Thames path from barrier to source with photoshomehill shareware (free)Mountain indexthames pathBarrier to WindsorWindsor to sourceGuide booksThames photosThames books
The Thames BarrierThe DomeThe Dome

More picturesmore pictures


Route of the Thames path


The Thames path and its pubs

The Thames Path
The River Thames
Overview of route

Thames path books and boating
Guide books and maps
Boating on the River Thames 
General books

Thames path pubs and London
River side pubs, Barrier to Windsor
London - north or south bank?
River side pubs - Windsor to Source

A weeks walking itinerary - Windsor to the source

Thames path photos
Photos (thumbnails) Barrier to Houses of Parliament
Photos (thumbnails) Lambeth to the source
Photos (thumbnails) Regents canal
Photos (thumbnails) Lee Navigation
Kennet and avon canalPhotos (thumbnails) Kennet and Avon canal
oxford canalPhotos Oxford Canal
Photographs by area, select sets to view
Photographs by content
Favourite photos

The Thames Path
Walking and stopping overnight at Thame's side inns is one of the best ways to enjoy the Thames, we try to do it as often as possible along the Thames path.

The Thames path is an easy route both in terms of ground and route finding. Finding camping sites would be difficult along parts of the route. 180 miles (290k) 12-14 days. (Windsor to source fits into a week). Minimal ascent, 5m to 110m in 180 miles, with a few minor ups and down along the way. 

London is a big city and like all big cities the usual precautions should be taken with wallets etc. I would suggest doing the first section from the barrier (and the extension - which around Erith has the additional issues of isolation from view, lack of escape routes and proximity to a population centre extension photos) early in the day and in company, taking particular care in the stretch just upstream of the "Cutty Sark". I don't want to give the impression these places are dangerous, but I feel I should warn the unwary who may not be as streetwise as the average city dweller. (I did the former section after dark and am still here to tell the tale!)

Football and other crowd pulling events
On the London sections you might like to check if  Charlton, Millwall, Chelsea, Fulham or Queens Park Rangers are playing at home near a pub you aim to use at lunchtime (or an area you wish to park in). One walker reports he could only get a cheese roll in the "Anchor and Hope" on a Charlton match day.Note the Fulham ground is on the riverfront and the path goes round it (there is an alternative path on the south bank).Henley regatta, the Oxford and Cambridge boat race and the Reading Jazz festival<website> are other events to note. London from Greenwich to The Houses of Parliament would be almost impossible on London Marathon day (a Sunday in April).

Thames events

Henley regatta <website> <womens' event> End of June into July. Womens' mid June.
Reading regatta <website> Mid June
Swan Upping <website> Third week of July on upper Thames[1]
The Great River Race <website> Richmond to Greenwich in September
Head of the river race <website> womens' race <website> Mortlake to Putney in March
University boat race <website> March, Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge.
Doggett Coat and Badge race and Port of London Challenge Race London Bridge to Chelsea, two dates in mid July
Marlow Regatta <website> June

1] Swan upping
Every year in the third week of July, The Queen's Swan Marker and the swan uppers from the Vinters' and Dyers' Livery companies, travel the Thames from Sunbury on Thames to Abingdon in their scarlet uniforms and in traditional Thames rowing skiffs. marking and inspecting mute swans.

Who it would suit
Anyone who would enjoy walking through a cross section of southern England. It would not suit anyone looking for a challenging wilderness experience. An ideal first long distance path or succession of day/weekend walks. (good railway services for all of the route) But don't take bites at it at random, part of the beauty of the walk is in experiencing the progression of human activities up the river.

Cost and accommodation
The majority of the riverfront buildings along the river are now considered some of the most desirable in the country and therefore the most expensive. Inevitably this is reflected in the price of accommodation and restaurant meals, especially in central London and the more desirable locations upstream. Small "B&Bs" just away from the river will of course be cheaper than riverfront pub/hotels. The Ramblers Association list "B&B"s, just click the accommodation button on their page (after bookmarking this one!).
One novel solution is a boat that provides overnight accomodation and carries your luggage!

