Places to kayak / canoe In Oxford

I have an inflatable canoe which I love to take the kids out on. There doesn’t seem to be very much information on locations to canoe in Oxford. Most of the places to kayak around Oxford are commercial -i.e. kayaks for hire etc…  So if you want to use your own boat it is hard to find locations that are easy to get in and out of the water. So, here is my list of places that I kayak around Oxford.

The Cherwell – North Summertown

You can canoe/kayak down the Cherwell river from North Summertown / Cutterslow. You drive to the park just off Water Eaton Rd, Oxford. You can park for free. The river is just 100m away. If I have another adult with me then I inflate the boat and carry to the river. There are two entrance points at the river. The right hand one is easiest. You can paddle down to the Victoria arms or left upstream (although this is sometimes blocked). There aren’t many spots to easily climb out for the picnic.

Paddling down with gourgeous trees either side.


The Thames – Wolvercote

You can kayak and canoe on the Thames on Port Meadow. You drive and park at Port Meadow Godstow Car Park. It is very easy to enter the water in the corner of the carpark next to the bridge. You can paddle down towards port meadow. The water is calm and you can stay out of the wind by keeping close to the bank. You can make a circular route by paddling down to the lock and then around back to the start. You may need to carry your boat around the lock. The water is generally quite shallow and it is very easy to quickly land and have a picnic.

This photo is taken down passed the lock towards the perch. There are lots of blackberry bushes and the girls loved having a picnic canoeing down the Thames.

If you go through the lock then you can do a circular route like this.


Thrupp Canal

This is an excellent spot for some gentle canoeing. There is actually a place to hire canoes from here. If you are bringing you own canoe then park at the back of Annie’s Tea Room. You can then carry all your gear up to next to the canal.

Here is where you enter the water. The carpark is at the back on the right. There is plenty of space by the benches to sort out gear and inflate your boat etc. The cafe is really close.

If you head north then you will have some lovely stretches of the canal lined with boats. The kids love finding out their names. You can also paddle south and you will go passed the pub.

Clifton Hampden

You can paddle along the river Thames very easierly from Clifton Hampden.  You can easily park next to the wooden walk ways and then carry your boat to the river which is about 5-10 meters across a field.    You can turn this into an overnight canoe camping trip.



The best place to enter the water at Bablockhythe is on the opersite side to the Ferryman Inn and caravan park. You basically can’t park on this site because it is private land. However, you can park on the other side of the river.  You can turn this into an overnight canoe camping trip at Pink Hill lock.

You can then enter than water on either the bank or the slipway.


Eynsham Lock

The Thames river is really beautiful near Enysham lock.   You can paddle upstream to Days Lock with ease and if you feel like an adventure –  you can also camp at Days Lock.   Our kids love it.  The only problem is getting in at Enysham lock is parking and access to the water   I’ve covered how to do this below.


Paddling upstream…

Parking and getting in…

Drive towards the toll bridge but just before you get there turn into this private road. Link to Google Maps  The road is owned by Thames Water and leads right to the lock.  You can’t get into the carpark because there is a locked gate but you can off load your boats.

Offload your boats and then carry them over the gate..

Off loading your board near Eynsham Lock

You can park in the laybys back our on the road.

Parking near Eynsham lock

Then it’s easy to get into the water either side of the lock.

Getting into water near Eynsham lock


8 thoughts to “Places to kayak / canoe In Oxford”

  1. This is really useful! I am planning a trip with my wife from Thrupp, hiring a canoe for the day. It sounds like it’s nice to go north or south. Is it hard going paddling up the Cherwell? Just wondering how far we should plan to go. We don’t canoe often so will not be paddling fit, but are both otherwise quite fit. Any advice would be much appreciated. Ed

    1. Hey, you can’t really canoe on the Cherwell river itself because there are too many trees hanging into the river. You can only really canoe on the canal which is really easy because there isn’t any current. The canoe hire place will be able to help you. Have fun 🙂

  2. Really useful post. My wife and I just got our first inflatable kayak and live in the area. Thanks for the information 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for all the useful information. We have just got the very first inflatable kayak and can’t wait to explore the river and canal in Oxfordshire.

  4. Great. It’s lovely to see that this a useful post. If you find other places then please let me know and I’ll put them up 🙂

    1. Thank you for all this amazing information. Do you need a license to use your own kayak in Oxford? Thanks

  5. Thanks for posting this!

    I tried going around the Pixey Mead loop from Woolvercote as suggested. You forgot to mention the weir 🙂 So for anyone else planning the same….

    Obviously if you’re going to do this loop you’d be a fool to go against the wind/current on the Thames, so head under the bridge immediately you enter the water and go up the “mill stream”. (i.e. anti-clockwise). Like mill streams, they’re flat with minimal current, and it’s also very sheltered from the wind by wooded banks.

    After a bit you arrive at a huge wall of water and pilings with no obvious way to proceed. However, if you go down a small cut to the left you’ll come across a place to land and a “path” up to the top. I call it a path, but it’s too steep to be called a path proper; it’s a steep muddy slope – you’ll need your hands to climb it. Be prepared.

    I attached a rope near the top and my daughter and I were able to haul a loaded Hudson and paddle board up without further difficulty although I can see it being harder when wet.

    Further upstream, until you get to the canal cut through, navigation can get challenging with fallen trees and weed. It’s a place few people go, and rather lovely for that.

    Once you break out past Duke’s Cut you’re on to fully navigable river again, although with little current. Continuing around the loop you get to King’s Lock. Although the landings are high, this is a fairly easy carry. and there’s a pontoon on the lower side that’s handy for getting back in. No so with Godstow Lock; below that you’re looking a long way down in to the water. It’s okay for a paddle board or Canadian, but I suspect it’s a bit tricky for a kayak – although entertaining for anyone watching. Unless, of course, you’re happy getting in on the bank and sliding over the edge.

    Given the cost of a license to use the Thames, Godstow Lock, in particular, should spend some of the cash on a pontoon.

    For a gentle afternoon paddle, allow four hours to go around the loop.

    (photos available – email me)

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