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Oxford boating

Thursday, April 16, 2009
As beautiful as it is, driving and parking in Oxford can be a nightmare and drivers are strongly advised to use the five "park and ride" car parks on major routes leading in to town.

Catriona Rowntree found it's easy to see the city on foot, or even better, you can rent a punt and try your hand at poling along the river, maybe stopping at a pub for a spot of lunch or a picnic on the riverbank.

Glide past the Botanic Gardens, through Christ Church Meadows where Lewis Carroll wrote Through the Looking Glass, and St Hilda's College. You can self-drive or be chauffeur driven, but most people prefer to pack a hamper and take the challenge.

Punts are flat-bottomed boats with a square-cut bow, designed for small rivers or other shallow waters and carry up to five passengers. They have been an integral part of English culture for centuries. Before railways were installed, punts were used for trade and transport. Punters can push well over a tonne with minimal effort.

It became popular as a leisure activity with students in Oxford and Cambridge, where the rivers were ideally suited to it, and it still survives.

The most popular one with visitors is the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse on the River Cherwell where they can be rented between March and October.

Oxford, The City of Dreaming Spires, is famous the world over for its university, the oldest in the English-speaking world, and its place in history. For more than 800 years, it has been a home to royalty and scholars. Since the ninth century it's been an established town, although people are known to have lived in the area for thousands of years.

Oxford University's impressive alumni include four British and eight foreign kings, 47 Nobel Prize winners, three Oscar winners, 25 British prime ministers, 28 foreign presidents and prime ministers, seven saints, 86 archbishops, 18 cardinals and one pope.

The bustling cosmopolitan town is a mix of ancient and modern and its long sweeping High Street is one of England's most striking. Oxford is bookish, conservative and closeted and home to the academic elite and working-class majority. It is a living museum and the birthplace of Mensa and the Morris Minor.

There are old pubs where students, other locals and tourists enjoy a mug of cider. Choristers sing in Latin from Magdalen Tower. The Great Tom bell from Tom Tower peals 101 times to signal the closing of the college gates. Towers and spires pierce the clouds and barges float on the Thames and Cherwell Rivers.


Oxford, 87km north-west of London.


Magdalen Bridge Boathouse punt rental starts at around $28 an hour. Chauffeured punts are around $41 for 30 minutes and include a bottle of wine. Punting opens at 10am until dusk each day. They operate between March 1 and December 1.

Price correct at April 16, 2009.

For further information

Magdalen Bridge Boathouse
The Old Horse Ford
High Street
Oxford OX14AX
Ph +44 1865 202 643 (boathouse)
Ph: +44 1865 761 586 (office)

For more information on the UK
Contact Visit Britain
Ph: 1300 858 589

Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.

Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.

Time: The UK is on Greenwich Mean Time between October and March. Between March and October it is on British Summer Time.

Currency: The British pound sterling.

Telephone code: +44.

User comments
England is my dream place to travel I can't wait until i can finally travelt to Europe

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