Oxford Parks and Meadows: Oxford Canal - A Breath-taking Walk

Visiting Oxford > What to See > Parks & Meadows

Oxford Canal

Oxford Canal is a breathtakingly beautiful option if you’re looking for an enjoyable walk close to the city. This narrowboat canal links Oxford with Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury via Banbury and Rugby. Once used as an artery to connect trade between the Midlands and London, you can visit it today and enjoy a peaceful walk surrounded by petty cottages and gorgeous nature.

Why Should You Visit Oxford Canal?

The Oxford Canal is a narrowboat canal that connects the City of Oxford with Coventry via Banbury and Rugby. It was completed in 1790 and also connects with the River Thames – the reason why it was used as a trade route. This changed when the Grand Union Canal became the main one in 1805. Still, the North Oxford Canal remained an important artery. 

So, why should you visit Oxford Canal today? Well, the reasons are varied. For one, the canal traverses Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and east Warwickshire, going through lightly rolling hills and broad, shallow valleys.

Here are some of the reasons to visit Oxford Canal if you’re in the city (and want to do so by foot):

  • You might meet some of the most friendly live-aboard residents.
  • Oxford Canal is a peaceful place to unwind.
  • You can take boat tours down the river (all of them have very knowledgeable guides).
  • You can enjoy a different view of Oxford and come across swimmers, paddle boarders, and rowers.
  • You can take your dog!

Different Ways to Visit the Canal

To visit the Oxford Canal, you can follow these steps:

  • Plan your trip: Determine the duration of your visit and decide whether you want to explore the entire canal or focus on specific sections. The Oxford Canal runs for approximately 78 miles (126 kilometers) from Oxford to Coventry, passing through beautiful countryside and historic towns along the way.
  • Choose your starting point: Oxford is a popular starting point for exploring the canal. You can reach Oxford by train or car, as it is well-connected to major cities in the UK.
  • Rent a boat: To fully experience the Oxford Canal, consider renting a narrowboat or canal boat. There are several boat hire companies in the area that offer a range of vessels for different group sizes and budgets. Booking in advance is advisable, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Plan your route: Once you have a boat, plan your route along the canal. You can consult canal maps or guidebooks to help you decide which sections to explore and which towns or attractions to visit along the way. Some popular stops include Banbury, Napton-on-the-Hill, and Braunston.
  • Enjoy the journey: As you navigate the Oxford Canal, take your time to appreciate the beautiful scenery, quaint villages, and historic landmarks along the route. The canal offers a peaceful and leisurely way to travel, allowing you to immerse yourself in the charm of the English countryside.
  • Explore on foot or bike: While boating is the primary means of enjoying the canal, you can also explore the surrounding areas on foot or by bike. There are numerous walking and cycling paths that parallel the canal, allowing you to stretch your legs and discover hidden gems nearby.

Remember to check for any updates or restrictions regarding access to the Oxford Canal before your trip. Enjoy your visit and embrace the tranquility and beauty of this historic waterway!

Move Over Darling, Oxford Canal, Fenny Compton, Warwickshire
Move Over Darling, Oxford Canal, Fenny Compton, Warwickshire. Image courtesy of Barry Marsh via Flickr Commons.

Mooring and facilities

Throughout the canal, you’ll find designated mooring spots where you can temporarily dock your boat. These spots often have facilities such as water points, waste disposal stations, and sometimes even pubs or restaurants. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the mooring regulations and etiquette.

Local attractions

Make time to visit attractions and landmarks near the canal. For example, you can explore the historic city of Oxford, visit Blenheim Palace (located near the canal in Woodstock), or take a detour to Warwick Castle. These diversions can add an extra dimension to your Oxford Canal experience.

How to Visit Oxford Canal

Although the canal itself is 78 miles (126 kilometres) long, you can walk alongside it when you’re visiting Oxford. The map below shows the location of the Isis Lock:

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