Banbury: at the heart of the South Oxford Canal



Situated at around 12 hours’ cruising from Oxford, Banbury is the turning point many of our customers aim for during a short break, and an important stop-off point for those spending a week on the Oxford Canal.

Banbury is the main town of North Oxfordshire, with a population of around 40,000. It is perhaps most famous for Banbury Cross – located on a roundabout in the middle of the town – which appears in the traditional nursery rhyme…

Ride A Cock Horse To Banbury Cross
To See a Fine Lady Upon a White Horse
With Rings on Her Fingers And Bells on Her Toes
She shall have Music Wherever She Goes

Banbury cakes are a renowned local delicacy, and available widely in the area.

Banbury Cross

Banbury Cross (photo: Tom Bastin)



Banbury canal boat moorings

The moorings at Castle Quay

Banbury is a popular and busy hub for canal boats. With free 48-hour moorings directly outside the Castle Quay shopping complex, it’s a good place to break your journey, stock up with provisions, spend some time ashore, and explore the area. It’s also a great place to go if the weather isn’t so good: the town has a cinema, and a modern leisure centre with a 25m swimming pool, gym, soft play area, spa and friendly onsite café.



Castle Quay shopping centre (photo: Christine Matthews)

Castle Quay shopping centre (photo: Christine Matthews)

There are a number of small and independent shops in the town centre as well as many of the big chains, including an excellent M&S food store within the Castle Quay Centre, a stone’s throw from the moorings. This is the perfect place to replenish your stores for the days ahead.  Banbury hosts a town market on Thursdays and Saturdays as well as a farmers’ market on the first Friday of every month.


Food and drink

Thai Orchid restaurant

Thai Orchid restaurant

There are plenty of options for eating out in pubs and restaurants in Banbury.
The Dutch Pancake House Little Amsterdam gets excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, as does the Coach and Horses pub. Both are conveniently located close to Castle Quay. From personal experience we can recommend the excellent Thai restaurant Thai Orchid (is this the right one?) near Banbury Cross.


Local attractions

Banbury Museum

Banbury Museum

Banbury Museum and Tourist Information Centre (Museum open Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm) is situated in an attractive canal-side location in the Castle Quay centre. Exciting modern displays illustrate Banbury’s history including its part in the Civil War and its role as a Victorian market town. There is also an exhibition about the Oxford Canal itself, and the historic Tooley’s Boatyard – which adjoins the museum – is a scheduled ancient monument which can be visited as part of a guided tour (for more information about guided tours and charges, please contact 01295 272917).


Out and about from Banbury

Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon

If you fancy exploring the local countryside, Banbury is a good base for walking, with information about local walks available from the Tourist Information office in Castle Quay (01295 753752, open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8.45am – 5.15pm, Wednesday 10.00am – 5.15pm Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm

Banbury is also a good base for visiting some of Warwickshire’s spectacular attractions. Why not moor your boat at Castle Quay for the day, and catch a bus (journey time approximately 75 minutes) to Stratford-upon-Avon the home of Shakespeare, or a train (journey time approximately 25 minutes) to the historic county town of  Warwick, with its stunning medieval castle.

Closer to Banbury itself are a series of impressive historic houses, including:


Broughton Castle (3 miles): a moated and fortified manor house mostly dating from the 1550s, and a centre of opposition to Charles I during the English Civil War.


Upton House and Gardens (7 miles): a magnificent 1930s millionaire’s mansion, built in the golden age of country living by the heir to the Shell Oil fortune, Walter Samuel, an avid art collector. The property is now managed by the National Trust.


Sulgrave Manor (8 miles): a Tudor and Georgian house built by direct ancestors of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

All are easily reachable by taxi.


Banbury lies at the heart of the South Oxford Canal, and via canal boat is a great way to visit Banbury. For help and advice in planning your trip, please call College Cruisers on 01865 554343.