With its picturesque waterways, including the River Thames, the Cherwell, and the Windrush, Oxfordshire boasts a variety of serene and scenic routes suitable for both beginners and seasoned paddle boarders this guide will help you decide where to paddleboard in Oxfordshire.
The region is rich in history and natural beauty, providing a tranquil backdrop for SUP adventures. In addition, Oxfordshire is home to several charming towns and villages with easy access to the water, as well as numerous SUP schools and rental facilities, ensuring a convenient and memorable paddle boarding experience for all.
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The River Thames – Christ Church Meadow
Christ Church Meadow is a prime location for paddle boarding in Oxfordshire, offering paddlers easy access to the River Thames as well as stunning views of the surrounding historic architecture.
Boathouse Island, situated near Folly Bridge, provides an excellent starting point for your paddle boarding adventure. With several boathouses lining the riverbank, it’s easy to find a suitable place to launch your SUP.
Another convenient access point is the Meadow itself. This large, open green space is perfect for setting up your paddle board and offers direct access to the river, making it an ideal spot for beginners or those looking for a more leisurely paddle.
Christ Church College
As you paddle along the River Thames, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Christ Church College, one of Oxford’s oldest and most iconic buildings. The college’s stunning architecture, including Tom Tower and the Great Quadrangle, serves as a beautiful backdrop for your SUP journey.
Alice in Wonderland inspiration
While paddling through Christ Church Meadow, you’ll also be immersed in the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The meadow and its surroundings are said to have inspired the famous author as he was a mathematics lecturer at Christ Church College. Keep an eye out for features such as the whispering willows and enchanting gardens that may have sparked the imaginative world of Alice.
The River Thames – Port Meadow
Port Meadow, a vast and ancient common land in Oxfordshire, is another fantastic destination for paddle boarders looking to explore the natural beauty of the region.
The picturesque village of Wolvercote, located at the northern end of Port Meadow, offers convenient access to the water. Here, you can launch your paddle board from the banks of the Thames and begin your journey through the meadow.
The Trout Inn
An alternative access point is near The Trout Inn, a historic riverside pub dating back to the 17th century. With its riverside garden, the pub provides an ideal spot for launching your SUP and enjoying a meal or refreshments before or after your paddle.
Wild horses and cows
As you glide through Port Meadow, you’ll be accompanied by the sight of wild horses and cows grazing on the lush grass. These animals have roamed freely in the meadow for centuries, adding to the area’s charm and tranquility.
Historic ruins of Godstow Abbey
During your paddle boarding adventure, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the historic ruins of Godstow Abbey. Founded in the 12th century, the abbey was once home to an order of Benedictine nuns and is now a picturesque landmark for paddlers to enjoy.
The River Thames – Abingdon to Culham
The Abingdon to Culham stretch of the River Thames offers paddle boarders a delightful journey through picturesque countryside and historic landmarks in Oxfordshire.
Begin your paddle boarding adventure at Abingdon Lock, located near the historic market town of Abingdon-on-Thames. This easily accessible launch point offers ample parking and is a perfect starting point for exploring this beautiful stretch of the river.
Another option is to start your journey at Culham Lock, situated near the village of Culham. With its peaceful surroundings and easy access to the water, this location is ideal for both beginners and experienced paddlers.
As you paddle along the river, you’ll pass under the striking Abingdon Bridge, a beautiful 15th-century structure that spans the Thames. Its elegant arches provide a picturesque backdrop for your SUP experience.
Further along your journey, you’ll come across Swift Ditch, an ancient, meandering watercourse that once served as the main navigation channel of the River Thames. This peaceful and secluded spot offers a serene escape from the main river, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.
The Cherwell – University Parks
The Cherwell, a tributary of the River Thames, offers a tranquil and picturesque paddle boarding experience, particularly when exploring the area around University Parks.
Begin your journey at Rainbow Bridge, a charming wooden footbridge located within University Parks. With its easy access to the water and picturesque surroundings, this spot is perfect for launching your SUP.
Another convenient access point is Parson’s Pleasure, a secluded area situated along the banks of the Cherwell. Once a popular spot for male-only nude sunbathing, it now offers a peaceful and discreet place to launch your paddle board.
As you paddle along the Cherwell, you’ll be immersed in the lush greenery and serene atmosphere of University Parks. Spanning over 70 acres, the park boasts beautiful gardens, sports fields, and walking paths, providing a picturesque backdrop for your SUP adventure.
Further downstream, you’ll come across the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens, the oldest botanic garden in the United Kingdom. Established in 1621, the gardens house an extensive collection of plants and provide a tranquil oasis for paddlers to enjoy.
The Cherwell – Victoria Arms and King’s Lock
The Cherwell between Victoria Arms and King’s Lock offers a picturesque and tranquil paddle boarding experience, perfect for those seeking a relaxing escape from the city.
Victoria Arms Pub
Begin your journey at the Victoria Arms Pub, a charming riverside establishment with easy access to the Cherwell. With its beautiful outdoor seating area, the pub is an ideal spot to launch your SUP and enjoy a meal or refreshments before or after your paddle.
