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Rivers, abbeys, manors and woods — hiking the Oxford Green Belt Way

Cycling Man (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Rivers, abbeys, manors and woods — hiking the Oxford Green Belt Way

Hiking Collection by Kit P

5

Tours

22:51 h

54.6 mi

1,900 ft

The city of dreaming spires lies in a blissful landscape complete with meandering rivers, historic manor houses and patchwork fields. There’s so many beautiful views and sites in the city’s surroundings that you’d need a long-distance hiking trail specifically to make the most of it. Luckily, there is such a thing: the Oxford Green Belt Way.

This 52-mile (84 km) circular route leads you alongside the mighty River Thames, the Oxford Canal and passes by the River Cherwell. You’ll find locks that have been in operation for hundreds of years, pubs that have been serving for even longer and the ruins of once-great buildings. The path takes in thatched villages where churches have stood since the Norman times and hikes through vibrant woodland like Wytham Wood.

Along the way, you pass historically important places and wander through villages and landscapes that many famous names have wandered through before. This is all thanks to Oxford’s storied past and its incredible university. Writers, artists, poets have all soaked up the scenes in the city’s green belt.

Exceptionally well-planned by Campaign to Protect Rural England, the trail leads past four Park & Ride (P&R) sites, allowing you to reach it easily either from within Oxford or from elsewhere. With lots of other bus routes crossing the trail too, you can essentially start your walk from any point along it. This also means you can hike it in individual stages and simply use sections as the basis of weekend walks. In this Collection, it begins from Sandhills & Thornhill P&R.

There are usually a few accommodation options near the stage end points but sometimes the Tours end away from settlements, giving you the option of walking a little off the trail to find suitable overnight stays. If you want to stay in Oxford, it’s never a very long bus ride into the city from any of the surrounding villages. For food, you’ll find village shops, pubs and small local supermarkets, the latter in places like Abingdon, Eynsham and Kidlington.

You can hike this route throughout the year and there’s nothing challenging about the terrain. Late spring to early autumn is the best time for daylight hours, warmth and settled weather; waterproofs and sun cream will always come in handy. Always carry enough water with you and some snacks for each day’s walk in case you struggle to find supplies.

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Oxford Green Belt Way

54.2 mi

1,925 ft

1,925 ft

Last updated: July 12, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Sandhills to Clifton Hampden — Oxford Green Belt Way

    Intermediate
    04:18
    10.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    500 ft
    625 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This wonderful hike leads you over undulating farmland, through Shotover Country Park, and past historic churches and mansions. At 10 miles (16 km), it’s a great day hike and the perfect intro to the Oxford Green Belt Way.

    

    You begin at the Sandhills & Thornhill Park & Ride and take the footpath south

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:38
    11.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    450 ft
    200 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first half of this 11-mile (18 km) hike is deliciously water based as you follow the River Thames. After, it passes through the impressive Radley College grounds and across the countryside to reach Old Boar’s Hill. If you’re looking for supplies, Abingdon is a good place to restock.

    

    This stage begins

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:01
    12.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    300 ft
    550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    At 12 miles (19 km), this hike has plenty of water in it as well, as you rejoin the Thames at a particularly squiggly section and walk past Farmoor Reservoir. The Tour begins across countryside and ends after the beautiful Wytham Wood, offering a little of everything.

    

    Begin at Old Boars Hills and hike

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:50
    9.42 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    75 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    If you’re starting to wonder if Oxford’s surroundings have quite a watery theme, you’re right. This 10-mile (16 km) stage is mostly alongside the Oxford canal, which presents you with beautiful bridges and locks, as if your camera hasn’t worked enough on this glorious adventure.

    

    Begin at Wytham and follow

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:05
    12.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    If you’re starting to wonder if Oxford’s surroundings have quite a watery theme, you’re right. This 10-mile (16 km) stage is mostly alongside the Oxford canal, which presents you with beautiful bridges and locks, as if your camera hasn’t worked enough on this glorious adventure.

    

    Begin at Wytham and follow

    by Kit P

    View

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    54.6 mi
  • Duration
    22:51 h
  • Elevation
    1,900 ft

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