The Oxford Circuit Canoe Trail offers easy access to the water. It’s a fairly mellow paddle and suitable whatever the time of year. Obviously increased flow will change the face of the spot making it either harder or easier depending how fast or slow the current is.

Unless you’re confident hitting a number of weirs then you’ll have to negotiate a number of portages – some of which do have tricky exits up slippy river banks. In some instances it could be worth, with a partner, roping boats down the weirs before re-entering.

The put in is next to Port Meadow (near Wolvercote) and boasts free car parking. Beginning your approximate nine mile paddle you’ll pass plenty of sites, architectural interests and city scenes – all from the comfort of your sit on top.

It’s worth noting that swimmers tend to use the river in summer – especially Port Meadow – meaning the water is pretty busy at this time of year. You’ll also need a license if you’re not a member of Canoe England. These can be purchased from – River Thames and – Oxford Canal.

How to get there:

A number of major road routes lead into Oxford City Centre and the area s serviced by a busy rail network. Once in Oxford you’ll need to follow signs for Port Meadow.


The Trout Inn is adjacent to the put in car park and is a great place to grab après paddling refreshments.


Swimmers and other water users, especially around Port Meadow, are worth watching out for. Weirs and slippy banks at each portage can be a hassle as is fast flow if the river is in flood.

Ins and Outs:

Put in straight off the car park next to the Trout Inn (Inspector Morse’s hangout) at Port Meadow. There’s a height restriction barrier to be wary of, particularly if you have sit on top kayaks on the roof of your vehicle.


River spot with all the usual things to watch out for – over hanging branches, current and weirs. Best to paddle here, if you’re a newbie, with someone who has experience.

Oxford is the home of the fictional detective Inspector Morse. The TV series featured Oxford landscapes and sites, in particular Morse’s favourite pub hangout The Trout which is next the put in at Port Meadow.


With a population of 150,200 Oxford is one of the fastest growing and most diverse cities in the United Kingdom. World renowned for its university – one of the oldest in the world – and fabulous architecture Oxford is the ‘city of dreaming spires’ – a phrase coined by poet Mathew Arnold.

With the River Thames running through Oxford’s heart it’s a fabulous location for a spot of sit on top kayaking and site seeing. Easily accessible from all corners the Oxford Circuit Canoe Trail is certainly one to tick off the bucket list.


Oxford Circuit Canoe Trail

Continent Images Cricklade