Starting from Distance to next point
North bank
Distance to next point
South Bank
Thames Barrier 4 4
Greenwich 6 4.5
Tower Bridge 0.5 0.5
London Bridge 2.5 2
Westminster 1.5 1
Vauxhall  6 7
Putney 2 1.75
Hammersmith Broadway 2.5 2
Barnes Bridge 3 2.5
Kew Bridge 4 3
Richmond 3.5 2.75
Teddington 5 5
Kingston Bridge 2 No further choice of bank
Hampton Court  3
Shepperton 6
Staines 6
Datchet 2
Windsor 1.75
Maidenhead 6.5
Cookham 3.25
Bourne End station 3.25
Marlow 3.25
Hurley 2.5
Hambledon Lock 3.75
Henley 2.5
Shiplake 2.25
Sonning 3.25
Reading 3.5
Tilehurst 3.5
Pangebourne 4.25
Goring 4
Cholsey 3.75
Wallingford 5.5
Day's Lock (Dorchester) 5.25
Culham 2.75
Abingdon 3.25
Lower Radley 6
Oxford 6.25
Swinford 7.75
Newbridge 6
Tadpole Bridge 4
Radcot Bridge 6.25
Lechlade 2.25
Upper Inglesham 4.25
Castle Eaton 4.25
Cricklade 5.5
Ashton Keynes 7
Source -

Download Thame's milages as Excel spreadsheet

(If you have problems downloading try holding down shiftkey while clicking on link or right click the link and choose "save to...")

The walk 

The Extensionextension photos
The best way to tackle the extension is from Slade Green station. Take Moat Lane on the north side of the station (left of the exit) and reach The Darent at Crayford Marshes, then follow the river. This section has good numbers of waders and ducks in winter, diminishing in numbers as the path approaches London proper. After the Erith rejuvenated waterfront the path passes along the river isolated and hidden from view, see security. After the historic Crossness pumping engines the riverfront is lined with the new flats that are a feature of much of London's Thames nowadays. If doing this section separately, it can be finished at Charlton station. There are no riverfront pubs on this section.

Thames Path proper - Industrial beginings
The path starts amoungst a jumble of industry, not pretty, but not without interest and those whose first reaction is to think of skipping the start of the walk should first reflect that the fascination of the walk lies in the rivers progress through all the uses man has put the river to. In any case, as the years pass plants discharging dubious effluents  are being replaced by affluent housing developments. However if only a single week is available and/or you would need to pay for London accomodation, starting from Windsor gives good, mainly rural, walking.
This early stage gives fine views of that monument to political megolomania, (now finally put to sensible uses) the millenium dome. Canary Wharf looms in the distance and of course the barrier, where the walk starts[1] (note that early starters will have to miss the first few yards of path through the locked visitor centre). Note that the path round the dome may divert away from the river edge due to the various development works in progress. (In Feb 2005 I was diverted away from river for a couple of hundred yards to near the entrance to the northbound Blackwall tunnel to get round works, when away from the river in this area it can be less than scenic!).

City & South Bank
Soon industry is left behind and the north bank is lined with the overpriced flats of the overpaid city market traders and thier towering offices at Canary Wharf, originally planed as a low rise development! Some interesting parts of the old east end remain including "The Prospect of Whitby" and "The Mayflower" where the ship of that name (also built in Whitby) was reputedly berthed, fitted and crewed before its historic voyage from Plymouth to America, although the pub has only had that name since 1960, formerly being the "Spread Eagle" which was largely destroyed by a V1 rocket in WW2. 
The south bank is graced with two interesting ships  "The Cutty Sark" *and "Gypsy Moth IV" (currently (2005) being refitted for another voyage) alongside The Royal Nautical College, National Maritime Museum and above and behind the Royal Observatoryon the Greenwich meridian. Further on, the reconstructed Globe theatre makes a strong contrast to the brutalist concrete of the South Bank complex. The Millenium Eye is everything the dome failed to be, next to County Hall and the Houses of Parliament and its clock tower containing "Big Ben" across the river.

* The Cutty Sark is currently under restoration (2007) and after a major fire in need of funds. <website>

Suburban London
After Chelsea and Battersea Park with the London Peace Pagodawe move towards the 
comfortable if a little dull suburbs at Putney, Hammersmith, Kew and Richmond with its deer park edging the south bank and Richmond with the first lock, although the river is tidal to Teddington. Serious rowing is now the order and will remain so for many miles. Eel Pie island was originally a day trip destination for Victorians, later a haunt of beatniks and then blues/rock groups like the Rolling Stones, it is now left to its residents.

Middle reaches
By Hampton Court Palace London is loosing its grip on the river and narrow boats start to make an appearance alongside the large sightseeing cruisers. Many of these will be travelling on the Thames and the Oxford canal, their narrow beam making them ideal for the smaller locks upstream. Often now one bank of the river will be lined with, sometimes  expensive houses, although fortunatly it is rare for walkers to be excluded from both banks, although sometimes there is a feeling that owners do not really want a right of way through thier front gardens, in one a brass plaque reads "Right of way - No stopping" !

