The Thames Path
From London to the river's source in Gloucestershire
By Leigh Hatts
A guidebook to walking the Thames Path, a National Trail covering 180 miles between London's Thames Barrier and the river's source in Gloucestershire, passing through Windsor, Oxford and rural countryside. Provides full information for this easy riverside route that takes around two weeks to complete. Includes a 1:25K OS map booklet.
SeasonsThe River Thames is a constantly changing green corridor. While care must be taken during occasional winter flooding this is an all season walk always offering new rewards and views.
CentresGreenwich, Southwark opposite St Paul's Cathedral in central London, Richmond-upon-Thames, Windsor, Henley, Reading, Abingdon, Oxford, Lechlade and Cricklade.
DifficultyThe route is described in 20 sections between 4 and 16 miles in length. This is a mainly flat walk with only one steep hill. East of Oxford, and especially in London, the paths are good and usually near public transport. The more challenging sections needing a little planning are upstream of Oxford.
Must Seetakes the walker from the Thames Barrier in London to the source of the river in rural Gloucestershire; passes historic sites such as Greenwich, Kew Gardens, Hampton Court, Runnymede, Windsor Castle and Oxford.
A guidebook to walking the Thames Path, a 180-mile National Trail from the Thames Barrier to the river's source in near Cirencester, passing from central London through Windsor, Henley, and Oxford, and rural countryside. Described in 20 sections, of between 4 and 16 miles (6.5–32km), it is an mainly flat route with good access by public transport and typically takes two weeks to walk. On its way it passes historic sites such as Greenwich, Kew Gardens, Hampton Court, Runnymede, Windsor Castle and Oxford.
This guidebook features complete OS 1:50,000 scale mapping of the route and comprehensive information concerning accommodation, facilities and transport links along the route. A separate pocket-sized map booklet is included showing the full route on 1:25,000 scale OS maps, providing all the mapping needed to complete the trail in a compact and convenient form. It is crammed with fascinating details about the places and features passed along the way.
The Thames Path is an easy riverside walk that discovers the constantly changing character of the River Thames.
Towpath to National Trail
The Path today
Looking after the river
Accommodation and transport
Using this guide
The Thames Path
Stage 1 Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge
Stage 2 Tower Bridge to Putney
Stage 3 Putney to Kingston
Stage 4 Kingston to Chertsey
Stage 5 Chertsey to Staines
Stage 6 Staines to Windsor
Stage 7 Windsor to Maidenhead
Stage 8 Maidenhead to Marlow
Stage 9 Marlow to Henley
Stage 10 Henley to Reading
Stage 11 Reading to Pangbourne
Stage 12 Pangbourne to Goring
Stage 13 Goring to Wallingford
Stage 14 Wallingford to Dorchester
Stage 15 Dorchester to Abingdon
Stage 16 Abingdon to Oxford
Stage 17 Oxford to Newbridge
Stage 18 Newbridge to Lechlade
Stage 19 Lechlade to Cricklade
Stage 20 Cricklade to the Source
Appendix A Optional Prelude: Erith to the Thames Barrier
Appendix B Further reading
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Vauxhall to Chelsea Bridge, pages 41-43
A new route here does not yet follow the riverside at Battersea Power Station but it does reduce the main road walking.
After leaving Vauxhall and passing into Nine Elms it is possible to stay by the river where there is now a good view of the completed new USA Embassy (left).
The path only turns inland to join Nine Elms Lane to avoid a pumping station. Here you are opposite a handy Waitrose with a toilet and cafe.
Go right along the main road for a very short distance to turn back towards the river, passing between two tall buildings, and join Tideway Walk with its houseboats.
Pass the new glass Nine Elms Tavern (left). Where the path comes up against a wall go inland down Kirtling Street and left into Cringle Street to return to the main road.
Turn right along the busy Battersea Park Road passing the other end of Kirtling Street (right) and the giant Bookers Wholesale (left).
Now look out on the right for the gated Pump House Lane. Go through the gate and follow the winding road through the Battersea Power Station construction site.
The road rises to run close to the south end of the power station and soon passes new shops (left) to reach the river.
Bear left upstream with the new building and restaurants to pass under Grosvenor Bridge carrying the Victoria Station railway. After a short distance go under Chelsea Bridge to enter (beyond current gas pipe works) Battersea Park.
Inglesham, page 197
There is now a riverside path so there is no need to walk along the busy main road. On reaching the quiet road at Inglesham you now go right to the church. Take the new path opposite the church which leads down to the river.
Lombard Wharf, page 45
On approaching Battersea Railway Bridge from Albion Quay go under the bridge through a newly opened arch to reach a new riverside path on Lombard Wharf. Walkers do not now have to go inland to join the main road.
First paragraph, second line: the Pizza Lounge has been demolished.
Refreshments: Next to Kingston Bridge is John Lewis which has a good cafe with free phone charging lockers. Mon, Tue, Wed & Fri 9.30am-6pm; Thu 9.30am-9pm; Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 10am-4pm.
