Thames Path Central - Oxford to Windsor (11 Days & 10 Nights)
- 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
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.
Situated in a quiet neighbourhood, yet walking distance to the city centre, Ethos Hotel has the largest guest rooms in Oxford. Their restaurant, Caffè Ethos, serves full English breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, dinner, and afternoon high tea. Their fully licensed bar and wine sommelier curates the best of Oxford Wine Company wines and local real ales. Espresso drinks brewed to perfection and complimentary snacks for hotel guests make us a favorite among locals and visitors.
Newton House is conveniently located, just a short walk from Oxford's historic and vibrant centre. Newton House is a three-star Victorian townhouse which has been recently refurbished, each room with its own contemporary colour scheme and furnishings.
A true Oxford experience. Stay at Keble College, the University of Oxford, for a unique stay where a cooked breakfast is served in their magnificent neo-Gothic dining hall. Keble College was founded in 1870 and is one of Oxford's architectural landmarks located in the heart of the City. You'll get to venture behind the famous college walls and stay as a guest. Although rooms are a little more basic, they are comfortable and come with your usual B&B facilities; nice linen, towels, toiletries, free Wi-Fi and tea & coffee making facilities. A stay here is all about the experience, staying on the spectacular college grounds and dining in Oxford's longest hall. It's only available during the summer months, and we recommend booking early should you wish to secure a unique stay here.
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.
Ascent: 5m / Descent: 15m
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.
Today you will amble through quaint meadows and fields as you pass through some smaller settlements before arriving in Dorchester-on-Thames, your destination for the day.
The White Hart Hotel & Restaurant, originally a 16th century coaching inn, is located in the charming Oxfordshire village of Dorchester-on-Thames. There are 28 bedrooms including premier suites and four poster bedroom. All rooms are equipped with hospitality tray, telephone, hair dryer freeview flat screen TV, and complimentary WiFi.
While leaving 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. This is where you will spend the night and if you have time to explore 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. They also have another building directly opposite, The Royal, offering more rooms. The Coachmakers Arms have three circular walks all starting and ending at the Inn, as part of The Brakspear Pub Trails. Please ask for more information at the Inn.
This recently refurbished building has 4 ensuite bedrooms which are all simply furnished but have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay. The restaurant/pub serves real ales, lagers, ciders and wine. They also have another building directly opposite, Coachmakers Armsl, offering more rooms.
You are assured the warmest of welcomes at the George Hotel, a splendid 16th-century coaching inn located 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.
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.
Ascent: 50m / Descent: 50m
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.
The Miller is a haven of laid back luxury in the idyllic Thames-side village of Goring, overlooking beautiful South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire countryside. All the amenities you require are included in each stylish, individually designed room at the Miller of Mansfield. Overlooking the garden, the informal restaurant serves local produce on its modern British menu. Real ales and fine wines are available in the bar.
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.
Enjoy the peaceful surroundings and as you walk out of Pangbourne with 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.
The Bull Inn provides stylish and boutique accommodation in Sonning. With ensuite facilities, the 7 bedrooms provide both standard and superior rooms. A family friendly pub serving some of the best pub food around and only a few minutes walk from the river.
The Great House is a rural retreat in easy reach of the big city. An opportunity to escape and a space where you can feel at home and relax in comfort and in style.
The Roseate Reading is recognised for its artful conception and luxury and it prides itself on its attention to detail. The Roseate Reading was originally Shire Hall for the Berkshire County Council. The building, along with its wide hallways, vaulted ceilings, cornice mouldings and the original lift shaft have all been precisely restored to their original glory. To revive the old world charm of the Shire Hall and its council chamber along with its imposing fireplace and elaborate wood carvings on the doors and mantlepiece, they have all been restored to their past beauty. Each bedroom has a perfect mixture of art, lighting, sound and comfort. Every en-suite bedroom is equipped with Molton Brown amenities and an espresso coffee machine. These extra touches of luxury permeate throughout the hotel and go beyond amenities and décor. You are also assured the warmest of welcomes at this splendid property where the staff will do all they can to ensure that you have a most comfortable stay.
Leaving Sonning you make you way to Henley, a 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.
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.
