Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Reflections in the river near Lechlade
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Highlights

  • Walk the Thames Path West through the Cotswolds into the city of Oxford
  • Tranquil landscapes of meadows, fields, woodlands and river banks
  • Follow the Thames as it turns from a stream to a wide river
  • Finish your walk in Oxford, one of the world’s most famous university cities
  • Walk through the Cotswolds an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Walk England’s Thames Path West through the Cotswolds, where it originates, into one of the world’s most historic university cities, Oxford.

On this stretch of the Thames Path, a National Trail, you will experience classically British rural landscapes; meadows, woodland and unspoilt villages, some of which display the honey-coloured stone atypical of the Cotswolds.

As John Elliott Burns (1858-1943) said, “The Thames is liquid history”. It has inspired authors, poets and painters alike and you can contemplate life and relax whilst walking through serene countryside enjoying lunches in cosy pubs.

Sections

The Thames Path West—The Cotswolds can be walked over 6 or 8 days. We have written the itinerary based on sections, rather than a day by day itinerary. You can find the specific day by day itineraries on offer to the right.


Starting Point: Kemble/Thames Head

The village of Kemble is about 2.5 km to the start of the Thames River source, so is the best place to begin your walk. It is easily accessible and only a 1H15 train ride from central London. Kemble’s Norman church is its main attraction and dates from 1250.


Thames Head to Cricklade  — 20 km/12 miles

Initially this section takes you through meadows and farmland to the village of Cricklade. You are now in the serene Cotswolds and you pass through the hamlet of Ewen. At first there is no water to be seen but you soon pass the Lyd Well, the spring from where the Thames first shows itself.  


Ashton Keynes offers a good spot for lunch, before the trail wanders through more meadows until reaching Cricklade, passing from Gloucestershire into Wiltshire.


Cricklade is the first town you reach on the Thames Path and a great place to overnight.  Here Alfred the Great fortified the town against the Danes.


Cricklade to Lechlade—18 km/11 miles

At times the next stage strays away from the river but you will still be walking through meadows and along country lanes.  Pass through the village of Castle Eaton whose 12th century Church of St Mary is worth a viewing.


Arriving into Lechlade, an overnight stop, you will see many boats on the river as it used to be a bustling port, Nowadays it is a pretty market town with lots of facilities. The town’s main features are it’s Halfpenny Bridge and St Lawrence Church.


Lechlade to Newbridge - 26 km/16miles

On this section of the Thames Path the river widens and becomes a lot bigger, but is also the most isolated part of the trail.  Your only companions here are the swans on the river which makes for very tranquil walking. From Lechlade the river becomes navigable so you will see quite a number of locks en route. Pass through the charming village of Buscot and at Radcot see the oldest bridge on the Thames with its Gothic arches. Go through Tadpole Bridge and Shifford Loch before reaching Newbridge which has the second oldest bridge and originally built by monks to carry Cotswolds wool over the river.


Newbridge to Oxford—24 km/15 miles

After Newbridge the path continues to follow the river closely. At Bablock Hythe (once an important crossing point between Oxford and the West Country), the path now diverts away from the river next to Wytham Woods. Pass nearby Godstow Abbey, built in 1133, the outer walls and the remains of the abbess’s chapel are the only parts still standing. Pass a few more locks with magnificent city of Oxford now in the distance.


Oxford is one of the world’s most famous university cities, the oldest colleges dating back to 1300. The university buildings are scattered throughout the city, generally honey-coloured and very elegant. This evening explore its narrow cobbled streets and tranquil courtyards. Restaurants and pubs are plentiful and this evening you can enjoy their ambience.


Departing Point: Oxford

From Oxford you can take a direct train (1H) to London Paddington and from here make your onward journeys home.


Accommodation

You will experience a variety of accommodations on this tour from small B&B's and guesthouses, to inns, hotels and comfortable pubs with rooms. Some will be quite simple depending on where they are located and what is available. However, they all offer warm welcomes and traditional hospitality.


