Thames Path Short Break: Oxford to Pangbourne
- Follow the Thames Path from Oxford to the charming village of Pangbourne
- Walk through the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Abingdon, a pretty and historic town with Iron Age, Roman and Saxon origins
- Begin in the university city of Oxford, admiring its fine architecture
- Enjoy traditional fish and chips and a local brew in the village pub
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.
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.
Ascent: 5m / Descent: 15m
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.
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 Pangbourne can be walked over 5 days and is rated between easy and moderate. Stroll by the Thames, England’s iconic river, contemplating life and viewing some of this country’s charming villages and taking in its incredible history. .
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, on this short break, you will be required to walk long distances for a couple of days. Therefore, this itinerary is most suitable for those walkers with previous long-distance experience and a good level of physical fitness.
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 Pangbourne
- 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 Complete walk anytime between late April and the beginning of October. It is advised not to walk the beginning sections 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. Please note that if you are doing the complete Thames Path walk it is best to book a long way in advance due to potential availability issues in central London.
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 Pangbourne, you can take a train (approx. 1H) to London’s Paddington Station. Depending on which train you choose to catch, you may be required to change trains in Reading, however, there are also direct trains. They run approximately every 30 minutes depending on the time of day. From London Paddington, 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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