This is as good a park as any, and it's a lovely haven of green and fun. If you live in central Oxford, there are plenty of nearer parks, but if you're young at heart or have kids, and if it's a warm day, this is definitely the place to be. Why?
Water! There's a 'Splash' water feature, open from 10am-8pm May to September, but sometimes earlier in the year if it's warm enough. The outdoor swimming pool is brilliant: it's heated, free for under-17s and surrounded by sun-loungers. It's like being on holiday: sun, water and ice-cream, yet only a short drive from home.
There's also tennis, fishing and a lake with a myriad of interesting birds (still waiting to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher!) and underwater life.
A word of warning: if, like me, you enjoy evening walks with friends or a four-legged companion, watch out because although the park's always open (unlike the University Parks for example), there's no way to get a car in after a certain time. This changes throughout the year, the earliest being aroudn 5pm in winter, I think. Definitely worth checking, but not a disaster if it's shut, as there's plenty of parking nearby.
Hinksey is the park I tend to forget about and every time we go to the outdoor pool I think - why don't we come here more often? The answer is that we live on the other side of the city and Oxford has so many lovely green spaces. On the other hand Hinksey is just outside the centre of Oxford and has things the other parks don't have. There is a small children's play area, a lake on which there used to be pedalos for hire, a lake on which you sometimes see people sailing their radio controlled boats, tennis courts, fishing and the outdoor swimming pool. The paddling pool has been replaced by a free fountain / water feature play area. I've not been to this one at the right time of year but the one in Abingdon is great fun. Remember the fun of running under the hose in the garden? Fountain play areas recreate that experience.
I've just looked at the city council website to check out the details for this park and I found out that it is a "Green Flag" winner. I've heard of different coloured flags being awarded to beaches but I didn't know there were flags for parks - I can feel myself just about to waste half an hour looking up other "green flag" parks to see if my other favorite places have won anything.
(And I've found out from the website there are fresh water sponges and zebra mussels in the park - who'd have thought it!)
A fantastic park for all ages: it has a pond which is frequented by ducks and other birds, a playground for younger kiddies, water features, public tennis courts, wooded areas and fields, as well as a big lake which is a wildfowl reserve. There's so much nature in such a small place and it's right next door to the outdoor swimming pool. It's very clean and well-maintained, with entrances all along the back of Lake Street, and at the bottom of Marlborough Road, as well as the main carpark entrance on Abingdon Road.
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