With Oxfordshire’s summer in full swing and each tourist sweating like a turkey at Christmas, the desire – nay,- the ‘need’ to be swallowed and swimming into a cold, refreshing river is second to none. The scenes could not be more perfect: the beige buildings watching you submerge into natures natural heat remedy and tourists watching with daring temptation and jealousy, you’d truly be the envy of the city. All that’s left is for you to choose your stage! Don’t worry, Oxfordshire offers a variety of scenery for wild swimming and doesn’t contain chlorine that will strip the life out of you hair… So, without further ado, here are Oxfordshire’s Top 3 wild swimming locations!
Gold Medal: Folley Bridge
Although not well-known, this is the precise reason it has been our top pick! It’s enticing secrecy ensures both privacy and peace – until you and your group come along of course. The actual swimming area comes with too many spots to choose from, with constant new and concealed pathways opening up hidden gardens by the riverside to swim in. It’s s matter of going ‘Dora the Explorer-ing’ and discovering your perfect setting: green grass with willows lolling into the river or using concrete steps outside the rowing clubs to stylishly wade into the water.
How to get there:
Once you reach Folley Bridge, stroll down onto the pathway by the rivers edge and follow the trail (opposite The Head of the River Pub.) It may be wise to pack light as the walk can be up to thirty minutes to the first pathway veering off into the swimming location!
Silver medal: Port Meadow
Are you a fan of animals? Then this was selected for you! Port Meadow is home to cows and horses as well as the River Thames – aka your swimming grounds. The water’s clear and fresh reputation begs to be cannon-balled by enthusiastic and sun-kissed tourists, whilst the animals I’m sure are used to avoiding the splash zones…
This nature wonderland wins the silver medal for one of our top swimming areas due to its rural scenes – it truly feels although you are abroad as opposed to cloudy, grey England. It also has rope swings randomly positioned around the area for you and your friends to enjoy a little extra fun and bravery (just be sure to land in the water as opposed to animal dung!)
How to get there:
The best way of transport is to drive via Walton Well Road, Aristotle Lane and Wolvercote. The car park does not require a fee.
Bronze Medal: Christchurch Boathouse
It is understandable to desire an audience to gawp at and rate your amateur diving attempts and this particular swimming spot has been handpicked in the top three for this very reason. This area is more of a public place as opposed to a private or hidden haven, with an array of weather-beaten bodies springing off of the pontoon.
Students are well known to be swimming along this long strip of river – especially on days where the heat demands a cool remedy! The boathouse is home to a long row of rowing houses for various universities and colleges, so do watch out not to ‘accidentally’ jump into a team of athletic rowers… However, if an athletic view is not what you are in search for, further down the river, heading towards the city centre is a wonderful green strip of grass with scenic old bridges and willow trees dipping and lolling into the river. This is another student favourite, each jump acting as a nod to the tourists attempting to enjoy their peaceful walks by the gleaming waters edge.
How to get there:
The Boathouse is nearby Magdalen, Trinity and LMH Boathouses. An on-foot route would be advised as parking is quite far from the destination, however the walk is very scenic and enjoyable!
So, with this in mind don’t forget to read up on wild swimming health advice, as well as not to forget to bring a spare pair of underwear and clothes! There are many pubs and places to enjoy food and drink after a very exhausting and fun time socialising, so be sure to check them out and reward your energetic jumps and competitive dares – we look forward to seeing you make a splash!
After your swim, you can find a space at one of the many relaxing picnic spots in Oxford. Find out more about it in our article of the top three local picnic spots.