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Thames Path

The Thames Path National Trail is one of Britain's easiest routes to follow. As with the other National trails, it is split up into various sub-sections, so you can choose how much or how little of it you explore at any one time.

The entire trail is 184 miles long, and it's estimated that it would take some 14 days to complete were you to walk the whole path in one go.

Iffley Lock on the River Thames in Oxford
Iffley Lock © Shutterstock / Andrei Nekrassov

The Thames Path is well regarded and popular, with good reason as it offers a journey through historic and engaging scenery following the path of the Thames from its Cotswolds source near Kemble through to the centre of London.

The beautiful view of coastline of the River Thames in Royal Windsor in England.
Windsor © Shutterstock / KievVictor

The Thames is often referred to as "Liquid History" and the National Trail reminds you why along its entire length.

Swans on River Thames at Halfpenny Bridge, Lechlade
Halfpenny Bridge, Lechlade © Shutterstock / Martin Fowler

In terms of scenery, there's great variety as river and trail wind their way through tranquil home counties areas to the vibrant metropolis which is the heart of London.

On the way, he Thames Path passes through such places as Oxford, Henley on Thames, Windsor and Westminster before ending at the Thames Barrier in the heart of London itself.

A weir on the river Thames at Henley in England UK
Weir at Henley © Shutterstock / Snapper 68

After the rolling countryside of its western end, the Thames Path offers alternate routes to both the north and the south of the river once in central London.

This gives an ideal opportunity to choose which views to favour and which attractions to explore. Whichever route you opt for, there's an abundance of history, architecture, wildlife and spectacle to take in.

View of the Tower Bridge in London on a sunny day
Tower Bridge © Shutterstock / IndustryAndTravel

For further information, there is a Thames Path National Trail Officer, whose office can be contacted on: +44 (0) 1865 810 224.

Here is more detail on each of the national trail sections:




Thames Source

Where better for the Thames Path to start than at the source of the Thames itself?

Things to do near Thames Source

Thames Source - Lechlade

Length: 23 miles
Total since start: 23 miles

This first section of the trail will take you from the rolling countryside of the Cotswolds past limestone villages and farms to Lechlade.

Things to do near Lechlade

Lechlade - Oxford

Length: 31 miles
Total Since Start: 54 miles

After passing by Radcot and the oldest bridge over the Thames, this least inhabited section of the Thames Path takes you through to Oxford and with it comes a change to more open, flatter countryside with wider views.

Things to do near Oxford

The River Thames at Marlow in England with Weir and Church in the background
Marlow © Shutterstock / Chrislofotos

Oxford - Wallingford

Length: 24 miles
Total since start: 78 miles

There's more variety on offer on this section of the trail, ranging from Iron Age forts through farmland and attractions like Nuneham House and Dorchester Abbey.

Things to do near Wallingford

Wallingford - Henley on Thames

Length: 27 miles
Total Since Start: 105 miles

Heading for Henley on Thames, home of the famous Henley Royal Regatta, the trail enters more varied and hilly land, albeit gently so, as it approaches the Chilterns at the Goring Gap.

Things to do near Henley on Thames

Henley on Thames - Windsor

Length: 23 miles
Total since start: 128 miles

By now the Thames is really getting into its stride and has developed most of its majesty and size, which is appropriate as on this section the Thames Path National Trail starts to enter Royal country.

Passing through picturesque towns and countryside steeped in royal history and patronage, your approach to Windsor is heralded by fine views of Windsor Castle.

Things to do near Windsor

The Magna Carta Memorial on the lower slopes of Coopers Hill at Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial at Runnymede © Shutterstock / Paul J Martin


Windsor - Teddington

Length: 24 miles
Total Since Start: 152 miles

The regal theme continues on this section as the trail starts at Windsor Castle, heading for Kingston and ultimately Teddington.

There's plenty of history as the trail passes Runnymede where King John was compelled to the Magna Carta. Alternative attractions include such places as Legoland, which is to be found just outside Windsor itself.

Things to do near Teddington

Teddington - Westminster

Length: 20 miles
Total since start: 172 miles

The path splits into two here offering the opportunity to follow either the north or south bank of the river. The features and attractions come thick and fast as the trail begins to enter London proper.

It's not all urban landscape and striking buildings though, as the trail passes numerous historical villages and parks, not to mention Kew Gardens and more. The annual Oxford / Cambridge boat race takes place on this section.

However, as you continue deeper into London you'll pass by world famous suburbs like Putney, Fulham and Chelsea. Landmarks in this section include a view of the Battersea Power Station before ending in Westminster at the Houses of Parliament.

Things to do near Westminster

Battersea Power Station, on the banks of the River Thames in London
Battersea Power Station © Shutterstock / Claudio Divizia

Westminster - Thames Barrier

Length: 11 miles
Total Since Start: 183 miles

Continuing the North South option, this section is the acme of Metropolitan London taking in near innumerable landmarks and attractions as the trail passes through the heart of London itself.

There really is something for everyone in this section with the list of sites reading like a who's who of world landmarks, including Tower Bridge, Whitehall, St. Paul's Cathedral, the financial hub that is the Square Mile (City of London), The Monument, The Tower of London, National Theatre, Globe Theatre, Greenwich and the Millennium Dome (now the O2).

The National Trail finally terminates at The Thames Barrier in Woolwich.

Things to do near Thames Barrier

The Thames Barrier at Charlton
Thames Barrier © Shutterstock / DavidYoung

You can continue reading about other National Trails and Long Distance Walks using the links at the bottom of the page.

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