The University Parks

Price guide: Free

South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RF

Price guide: Free

The University Parks
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#9 of 21
expert-rated things to do in Oxford
Expert overall rating:4.0 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Backpackers / Students, Families with younger children, Mature travellers, Travellers with pets, Escaping the crowds, Nature / wildlife

Best for Chilling out - Expert review of The University Parks

Punting and picnics, cricket and secret kisses.

In summer the University Parks are renowned for cricket and kissing, with punting and picnics coming in third and fourth. The parks are a sequence of grassy areas alongside the Cherwell which delight in names like Picked Mead, the Leys, Napper's Arable and Coronation Clump. In total, this area north of the Natural History Museum runs to about 70 acres, plus a four-acre spur of land running south that lies between the upper and lower levels of the river. For very Oxford reasons this is known as Mesopotamia (in Greek Mesopotamia means "between the rivers" but you can't help feeling young men at Oxford were showing off when they coined this usage).

If you don't feel like lying down there is plenty to see, including a clump of Wellingtonias (redwoods), a Japanese Pagoda tree, a lily pond and the Rainbow Bridge, built in 1924 as a relief project for the unemployed; it's very useful if you want to walk on to Wolfson College or the Marston Ferry Road.

A certain amount of bad behaviour goes on in the bushes (mainly among teenagers from the Cherwell School) but the park is patrolled and quite safe. 

For cyclists there is a cycle track leading to Marston. Please don't cycle anywhere else in the park. 

Expert tips: 
A free leaflet available at the North and South Lodges is very useful.
The Rollers is interesting if you want to know how rowing boats avoid the weir, but beware of Parson's Pleasure nearby; men are allowd to bathe naked there. The Victorians upheld this tradition so who are we, supposedly liberated from prudery, to object?

More information on The University Parks:

Price guide:
Park / garden
South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RF
01865 282040
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Usually all gates are open by 7.45am and close just after sunset. Visit the website for details.

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