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Oxford's green spaces

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You may not be a typically outdoorsy type, but it's always good to get out in the open air every now and then, especially in the lead up to exams so that you have a chance to clear your head, get some exercise, and take in plenty of Vitamin D. And even in the autumn and winter months, Oxford’s full of beautiful trees, and there are loads of places close by where you can go to fill up your Instagram with photos of all the autumnal colours.

Luckily, Oxford has plenty of wide open spaces to choose from, depending on what it is you want to do and how far you want to go. So here’s a quick guide to some places to visit if you want to get out and about during your time here.

Christ Church MeadowChrist Church is fortunate enough to have Christ Church Meadow right on its doorstep. This is a beautiful wide open space pretty much in the centre of Oxford, and it's great for a stroll, jog or run at any time of year, especially outside the summer months, when the paths tend to be quieter. The River Thames flows along it to the south, joining up with the Cherwell which runs along it to the east, and the paths along each of the rivers are lined with trees. Once you get to the south side of the Meadow there are stunning views of Oxford's dreaming spires, so remember to look back! In the summer the Cherwell is full of punters and the Thames is occasionally full of rowers, but it’s still a tranquil place for a walk. Walking around the edge of the Meadow takes around 20-30 minutes depending on how fast you are, so it’s good for a quick break. It also has the peaceful Oxford Botanic Garden next door, which has free entry for members of the University!

View of University ParksThe University Parks are located just to the north and east of the science area, around Parks Road – so they’re a bit further from Christ Church, but it’s an easy walk of around 20 minutes to get there from here. There are paths all the way around, a walk along the river, a small pond, and a space in the middle where sports such as cricket, rugby and Quidditch are played (yes, Quidditch. This is Oxford, after all). If you cross the bridge over the river, there are meadows and more secluded paths, which take you away from the busier parts of the parks and can be nice and quiet even during the summer – if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of some deer! It’s a slightly longer walk around the Parks, but there’s grass you can actually walk on (!) so it’s a pretty good spot for a picnic, and if you’re in the science area it can be a great place to go for a quick break.

South parkIf you head up the High Street towards Magdalen Bridge and take the left hand fork when you get to Sainsbury’s, you’ll end up at South Park. It’s a bit of a walk to get there, although probably no more than half an hour from Christ Church, and the Park itself is made up partly of a bit of a hill – but it’s worth it when you see the view of the city from the top. You can get some great photos of one of the iconic views of the city and its spires, so go when the weather’s right and you’ll get yourself a load of Instagram likes (you’re welcome). It’s also where various events such as the Oxford firework display take place – head up here for the biggest display in Oxford, along with music, food and stalls. It’s worth booking online to avoid some of the queues – this year the display’s on Saturday 4th November.

View of Port MeadowOn the other side of the city (around a 30 minute walk from Christ Church), and always popular with students, is Port Meadow. You’ll have to go up to Jericho to get here, but it’s worth the walk – despite being fairly close to the centre of Oxford, it still feels like you’re out in the country. It’s a large field, on which the Port Meadow ponies graze, and it’s very popular for walking or picnicking. A river runs around the edge and often floods the field, especially in winter when it can get VERY muddy (I once had to be carried out of the quagmire after losing my shoes in the mud. Never again), but it's lovely on a summery day. It's also a prime spot for dog walking, especially at weekends, so it's a good place to go if you find yourself missing your canine friends. The pubs The Perch and The Trout are situated on the edge of Port Meadow and are both great, whether you’re after a drink or a full Sunday roast.

Of course, if you want to go even further afield there are plenty of walks around the local area, many of which include some pretty amazing views of the dreaming spires, so take a look online to find out where else to go. For more info about walking in Oxfordshire, see this page on the County Council's website. 

Getting outside is really good for both your physical and mental health – when you’ve been stuck in a library working all day there’s nothing better than going out for a walk in the fresh air, and it’s always nice getting away from the crowds in the centre to find somewhere a little more peaceful. Plus this is the perfect time of year to go out and enjoy all of the autumnal colours as the leaves start to change – so make the most of all of the green spaces Oxford has to offer!