A country walk bang in central Oxford
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I did this lovely little walk and pub combo last week and put it on the radio – which, ahem, I’m sure you all listen to at 7am on a Saturday morning. But, just on the miniscule off-chance that you prefer a lie-in, I’ll tell you about it here, because in a couple of months it will probably get too boggy to give it a go.
The best thing about this walk is that it starts in central Oxford, and yet it’s properly country – I can’t think of anywhere else that has this kind of 300 acre grazing land bang in the city, it’s incredible. And it could really prolong your day in the city, particularly if you have kids. I know I’ll sometimes come in to take my children to a museum or something and have a cafe lunch, but feel that the one thing the kids haven’t done is really stretched their legs and had a run out, so this could be the perfect solution.
If you don’t already know it, Port Meadow stretches from Jericho (about 10 minutes further on from the back of The Ashmolean Museum basically) right up to Wolvercote in North Oxford, and its use as free grazing land is mentioned as far back as the Doomsday Book in 1086. Because it’s never been ploughed it has a kind of timeless feel to it, and contains well preserved archaeological remains, including several Bronze Age round barrows, an area of Iron Age settlement.
The entrance is through Walton Well Road (see the map below) and you can basically walk down Walton St (the main street of Jericho) with all its restaurants, indie shops and cafes, until you hang a left onto Walton Well Road and keep going until you reach its end. There’s actually a car park right at the bottom if you want to just do the walk itself without any of the ‘Oxfordness’ though I parked in the little row of Pay and Displays in Keble Road and cut across.
Anyhoo, you’ll know you’re at Port Meadow because, um it says so on the sign, but also there are all thess cows and horses just doing their thing around you. It’s a vast space so they’re never very close, but as you’re going past the Isis you might see a couple of cows having a bath in the water. It’s all rather lovely.
There are two forks rather obviously from the beginning and I took the left one, over a pretty red bridge (and turn right on the other side), and then over a second wooden bridge (and turn right on the other side). This takes you about 20 minutes up the meadow, with the Isis on your right, passed moored canal boats, fisherman, a boat club and loads of local dog walkers to The Perch Inn, so it’s very doable walk even for young kids, and flat all the way.
I’ve written about The Perch before, and it’s a pub I really rate largely for its fantastic garden and imaginative styling (though the food is perfectly good too).
It’s a dream in summer but actually the interior of the pub is pretty and rustic too, and will look great when the log fires get going in the next month or so. Dogs are welcome in the garden and the bar area if you’re thinking about bringing your four legged friends and, by the way, there’s also a Beer & Cider festival at The Perch this weekend coming (6 – 7 Sept) if you want to give it a go.
If you want a longer walk – probably an extra half an hour at least, instead of taking the left fork at the beginning, go right and this will take you to The Trout, or once you come off Port Meadow altogether and go around a corner or two, Jacob’s Inn, both great pubs. Just remember you have to come back again…
I’m definitely going to return in the next month, before the inevitable rains starts to fall and the Meadow becomes too squelchy. I’m thinking an hour bombing around The Ashmolean followed by a pit stop at The Jericho Cafe, a meander past the shops down Walton St and onto Port Meadow, a country walk until The Trout (just for a change), and back, followed by a movie in George Street, and a kid friendly dinner at Byron (my oldest son’s complete obsession). That will get the little buggers into bed on time!
I have, by the way, done this Port Meadow walk the other way, starting from Wolvercote, so if you’d rather try that, check out the post here.
Let me know if you try it, pleasey please, I love to get your feedback and always answer.