Thames Path Central - Oxford to Windsor (8 Days & 7 Nights)8 Days & 7 Nights 4.4 Read 11 reviews
- Follow the Thames Path from Oxford to Windsor, home to the royal palace
- Pass through the eye-catching and typically English village of Sonning
- Reach Marlow, the town where Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein
- Wander through the university city of Oxford, admiring its fine architecture
- Walk through the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.
Inn to Inn Walking | A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night
This trip is suitable for:
Solo Travellers, First Timers
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- Historical Journeys
- National Parks & Trails
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, walking the Thames Path Central in 8 days will require you to walk fairly long distances for a couple of the days. Therefore this itinerary is most suitable for those walkers with previous long distance experience and an excellent level of physical fitness. The longer itinerary of 11 days will be easier as the walks are split up into more manageable lengths.
The Thames Path is a walk of contrasting terrain, from countryside trails and small country roads, to towpaths, riverside paths, plus some city streets in Oxford and Windsor.
Please note that depending on where you spend the night, the distances may be at times more or less than listed every day. So please be prepared for longer or shorter walks than listed at times. 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 and therefore it's not an exact science.
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.
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. In the heart of London, we will be using chain-style hotels. If you request a booking when there is an event on in London, or it is particularly busy, you may be asked to pay a supplement.
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.
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 also welcome solo walkers on the Thames Path, although you should, of course, take extra care in the outdoors when walking alone.
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.
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.
- Overnights in B&B’s, guesthouses, inns, hotels & pubs with rooms
- 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
- Travel to Oxford
- Travel from Windsor
- Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks
- Taxi transfers or public transport should you wish to skip a stage
- Travel Insurance
- Personal Equipment
- Extra nights
When To Go
You can start your Thames Path Central walk anytime between mid-April and the beginning of October. You cannot walk the Thames Path too early in the year as there is always a risk of flooding on some of the paths as they are next to the river.
Getting to the Start
The closest airport to the start of the walk is any of the London Airports. You can easily make your way from any of the London Airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted) into the centre of London. From London Paddington Station there is a direct train to Oxford which takes approximately 1H. For further information on train travel please visit either the Trainline or National Rail websites.
Getting from the End
From Windsor you can take a train (1H) into the London’s centre and specifically London Waterloo Station. From here you can make your onward journeys to any of the London Airports. See the weblinks above to look up schedules and prices.
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.
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.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive Oxford & overnight
Oxford is easily accessible from central London by direct train (1H) from London Paddington. It 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.
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, they have chosen different furniture designs for each room, so all rooms have something different to offer. The rooms have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay including air conditioning, WIFI and mini bar.
Tower House is a beautifully decorated 17th century guest house located in the heart of Oxford. Their eight uniquely decorated rooms will provide a relaxing haven in the bustling city centre. Their profits go to Oxford Hub a charity organisation that supports university students engaging in social action in both their local community and beyond.
Situated besides the river the well named Head of the River matches its food, drink and accommodation to the beauty of its surroundings. The Head of The River has 20 beautiful individually designed rooms, providing wonderful waterside accommodation in Oxford. The stylish bedrooms are comfortable, elegantly designed and appointed with a host of modern luxuries.
Leaving Oxford behind, embark on today's walk which will provide you with a sense of solitude. Pass the Iffley Meadows Nature Reserve, Sandford-on-Thames and the famous “Lasher” weir. This section of the river has fast and deadly undercurrents. Ironically one of the Lasher’s victims was the adopted son of JM Barrie and the inspiration for Peter Pan. Pass a couple more locks before arriving in Abingdon, a pretty and historic town with Iron Age, Roman and Saxon origins.
With a history dating back to 1605, The Crown & Thistle on Bridge Street re-opened its doors in 2013, following a restoration. This Grade II listed coaching inn comprises three individual buildings clustered around a cobbled courtyard, framed by 200-year-old wisteria. Having been sympathetically designed, many of the buildings’ original features, such as timber beams, open brickwork, and window frames that aren’t square, remain throughout the restaurant, extensive bar area, elegant function rooms and 18 boutique-style bedrooms.
Comfortable, attractive central Abingdon bed and breakfast accommodation in an historic house in East St Helen Street, described in Pevsner's Architectural Guide as one of the most interesting streets in England. The house and bedrooms have character and charm and the atmosphere is informal and friendly.
The Cosener’s House occupies a picturesque Thames-side position in the grounds of the medieval Abbey of Abingdon, just 8 miles from Oxford. It takes its name from the Cuisinier or Kitchener (the official responsible for providing food for the Abbey). The oldest part of the present building is the central portion which dates from the mid-eighteenth century.
