Oxford, renowned for its rich history and picturesque landscapes, offers visitors an opportunity to embrace the quintessential British pastime of punting. With the tranquil waterways of the River Cherwell and the River Thames meandering through the city, punting in Oxford provides a delightful and leisurely way to explore its iconic landmarks and soak in the serene ambiance.
Oxford Punting – The Magdalen Bridge Boathouse
Oxford Punting is a reputable company that offers traditional guided punt tours along the charming River Cherwell. Situated beneath the magnificent Magdalen College Tower, at the lower end of Oxford’s world-famous high street, lies Magdalen Bridge Boathouse. This idyllic location offers a quintessential Oxford experience—punting on the picturesque Cherwell River. Whether you’re a visitor, resident, or student, punting is a favourite pastime that allows you to enjoy the charm and beauty of Oxford.
At Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, you have the option to hire a punt and set off on your own Oxford adventure. The punts can accommodate up to five people and cost £30 per hour. You can indulge in a leisurely one-hour trip or spend the entire day on the river, returning the punt to the boathouse at least half an hour before sunset.
As you embark south from the boathouse, you’ll glide gracefully past Oxford’s famous Botanic Gardens, through the Christ Church College Meadows—a place steeped in history and literary inspiration. It was here that Lewis Carroll, the author of the beloved “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Alice in Wonderland,” taught in the mid-19th century. Continue your journey, passing St Hilda’s College gardens and the exquisite Magdalen School rose gardens. Drift under miniature white bridges and savor the scenic beauty before heading back past the Botanic Gardens to the Boathouse. For the more adventurous, you can venture south towards the Isis (Oxford’s name for the River Thames), experiencing the enchanting Christ Church Meadow and the captivating natural wonders that lie along the river.
If you’re new to punting, basic training is available to ensure you have a delightful and safe experience on the water.
Hire a Chauffeur
For the ultimate relaxation and a touch of luxury, Magdalen Bridge Boathouse offers a chauffeured punting service. Sit back and let a highly experienced punter guide you along the river, as you enjoy the stunning surroundings and soak in the tranquillity. The cost for a chauffeured punt ride is £40 per 30 minutes, allowing you to tailor your experience to your preferences.
Magdalen Bridge Boathouse welcomes large groups and offers an unforgettable experience for students. Whether it’s a school outing or a university excursion, they can cater to groups of up to 100 students. Their trained chauffeurs will be on hand to punt your boats and guide your students through this fantastic and educational journey.
Boating Options: Punting, Rowing, and Pedalos
In addition to punting, Magdalen Bridge Boathouse provides other boating options – You can hire rowing boats or pedalos for an hour or, if you desire a more immersive experience, spend an entire day on the river, revelling in the beauty of Oxford’s countryside.
For further information please click here to visit their wesbite.
Punting at the Cherwell Boathouse in Oxford
Nestled along the picturesque banks of the river Cherwell, the Cherwell Boathouse offers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Just 1.5 miles from the centre of Oxford, this tranquil location beckons visitors to experience the timeless and slightly eccentric pleasure of punting.
Getting to the Cherwell Boathouse is easy, with various transportation options available. If you prefer public transportation, you can take a bus to Park Town from either the town centre or Summertown, followed by a short 5-minute walk down Bardwell Road, just past the Dragon School playing fields. Alternatively, a taxi ride from the railway station or town centre takes around 5-10 minutes, depending on traffic. For those who enjoy a scenic stroll, a pleasant walk through the University parks will take approximately 25-30 minutes from the town centre.
Parking at the boathouse is limited, and it’s worth noting that the small on-site car park can fill up quickly, particularly on weekends. However, you can avail of free parking on Chadlington and Bardwell roads for up to 3 hours until 4 pm. After this time and on Sundays, parking is free for an unlimited duration. Availability is generally good, except during Dragon School collection on Saturdays at 12:30 pm when it can get busy.
Punting, a classic Oxford pastime, allows you to meander along the river and indulge in the charm of the surrounding countryside. From the Cherwell Boathouse, you can take a leisurely punt upstream, reaching The Victoria Arms in about half an hour. Beyond the pub, you can continue your journey through beautiful rural landscapes, making it an ideal full-day outing. Alternatively, head downstream and traverse the enchanting University Parks, a perfect spot for picnics and family games. If you wish to explore further into Oxford, you’ll need to navigate the rollers to portage your punt to the lower Cherwell and then on to Magdalen College.
Punting at the Cherwell Boathouse is suitable for both novices and experts alike, making it a versatile experience for students, corporate parties, families, and groups of friends. With approximately 80 boats available, midweek availability is usually good. However, weekends tend to be busier, so it’s advisable to arrive early to secure your punt.
The boathouse’s flexible hire structure allows you to embark on your punting adventure without committing to a specific time frame. Upon arrival, you leave a deposit or provide your card details, and the staff notes the time you set off. You can enjoy punting for as long as you like, and upon your return, the time is recorded, and you are charged accordingly. The minimum charge is 1 hour, with subsequent charges calculated in quarter-hour increments. If you choose to spend an extended period on the river, there is a day rate of 5 hours.
Hiring a punt is an affordable option, with weekday rates at £22 per hour and weekend rates at £24 per hour, charged to the nearest quarter hour. It’s a convenient and enjoyable way to enjoy yourself in the quintessential Oxford experience.
The Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant
The Cherwell Boathouse is not only a hub for punting but also a renowned dining establishment. It was established in 1904 by Anthony Verdin, a local entrepreneur and connoisseur of fine wine and food, in an authentic Victorian working boathouse. Today, the boathouse remains a family-owned and operated business, overseen by John Verdin, Anthony’s eldest son, and his dedicated team of friendly waiting staff.
For further information please click here to visit their wesbite.
Whether you choose to hire a punt and embark on your own adventure or indulge in a chauffeured ride, passing by the iconic landmarks and college gardens from the River Cherwell is a fabulous way to experience Oxford. Grab a pole, and let the river guide you through this quintessential Oxford experience. Happy punting!