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Trail talk: The Thames Path- a day off in Oxford

Despite today being a day off from the Thames Path, the two of us did not have a day completely devoid of walking. We had a circular walk of Oxford in mind that would take in many of the city and university green spaces. Prior to that however, the two of us had to walk down toward the city before a jaunt around the green spaces took us into the city proper.

The Oxford University Parks are extensive, well tended and provide much of interest while keeping the pedestrian away from traffic.

Our morning walk took us through the city’s green bordered paths toward the river and Oxford Canal before a halt at the castle for teas and further planning. There may have been a little window shopping built in…

Oxford is a slightly peculiar city. A well known seat of learning on the international stage, it has also been home to much of Britain’s car manufacturing as well but that takes a bit of searching. Cycles abound, and these days, e-scooters too. Some people seem to struggle with the concept of an elite learning location, as though it were the only one in the country. Many also seem to lack an understanding that much of an unsavoury past, is the past. A tour taking in Oxfords history could last weeks and you would still have barely scratched the surface.

A small but fascinating temporary exhibition was at the Weston Library. This was based around Howard Carter’s personal papers detailing the discovery and archaeology of Tutankhamun’s tomb

We took time out to visit the Bodleian Library, but general visitors are not welcome unless booked on to a guided tour. These tours also include the Radcliffe Camera, built 1737-1749. What we found unmissable however was a visit to the free exhibitions provided in the Bodleian’s Wisdom Library. Two were on, but of these, I wanted to visit the fantastic and informative display in the ‘Tutankhamun Excavating the Archive’ exhibition that drew on the archived papers of Howard Carter.

Is this the most attractive High Street in the country?

For anyone who has even the slightest bit of interest in the demise of a classic age in British car manufacture, a very short diversion takes you to Longwall Street, the site of the birth of two classics in car manufacture- William Morris’ ‘bullnose’ Morris, and, in 1924, Old Number One, Cecil Kimber’s innovative MG sports car design.

Many of the colleges for which Oxford is famous, cannot be visited or even viewed by the general public. Others do provide on-line booking for expensive tours

Celebrating success on the steps of University College, one of the oldest colleges in Oxford, founded 1249
In 1901 William Morris rented this stable block from Merton College. He moved from manufacturing motorcycles to repairing and hiring cars. It was in this building that Morris designed a new lightweight car, to be assembled at Cowley. The Morris Oxford and cheaper Morris Cowley became major sellers and by the 1930s Morris Motors accounted for 30% of the British car market. Two-seater MG sports cars were also constructed here.
Three Points of the Compass was keen to view at least one of Oxford’s famous colleges. The woke brigade have been out in force regarding this building paid for by the bequest of philathropist and former student Cecil Rhodes in 1909-11. Oriel College had this built and commissioned a series of statues, that included Rhodes, at the top. Stemming from recent debate on racism and colonialism, in 2020 the college announced their wish to remove the statue to the man responsible for the very existence of this seat of learning. They were thwarted by legal and regulatory strictures. Instead, they have now included all that was required, an explanatory caption
THIS is what elitism, high expectation and pursuit of the best leads to. These guys were not being told that average is enough
Taking time out in the Turf Tavern

Another slightly off trail diversion was taken late afternoon. Down the narrow St. Helen’s Passage beside the much photographed Bridge of Sighs, is the must visit Turf Tavern pub. Previously frequented by the likes of Elizabeth Burton, David Bowie, Margaret Thatcher, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Hawking, Bill Clinton and Boris Johnson, Three Points of the Compass now squeezed into the bar for pints of good beer to round off a day’s walk.

There are any number of exploratory walks that can be taken around Oxford. On our return to our guest house at the end of our day, we had walked a little over seven miles. So not far less than our already short days on trail! One thing that had become apparent to us over the past few days of our Thames Path trail was that many establishments are struggling to hire sufficient staff and at our slightly out of town location we were reduced to a Deliveroo ‘cheeky Nandos’ for our evening meal. Back on trail tomorrow and a return to normality hopefully!

A map of our city route can be seen here.

A day off in Oxford
Our day off in Oxford took in much of the city green space

The Thames Path
The Thames Path: Kemble to Cricklade
The Thames Path: Cricklade to Lechlade
The Thames Path: Lechlade to Tadpole Bridge
The Thames Path: Tadpole Bridge to Bablock Hythe
The Thames Path: Bablock Hythe to Osney Bridge, Oxford
The Thames Path: Osney Bridge, Oxford to Abingdon
The Thames Path- Abingdon to Shillingford/Warborough
The Thames Path- Shillingford/Warborough to Goring

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