- 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
Follow riverside trails on England’s Thames Path, a National Trail, from the university city of Oxford to Windsor.
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 to areas of great historic significance, including the city of Oxford and the royal palace of Windsor, official residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
Wander through idyllic English villages, such as Sonning, Bourne End and Goring. Pause in the local pub for a local brew and perhaps a Ploughman’s Lunch with hearty bread, cheeses, pickled onions and cold meats.
The Thames Path is made up of sections and since each itinerary is different with varying daily walks we give you a summary of each section, rather than a day by day description. We may not mention all the places where you overnight as it depends upon your particular itinerary.
Starting Point: Oxford
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.
Oxford to Wallingford - 38 km/23 miles
Leaving Oxford behind, embark on your next section which does preserve 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.
Although planes now pass overhead and the Great Western Railway is nearby it is surprisingly peaceful as you walk out of Pangbourne. Here there is a constant view of the Chiltern Hills. Pass by some impressive locks and skirt the town of Reading, before reaching Sonning, one of the highlights of this section as it is a really splendid village and has been described, like a place out of a fairy tale.
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 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. Also pass Eton, famed for its public school.
Departing Point: Windsor
Windsor has direct trains that go into London Waterloo Station. The journey takes 1H. From here you can make your way to other 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.
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.
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.
76 Duke St B&B
This B&B is proudly owned and operated and provides delightful accommodation in a quiet residential area, only a ten minute walk along the River Thames to Windsor Castle.The bedrooms are beautifully decorated.
You can start your Thames Path Central walk anytime between mid April and 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.
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 that 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 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 Oxford
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 Windsor
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.
- 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
- 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 11 day itinerary as a couple of the places are small with only one accommodation.
How fit do I need to be?
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.
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.