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When you pack your hiking boots and head for Oxfordshire, you have the choice of not one, not two, but three designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) to explore. Walks in Oxfordshire combine the rolling chalk escarpment of the North Wessex Downs, the forested slopes of the Chilterns and some of the most gorgeous sights found in the Cotswolds.
This is quintessential English countryside at its finest. Even Oxford, the glorious university city at the heart of the county, is a delight to stroll around with its classical architecture and riverside walks along the scenic banks of the Thames.Hikes in Oxfordshire promise an adventure amongst some truly magnificent historical and cultural sights. Experience the magic and mystery of the Uffington White Horse, the oldest and most incredible chalk hill figure in Britain. Or marvel as you wander the magnificent grounds of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace.
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Rising from the meadows of the upper Thames is a beautiful, undulating rural paradise of green hills, colourful woodland and honey-hued villages. The Cotswolds AONB represents some of the most delightful countryside in the UK. Many of the best hiking trails in Oxfordshire acquaint you with this tranquil land, as you traverse woodland, follow drystone walls and explore villages of golden brick and sumptuous charm.
On the threshold of the Cotswolds is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace Park and Gardens. This truly impressive neoclassical country house, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is surrounded by grounds that boast two scenic lakes, ornamental bridges, wandering peacocks and 2,000 acres (809 ha) for you to roam.
Many of the finest hikes around Oxfordshire take you onto the verdant chalk downland of the North Wessex Downs AONB. In spring, the rolling hills are rich in colourful wildflowers, whilst the springy turf is gorgeous to walk upon all year round.
Perhaps the most iconic sight in the region is the Uffington White Horse, Britain’s oldest and most magical hill figure. This elegant masterpiece of minimalist art that stretches for 360 feet (261 m) was originally carved during the late Bronze Age, around 3,000 years ago. Startlingly vivid against the green hillside, the chalk depicts a horse at full gallop: an awesome sight. White Horse Hill’s summit, the highest in Oxfordshire at 856 feet (261 m), is adorned by Uffington Castle, one of the finest examples of an Iron Age hillfort.
Superb walks around Oxfordshire are waiting to be discovered in the cities, towns and villages of the River Thames. The domes and gothic spires of Oxford’s university quarter and the weirs, locks and islands found at Abingdon, one of England’s oldest market towns, make for delightful riverside strolls.
Within a stone’s throw of London, the Chiltern Hills AONB is full to the brim with pleasant countryside trails, stunning wildlife and fantastic views. Between October and April, keep your eyes peeled for red kites, magnificent birds of prey. In spring and summer, wildflowers and butterflies bring a riot of colour to the woodlands, including the iconic Adonis blue.
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