A quick intro to the under appreciated Thames Path national trail - the best way into or out of London.
Where is it and how far is it?
The Thames Barrier
This historic trail starts from the Thames Barrier in Central London and finishes in Gloucestershire at the river's source. The complete 180 mile (288km) trail is divided into 20 easy stages and can be walked, by walkers of average fitness, in three weeks.
Why should you walk it?
It is an easy walk that passes some of London's great sights before heading into delightful English countryside. It is well marked and maintained, with most of the route being on public footpaths or bridleways.
When should you go?
The infant Thames
The Thames Path is manageable at any time of the year although the days are shorter in winter and the number of daylight hours should be considered. Tide times will also need to be checked as there is a flood risk along many sections of the route. Public transport is also good enough that, from much of the path, you can return to London after a day walking, if this is preferred.
Where should you stay?
There are plenty of options along this route so you can choose according to your budget. The Thames Path National Trail Companion, produced by the National Trails office, is a useful accommodation list. There is also an overview of the accommodation options at every stage in Leigh Hatts' guidebook to the Thames Path.
The Thames Path is the only long-distance route to follow a river throughout its length from tidal waters and there is something incredible about ending the walk at a tiny often-dry spring in a field, watching as the mighty Thames disappears from view.
Did you know?
The Thames is the cleanest metropolitan river in the world with an estuary supporting 115 species of fish and as many as 44 different types of bird.
The Thames Path guidebook by Leigh Hatts
The National Trails guidebook by Paddy Dillon
The National Trails website
How to pack for a long distance trek - Cicerone Extra article
Have you walked the Thames Path?
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