A punting / canoing trip in Oxford, from Folly Bridge, up the main river,
and then left just above Osney Railway Bridges towards Hinksey.
About the same distance as to the boat rollers up the Cherwell.
Countryside within the boundaries of Oxford. Kingfishers and meadowland. Pylons and the noise of traffic … No boats at all.
1922: C S Lewis, Tuesday 6th June -
We all repaired to Magdalen Bridge and took
Jenkin's canoe; we went up the Thames,
past Folly Bridge and the gas works, into a narrow stream, and finally to Ferry
Here we had a good tea (halfpenny a head) in the garden of the pub, which runs down to the water … nothing said all afternoon that's worth recording, but a very pleasant and cheery time. Cool on the water and the river full of beauty - natural and human …
[ "Bulstake" is also
elsewhere spelt "Bullstake" - I just had to pick one version and decided
for the one that made most sense.
I have also heard it known as Potts Stream. ]
For Folly Bridge to Osney Railway Bridges see those sections.
Boney's Footbridge seen from under Osney Rail Bridges
Unpowered boats only - enter the Bullstake Stream under the footbridge straight ahead in above picture.Bullstake Stream Thames Footbridge
On the right are the modern, not
unattractive, buildings of an industrial estate,
on the left countryside, meadows and woodland.
The current is probably slightly higher than on the main channel and you are still going upstream. It is said that in flood conditions the current can reverse in this stream.
And then we loose the industrial estate and come into meadowland.
Bullstake Stream Road Bridge.
Bullstake Streams junction (hidden)
At a right hand bend there is a tiny overgrown way straight on which leads
after 200 yards into the main part of the Hinksey Stream, near a public house
with a church and bridge to the left.
The village is North Hinksey Village.
The way through really is there in the middle of the above photo.
This is the way that C S Lewis went in 1922 -
… we went up the Thames, past Folly Bridge and the gas works, into a narrow stream, and finally to Ferry Hinksey …
However I had little luck following
him. I got past the tree growing in the
middle, but the next tree down defeated me.
A canoeist I spoke to said there was no difficulty following this route.
However, we proceed round the bend to the right -
Children's Playground to the right.
And then we enter between houses into New Botley.
The A420 bridge has two arches:
the right hand arch was blocked by debris;
and the left hand arch swift and shallow.
My punt grounded once or twice.
I think this is the A420 in New Botley, previously known as Seven Bridges Road.
Stream junction close to MFI and Halfords.
The stream to the right is Bulstake Stream, and to the left, Botley Stream.
Taking the right hand Bulstake Stream leads fairly shortly to a bridge blocked by a small weir. It would be quite easy to drag most small boats up there - it leads to Four Rivers after 500 yards via another weir and another branch into Osney Weir Pool that I was unable to follow up from Osney Weir Pool as it was too shallow.
Turn and go back down.
Taking the other fork at the junction -
Allotments on left.
on right. I think it is probably safe, but don’t stare that way too much! If you can see
it coming and its not moving it will hit you in the eye!
I found I could go no further after .41 mile above the junction. Once again only 200 yards short of the Hinksey Stream. It might be worth trying to persevere? I went aground on debris and the bushes were overgrown. I didn't try very hard.
[Is there a canoist out there who would like to explore, photograph, and add to this site, to get a complete picture of the Oxford Waterways? ]
I had to punt down backwards (from the Oxford end, being an unrepentant Cambridge Punter!)
until I reckoned the stream was wide enough to turn.
And then it was just 2 inches wider than the 25 feet of my punt!
With a relatively swift current I was a little perturbed as to what would have happened
if my judgement had been an inch or two out!
The round trip including the two branches of the stream came to 4.92 miles.
From Thyrsis, a Monody, Matthew Arnold -
How changed is here each spot man makes or fills!
In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same;
The village street its haunted mansion lacks,
And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name,
And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks -
Are ye too changed, ye hills?
See, 'tis no foot of unfamiliar men
To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays!
Here came I often, often, in old days -
Thyrsis and I; we still had Thyrsis then.