On the Thames Path accommodation choices can be limited along the trail, so if we cannot secure a reservation for you in a particular place you may have to spend 2 nights in one place and we will include a transfer to or from the beginning/end of the walk, whatever is appropriate.


We regularly use the following properties, however as suggested above we may accommodate you elsewhere if these are unavailable.


Additional Nights

If you wish to add additional nights along the trail or at the beginning and end of your itinerary please contact us. You may choose to add some rest days, or extra days where there is plenty of opportunity for sightseeing.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.


We welcome solo walkers on the Thames Path, although you should of course take extra care in the outdoors when walking alone.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.



 

 

 



Thames Head Inn

The Thames Head Inn is a unique Gloucestershire pub with rooms, serving excellent food in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The rooms are set in a beautifully converted barn providing four bed and breakfast en-suite guest bedrooms.



 

 

 



Red Lion Inn

The Red Lion Inn is situated just off the Thames path as it passes through historic Cricklade. The pub dates back to the early 1600s and has 5 newly decorated en-suite bedrooms.



 

 

 



Cambrai Lodge

Cambrai Lodge has been a B&B for 30 years. In a garden setting quietly away from Lechlade village centre but within easy walking distance of the Thames Path, pubs, shops and restaurants.



 

 

 



The Trout Inn

Nestled deep within the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, this is a riverside inn with 6 boutique and stylish rooms. Surrounded by fields and with the River Thames flowing just outside, this is a perfect place to relax.



 

 

 



Rose Revived

The Rose Revived is a popular place for an overnight stay on walking holiday. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, the rooms are cosy as is the bar area with real log fires.



 

 

 




The Oxford Townhouse

Located in central Oxford (just a stone’s throw from the City Centre) and with views over Queen’s College playing fields, the Oxford Town House offers B&B in two Victorian town houses, the interior design of the rooms is simple and relaxing



 

 

 

Availability

You can start your Thames Path West walk anytime between the end of April and beginning of October. It is advised not to walk this section of the Thames Path too early in the year as there is a risk of flooding on some of the paths as they are next to the river. 


Grade & Terrain

Generally this is easy walking as you are, for the most part, walking alongside the Thames and therefore the elevation gains and losses are minimal. However on the shorter 6-day itinerary, the distances are fairly significant and therefore this shorter itinerary is rated moderate, whilst the longer one is rated easy to moderate. These itineraries are most suitable for those walkers with previous long distance experience and an good level of physical fitness. This section of the Thames Path takes you on countryside trails ,small country roads, tow and riverside paths.


Please note that depending on where you spend the night, the distances may be at times more or less that listed every day. So please be prepared for longer or shorter walks than listed when necessary.  Also the distances listed may not be exactly the same as in the guidebook as different gps units do not measure the distances the same (its not an exact science). 


Navigation

The Thames Path is relatively well waymarked. We provide a Thames Path guidebook to assist you in finding your way and GPX tracks are accessible on the Macs Smartphone App, so you can simply follow the route on your phone. We also provide detailed maps.


Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.  


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a daypack.

Getting to Kemble

You can fly into any of the London Airports.  and easily make your way from any of them (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted) into the centre of London. From London Paddington Station there is a direct train to Kemble which takes approximately 1H15. For further information on train travel please visit either the Trainline or National Rail websites.


Getting from Oxford

From Oxford it is only a 1H train ride direct to London Paddington. From here you can make your onward journeys to any of the London Airports. See the weblinks above to look up schedules and prices.


Included

  • Overnights in B&B’s, guesthouses, inns, hotels & pubs with rooms
  • Breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers
  • Detailed Information Pack, Guidebook and maps
  • Access to the GPX tracks via the Macs Smartphone App
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel to Kemble
  • Travel from Oxford
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you wish to skip a stage
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Equipment

Extras

  • Single room supplement
  • Solo Walker Supplement
  • Extra nights

How far in advance do I need to book?

These areas  are quite popular so it is best to book as far in advance as possible. Particularly if you are doing the 8 day itinerary as a couple of the places are small with only one accommodation.

How fit do I need to be?

