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Oxford University, Christ
grand, tranquil colleges
in the centre of this large city are, in a similar way to Cambridge
but more so, surrounded by the unfortunate trappings of modern
life - traffic, hideous concrete office structures, monotonous
suburban housing and light industry.
Still, once you battle through the encircling modern mess the
ancient university core is delightful, easily walkable and rewarding
with open green spaces offered by Christ Church Meadow, adjacent
to Christ Church and Merton colleges and providing very pleasant
walks along the Cherwell or Thames (known as the Isis in Oxford)
The Radcliffe Camera,
a reading room annexe of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
© Paul Cowan
• Carfax crossroads and its tower on the High Street is a common
starting point for a walking tour.
• just south of High Street Christ Church college (pictured
above) is the university's biggest college, built in 16th century
and partly designed by Christopher Wren (architect of London's
St Paul's Cathedral), with several spectacular buildings
including a Norman cathedral.
• Merton college, separated from Christ Church Meadow by the
hardly tragic Dead Man's Walk, is one of the University's most
• up Rose Lane to Magdalene College and punt rental is available
on the River Cherwell.
• north of High Street is Oxford's best known sight, the circular
Radcliffe Camera building.
• the renowned Bodleian Library (guide tours only).
• another Christopher Wren contribution, the Sheldonian Theatre.
• last but definitely not least, the magnificent Ashmolean Museum
is home to some terrific ethnic antiquities such as Egyptian,
Chinese and Islamic, as well as fine European paintings.
An ancient clock in Oxford University grounds.
© Maurie Hill
main train station is about ten minutes walk from the city centre.
Bicycles are an excellent way to travel around the university
and easily rentable.
Bit of a hike?
A fine, long but not too strenuous walk runs beside Oxford's rivers and fields before returning past some of the city's finest buildings. At 9 miles (15km) long, this can take up to 5 hours:
Start from Oxford Railway Station and walk north beside the River Isis (otherwise known as the Thames) until you leave the city. Cross Port Meadow and return via the Oxford Canal, Wolfson Nature Reserve, Magdalen College, Christ Church and the Bodleian Library.
though decrepit carvings of the university's early royal sponsors and other quirky artefacts are in abundance.
Oxford town centre is partially commercial, partially academic and mostly medieval though its outer suburbs are not attractive. Next, Stratford-upon-Avon.
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