The Oxford University Parks

A botanical delight for nature lovers looking for a moment of peace away from the busy Oxford.

If you need to escape from the busy central of Oxford and take a break from city sightseeing, a walk in the Oxford University Parks is a great idea. This green oasis of peace is just right in the centre of town, a stone’s throw from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museums, Keble College and Bodleian Library.

It’s a lovely place to visit, either to sit under a tree to read a book during the warmer months or to walk around in the Autumn to admire the colourful leaves. You can take a stroll along the River Cherwell and admire some very beautiful bridges crossing the river.

The Parks, originally owned by Merton College, were purchased by the University of Oxford in the 1850s although this land had been used for recreation for a long time, and it formed part of the University Walks said to have been used by Charles II to walk his dog in 1685.
The Parks were first laid out for sports and recreational purposes in 1864 while the work supervised by William Baxter who was later appointed the first superintendent of the parks in 1866.

Within the Parks you’ll find many brightly coloured flowers, well kept lawns and impressive trees such as Tulip Tree, Bean Tree, Japanese Pagoda Tree and Wellingtonias. Even so the park is located in the heart of the city, you rarely can hear the traffic.

Want to see more? Visit the full gallery and get to know the Oxford University Parks better. 

If you have more time you can find the High Bridge, often referred to as the Rainbow Bridge which resemblance the rainbow shape. Climb on top to get a good view of punts travelling along the river under the bridge or cross it to enjoy a walk meadows to the suburb of New Marston. Another place to enjoy is Mesopotamia, a narrow island (about 800 yards long by 30 yards wide) which lies between the upper and lower levels of the River Cherwell.

If you get tired you’ll be be able to easily find benches along the paths or find a spot for a picnic. One of the most famous places for relaxation is The Tolkien Memorial Bench, situated on the western bank of River Cherwell a little bit south of the High Bridge. Before your visit make sure to check out the visiting hours.

What to see in Spring… 

During Spring the Parks’ come to live with a stunning display of tulips, bluebells, daffodils and quamash. You can also spot blossoming cherries,  crab apples, rowan and hawthorn.

What to see in Summer… 

In Summer look out for colorful displays of flowering tulip trees, bean trees and herbaceous perennials. Make the most of the sweet scent wafting from the lime trees.

What to see in Autumn… 

Look out for for a splash of intense colours from the bright yellow to rich mahogany-brown leaves. Other Autumn displays include crocus, colchicum and sternbergia flowers. 

What to see in Winter… 

The first bulbs to flower are the winter aconite, followed by the sea of snowdrops, crocuses and honeysuckle which provide sweet scent across the Parks.

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