Tag: oxfordshire

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Blenheim Palace

I don’t know about where you live, but last Sunday, Oxfordshire was bathed in sun. What a gorgeous treat, after so much rain. We took the opportunity to head out with Poppy. So many of our favourite haunts are/have been under water so they’re either inaccessible or incredibly muddy. Therefore, we decided to head to the beautiful Blenheim Palace. Despite living close to it, we don’t go very often and I’m not sure why, because it’s a great place for walking.

From the bridge

We were quite late in getting there on Sunday so we had to park quite a distance from the Palace, which is where we were starting our walk from. We parked on grass, which was quite muddy due to the recent downpours we’ve enjoyed, but didn’t have any problem getting out! Blenheim Palace is incredibly popular and there were plenty of dogs, families and runners out enjoying the sun.

Duke of Marlborough

We headed straight over the bridge away from the Palace and veered left that meant we could do a circular walk around the palace grounds (though we didn’t know this at the time!) The benefit of this is that it meant we could stick to the tarmac and avoid the mud, though Poppy wanted to walk on the grass, as that was where all the best smells were!

sunny woods

Unfortunately for Poppy, we only saw one squirrel, but there were plenty of pheasants, which Poppy couldn’t really see, but boy could she smell them! There were also a few pheasant carcasses lying around, but we were pretty quick at enticing Poppy away from them. Blenheim Palace is also home to grazing sheep, so dogs need to be kept on leads at all times and be aware that the sheep are fenced in with electric fencing. The sheep are well used to visitors and dogs and I’m pleased to report that Poppy behaved very well among them!

in the sun

Dogs are allowed all throughout the parklands around the Palace, but they aren’t allowed in the Formal Gardens, Courtyards or Pleasure Gardens. Our walk was a bit of a mission, but that’s because we didn’t pick up a map and plan it. We did plan to have tea and cake from the Pantry, but the queue was huge and Poppy was getting cold so we abandoned that idea. The Pantry is well worth a visit though, as the cakes are lush! If you’d prefer, you can always take a picnic to enjoy.

The back of Blenheim

We wanted to upgrade our park and gardens ticket so we could get an Annual Pass. However, the queue on Sunday was massive and can’t seem to be able to do this online. We’ll end up getting an Annual Pass next time we go though, as it’s a great place for dog walking, with so many different routes available. Can’t wait to go back!

The Walk: One of the best things about Blenheim Palace is the vastness of the grounds. There are so many different routes to take that you could go a different way every time you visit, making it great value for money. They also provide you with a handy map so you can figure out where you’re going!
Cost: As we went out of season, we only paid £4 each, however, it is a bit more when everything is open. Here’s a link to the prices in full.
Car Park: As Blenheim Palace is used to hosting major events, there’s plenty of free car parking available. If you arrive late on a busy day, you might be quite far from the main building, but that just means you can eat more cake in the Pantry!
Refreshments: Depending what type of refreshments you’re after, there’s something to suit everyone. We usually just get something from the Oxfordshire Pantry and head outside with Poppy.
Toilets: There are toilets inside the East Courtyard Shop, which is well worth a visit in itself.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Port Meadow, Oxford

Anyone who knows Oxford will know about Port Meadow. It’s a pretty unique place, where cows & horses graze year round and when its flooded during winter, if it’s cold enough, you can skate on it. It’s a great place for dog walking, especially if you can get there when it’s dry enough that there isn’t any water in it.

Port MeadowWe parked in the car park on Walton Well Road. As far as parking in Oxford goes, it’s pretty reasonable. Just £2.10 for 5 hours. There is parking in Wolvercote on Godstow Road, which is free (according to the Oxford City Council website) but we wanted to head into Jericho after our walk.

Cows on Port MeadowCows & horses graze all over Port Meadow so we kept Poppy on her lead while we were walking by them. When we were far away from them and anyone else, we did let her off a little bit. It’s something that we’re working on with her. But whenever we were near the cows, we made sure that we had Poppy on the shortest lead possible. She’s still not sure about cows and at one point we had cows on both sides. Not sure who was most terrified – Poppy, the cows or us! Apart from a few nervous barks from Poppy, we escaped unscathed!

Dreaming SpiresOne of the things I love about Port Meadow is that you can completely forget that you’re in a city (apart from the sound of the cars driving along the A34!) Plus it’s big enough that you can have a real trek around it, maybe even walk from the car in Jericho to Wolvercote & back again (though that’s pretty adventurous!) Plus there are lots of walks you can access from Port Meadow so you’re spoilt for choice. Most of the walks also bring you close to very lovely pubs & restaurants so you’re sure somewhere lovely to put your feet up & enjoy some sustenance.

