Winter dog walks don’t get much better than at Shotover County Park on the outskirts of Oxford. The 117 hectares of stunning and varied landscapes make for the perfect place for an Oxford dog walk this winter.
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Despite being just minutes from Headington, walking through Shotover feels like you could be in the Lakes or New Forest. Whether you want a 30 minute stroll along the sandpit trail or are looking to walk the whole park with the 90 minutes boundary patrol, there is something for everyone (and every dog) at Shotover.
The park boasts the most spectacular variety of landscapes and habitats, from vast meadows to shady woods. There are also some breath-taking views to be had of South Oxfordshire from the southern slopes of Shotover Hill. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful county. Dogs will love running through the ferny undergrowth of the woods and scampering across the wide open spaces of the meadows and hills. With so much to do and smell, you can expect a lot of snoring after a dog walk in Shotover!
To help guide your day out, I recommend using the useful ‘Exploring Shotover County Park’ leaflet, created by Oxfordshire County Council. Download a version of the guide from their website.
We most recently visited Shotover to walk the boundary patrol trail. Like the other trails in this beautiful park, the boundary patrol starts from Mary Sadler’s Field near the car park. The trail then leads you through Slade Woods, Brasenose Woods, the Meadow, and Horspath Common, before making its way back to the car park along the Plain. Wellies or walking boots are definitely recommended at this time of year and be prepared for some uneven terrain and steep slopes. I couldn’t recommend it enough for an exhilarating afternoon dog walk that you will both love.
Some Shotover Key Facts:
- Until 1660, Shotover was part of a Royal Forest that provided hunting grounds for noblemen, fuel and grazing for local people, and timber for many of Oxford’s historic buildings.
- Until the end of the 18th Century the main road to London passed across Shotover Plain where travellers often fell victim to highwaymen.
- During World War II Shotover Hill was used for military training and tanks built at Cowley were tested there.
- Because Shotover is a nationally important wildlife site, most of the Country Park is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
- Shotover is open to everyone to enjoy throughout the year free of charge.
- By car – follow the Old Road east from Headington over the bypass and up a steep hill to the top where the road ends in the main car park.
- By bus – the No 10 Stagecoach service runs nearest to Shotover. Get off the bus at the Corner House pub at the end of Slade Road and walk down Horspath Driftway to cross the Eastern Bypass at the pelican crossing and enter the Country Park on the other side.