Badgemore Park provide eight individually designed bedrooms on a bed and breakfast basis. Badgemore Park's accommodation is set within its own beautiful, private walled garden right in the middle of the parkland, but just 100 yards from The Coach House – which offers breakfast, lunch and tea, plus a bar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Located just off Marlow's popular high street, a short walk from the Thames.
The next stage has you walking on peaceful river paths and passing some places of historic significance. Pass 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. Continue on to Taplow, your final destination for today.
Graceful surroundings and a warm welcome are but two of the many enchantments of the Norfolk House Hotel. Another is the location, as their 200 year old Georgian manor house stands in three acres of gardens complete with a terrace and swimming pool.
Moor Hall is the ideal location to refresh and start the day exploring the local villages and scenery. They aim to make every visit as memorable and comfortable as possible.
Leaving Maidenhead keep an eye out for the impressive outline of Windsor Castle as it 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. Also pass Eton, famed for its public school and a quieter option to stay in than Windsor.
This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Eton High Street, opposite the world famous and architecturally stunning Eton School, and a short walk from the river Thames and Windsor Castle. Eton is located opposit Windsor, and is just a short walk over the bridge. The charming rooms are equiped with flat screen TV, free superfast WIFI internet access, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer, and toiletries.
The Crown and Cushion has been an inn since 1753. It 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 but that is what makes it charming!
Julia provides acclaimed accommodation in a beautiful home from the Victorian era, located in a quiet residential area but only a ten minute walk along the River Thames to Windsor Castle.
After breakfast your walking holiday will come to an end. See the Travel Info section for some useful details for your onward travel.
Other InformationIs it for me?
This section of the Thames Path, a National Trail, from Oxford to Windsor can be walked over 8 or 11 days and is rated between easy and moderate, depending on the itinerary you choose. Stroll by the Thames, England’s iconic river, contemplating life and viewing some of this country’s rich historic treasures.
Classic Routes | If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, who’s interested in taking on the great routes of the world or looking for a challenge, then our Classic Routes are for you. We’re talking the West Highland Way, Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Passau to Vienna Danube Cycle Path, to name but a few!
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
The Thames Path is a walk of contrasting terrain, from countryside trails and small country roads to towpaths, riverside paths, plus some city streets, the further into London you get. Due to the flat nature of the area, it sometimes can be prone to waterlogged and boggy paths after any prolonged rainfall.
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 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).
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 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.
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.
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 and have a problem-free day.
- 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
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.
By nature, the South East of England is prone to varying types of weather throughout the year. Always be prepared for changeable conditions when walking in England. Waterproofs are essential all year round. In the summer months, be prepared for hot weather also - with a lack of shade on the paths (ensure you have sunscreen) and in the shoulder seasons of March or October expect colder temperatures (it’s not a bad idea to pack some gloves or a woolly hat).
Before you set off each day, it is also important that you pay attention to any weather warnings in place. We recommend visiting https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/ (the UK’s official source for weather warnings). Do not attempt to walk any sections if any serious weather warnings are in place.
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.
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.
At Macs Adventure, we work in partnership with many luggage transfer providers who set a limit on how many bags/suitcases they will transfer per person, and also the weight of the bag/suitcase. Your booking includes transfer of 1 bag per person. It is very important that you read the luggage information specific to your tour before departure. If you do not adhere to these limits, there is a great possibility that you will be charged locally both for extra bags or if they are too heavy. This limitation can be a challenge, especially as airlines generally have limits that are higher. However, our luggage providers have reasons for these limits (usually due to the Health and Safety of their employees), which we must respect.
Flooding and Diversions on the Thames path
The Thames Path is set in a relatively flat location of South east England therefore can be prone to flooding in early spring, during prolonged rainfall or bad weather – this may mean sections of the Thames path (in particular the west section) can become waterlogged or boggy, making progress significantly slower – in extreme cases it may make the path’s impassable. If any section is particularly bad over time, the local authorities will close it off and create a diversion. No matter what year you are due to walk the Thames Path you are likely to find some minor diversions in place (normally this will be a logical path that skirts around the effected section). If there are any major diversions in place, the Macs Adventure team will reach out to you to let you know.
We recommend checking the interactive map on the official trail website that shows the up-to-date trail diversions: https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/thames-path/trail-information/
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.
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