When the temperature soars, paddling and wild swimming are popular ways to cool off. I’ve had a good search around and here are some places to go in Oxfordshire.
It can be very tempting to just leap into a river but there are lots of dangers so please do be careful. The water is usually extremely cold and there are hidden dangers from rocks or broken glass. Get hold of some water shoes and make sure you can easily get out of the water onto a shallow bank.
Paddling and Wild Swimming in Oxfordshire
Stretching from Jericho all the way up to Wolvercote is the wonderful Port Meadow. Parking is available (although it can get very busy on hot summery days at the Godstow Car Park, Wolvercote). At this end there’s a shallow entry point with dappled shade from the trees. It’s also a good spot for paddle boarding or kayaking.
St Mary’s Fields Kidlington
Park at St Mary’s Church in Kidlington and take a woodland walk down to the river. There’s an easy point to enter the water for a dip close the the pedestrian bridge that leads over the fields to Hampton Poyle. You can also wander along the pathways up towards Thrupp with spots on the way for swimming.
Wallingford has a sandy beach that gradually slopes into the River Thames. With a car park only a couple of minutes walk away, it’s a popular spot to launch a paddleboard or canoe.
There’s a large inland paddling beach at the Cotswold Country Park and Beach. If you’re more into full on open water swimming, this can be done with prior arrangement. More details on their website.
Just ankle deep and right in the centre of the charming Cotswold Village of Bourton on the Water, this is a popular and picturesque place for paddling. The water is sooooo cold but
Wonderfully cool under the shade of the trees, the river next to Minster Lovell ruins in West Oxfordshire near Witney has parts which are shallow for wading in and deeper areas for a swim.
I don’t know how easy it is to get into and out of the water at Shillingford but I recently spied this little spot at the end of the end of Wharf Road. There were people getting out with kayaks and there’s a step down to the waters edge. I’ve no idea how deep it is here but definitely not paddling.
Buscot Weir near Faringdon
My friend spotted this place with lots of people enjoying a swim. There’s no parking there but I think (not 100% sure) that you can park at the nearby National Trust property and walk down.
Clifton Hampden Wharf
I spied this gorgeous little spot on my way back from a visit to Neptune Woods. There’s easy access from the shore and lovely shaded parts under the trees. Parking is very tight with just a few spaces along the road and these are reserved for church goers on Sunday mornings.
Close to West Oxfordshire and just over the border into Gloucestershire is the wonderfully picturesque village of Bibury. The river Coln is shallow and clear (we could see large fish swimming). There are several easy access stone steps dotted along the banks or a grassy spot next to the bridge to get to the water for a paddle.
Just half an hour from Oxford, there’s the perfect place to access the River Thames for a little wild swimming or paddle boarding fun. There’s even a campsite and riverside pub if you want to make a weekend of it.