Oxfordshire's Rivers

River Thames

The River Thames' (pronounced 'temz') source is said to be either at Seven Springs or Trewsbury Mead in Gloucestershire. The Thames enters Oxfordshire near Kelmscott, gaining width and power as tributaries join it. Oxford, Abingdon, Dorchester on Thames, Wallingford, and Henley are major towns along the river's route to London. The prosperity of these towns was closely linked to their situation at crossing points over the river, a highway for goods, food, industry and people.

The 'River Isis' - is the name for the Thames in Oxford - said to be from the Latin, 'Tamesis', derived from the Celtic name for the river, 'Tamesas', which probably meant 'dark'. It is legal to ride a bike along the Thames Path in Oxford - though not elsewhere since the Thames Path is a long distance footpath.

In Oxford the Isis is the scene of the February 'Torpids' and end of May 'Eights', the intercollegiate rowing races. The overall winner is the 'Head of the River'.


Tributaries of the River Thames

Even their names are poetical.

The prosperity of villages also depended on their proximity to a reliable water supply, whether to power local industry or to water livestock.

River Cherwell: (pronounced 'charwel'): most famous for punting in Oxford. It flows from north Oxfordshire, almost the length of the Oxford Canal - sometimes (unusually) becoming incorporated in the canal itself.  The Cherwell flows through Banbury, Lower Heyford, and Tackley to join the Isis near Christ Church Meadow.

River Swere: flows from the north west near Hook Norton to join the Cherwell.

River Dorn: flows via Middle Barton and Steeple Barton to join the Glyme near Wootton.

River Glyme: flows from the west. The Glyme Valley has some of Oxfordshire's prettiest and most unspoilt villages like Kiddington, Cleveley, Glympton and Church Enstone.

River Windrush: flows from the west via Burford, Swinbrook, Minster Lovell, Witney, to join the Thames at Newbridge.

River Evenlode: flows from the west via Ascott under Wychwood, Charlbury, Stonesfield to join the Thames near Eynsham.

River Ray: flows from Otmoor (where it has been re-routed), east of Oxford into the Cherwell near Islip.

River Thame: flows from the east, beyond Thame to join the Thames at Dorchester.