Generally this is easy walking as you are, for the most part, walking alongside the Thames and therefore the elevation gains and losses are minimal. These itineraries are most suitable for those walkers with previous long distance experience and a good level of physical fitness.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.

When is the best time of year?

Spring, summer and autumn/fall are good times to walk this National Trail. However spring and autumn/fall will be less busy that in July and August.

Am I able to take my dog?

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport, bus or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

An amazing journey along an entire river

5

We did the entire walk, from the source to London, and it was absolutely wonderful. It was amazing to see the river Thames begin as a mere dent in the ground and to see it gradually grow from a trickle to a stream to a river, and ultimately to a mighty waterway. The walk is almost entirely flat, so this must be one of the easiest long-distance paths that you can do (but there is still some challenge due to the sheer distance of some sections). The walk is mostly through riverside meadows and streams, but it is never repetitive because you start to notice the subtle changes and watch the landscape gradually transform. Your journey is broken by charming villages, bustling towns and cities, and, of course, London itself at the end. Much of the path is quite lonely, with few other walkers about, so it is a very peaceful experience. There are long sections in which you can listen to the wind in the willows without distraction. Even the London sections are often surprisingly bucolic. Despite its peacefulness, this path contains a lot more civilization than many others. With only two exceptions, each day ends at a fairly substantial town or village where it is easy to buy supplies. This walk is also a fantastic way to enjoy the English country pub in all its relaxing glory. Unmissable highlights include the White Hart in Ashton Keynes, the Trout in Lechlade, the other Trout at Tadpole Bridge, the Barley Mow in Clifton Hampden, the Bull in Sonning, and the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, but there are so many others that deserve a visit for a swift half, or at least a lime and soda. We enjoyed all of the accomodation, which varied tremendously, from very simple rooms above tiny village pubs to extremely luxurious rooms at stylish hotels. All of them were excellent in their own unique way. The baggage transfer was smooth and unintrusive. Overall, this was an absolutely wonderful experience. Very highly recommended.

R&D

Canada

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Beautiful countryside and villages

5

This walk is flat which is a positive for me! It ambles through the countryside beside the Thames, through farmland, wheat fields, and country towns. If you are wanting a wilderness feeling then this is not the walk. You can hear trains, motorways and see people in their boats on the river. The trail is well labeled and never really a time when it is confusing. The accommodation was mostly great. In Oxford "The Oxford Townhouse" was perfect, breakfast was exceptional and they even made us sandwiches. The Crown and Thistle in Abingdon was lovely and the pub was such a great place to eat too. The George in Wallingsford was in my books a 2 star one. The shower didn't work, it was so hot with no airconditioning, it was tired, old, dirty and the food there was so expensive. Two positives was that it was right opposite Waitrose and wasn't far off the path. This was the longest day walking (24km) so it would have been nice to have a lovely room at the end. The last night was at The Elephant in Pangbourne and it was lovely. The restaurant there was pretty good and fairly good prices. We loved the walk and the whole experience. Thank you Macs Adventures.

Ginnese

Brisbane Australia

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Thames Path East- Discovery of the capital's waterside

4

Best bits - rural feel of South Bank via Richmond and Kew. Windsor a great start. Hated the swarms of tourists near London Eye and Southbank Center. Best to slow down to their speed and meander! Dock lands from Tower Bridge down to Greenwich very annoying as many building sites and Path stolen by too many developers. lots of diversions inland - adds time - about an hour and half more allowance recommended on final day

Steady Eddy

Leicester

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I recommend

4

This is a beautiful easy walking path along the Thames. Nice litle towns with beautiful houses, old houses and churches. Accommodation was in b&b in old pub and guesthouse. Very clean and lovely. I titally recommend this as short relaxing break in the nature. The only con was the first day as there are not many pubs/restaurants on this path and therefor no restrooms.

Edda

Reykjavik Iceland

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We may complete more sections of the Thames Path in future

4

A good experience for a couple of 80+ year olds. We were fortunate with the weather in that there was no rain. We are thinking about doing the section from Oxford towards Reading when we next visit Europe.

None

New Zealand

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Thames Path Complete

4.4 5

100.0

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