The new phone number is 01932 221094. The fare includes a cup of tea or coffee in the Nauticalia shop on the left bank.
There is a tea shop at Hurley Lock open Tue-Sun 11am-5pm.
Refreshments: There is a tea shop at Sonning Lock open Apr-Oct 11am-5pm.
At King's Lock there is a shelter with table and chairs suitable for a picnic stop.
Refreshments: Medley Manor Farm, where you cross the river from Oxford to Binsey, has a cafe open Tue-Sun 10.30am-6pm in high summer. Look out for signs at Rainbow Bridge.
Accommodation: Campsite on right bank at Northmoor Lock; open Fri & Sat only; 07974 309958 barefoot campsites.co.uk
Refreshments: The Maybush, on the other end of bridge at Newbridge, is open Tue-Sat 10am-11pm; Sun 10am-7pm and offers accommodation in shepherd’s hut; 01865 300101.
The fifth paragraph headed 'To reach Kemble Station’ should begin ‘Go left’.
In the third paragraph: The stile has been replaced by steps and the squeeze stile by a small gate set in the main gate.
On page 123 the last paragraph’s first sentence should read: 'Here, until waymarking indicates otherwise, leave the towpath by going right through a gate.'
In the Introduction under the heading of Maps, 'OS Explorer Maps (1:50,000)' should read 'OS Explorer Maps (1:25,000)'.
This guidebook is produced to the usual outstanding Cicerone standards.
In fairness, strictly in terms of route-finding, the Thames Path National Trail is extremely well signposted and with perhaps literally 1 or 2 occasions it could be argued there is no need for this book.
However, the true value of the book is the author’s detailed background information on buildings that can be seen from the Path and places the Path goes through. It provides significant historical interest and it is - in my opinion – written at the optimum level, with just the right amount of detail to provide a talking point as you progress upstream.
Each stage has a 'Facilities Information' section with useful information around refreshments, accommodation and transport, etc. Inevitably there will be changes to establishments as they open and close. However generally there were plenty of options for eating and sleeping and the information was accurate. As always the publisher Cicerone updates changes on their website. Aside ongoing access work in parts of London and efforts to get the path closer to the Thames in some of the more remote areas, there should be no path changes.
As is usual for Cicerone guidebooks, the layout is excellent and each stage includes a strip of OS 1:50K mapping. Photos complement the easy to read text and there is sufficient margin space to make notes, etc. Although written when travelling upstream to the source, the content could easily be followed if travelling downstream.
The inclusion of the OS 1:25K map booklet is a great addition to this guidebook and will no doubt become the norm at least for future Cicerone publications of UK walks.
The plastic cover protects the guide and I can confirm that despite being carried in my hand throughout the walk, dropped occasionally and opened and closed very regularly, neither the guidebook or map booklet show any sign of falling apart.
In conclusion, this guidebook is produced to the usual outstanding Cicerone standards. The contents will not strictly speaking make a difference to route-finding. With the included OS maps, it will provide reassurance and give an indication of your progress each day. In my opinion its greatest value is however the snippets of information and commentary it gives as you travel along the Thames and as such is a worthwhile and recommended companion whether you are doing day walks or the Trail in its entirety.
Kevin McKeown, Amazon
A real bargain as the route map booklet is normally sold on its own for almost a tenner!
This guidebook and route map booklet combination is all you will possibly need to get you through the 180 mile walk of the Thames Path. I am looking forward to putting both to the test in the next two years. It is a real bargain as the route map booklet is normally sold on its own for almost a tenner!
Invaluable Guide and Map Book for the Thames Path
Just walked from Windsor to Oxford and bought this guide just before I left. It's really very good. Contains enough information about towns and noteworthy sights to give sufficient background.
I think the really good thing about the guide is the 1:25000 OS map book that's included with the book. Perfect size to carry, gives you everything you need to figure out where you are and the mileage guides for each leg helps with planning. And best of all, you don't have to buy individual OS maps. And both the guide and the map book get stored in a useful vinyl cover with helps to protect it from the weather and getting destroyed in your backpack.
The walk is great by the way!
"This new long distance guidebook series from Cicerone has a unique selling point: each copy comes with a pocket-sized booklet providing 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey mapping for the whole of the route it covers. Guidebooks have of course included map sections in the past, but the difference here is that if you stick to the route outlined in each book you shouldn't need to carry an extra map with you. So for those of you who like saving weight (and money for that matter) on your long distance adventures, then this could be the ideal navigation tool....
The guidebooks are impeccably researched and written by Cicerone's expert pool of outdoor authors...
Our only criticism is that they haven't been doing it for years!"
Oli Reed, Trail Magazine
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Leigh Hatts has been walking the Thames towpath and exploring the river and Docklands since 1981, when he worked on the feasibility study that resulted in the decision to establish the route as a National Trail. He worked as a reporter with the walkers' magazine TGO and as arts correspondent of the Catholic Herald. He is co-founder of Bankside Press.View Articles and Books by Leigh Hatts