- Follow the Thames Path from its Cotswolds source into the heart of London
- Iconic sights such as Windsor Castle, Runnymede & Hampton Court Palace
- Contrasting landscapes from tranquil meadows to the bustling city
- Admire London’s skyline from the South Bank including Westminster Palace
- Walk through the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Walk England’s Thames Path, a National Trail, following footpaths through varying landscapes from its rural source in the Cotswolds, all the way into the capital city of London.
The Thames is a river that is responsible for London’s very existence and 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 and past areas of great historic significance, including the city of Oxford and Royal palaces, such as Windsor and Hampton Court.
Walk into London’s bustling centre, admiring its incredible skyline and completing the trail at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich, sampling some of England’s best food in cosy pubs en route.
The Thames Path Complete can be walked over 17 or 21 days. We have written the itinerary based on sections, rather than a day by day itinerary. You can find the day by day itineraries 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 Lechlade — 28 km/17 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 break up the first section. Here Alfred the Great fortified the town against the Danes.
At times the next stage strays away from the river but you will still be walking through meadows and along country lanes. 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.
Lechlade to Oxford - 48km/29 miles
On the first stage of 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.
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.
Oxford to Wallingford - 38 km/23 miles
Leaving Oxford behind, embark on the next section which preserves its sense of solitude as in the previous stages. Pass the Iffley Meadows Nature Reserve and a couple of lochs before arriving in Abingdon, a pretty and historic town with Iron Age, Roman and Saxon origins.
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 Wallingford 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.
Wallingford to Henley-on-Thames - 44km/27 miles
On the next stage to Pangbourne you will walk 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.
The subsequent stage to Henley-on-Thames is one that is a reminder that England's capital gets ever closer, with planes from Heathrow overhead and the Great Western Railway track nearby. Having said that it is surprisingly peaceful and as you walk out of Pangbourne 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.
Henley-on-Thames to Windsor— 37 km/22 miles
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 you should take the time to explore it.
The next stage includes walking on peaceful river paths and passing some places of historic significance, such as Bourne End, where Enid Blyton lived and Cookham, home to the artist Stanley Spencer. 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.
The impressive outline of Windsor Castle gets ever closer. Also pass Eton, famed for its public school and a quieter option to stay in than Windsor.
Windsor to Kingston-upon-Thames –39km/24 miles
The next stage takes you firstly on a riverside stroll, which compared to the hustle and bustle of Windsor, is a nice contrast. Soon you switch riverbanks and walk to the village of Datchet, before switching banks again and entering the county of Surrey.
Then encounter Runnymede, the place where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. This important document was concerned with the English legal system and decreed that everyone in England, irrespective of their wealth of status, had access to courts of law. You can visit Runnymede en route if you wish as it is right next to the Thames Path.
Next comes the small town of Chertsey, with its pretty streets.. If you have time visit the Chertsey Museum which keeps this town’s history nicely alive.
The next stage is the final one before entering London itself. At this point there is a ferry crossing. You can choose to use the ferry or walk further if you wish to avoid it. Pass through Dumsey Meadow and Shepperton Lock, before reaching the London borough of Richmond and Hampton Court Palace, which is very worthy of exploration. This building of this palace began in 1514 and it is open all year round. Continue on to Kingston-upon-Thames/Hampton Wick.
Kingston-on-Thames to the Thames Barrier - 55km/34 miles
Follow the riverside trail out of Kingston to Teddington Lock, at which point the river becomes tidal. From here continue to follow the trail south of the river and all the way to Putney. This is the preferred route as it is not only shorter, but is also more rural than the northern route.
Pass Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens and the appealing town of Richmond which is recorded in the Domesday Book. From Kew Bridge the river then snakes past Kew and Hammersmith Bridge. The trail here is quiet even though evidence of the city is on your right hand-side.
It is here between Putney Bridge and Mortlake that the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race is held on a Saturday near Easter every year on a 4.2 mile (6.8km) stretch of the river. It first began in 1829. Up to 250,000 people watch the boat race from the banks and many more on the TV.
