Do you enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors? Unfortunately Oxford is mostly a very flat place, but Oxford does offer opportunities for rambling, especially if you enjoy river walks, gardens and the paths of the English countryside. All of these short walks can be done from Oxford city centre, while the longer walks require you to use public transport.
These are short walks that can be completed in 1-2 hours, and are done in public parks and green spaces which are easily accessible by foot from the centre of Oxford. A pair of walking boots will keep your feet warm and dry, but they are not absolutely essential.
1. University Parks
This is a university-owned sports and recreation ground open year round to the public, offering well kept gardens, green space, and walking paths. Conveniently located for Lady Margaret Hall, Keble College and Wolfson College, they make an excellent stop for anyone visiting the Oxford colleges for the day.
More information and a map can be found on the University Parks website.
2. Port Meadow
A large green space which is rich in wildlife and accessible from the Jericho region of the city, port meadow has a lot of offer: walking, birding, and even swimming in summer. As you enter the meadow from the Walton Well car park, walk towards the river, across the bridge and continue right along the river path, which continues towards Wolvercote, with a number of pub stops on the way.
3. Christ Church Meadow
A large green space belong to Chirst Church, an Oxford college, and accessible from St Aldates in central Oxford. Although crammed with tourists, the meadow offers gardens, a river walk and a view of rowers on the Isis.
More information can be found on the Christ Church website.
These walks ideally require some basic navigational skills, namely the ability to use a map (here, the EXP 180 ordinance survery map of Oxford) as well as a compass, and would best be completed in a pair of walking boots, especially in the wetter and colder months of the year. However, they are all along paths and safe, flat terrain, and are suitable for beginners. They are all about 16km long, and would take 2.5-4 hours to complete depending on your pace.
4. Oxford to Abingdon
One of my favourite walks to complete in summer, this is a gentle walk along the Thames path, seeing locks and plenty of traditional houseboats along the way. Walk down St Aldates to the Folly Bridge, then onto the Thames path, past Iffley and Sandford locks and onto Abingdon. The bus back to Oxford runs regularly, and the timetables can be found here.
5. Shotover Country Park
A walk to a part of Oxford frequented by CS Lewis, and which played an important role in his becoming a born-again Christian in 1929. Walk from central Oxford to Sandhills, then Forest Hill, Shotover house, noting the gothic revival folly at the eastern end of the lake, then walk through Shotover Country Park to the CS Lewis Nature reserve, where it’s possible to see CS Lewis’ house, and the Trinity Church which includes a stained-glass window depicting Narnia, and the churchyard with Lewis’ grave. From here it’s possible to walk back the way you came, or take the bus from London road.