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Five great Oxfordshire walks to destress

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Oxfordshire is what many tourists would consider quintessentially English, but living in the county we often don’t respect it for the beautiful place it is.

There’s nature all around, history, architectural beauty and many countryside trails that are idyllic for clearing the head and taking in some fresh air. Making the most of that is more important than ever as many of us struggle with our mental health as a result of things like the cost of living crisis.

Getting out in nature is the perfect coping mechanism for such stresses, a far cry from turning to alcohol or drugs like a worrying amount of people do, finding themselves in detox clinics as they try to get their lives back on track.

There’s something magical about a walk. It can relieve us of our worries, make us see a bigger picture. So, if you’re feeling a little stressed, worried or anxious, why not try some of these great walking spots across Oxfordshire?

Port Meadow Circular Walk, Oxford

Port Meadow, located just north of Oxford city centre, is a tranquil expanse of open grassland bordered by the River Thames. This easy circular walk around Port Meadow offers stunning views of the river, grazing cattle, and historic Oxford skyline. Begin your walk at Walton Well Road and follow the meandering path alongside the river, passing through wildflower meadows and ancient hedgerows. Take a moment to pause at The Perch, a charming riverside pub, before continuing your leisurely stroll back to the starting point. This peaceful walk provides a refreshing escape from urban life without venturing far from Oxford's bustling streets.

The Ridgeway, Wantage to Goring

For a longer and more invigorating hike, explore a section of The Ridgeway, one of England's oldest trails that spans across Oxfordshire. Start your walk in Wantage and follow The Ridgeway trail towards Goring, passing through rolling chalk downs, beech woodlands, and quaint villages. This picturesque route offers panoramic views of the Oxfordshire countryside and the River Thames valley below. Pause for a picnic at Wayland's Smithy, an ancient long barrow, before descending into Goring village where you can relax by the river or reward yourself with a meal at a local pub. The Ridgeway provides a scenic and soul-soothing experience for avid walkers.

Wittenham Clumps Circular Walk, Didcot

Located near Didcot, the Wittenham Clumps are two prominent hills offering sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Embark on a circular walk that takes you up to the summit of Round Hill or Castle Hill, where you'll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the Thames Valley, Oxfordshire Downs, and the iconic Dorchester Abbey. Follow the footpaths through ancient woodlands and wildflower meadows, and keep an eye out for wildlife such as red kites and deer. The tranquil atmosphere and stunning scenery of Wittenham Clumps make it an ideal destination for a peaceful and uplifting walk.

Chiltern Hills Circular Walk, Henley-on-Thames

Explore the scenic beauty of the Chiltern Hills on a circular walk starting from Henley-on-Thames. This moderate-level hike takes you through beech woodlands, rolling hills, and charming villages nestled in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Follow the footpaths along the Thames Path National Trail, passing through Hambleden and Fingest, where you can admire traditional cottages and historic churches. Enjoy breathtaking views of the river valley and lush countryside before returning to Henley-on-Thames for a well-deserved treat at one of the town's riverside cafes or pubs.

Otmoor Nature Reserve Circular Walk, Beckley

For nature enthusiasts seeking tranquillity and wildlife encounters, the Otmoor Nature Reserve near Beckley offers a delightful circular walk through wetlands, reedbeds, and wildflower meadows. Follow the designated paths around the reserve, keeping an eye out for bird species such as lapwings, redshanks, and little egrets. The peaceful surroundings and diverse habitats of Otmoor make it a haven for birdwatching and nature photography. After your walk, visit the nearby village of Beckley for a relaxing post-walk meal at a traditional pub.

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