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Oxford Walking Guide: How to get the most out of a 2-hour route

Victoria Bentata Azaz is an Oxford City Green Badge tour guide and has been leading tours for over 10 years. She enjoys going for walks, meeting people, learning new things and discovering hidden places, particularly when these activities include tea and cake.

Oxford’s first ‘Hidden Walk’ not only acquaints you with the medieval geography of the City of Oxford but presents a myriad of culinary and cultural opportunities. This is my suggestion for turning a short walk into a leisurely day out:

So that you are not wrenched unnecessarily from your slumbers, I suggest a 10am start.

Follow the route from Carfax Tower until you get to the bottom of St Aldate’s (no. 2) opposite the gate into Christ Church’s War Memorial Garden. This is your first stop: Coffee at the Independent Café. From here you can admire Tom Tower, whose bell rings 101 times at 9.05 each night - previously the University’s curfew hour.

At 10.45 am, set forth again, now fortified and awake.

Having admired Christ Church and the medieval buildings of Merton College and traversed University College via Logic Lane, stop! (no.4) Look right to find the Grand Café. It is on the site of the oldest coffee house in England and sells particularly indulgent cakes, clearly created by a skilled pastry chef. My particular favourite is a glazed chocolate mousse cake topped with a chocolate swirl and a macaron.

At 11.30, it is time to move on. Follow the walk to no.6. Under Hertford College’s iconic Bridge of Sighs, you can divert to the Turf Tavern for a quick one before lunch, whilst admiring the remains of the old city wall. You could even try beating Australian Premier Bob Hawke’s record for drinking a yard of ale in 11 seconds. He achieved this feat in 1963 and no one has since come close.

At midday, take in some Culture. Start with the Weston Library (at no.7), which usually offers at least one (free) scholarly exhibition. Then cross the road to the Museum of the History of Science to visit Einstein’s Blackboard and the Penicillin exhibit.

By now, you should be feeling peckish again, so continue to no.8 and find the Nosebag Restaurant on your right. Go up the narrow stairs to find a selection of the world’s best salads as well as various delicious hot dishes at a very reasonable price.

Linger over your lunch if you like and then set off again at about 2pm. When you emerge from the medieval, winding Bulwarks Lane (no.9), stop for a coffee or a Matcha Latte at the Art Café and admire some art.

A few short steps (end of no.9) bring you to Oxford Castle, where you can enjoy a tour with costumed gaolers.

By now it may be around 3.15. Continue to no.11, the Westgate Shopping Centre, named for its location on the site of the ancient city wall and pause at Ole and Steen bakery for an Almond Mallow Mountain or a Cinammon Social and a cup of tea.

Finish at the Town Hall (no.13) and make sure you visit (before it closes at 5pm) the newly refurbished and beautifully presented Museum of Oxford inside.

A-Z Oxford Hidden Walks is the perfect way to explore the city in a new light. It features 20 walking routes in and around the city, including lesser-known gems and popular circuits.