The grounds of Christchurch are vast and very beautiful. They stretch down towards the Thames and end in a nice meadow where you can relax in the shade of old chestnut trees. Sitting there reading a book, watching the ducks, geese and swans being fed by passers-by or simply enjoying life is one of my favourite good-weather weekend activities.
The meadow is also a great place to watch the numerous Oxford rowing teams practicing. All different kinds of rowing boats from single sculls to eight oars with coxswain are training hard to do Oxford's rowing teams credit. I'm not really familiar with all the techniques and boat types, but even for an amateur it is really interesting. The teams start their course down the river at Iffley Lock (see another tip) and move upstream in what seems to me an incredible speed. Shortly before Folly Bridge, their trainers who accompany them by bike on the Thames Path will give them a sign to stop rowing and slow down. On weekend afternoons, they are immediately afterwards urged to free the area behind the finishing line as there are so many practising teams. In case you want to know which college the rowers belong to, check the boat itself: On its front or rear end, there is always a little abbreviation that tells you the college. E.g "SEH" stands for "St. Edmund Hall", "WDH" for Wadham and so on. Alternatively, you can purchase a book or a postcard which shows you the colour of the blades and which college they belong to.
We walked through here to get to Christchurch and Follys Bridge, we were by the Botanical Gardens. The walk turned out to be really pleasent walking past some well maintained grounds and down a path leading to the river. We met an elderly woman who said she used to be a professor there and she was drawing the trees on a massive piece of paper which gets reduced down & she turns them into poetry books and cards. She was a very interesting person to chat to & her love for the enviroment was evident so we bought a card from her.
Do note the closing time is 9pm as I think a vt'er whose pages I read said she got stuck in the gardens although I am not sure it was this particular one.
One of the nicest walks in Oxford is the roughly 2km long path around Christ Church Meadow. Old trees line the path, students sit on benches or leaning onto the roots of a huge chestnut or beech tree reading academic books, tourists daring enough try to manoeuvre their punt on River Cherwell, and around every second bend you discover another stunning view on Christ Church. It is a must to bring your camera here - you would so much regret being there without it!
The meadow has been unchanged for several centuries - no farming, no mowing, no manuring, only some cows who tranquilly chew the grass. Whether these are the same cows that the college statutes of Christ Church allow its students to own in order to be able to have fresh milk for breakfast, I don't know. Nonetheless, they make a nice view.
With all this beauty in the middle of a city like Oxford, isn't it incredible that there actually were plans to build a four-lane main road across the meadow??? The city council concocted this stupidity in the 1990s to relieve the traffic on High Street, but fortunately the plan was never realized.
See my Christ Church Meadow travelogue for more photos! And keep in mind the gates closing times when you visit the meadow: In winter, the main gates will be closed as early as 4pm. You can still get out, though, by walking up the parking lot. Its gates normally close at 9pm.
Whether you take a picnic, just have a stroll, or just relax and take in all the surroundings, Christchurch Meadow is a place that you can do all of those things. It's a nice little patch of greenery that makes Christchurch special.
A beautiful park behind Christ Church College. It's a nice place for a picnic at the river. You can watch the people punting - some look like they know what they are doing and some don't!