The landscape of Oxfordshire represents some of the United Kingdom’s most attractive countryside and it is easy to understand why many overseas visitors make a bee-line to cities like Oxford with its dreaming spires and the nearby Cotswolds.
The wider world has become more familiar with the area through TV screens that lovingly broadcast the beauty of fictional places such as Downton Abbey. Of course, this blockbuster series has to be filmed somewhere, and it is in Oxfordshire that many of the locations for this popular series can be found.
Even people who live in the area rarely get to see and enjoy all the attractions and beauty spots nearby. If you are an Oxfordshire local and feel like you really want to familiarise yourself with your region, read on for tips on places that can be easily reached by car.
Before You Roll
Before you fill up the tank and get rolling, do a quick check over your vehicle to make sure it’s prepared for a day on the road. Check the oil and run basic maintenance checks. Country lanes and roads can be a challenge for cars and their drivers and it’s vital to have tyres that are well maintained. Any doubts about your tyre’s road-worthiness should be sorted before you leave. For quick and easy mobile tyre fitting Oxfordshire is well served and there are outfits that come to your home or workplace to sort out any tyre woes. Whether it’s a straightforward change over or a puncture repair, for mobile tyre fitting Oxfordshire has service that’s hard to beat.
Once your vehicle is prepared, hit the road and see the sights…
Picture Perfect Palace
First up on the list of local gems is Blenheim Palace. Famous as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, this baroque beauty is situated in Woodstock, a fifteen minute drive north from central Oxford. With exquisite historical interiors and sweeping parkland to explore, you can spend a whole day at this tourism hotspot. With adequate car parking and food and refreshments available, it’s a winner on all levels. The nearby Georgian town of Woodstock makes an interesting place to stop with attractive pubs, restaurants and hotels offering traditional English hospitality.
Drive Down to Downton
The rolling hills of limestone that undulate through the Oxfordshire Cotswolds create beautiful driving and touring vistas. Many Downton Abbey locations take some finding and a good map or GPS is recommended, but the tenacious can scout out some real TV gems. Ancient, out of the way villages with picturesque stone buildings such as Cogges, Bampton, Shilton and Swinbrook will be recognised as locations by eagle-eyed fans of the period drama series. If you want to revel in the grandeur of the actual Downton Abbey location, travel further afield to nearby Newbury, Berkshire and Highclere Castle. This stunning Victorian castle is open to the public and is the country seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.
Another intriguing place to visit about an hour’s drive from Oxford is Bletchley Park. From Oxford take the M40 motorway and get off at junction 10 for the A43 and follow the A421 in the direction of Buckinghamshire. Bletchley Park is well signposted and there is car parking on site. Once there, you discover the fascinating background behind wartime code breaking, learn the stories of famous code crackers such as Alan Turing and view a real Enigma machine. Fans of World War II and Winston Churchill memorabilia will find Bletchley Park a fine place to while away a few hours.
Are you a fan of the great outdoors? How about pointing the car in the direction of Harcourt Arboretum? It is only six miles south of Oxford in the village of Nuneham Courtenay – leave the ring road at the A4704. The arboretum offers 130 acres of ornamental trees, meadow and woodland. The seasons offer ever-changing displays of natural beauty. In Spring, daffodils and bluebells brighten up the landscape, later on azaleas and rhododendrons fizz with colour, followed by autumn leaves in golds and reds when the weather cools. As part of the plant collection of The University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Harcourt Arboretum makes a wonderful place to visit to enjoy the fresh air amongst beautiful plant specimens – large and small.
So there you have four places to visit in the scenic Oxfordshire countryside. Now you have no excuse not to get the car out and start exploring your surroundings. Who knows what else you may discover so close to home?