Head down the High Street and continue quite a way down until you reach Queens Lane on the left (just before Queens Lane Coffee house). Walk along this meandering lane until you pass under the Bridge of Sighs. Just after the bridge turn left and walk through into Radcliffe Square and once you enter the cobbled square turn right and head across to Brasenose Lane. Walk down to the end of this lane and then turn left in to Turl Street. The end of this street brings you back out at the top of the High Street.
Castle Quarter and river walk: Walk down Queen Street and just past Bonn Square. Cross over the road towards the old mock castle County Hall building. Directly after the hall turn left in to the Castle Quarter. At the bottom of this rather grand entrance road turn right towards the castle mound and yard, and then pass through the pedestrian gate tucked away in the corner of the yard just past the café. Once through the gate turn left on to Quaking Bridge and then right in to Fisher Row along the side of the river. When you reach the next road cross over and stay next to the river long Middle Fisher Row until you reach Hythe Bridge Street. Turn right here and shortly afterwards when you reach a cross roads turn right again and immediately cross over Worcester Street and then turn left up St George’s Mews alleyway. When you reach the top of the alley turn left and this will bring you back to Bonn Square.
Gloucester Green world food and street markets: Take a break from sandwiches and microwave lunches. Treat yourself by heading down to Gloucester Green Market (check opening times) where there is a great selection of street food from around the world which you can eat whilst looking round the market stalls. To get to the market go down Cornmarket and turn left in to George Street just before Debenhams. Continue down this street until you see the Odeon Cinema. The market is held in the square at the side of the cinema.