A bit on Oxford’s canals


in Daily updates, Oxford, The outdoors

Bridge over the Oxford Canal

Oxford’s canal system is one of the more interesting parts of the county to explore. They certainly look as though they harken from a departed era of red brick and steam powered industry. Nonetheless, they have a good modern role as walking paths, cycling routes, and waterways for the longboats that seem to form a curious sub-culture of British life. There are a great many of these artificial waterways, criss-crossing the countryside and sometimes meeting with the Isis, but I have only traveled the length of a few. I mean to learn more about the canals and the longboat culture before I leave here; can anyone recommend a book?

There is an ongoing controversy about one stretch of the Oxford Canal that is owned by a company called British Waterways. I really don’t know enough about it to comment, but I have seem some pretty bold statements spray-painted on the plywood with which the former boatyard has been fenced around.

As I mentioned before, the primary danger relating to the canals, if you are a cyclist, is the probability of kamikaze insects blinding you for long enough to send you careening over the edge. This has nearly happened to me quite a number of times. As when boating, this is a case where the wise wear sunglasses.

PS. Despite being in Oxford all summer, I have yet to go punting. I hope once people from the program start returning en masse both the weather and the enthusiasm will be in place for a late summer bout.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben August 30, 2006 at 1:41 pm

I think you’ve missed peak punting season… Our GCR punt scheme is, I think, over by September – though some colleges own punts and therefore I guess have near year-round access (subject to weather)

R.K. August 30, 2006 at 4:20 pm

Punting for the first time, you probably want to go with somebody who has some experience.

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