The next section to Wallingford passes some smaller settlements of interest including Dorchester-on-Thames and Benson. From Dorchester you can see the Sinodun Hills across the river and next to Benson peaceful meadows. Until 1652 this was the site of Wallngford Castle, one of the most intimidating fortifications in pre-Civil War England.
Wallingford is a Saxon fortified town and one of the finest examples in England. If you want to explore here there is a museum. William the Conqueror lead his victorious army over the river at this very spot.
This unique building, one of the oldest in town, has been a pub for nearly two centuries. Today, it has 3 ensuite bedrooms which are all simply furnished but have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay. The pub serves real ales, lagers, ciders and wine and you can enjoy a rest in their beer garden on a nice evening.
You are assured the warmest of welcomes at the George Hotel, a splendid historic accommodation in the heart of Wallingford town. All bedrooms are en suite, and offer complimentary tea and coffee making facilities, TVs with Sky and radio channels, free broadband internet and WiFi, and hair dryers. The George has many stories to tell. Dick Turpin, the famous highwayman, is believed to have escaped the law on many occasions from his room above the courtyard.
The Royal Standard is located in the beautiful and historic market town of Wallingford, in the most southernmost tip of South Oxfordshire. This is a traditional pub with lovely accommodation, serving great food.
Today's walk to Pangbourne takes you through the Goring Gap, between the Chiltern Hills and the Berkshire Downs. In the Ice Age the river’s way was blocked by glaciers but it found a weak spot in the chalk, permanently changing the river’s course. Also passing through Streatley (twinned with Goring) is an area of importance to early Britons; these towns are certainly worth a stop.
Pangbourne is next, famous as the place where Kenneth Grahame, author of Wind in the Willows lived during his formative years. Jimmy Page, guitarist for Led Zeppelin also lived in the village. This is the final destionation for today's walk.
The Elephant Hotel in the bustling village of Pangbourne offers a return to the opulence of the Empire. Beautiful handcrafted Indian furniture, delicate fabrics and bedrooms individual in style but identical in attention to detail. Each and every one has all the mod-cons you have come to expect, WiFi, flat-screen TV with over 50 channels, DVD player with a selection of movies available, and not to mention the specialty tea and coffee or the bespoke soaps and bubble bath.
In picturesque Pangbourne, a short walk from the scenic River Thames, The George Hotel is a traditional hotel offering superior quality, boutique style accommodation. Set in a 17th-century traditional coaching inn, the cosy rooms at The George each have en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TV with cable channels, tea and coffee making facilities and hairdryers. The Village Bar offers real ales, fine wines and light snacks and is the perfect place to relax in.
A warm welcome is waiting for guests at this beautiful 17th century cottage situated in the heart of the old village of Purley-on-Thames, adjacent to an area of outstanding natural beauty. The cottage is reputed to be the oldest house in Purley and is just 10 minutes walk from the River Thames, where the Thames Path leaves the river temporarily at its halfway point. There are 2 comfortable bedrooms, 1 double and 1 twin. If both rooms are occupied the modern shower room and WC has to be shared. The spacious two-bedroom suite enjoys private access, and pleasant views over the gardens and surrounding countryside. Wi-Fi is available.
Enjoy the peaceful surroundings and as you walk out of Pangbourne where there are constant views of the Chiltern Hills. Pass by some impressive locks and skirt the town of Reading before reaching Sonning, one of the Thames Path’s most striking villages. Henley, an historic market town is a delight and you will be warmly welcomed here by your B&B hosts. The town’s bridge over the river, built in 1786, is its most eye-catching feature and it’s world-renowned yearly Royal Regatta has definitely put it on the map.
There are 4 well furnished rooms including single, double and family rooms, most fully en suite, and a comfortable lounge. Wireless internet is available throughout the house and all rooms have satellite television. They aim to provide the very best English bed and breakfast experience. Located in this beautiful riverside town, famous for its Royal Regatta, The Paddock is just a few minute walk from the river, the railway station and the town centre. While close to the heart of Henley, it is set in a mature English garden with a large and private sunny patio.
Leander Club, located on the River Thames and by the bridge at Henley is world renowned as a rowing club. However, it also provides boutique bed and breakfast in the heart of Henley-on-Thames. Its well-appointed en-suite bedrooms, many of which have stunning views of the famous Henley Royal Regatta course, offer a very unique experience and a most comfortable stay. The rooms have Hypnos beds, TVs, mineral water, tea and coffee facilities and the accommodation also benefits from fast reliable WiFi.
