Looking for an easy and beautiful dog walk in Oxford City Centre? Just a stone’s throw away from the city’s hustle and bustle, University Parks offers the perfect escape for you and your dog. Find out more about this dog walk below.
University Parks, otherwise known as Oxford University Parks, Uni Parks, or simply The Parks, was first laid out in 1864. The park is used for University sports including, cricket, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, and croquet, as well as being a beautiful public space for picnics and dog walks. The rules of the park state that dogs must be kept under control, so you are free to let them off the lead at time whens you are confident they will still respond to you. We normally let Buddy run and play on the first section of the walk and them pop him on the lead again near the ducks.
Our suggested walk follows around the Parks’ perimeter taking in the best sights including the Genetic Garden, the river Cherwell, the pond, and the cricket field.
Distance: around 2km
Time: 30 – 40 mins
Start: Enter University Parks at the North Lodge
Begin your walk around these glorious parks by taking in the North Lodge. This Grade II listed building was designed by T H Deane (one of the architects of the University Museum) and built in 1866. From here, turn left and follow West Walk that runs adjacent to Parks Road. While you walk along this stretch of the Park look out for the Gandhi Plaque. This slate memorial plaque is placed at the site of a tree planted to honour Gandhi in 1995.
By Keble Gate, you have the option of two paths. For a shorter walk take the path on your left – this will take you down to the Cricket Pavillion where you can also find the toilet facilities. For our longer walk follow South Walk down to the right. Here you can enjoy the Genetic Garden, which commemorates Professor Cyril Dean Darlington’s contribution to genetics from 1953 to 1971. Originally the garden was introduced to celebrate the diversity and evolution of the plant kingdom, and its current informal plan provides an attractive display for this scientifically unique collection of plants.
From South Lodge continue down Lucas walk to the side of the River Cherwell. The next section the walk continues to your left along the suitably named ‘Riverside Walk’.
Riverside Walk to Lady Margaret Hall Gate
The river Cherwell passes alongside the parks and passes under ‘Rainbow Bridge’. Officially called High Bridge, this footbridge is often referred to by the more inventive ‘Rainbow Bridge’ because of its remarkable arch shape. Finished in 1924, the opening of Rainbow Bridge made the meadows beyond accessible from the east of the river. Before its construction the meadows could only be reached by a foot ferry in the summer months.
The river’s edge makes for a perfect place for a picnic and to refresh thirsty dogs. Water-dogs will enjoy the cooling river Cherwell, while those that prefer land can scamper along the bank and frolic in the willow trees.
When rested, continue your walk by following the path to the pond in the corner of the park. The pond you see today is an extension made in 1996 to an original circular lily pond constructed in 1925. The new, less formal, pond reflects the style intended by James Bateman’s original plan in 1863. There are plenty of ducks here for your dogs to say hello to.
End: North Walk back to North Lodge
Finish your perimeter walk of University Parks by strolling up North Walk. This section of the path is beautifully shaded by trees and is the perfect environment for squirrel chasing for those dogs so inclined. On your left you can look across the Cricket Field to the Cricket Pavilion (completed in 1881).
To find out more information about the Parks, visit the Oxford University Parks website.
After your walk, why not find a dog-friendly café or dog-friendly pub nearby for refreshment?