The next stage takes you into the very heart of London, where you can see the famous skylines, stroll through Battersea Park, admire the view on the opposite bank and be in awe of Tower Bridge, one of the river’s most recent crossing points.
Now you will be walking through the heart of London’s docklands. At times you will follow the path next to the river and at times through suburban neighbourhoods. On this section there are interesting plaques with historical information.
Once you arrive in Greenwich, (home to Greenwich Mean Time) you will see the Cutty Sark, an historic British sailing ship built in 1869 for the great China tea races of the day. It is located next to the riverside path and the Christopher Wren-designed Old Royal Naval College. Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of history. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born here. However, you may want to continue the last few kilometres to the Thames Barrier and the end of your walk, as you can explore Greenwich later, because this is where you will be spending your final night. This barrier was completed in 1982 and was built to decrease central London’s vulnerability to flooding with ever-rising tides.
On arrival at the Thames Barrier you can check out the Information Centre, before jumping on a local bus back to Greenwich.
Departing Point: Greenwich
Greenwich has buses that link to all the major train stations in London and also has a mainline train station. Make your way home from the stations or airports, depending on where you are from.
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 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.
We regularly use the following properties, however as suggested above we may accommodate you elsewhere if these are unavailable.
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.
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.
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.
The Crown & Thistle
With a history dating back to 1605, The Crown & Thistle is a Grade II listed coaching inn The design retains many of the buildings’ original features and there are 18 boutique-style bedrooms.
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.
The Paddock B&B
While close to the heart of Henley this B&B is set in a mature English garden with a large and private sunny patio. There are 4 well furnished rooms, a comfortable lounge and free Wifi throughout.
Kenton House - Marlow
At Kenton House you will be sure of a warm and friendly welcome. Both the twin rooms have en suites fitted to a luxury standard. its location provides peace and quiet yet it is situated in the town centre.
The Crown and Cushion
The Crown and Cushion has been a charming 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. It is allegedly built from old ships timbers!
This hotel has 49 very comfortable and stylish bedrooms. It also has a restaurant, bar and outside seating area in which to relax.
White Hart Hotel
This hotel situated right next to the Thames River is friendly and modern. Quiet, comfortable and well furnished.
London Bridge Hotel
Wake up just seconds away from the world's most iconic landmarks at this London Tower Bridge hotel. It features super comfy bedrooms, with an impressive and freshly-updated bathroom and kingsize beds.
The Mitre Innkeeper's Lodge
Boasting 24 elegantly furnished en-suite rooms, a resident’s lounge, a secret garden, a conservatory and some of Greenwich’s best pints, this bed and breakfast hotel in Greenwich will ensure you have a truly memorable stay.
You can start your Thames Path Complete walk anytime between the end of April and 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.
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 complete Thames Path in one stretch is not easy, as you will be walking fairly long distances everyday, especially on the 17 day tour. Therefore the 17 day complete trip is rated moderate, simply due to the daily walking distances. The 21-day itinerary has at times been split into shorter sections and is therefore graded easy to moderate. These itineraries are most suitable for those walkers with previous long distance experience and an excellent level of physical fitness.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 Greenwich
In Greenwich there is an over ground train station and from here you can make your way to any of the major train stations, generally changing trains at London Bridge and then taking an underground train. To plan your travel in London visit the Transport for London journey planner.
- 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 Kemble
- Travel from Greenwich
- Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks
- Local ferry
- Taxi transfers or public transport should you wish to skip a stage
- Travel Insurance
- Personal Equipment
- Single room supplement
- Solo Walker Supplement
- Extra nights
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest if you are doing the Thames Path Complete that you book as far in advance as possible due to potential availability issues in central London.
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. However walking the complete Thames Path in one stretch is not easy, as you will be walking fairly long distances everyday, especially on the 17 day tour. These itineraries are most suitable for those walkers with previous long distance experience and an excellent 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.