Magdalen Water

Immediately above Magdalen Bridge (north, right as you face into Oxford) the main stream is on the RIGHT bank (right going upstream).
But there is another (not recommended) stream. The shallow and almost blocked sidestream immediately under Magdalen College wall passes the college;
and goes under a bridge -

Magdalen Bridge over sidestream, 2007
Magdalen College Bridge over sidestream, 2007

In 'Oxford' by Frederick Douglas How -

... at Magdalen College, exists a pleasure ground which cannot rightly be included among Oxford's gardens, though it is certainly one of her best-known natural adornments. This is the deer park adjoining the New Buildings.
It is almost worth while in the summer vacation to loiter near the narrow passage leading from the cloisters, to witness the start of surprise and to hear the sight-seers' remarks, as they suddenly come out from the dusk and impressive gloom into a blaze of sunlight, with gay new buildings bright with window-boxes straight before them, and a little herd of dappled deer feeding in the sunshine and the shadow of the park.
Hundreds of years seem to roll away: the very locality appears to change: the visitor could scarcely look more astonished if he were suddenly transported from the Coliseum to the gardens of the Tuileries! No wonder a tourist once remarked, as he issued from the cloisters: "I guess, sir, I've riz from the dead!"

And another sidestream bridge with deer showing on the left -

Magdalen Bridge over sidestream, 2007
Magdalen College Bridge over sidestream, 2007 with deer showing on left

Holywell Mill

1822: Holywell Mill -

Holywell mill between Magdalen & St Catherines Colleges, Oxford, 2007
Holywell Mill between Magdalen & St Catherines Colleges, Oxford, 1822

Mill between Magdalen & St Catherines Colleges, Oxford, 2007
Mill between Magdalen & St Catherines Colleges, Oxford, 2007

The other side of that weir can be reached from above the rollers on the Upper Cherwell.
Just below the mill is a shallow branch of the Cherwell that takes you to the main stream just above the footbridge with the pipe suspended beneath it. Both these sections can just be navigated at normal levels by a lightly loaded punt or canoe.


1818: Walks in Oxford: By W. M. Wade -

The MEADOW, insulated by streams of the Cherwell, lies to the eastward of the Paddock. Around it, on the river's bank, is carried the umbrageous and pleasingly varied walk, so well known by the name of Magdalen College Water Walks.
Many points of this walk afford rich and beautiful views of the surrounding country. At its entrance stood, till the year 1789 a venerable oak of immense size, supposed to have vegetated there nearly six hundred years. On the 29th of June in that year it fell to the ground with a tremendous crash. Its height was 71 feet, its girth 21, and its cubic contents were 754 feet. A chair made from some of the timber is preserved in the President's lodgings.

1840: Burton's Gentleman's Magazine and American Monthly Review, July -

Addison's Walk

ADDISON'S WALK on the banks of the Thames at Oxford, England

The subject of our plate is a beautiful "bit" as the artists say, of English scenery, selected from the classic purlieus of Oxford university, the most ancient and the most wealthy seat of learning in the world. It is unknown whether Alfred the Great instituted or merely revived its foundation.
The beauty and magnificence of the buildings at Oxford are equalled by few cities. From the neighboring heights it presents a grand and imposing spectacle, from the number and variety of its spires, towers, domes, and othe public edifices; while these structures, by their magnitude and splendid architecture, give it, on a nearer approach, an air of the most striking magnificence. "High Street" is one of the most beautiful in the world.
The City of Oxford is built on a gentle eminence, at the confluence of the Rivers Isis and the Cherwell, and near the Thames. Along these rivers, and between them and the city, lies a tract of beautiful and luxuriant meadows. In the immediate vicinity of the University is a rural promenade of singular loveliness, termed the Water Walks; one of the most romantic portions of this river-side path has received the name of Addison's Walk, from the well known fact of its having been the favorite strolling place of that celebrated man during his residence at Magdalen College, where, in 1693, he took the degree of Master of Arts.
The "Walks" have undergone but little alteration since their first formation; for many years the master spirirts of English Literature have walked and mused beneath the spreading branches of the venerable trees; for many centuries, the jaded scholar, the embryo statesman, and the mature philosopher, have soothed their spirits by the contemplation of nature's beauties on the path-way of the Water Walks. And it is here, at the present day, that the studious portion of England's aristocracy ...

Beneath the shade of melancholy boughs
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time

T H Warren, President of Magdalen, wrote this tribute to Addison -


Green natural cloister of an Academe
What ghost is this that greets us as we pace
Beneath your boughs, the genius of the place,
With soft accost that fits our musing dream?
Scholar, divine, or statesman would beseem
That reverend air, that pensive-brilliant face,
And lofty wit and speech of Attic grace
Rich in grave ornaments and noble theme.

'Tis he who played unspoiled a worldly part,
Taught the town truth, and in a formal age
Lured fop and toast to heed a note sublime;
Who here had learned the crowning art,
To walk the world like Plato's monarch-sage
Spectator of all being and all time.

E W Hazelhurst, Our Beautiful Homeland, Oxford -

... [ another meadow ] ... highly favoured in its immediate surroundings. It stands within the ground of Magdalen College, and is bordered on either side by the divided waters of the Cherwell, before they pass beneath Magdalen Bridge.
Around this meadow is a shady path beneath an avenue of trees, and it is this path that attracts attention to the meadow; for it is said that it was here that Addison loved to pace up and down, as in the early years of the eighteenth century he thought out his essays for the Tatler or Spectator.

1931: One September evening three young Oxford Academics, the well known Henry Dyson and the mostly unknown J R R Tolkien ["Lord of the Rings"] and C S Lewis ["Narnia"], went for a midnight stroll along Addison's Walk.
Henry Dyson was a High Anglican and J R R Tolkien a devout Roman Catholic. But C S Lewis was still in rebellion against the Irish Protestantism of his youth. Dyson and Tolkien tried to help him to come to faith. And it was through an understanding of the way in which myth enshrines truth that finally he came round - and became known as one of the greatest Christian writers of the twentieth century. Tolkien talked to him about the myth of the resurrection.
It is dangerous and sloppy use of language to confuse "myth" and "falsehood". A Myth is a story (in any medium) which may convey an underlying truth - it is close in meaning to the word "sacrament". Both Lewis and Tolkien went on to become great myth creators (by which they conveyed important truths)

C.S.Lewis -

I heard in Addison's Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year nor want of rain destroy the peas.

This year time's nature will no more defeat you.
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.

This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well worn track.

This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick! - the gates are drawn apart.

Plaque in Addison's Walk