Oxford Canal to Oxford

Rose Narrowboats Collage

Oxford Canal to Oxford

10 Day to 2 Week Route

Forty locks each way on the Oxford Canal. This rural route includes some of the prettiest canal and scenery. Cruise down through the eastern Cotswolds to the ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford.

Oxford Canal and River Thames
Bell and Barge Pub

Day 1 – Stretton Stop to Newbold: 5 miles no locks

A pleasant rural cruise to a village on the outskirts of Rugby which has shops and a good pub/restaurant (The Barley Mow)

Day 2 – Newbold to Napton Bottom Lock: 15 miles 3 locks

After skirting round the town of Rugby you cruise through open countryside, up the attractive flight of three locks at Hillmorton and on to Napton. The Folly pub by the bottom lock is well worth a visit.

Day 3  – Napton Bottom Lock to Fenny Compton: 9.5 miles 9 locks

From Napton nine locks carry you on to the Oxford summit, highly regarded for its scenic nature. The Wharf pub at Fenny Compton offers a good place to eat.

Day 4 –  Fenny Compton to Banbury: 10 miles 13 locks

The descent towards Oxford begins with 7 locks in the Claydon flight where you pass from Warwickshire into Oxfordshire. A further 6 locks through attractive countryside lower you to the market town of Banbury which has a recently rebuilt waterside and shopping centre.

Day 5 – Banbury to Lower Heyford: 14miles 7 locks

Below Banbury the locks are more widely spaced and the canal is never far from the River Cherwell as it winds its way past pretty villages and well kept farmland.

Day 6 – Lower Heyford to Oxford: 14 miles 9 locks

You pass many fine old churches and villages on this stretch (Bladon, where Sir Winston Churchill is buried is not far from the canal) but once past Thrupp the scenery is increasingly urban as you reach outskirts of Oxford.

Day 7 & 8 – 2 Days in Oxford

Or alternatively you have these 2 days to be able to stop over at any of the towns or villages on this route

Or extend onto the River Thames to go to Lechlade or Reading.

Day 9 – Oxford to Bletchingdon: 9 miles 6 locks

A relaxing day returning to the Oxfordshire countryside past Shipton on Cherwell to Bletchingdon where the excellent Rock of Gibraltar, an ancient coaching inn awaits as your destination.

Day 10 – Bletchingdon to Aynho: 12.5miles 6 locks

Climbing back up the Cherwell valley to the pretty village of Aynho you’ll pass the site of  USAF Heyford – an important bomber base during the cold war, but now abandoned.

Day 11 – Aynho to Cropredy: 11.5 miles 8 locks

Leaving the River Cherwell behind you pass back through Banbury to your day’s destination at Cropredy, a classic English village built from local ironstone with two excellent pubs (The Brasenose and the Red Lion) to choose from if you wish to eat out.

Day 12 – Cropredy to Marston Doles Top Lock: 13 miles 9 locks

A day of varied countryside interspersed with a few locks. The final climb to the summit is in the five lock flight at Claydon. Shortly above Claydon you pass through a long, deep and narrow cutting. Originally there was a tunnel here but it was opened out as part of improvements made in 1868. If you want to eat out, stop for lunch at Fenny Compton because your destination for the evening, Marston Doles, is quite remote but with some good views! Alternatively you could stop for the evening by Bridge 124 and walk up to the Holly Bush at Priors Marston.

Day 13 – Marston Doles to Braunston: 9 miles and 9 locks

The day starts with boating down Napton flight then is an easy run to the historic boating village of Braunston which is well worth exploring and offers a good choice of places to eat.

Day 14 – Braunston to Newbold: 10 miles and 3 locks

A straightfoward run towards “home”. Hillmorton has several good places to stop for lunch. The church at Newbold is worth visiting – don’t forget to look for the abandoned canal tunnel just behind it.

Day 15 – Newbold to Stretton Stop

Return to boatyard for 9.30am