Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Did You Miss the Oxford Trip?

[An image showing Did You Miss the Oxford Trip?]Well, if you did miss the Coach Trip to Oxford, you must be kicking yourself.

On a lovely Saturday, I took a coach to this fantastic city and ancient centre of learning, and of course led my own Guided Walk around Oxford.

I like to occasionally give passengers the chance to see something extra that I had not advertised. On this occasion, we stopped at Hardingstone on the outskirts of Northampton, to view the 13th century Eleanor Cross, one of only three remaining.

Then it was the coffee stop. I always stop somewhere interesting, where there is something else to look at as well as getting refreshments. This time it was the Old Dairy Farm Centre at Upper Stowe, where in addition to a very nice tearoom with waitress service there is a collection of small shops to browse around.

I always start the walk as soon as we arrive, so that people have the chance afterwards to go back and look at particular things in more detail.

There is so much to see in Oxford, but as usual I combined the most famous sights with forays down little-known passages to see things that most tourists never dream of.

The wonderful Ashmolean Museum was followed by the Martyrs Memorial, to three Bishops burned at the stake in Queen Mary's time. One of them, Hugh Latimer, came from Thurcaston near Leicester. Behind the memorial is Balliol College, founded by the father of a King of Scotland, where John Wycliffe, the religious rebel who was later the Rector of Lutterworth, was Master.

Round the corner in Broad Street, I pointed out the spot where the Bishops were martyred, the interactive experience known as The Oxford Story, the place where Oxfam was founded, Blackwell's amazing bookshops and the Sheldonian Theatre.

After passing under the beautiful Bridge of Sighs, I led the party to the Turf Tavern, which nestles under a remaining portion of the City Walls and is one of the locations for the Inspector Morse TV series, and then through a lane between colleges where time seems to have stood very still.

Into the High Street, known locally as The High, I took the group, and then on a circuitous path to see the Radcliffe Camera, St. Marys Church, Brasenose College (whose brass knocker was taken to Stamford, where a replica can be seen), the Mitre Inn and the 18th century Covered Market.

Then we negotiated a narrow passage into the mediaeval Jewish area, and stood in front of the famous Tom Tower at the entrance to Christ Church, whose chapel doubles as the cathedral.

I showed them Alices Shop, featured in "Through the Looking Glass", pointed out that Lewis Carroll and Alice were living at Christ Church when he told her these well-loved stories, and walked through Christ Church Meadows and Dead Man's Lane to the Botanic Gardens and Magdalen Tower.

Then it was back to the Carfax Tower and up Cornmarket Street, where I was able to point out the Saxon St. Michaels Tower.

On the way back, we stopped for refreshments at Northampton Services. These are the services that used to be known as Rothersthorpe.

On this trip, I instituted a Visitors' Book, and invited passengers to put in any comments that they wished to make.

Comments included "very enjoyable day, far better than wandering aimlessly around, can't wait for the next", "very enjoyable and informative tour of Oxford, well done", "keep up the good work", "our first trip with Colin and certainly very enjoyable, will recommend it and look forward to next time", "an architectural feast and Colin is just the man to describe it".

If that's whetted your appetite, the next trips which still have seats available are Da Vinci Code Tour, Ripon, Mysterious Wiltshire Tour and Rufford Abbey.