Another convenient access point is King’s Lock, a historic lock located just north of Oxford. This peaceful spot offers ample space to launch your paddle board and start your exploration of the scenic Cherwell.
Marston Ferry offers paddle boarders a unique and tranquil experience along the River Cherwell. This quiet stretch of the river is nestled between the residential area of Marston and the University of Oxford’s sports grounds, providing a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. With easy access to the water from the Marston Ferry Road bridge, this location is perfect for both beginners and experienced paddlers looking to explore the serene surroundings. As you glide along the river, you’ll be treated to views of lush greenery, local wildlife, and glimpses of Oxford’s historic architecture in the distance.
Mesopotamia Walk is a picturesque footpath that runs between the River Cherwell and the Oxford University Parks, providing paddle boarders with a truly enchanting SUP experience. Accessible from the southern end of University Parks or from the Rainbow Bridge, this narrow stretch of water offers a unique and intimate paddle boarding adventure. As you navigate the calm waters, you’ll be surrounded by weeping willows, vibrant wildflowers, and abundant wildlife, making it feel as though you’ve entered a secret garden. The peaceful atmosphere and stunning natural beauty of Mesopotamia Walk make it a must-visit destination for paddle boarders seeking a truly magical experience in Oxfordshire.
As you paddle between Victoria Arms and King’s Lock, you’ll be treated to a variety of picturesque views, including lush green meadows, gently rolling hills, and charming riverside properties. The tranquility of the river, coupled with the abundant wildlife, provides a truly relaxing and immersive SUP experience.
Farmoor Reservoir, located just outside of Oxford, is an excellent destination for paddle boarders looking for a calm and scenic open water experience.
The Farmoor Reservoir Watersports Centre offers easy access to the water for paddle boarders, as well as SUP equipment rentals and lessons. With its dedicated launch area and helpful staff, the centre is a convenient starting point for your paddle boarding adventure.
Another access point is the Farmoor Reservoir Sailing Club, which welcomes paddle boarders alongside other water sports enthusiasts. With its well-maintained facilities and ample parking, the sailing club is an ideal spot for launching your SUP.
As you paddle across the reservoir, you’ll have the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including numerous species of waterfowl and birds of prey. The reservoir is also home to a thriving fish population, which attracts anglers from far and wide.
Beautiful open water views
Farmoor Reservoir offers stunning open water views, with the vast expanse of the water contrasting beautifully with the surrounding countryside. This scenic backdrop provides a serene and picturesque
setting for your SUP adventure, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty of the Oxfordshire landscape.
The Windrush River
The Windrush River, stretching from Witney to Newbridge, offers paddle boarders a unique opportunity to explore the picturesque and historic Cotswold countryside.
Witney Lake and Meadows
Begin your journey at Witney Lake and Meadows, a beautiful nature reserve in the heart of Witney. With its easy access to the Windrush River and peaceful surroundings, this location is perfect for launching your SUP and starting your adventure.
Another convenient access point is at Newbridge, a historic crossing point over the River Windrush. With its two charming stone bridges and riverside launch area, Newbridge provides an idyllic spot to embark on your paddle boarding journey.
North Leigh Roman Villa
As you paddle along the Windrush, you’ll have the chance to explore the fascinating remains of North Leigh Roman Villa, a well-preserved archaeological site that dates back to the 1st century AD. This ancient relic offers a unique glimpse into the region’s rich history and is a must-see for history enthusiasts.
Traditional Cotswold stone bridges
The Windrush River is dotted with traditional Cotswold stone bridges, which add to the area’s charm and beauty
These historic structures provide a picturesque backdrop for your SUP experience, as well as a testament to the region’s architectural heritage.
The Oxford Canal – Thrupp to Kidlington
The Oxford Canal, stretching from Thrupp to Kidlington, offers a tranquil and picturesque paddle boarding experience, perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape amidst the English countryside.
Annie’s Tea Room, Thrupp
Begin your journey at Annie’s Tea Room in Thrupp, a delightful riverside establishment that provides easy access to the Oxford Canal. With its charming atmosphere, delicious homemade treats, and outdoor seating area, the tea room is an ideal spot to launch your SUP and enjoy a meal or refreshments before or after your paddle.
Kidlington Green Lock
Another convenient access point is Kidlington Green Lock, a well-maintained lock located just south of Kidlington. This quiet spot offers ample space to launch your paddle board and start your exploration of the scenic Oxford Canal.
As you paddle along the Oxford Canal, you’ll be immersed in the lush greenery and serene atmosphere of the surrounding countryside. The tranquil waters and idyllic rural scenery provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing SUP adventure.
Narrowboats and wildlife
The canal is home to an array of narrowboats, adding charm and character to your paddle boarding experience. As you navigate the calm waters, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including birds, fish, and other aquatic creatures.
Recommendations for equipment rental and SUP lessons
Check out our page about the best places to paddleboard near me, it’s got a great interactive map with loads of SUP locations.
If you’re new to paddle boarding or need to rent equipment, research local rental facilities and SUP schools in the area. Opt for reputable providers with positive reviews and ensure that they offer the necessary gear and instruction for a safe and enjoyable experience.