Way up stream
Beyond Oxford, with its college boathouses the river moves into a private land, soon the locks are manually operated (from Kings Lock near the "Trout Inn" which is well worth a visit as is the thatched "Perch" 800 years old and reputedly named "The Parrot" for the first hundred until the inevitable sad event took place, well thats what I heard...).
Bridges become few and are inevitably accompanied by an Inn, in the case of Newbridge by two, the Rose Revived, run by a major chain "Green King" thankfully with accomodation and the other "The Maybush" on the other bank, thankfully with good homecooked food. 
This general pattern repeats itself at the next bridge "Tadpole Bridge" with its "Trout Inn". We overheard a telephone conversation with the landlord "Yes sir, this is the Trout Inn, are you sure you have the correct one........Yes, we are by the Thames as are the other two......yes, and all three are by bridges!"
At Lechlade we meet the limit of navigation for all but small boats. There are two bridges here, St Johns with its accompanying "Trout Inn" and Ha'penny bridge with its tollbooth.
We stayed in the Market Square at the "New Inn". A coaching inn with its stables converted into extra rooms.
Cricklade is the last town on the river, on our first visit we failed to engage with Cricklade, it seemed all pool tables and "Swindon troublemakers not welcome here". But second time around we struck lucky with "The Old Bear", a locals pub with a room above the bar and three converted stables at the back, breakfast is at a communal farmhouse type table and although there is no food on Sunday (this is a proper drinking pub, not a semi restaurant) a decent Indian restaurant across the street will feed you.
Beyond Cricklade the river starts to become elusive, without river traffic the need for a footpath has become less and our route, although usually next to water, is not always next to the river, which at times is now almost fading away, especially in summer. 
The last leg is across meadows with the unmistakable dry bed on our right, only full under very wet conditions.

1] As of 2001 an extension downstream from the barrier, waymarked with a Thames barge logo, connects with "The London Loop" at Erith.extension photosThe QE2 bridge beyond the extensionQE2 Bridge

The River Thames
The name "Thames" is probably abbreviated from "Themesis"  (possibly 'Tam' - "wide" and 'Isis' - "water"). Although it has been suggested that up river it was called "Thames" and downriver "Plowonida" (which also means wide river from pre celtic "plew" and nejd") and that "Londinium" derived from "Plowonida". 
However it got its name, on your walk you will pass 45 locks, 58 islands (usually called "ait" or eyot") plus the Isle of Dogs, (not really an island) and 103 bridges of all ages, from the Millennium bridgeand Hungerford footbridges (2002) to Abingdon Bridge (1416) and New Bridge (14C). In London there are also 16 tunnels, usually for the London Underground, one of which, Marc Brunel's Thames Tunnel, dates from 1843. Only one is a foot tunnel, at Greenwich, dating from 1902.
The Thames has not always been the same, half a million years ago it flowed from Wales to Clacton and onward to become a tributary of the Rhine, before the North Sea existed. But the southward march of glaciers blocked its path and diverted it southwards to its present position where it stayed when the glaciers retreated.
In more recent times the Thames formed a major highway between London and Westminster, Hampton Court and Oxford, The Guild of Watermen being the "black cabs" of their day. Today we are again starting to see our river as an underused resource and river buses now operate to relieve London's choked roads. Later, during the days of the British Empire the Thames was at its centre with goods flowing in and out of the city docks, but post the two great wars, business has moved downstream to deep water harbours and the old docks, heavily bombed during the second world war have now almost entirely been regenerated as a second business district and housing for those that work in it. Freed of much of its industry, the (now abolished) GLC and TWA have cleaned up the river so it is now one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest, to flow through a major city. When out taking photos in the early morning I have seen fisherman, with angler's rod or otherwise, catching fish  in the shadow of Canada Tower

Thames photographs
Photo thumbnails by location:-
(there are over 200 thumnails so it might be worth making a cup of tea while they load, note that these links are not all to the top of pages, so it may appear that nothing is loading at first)
Thames Barrier to Greenwich
Greenwich to Tower Bridge (from north bank)
Greenwich to Tower Bridge (from south bank)
Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament (from north bank)
Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament (from south bank)
Page 2
Lambeth to Hampton Court
Hampton to Windsor
Windsor to Goring and Streatley
Goring and Streatley to Oxford
Oxford to Source
Thumbnails of an edited selection of the photographs can be found down the left hand edge of the pages.
Alternatively you can view that selection starting from here. (Just click on the image for the next one). To view all the photos sequentially click here

Photographs by content
My favourites

Next page (guide books)
London walks
Long Distance footpaths