Port Meadow, Oxford

While there is a path at the start of the walk from Port Meadow South, it doesn’t last for long. Good walking shoes are advised as the ground is a little uneven and, unsurprisingly, there are a lot of cow pats all over the place (much to Poppy’s delight, though she quickly discovered that she prefers a fresh cow pat!)

Having lived in Jericho for a few years, going for a walk around Port Meadow is almost like going home for me. I loved living in Oxford so jump at any chance to pop back. Plus walking around Port Meadow gave Poppy a chance to get more used to livestock! It’s a great walk, not too difficult, and there are lots of options to extend your walk, should you choose to do so. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon!

The Walk: Weather permitting, you can walk around the whole of Port Meadow. However, it is a flood plain so sometimes it’s not possible to walk all the way around it. There are lots of other walks accessible via Port Meadow, including walking along the Thames into Oxford.
Cost: Free
Car Park: Free parking in Wolvercote on Godstow Road and very reasonable parking charges (for Oxford!) at Walton Well Road in Jericho. 
Refreshments: There are lots of great cafes, pubs and restaurants nearby, whether you’ve parked in Wolvercote or Jericho. How many are dog friendly, I’m not sure yet. However I do know that The Gardeners Arms in Jericho serves great veggie food & is dog friendly.
Toilets: As far as I know, there aren’t any public toilets near by, though if you know of any please let me know!

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Abingdon Lock

Living in Abingdon, I’m very lucky to have lots of places to walk Poppy straight from the house. One of the walks I like to do is to walk along the Ock towards Abingdon Lock. The Ock Walk has been perfect this summer, as it’s quite a shady spot so its remained cool in the heat. There’s no where to park if you join it at the Drayton Road entrance, but if you park in town, the nearest car park in on West St Helen Street and is free for 2 hours. We always join it at Drayton Road and it takes you into the centre of Abingdon, where there are quite a few choices from there. Last weekend, we headed to Abingdon Lock. We walked through Abbey Gardens to the lock. It’s a lovely place to walk, but it can be really busy with other dog walkers, cyclists etc so be wary if you have a nervous dog.

Abingdon Lock

It’s a lovely spot to walk along and once you’ve crossed the lock you can go either right or left. I think that it’s part of the Thames Path so again, you can keep going for as long as you want. We went right and walked through the fields by Rye Farm. If you want to head to the lock as your starting point, there are two car parks just off the main road by the bridge. (Note, some of them are free for two hours, some aren’t. Make sure you check!)

Abingdon On Thames

There are plenty of benches along the path to sit and take in the view. Abingdon always looks gorgeous in the sun and there’s something lovely about being near the river. Poppy is always entertained by all the smells about and there are always other dog walkers about to say hello to. It’s not a circular walk so if you do the whole thing, you have to double back. Though, if you parked at the bridge, you could walk through the field, up to the lock, through Abbey Gardens and back across the bridge. The Ock Walk is a lovely walk to do, especially if your dog likes to go for a dip as it’s easy for them to get in and out of the water!

The Walk: Abingdon Lock is on the Thames Path, so you can walk for as long as you like. As it follows the river, it’s quite a flat walk so perfect if you’re looking for something easy.
Cost: Free
Car Park: Free for two hours. (For more information on car parking charges in Abingdon, see the Council website.)
Refreshments: Yes. One thing Abingdon isn’t short of is cafes! Throwing Buns, Java & Co and Costa all have outdoor seats in the sun! A lot of the pubs in the area also have outdoor seating.
Toilets: There are public loos at Hale Meadow car park, as well as in Abbey Meadows.

Tuesday Treat – Finding somewhere new

Recently, when my OH & I have wanted to go out for coffee or lunch, I’ve wanted to try somewhere new but failed to think of anywhere to go. Last weekend, my OH came up trumps with somewhere lovely – Saddleback Farm Shop. Isn’t it great when you find somewhere new, especially when it’s local? Lucky for me, Saddleback is near where I live in Abingdon, bang in the middle of the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.

Saddleback Farm ShopWe sat outside for lunch & you can see why – What a view! After lunch, we went to the farm shop and bought lots of lovely food. What a perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday! Sometimes I think I’m so lucky to live where I do. Oxford’s a great city, we’re close enough to London, and yet, the countryside is right there. It’s good to remind yourself of the lovely things in life, especially when things look a little bleak.