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Oxford University Parks

Home > Oxford > Free | Outdoor | Parks | Walks
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published April 6th 2014
Just north of Oxford city centre is a 70 acre park filled with plants, playing fields and a pavilion, a place to relax with your friends, walk the dog, play an organised game or just gently saunter.

At the entrance, a useful map helps you to orientate yourself and find out more about what's inside.

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Map of the park


A perimeter path means you can circumnavigate the whole park easily. It's around 2km long, offering a good gentle walk, or a useful running route. Joggers can be seen all through the day, going both ways round and making use of the multiple entrances along the route.

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Walking along the edge of the park


In the centre is a large lawn, with areas to run around with your own activities, as well as a cricket pitch. A pond in the north corner offers a quiet place to potter and admire the ducks.

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Looking towards the pond


A pavilion in the centre provides a focal point and clubhouse.

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Pavilion


The river runs along the north edge, with a bridge over it. Small patches of grass along the way attract picnic groups who want to enjoy the area, and watch the wildlife and punts passing.

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The river through the park


At the south end is Parson's Pleasure, where in the past groups of men would bathe nude in the river. It stopped being used in this way in 1991, and the female areas 'Dame's Delight' is similarly no longer in use. Instead, male and female punters can travel the length of the Cherwell visiting corners with such exotic names as Mesopotmia, which simply means 'middle of the river'.

Benches punctuate the way offering you somewhere to sit and watch the world go by.

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Bench in the park


Croquet teams practise on the lawn on the south side. There's a cricket square outside the pavilion. Areas of grass are clearly marked by boot studs from where other games have been played. This park offers great space for formal sport. Informally there's plenty of room for a runaround, or a game of frisbee. There's even Quidditch pitch, where the three hoops and broomsticks are guaranteed to distract passers by (did I REALLY just see that?). You can follow a permanent orienteering course for something a little more unusual.

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view across the lawn


No food or drink is sold in the park as a regular thing, but visitors are welcome to bring picnics if they clear up after themselves. There are public toilets behind the pavilion.

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The back of the pavilion


Regular events also take place in the park, especially through the summer. Perhaps the best known is the Town and Gown, a 10km fun run in aid of Muscular Dystrophy. Held in early May, it sees the park filled with spectators and competitors alike, with media and retail stalls filling open areas around the finishing line.

The main entrances are on Parks Road and South Parks Road, although there is also an entrance via Lady Margaret Hall (closed at the time of writing). There is no parking, but the city centre is a short walk away, and various buses go close by.

Opening times vary according to the season, as the park will be shut by dusk. They advertise closing times on boards at the entrances, so keep a careful eye on them. You can also check the website.
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Why? A glorious park near the centre of Oxford
When: variable times depending on the season
Where: Oxford University Park
Cost: free
Your Comment
A Quiddich pitch? How cool.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|11624) 1381 days ago
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