Linda and Richard would like to welcome you to their comfortable family home, in historic Henley on Thames, home to the Henley Royal Regatta. The Gables bed and breakfast is conveniently situated within a mile of Henley town centre, which has a wide selection of restaurants, interesting shops and local attractions. All their bedrooms are well appointed, with comfortable king size beds, hair dryers and welcome trays with tea, coffee and biscuits. A delicious full english or continental breakfast will be provided to start your day. They also offer a snug area with open fire place and TV for relaxing, complimentary high-speed internet access and a drying room for your use after muddy walks.
As you leave Henley the river sweeps around and you cross into the county of Buckinghamshire and pass Hurley and Temple Locks before arriving in Marlow, a town with literary associations. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was penned here. Marlow is a really splendid riverside town and as this is your overngiht stop for the day, you will have plenty of time to explore it.
Glade End Guesthouse provides a stylish haven for walkers on the Thames Path. The accommodation has many distinctive touches which mark it out from the ordinary. With 8 luxury en suite bedroom, they all include the facilities to provide you with a most comfortable stay. All bedrooms have as standard; Flat screen digital TV's, tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary water and wireless internet access. Bathrooms are tiled throughout and have a clean modern feel. A large bath and/or quality power shower offers perfect relaxation.
Herons Nest is located in the village of Marlow, close to the River Thames and surrounded by woodland. This charming property offers pretty, en-suite rooms. The 2-Michelin starred restaurant, The Hand and Flowers, is just a 10-minute walk away from the B&B. Each room at Herons Nest has pleasant décor with modern design and floral fabrics. All rooms include free WiFi, tea and coffee-making facilities and an en-suite bathroom. During the week, guests will receive a breakfast hamper. On weekends, guest are offered a full English breakfast made from locally sourced produce. A full English breakfast on a weekday can be arranged for an extra cost, if booked in advance.
You are assured a most comfortable night at The Chequers. The rooms are contemporary, stylish and cosy and are also perfect for resting and rejuvenating for the next stage of the Thames Path! The building itself dates back to the 16th century and while the décor honours the rich history the modern touches and facilities ensure that you are provided with everything required for an enjoyable stay. The Churchill Tap, next door to The Chequers main bar, is Marlow’s only Craft Beer Haven with constantly updated beer menus. This bar dates back to the 16th century where the original beams still remain.
The next stage has you walking on peaceful river paths and passing some places of historic significance, such as Bourne End, where Enid Blyton lived and Cookham, where the artist Stanley Spencer lived. The Thames River was a constant course of inspiration for artists and many lived by it and continue to do so. You also pass by Maidenhead, a significantly sized town.
As you walk the impressive outline of Windsor Castle gets ever closer. The royal palace of Windsor makes for a very interesting visit and its open all year. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Today The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the castle. Also pass Eton, famed for its public school and a quieter option to stay in than Windsor.
The Crown and Cushion has been an inn since 1753! is a delightful pub with 8 en-suite rooms and situated in Eton High Street, which is a stone’s throw from Windsor. Full English Breakfast is included. The building is full of character and is very quirky in places. Allegedly built from old ships timbers some of the floors are wonky and lots of the floorboards are creaky – but that is what makes it charming!
Langton House bed and breakfast located in the centre of Royal Windsor which is home to the Queen of England. Langton House has been providing great accommodation since 1979 and is family run and owned. Situated in a quiet leafy street only 5 minutes’ walk from the town centre,.the owners provide the warmest of welcomes and all that you would wish for to a comfortable stay in the finest bed and breakfast tradition. All rooms are large with high ceilings. Further all rooms have large TV’s with Freeview channels, central heating, hair dryers, access to a small kitchen area with fridge, toaster, microwave and tea and coffee making facilities with complimentary biscuits. Langton House is only a short 10 minutes’ walk from the castle, walking through the main local shopping area which retains the Victorian charm and architecture, on the way toward the Castle entrance. Langton House is also close to the Trinity church, built in the mid 1800’s with money from Queen Victoria as a garrison church for the troops guarding the Royal Windsor castle.
Located opposite Windsor Castle, The Harte and Garter Hotel is perfectly placed in the centre of Windsor. Built in the 14th century, the hotel and spa offers old world charm and historic character, with modern amenities such as free WiFi throughout. Each of the rooms is beautifully decorated and include period features to enhance the historic ambiance. The view across to Windsor Castle are simply splendid also! Originally two inns, the hotel is made up of the main building which overlooks the Castle and Goswell House.
After breakfast your walking holiday will come to an end. See the Travel Info section for some useful details for your onward travel.
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