The River Cherwell carves its way through a broad, deep valley that runs north to south, starting a few miles above the market town of Banbury and continuing down as far as the university city of Oxford, bending and twisting, meeting up sometimes with the Oxford Canal and parting company again as they reach the city outskirts. It is joined by Sor Brook and the River Swere from the west near Adderbury, and the River Ray from the east at Islip. After flowing through college meadows it then becomes a major tributary of the River Thames, having travelled some 40 miles in total. The Cherwell Valley has witnessed plenty of activity since folk first started to settle along its length. During this time, it has managed to retain its traditional habitats of floodplain, pastures and meadows, ancient hedgerows, pollarded trees and broadleaved woodland. River Cherwell is essential reading for anyone who knows this river well, and also for those who are visiting the river for the first time.