Experience South Oxfordshire
Explore country houses, visit local museums and enjoy the unspoilt landscape of South Oxfordshire and the Chiltern Hills. Relax in charming villages and enjoy the historic market towns with their unique mix of independent retailers and high street shops. In this 2 day itinerary we pick out the best things to see and do along the route along the River Thames, through Wallingford and South Oxfordshire, to Henley-on-Thames.
The University of Oxford’s Harcourt Arboretum (20 minutes via bus from Oxford) is in the small village of Nuneham Courtenay. The 130-acre site is open all year round and contains the best collection of trees in Oxfordshire, with seasonal highlights including wildflower meadows, rhodedendrons and bluebell woods along with plenty of children’s activities.
Stroll around the cute-as-a-dormouse village of Dorchester-on-Thames (8 minutes via bus from Harcourt Arboretum), a village of timber-framed houses. The main attraction in the village is the medieval Abbey, built in the 12th Century. For a stand-out lunch, stop by The Chequers at Burcot – a beautiful thatched gastro-pub, offering a warm and friendly atmosphere, with locally-sourced contemporary British food, including famous sharing boards and steaks. The Chequers at Burcot also has a selection of boutique rooms for a comfortable stay, perfectly situated along the River Thames in South Oxfordshire.
Benson Marina (7 minutes via bus from Dorchester-on-Thames) is a great stop from which to walk along the tranquil banks of the River Thames. Sit and admire the views of green fields, pretty meadows, farmland and forest from the comfort of the Waterfront Café.
For a touch of luxury nearby, treat yourself to a meal or a stay at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton – Raymond Blanc’s famous Michelin-starred Restaurant, Hotel and Cookery School.
Wander the cobbled streets of Wallingford (10 minutes via bus from Benson Marina), which has been important historically due to its excellent ford, and today the same crossing place has one of the finest bridges over the River Thames. Learn more about former resident Dame Agatha Christie in a circular walk taking in places linked to the author, and discover the town’s links with Midsomer Murders, as well as the ruins of Wallingford Castle and the excellent Wallingford Museum.
The small village of Nuffield (30 minutes via bus from Wallingford) is the location of Nuffield Place, once home to William Morris, founder of the Morris Motor Company, and his wife. Their home and personal possessions are just as they left them, the décor and furnishings intact.
A picturesque riverside town, Henley-on-Thames (40 minutes via bus from Nuffield) is home to the famous Henley Royal Regatta and the River and Rowing Museum. One of the most beautiful towns in Oxfordshire, Henley-on-Thames is home to independent shops and restaurants. Its riverside location, surrounded by a landscape of wooded hills and green fields, lends itself to relaxation. Explore the town on a self-guided walk or take a stroll along the river.
Exploring the River Thames by Bus and Boat
By bus: Thames Travel‘s X38 Oxford to Henley-on-Thames bus service operates every hour Mondays to Saturdays. The X39 and X40 link Oxford and Wallingford with buses every hour Mondays to Saturdays.
By boat: Explore more of the River Thames with Salter’s Steamers, with regular public cruises in the summer months between Oxford and Abingdon, Wallingford and Henley, and further south to Reading, Marlowe and Windsor.