Oxford Scholastica Spotlight: Cherwell Boathouse
Dubbed the “city of dreaming spires”, Oxford is famous for its University and the abundance of college architecture that sprawls across the city. When visiting Oxford, it’s easy to head straight for the historical city centre to discover the museums, libraries and medieval buildings, but the city is also home to relaxing riverside walks and wide open parks.
There are a variety of activities on offer across the city, for residents and visitors alike, as well as some great day trip destinations easily accessible nearby.
Among the city’s iconic gems, the Cherwell Boathouse stands out as a beloved favourite among locals and tourists. Visited by our residential summer school students as a favourite part of the programme, the Cherwell Boathouse provides a peaceful setting to relax with friends, and try out the unique experience of punting together!
Oxford’s Finest Punt Station
Situated on the banks of the River Cherwell, the Cherwell Boathouse – also known as “Oxford’s Finest Punt Station” – offers an experience that captures the essence of the city.
The boathouse is a hub of activity, serving as a starting point to hire a punt for the day, grab a refreshment, or enjoy a river-side picnic. With its charming setting and traditional punting activity, the Cherwell Boathouse has become a classic landmark enjoyed by couples, families and groups of all ages.
The River Cherwell
Flowing into the River Thames, the River Cherwell winds its way through University and college grounds across the city. With areas open to the public, and riverside walks accessible from the University Parks and Christ Church Meadow, the River Cherwell is a great treat for nature enthusiasts.
For those seeking adventure, and are willing to risk getting wet, the boathouse manages an easy-to-use punt hiring system, allowing you to explore Oxford from the waters!
Punting in Oxford
If you want to get a taste of the quintessentially Oxford experience, punting is a great place to start. Whether you’re a beginner or already a pro, it’s an unparalleled way to navigate the river and appreciate the city’s beauty.
Oxford has a strong punting history, beginning as a way to transport cargo along the River Thames in the Middle Ages. The flat base and distinct design of punts allows them to pass through areas where the water is too shallow to use a conventional rowing boat.
Pleasure punts – the type of recreational punts used today – became popular in the second half of the nineteenth century, and have been a part of Oxford tradition since.
At the Cherwell Boathouse, punts can be hired on an hourly basis or checked out for the whole day. The punts fit up to six people and are priced at £22-£24 per hour, or £110-£120 for a full day, depending on when you visit. If you would prefer a more leisurely experience, chauffeured punting is also an option.
Taking the Scenic Route
Hiring a punt from the Cherwell Boathouse offers the option of two different routes to explore. Head upstream to admire the city’s architecture from a unique perspective as you row through the Oxford countryside.
Choose the downstream route for a peaceful afternoon in nature, passing through the University Parks. To venture further into Oxford towards Magdalen College, you can use the boat rollers to portage your punt to the lower Cherwell.
After a day of punting and exploring, the Cherwell Boathouse offers a range of dining options to choose from. The restaurant is great for scenic views from the conservatory, riverfront or gazebo, or for a more relaxed setting, the tea hut provides a cosy spot to unwind next to the river.
Top Tips for a Great Trip
Here are our tips for the best experience at the Cherwell Boathouse:
- Arrive in the morning to avoid queues and enjoy a peaceful start to your day.
- If you’re part of a group, one person is able to queue for the party while the others explore the refreshment options or relax by the river.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, hats and comfortable clothing, especially during the summer months!
If you’re a student looking to experience first-hand what the city of Oxford has to offer, including an afternoon punting from Cherwell Boathouse, consider an Oxford residential summer school like the Oxford Scholastica Academy. Our programmes offer a range of day trips and activities that allow our students to experience the city alongside their studies.
By Emily Hindle
Emily is an undergraduate student at the University of Bristol reading English Literature, specialising in Modernist writers. In her free time, Emily enjoys running and hopes to complete her first half-marathon next year. She also loves photography and videography.
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