The Thames Path runs in total for about 180 miles. The Walking Holiday Company currently offer walks along the west section of this National Trail. The source of the Thames starts in the Cotswolds. This is in rural Gloucestershire. The Thames river then meanders its way as far as the Thames Barrier in London. Our walks, for the moment, go as far as Pangbourne which lies to the west of Reading.
Just as with other National Trails, this walks route is way marked with the ‘white acorn’. Neatly displayed on posts along the route for you to track your progress.
The Thames Path is a gentle route which can be walked by all abilities. Starting in the Cotswolds, and meandering its way through several counties. What a relaxing trail this is, passing through water meadows and pretty villages.
As always, it is important to choose an itinerary with a pace that suits you. It is your walking holiday, and allowing extra time for photography, rests and maybe a bite to eat all add to the pleasure. The Thames Path is however a gentle trail. Mainly on flat ground. A lot of the stiles along this route have been changed for gates, but a few ‘up and overs’ still remain!
The Walking Holiday Company recommend the best time to walk the Thames Path is from the Spring through to early Autumn. As the land is flat and this is a river walk, you should consider potential flooding of the path through the winter months.
You will never be short of fabulous wildlife on the river, and wildflowers on the river banks. Whilst there is no ‘best direction’ to make this walk, we currently offer it in a west to east direction. This matches the National Trail guide book, and keeps the wind at your back.
So, you are about to start your walking holiday on the Thames Path. Starting in a field in the Cotswolds, you will look to the ground and think “there is no river here “, and you would be right for several dry months of the year. However, follow the route and soon a tiny trickle of water will appear, steadily growing to a small stream. You are now following the River Thames. Through delightful Cotswold villages you will roam, and slowly, steadily that stream becomes a river. The villages become towns. The fields become willow lined river banks. The Cotswolds Water Park is on the route and here there are 140 lakes – a great place for bird watching.
Moving on through Castle Eaton with its magnificent 12th century church, you will come to Inglesham. Here the atmospheric ‘St John the Baptist’ church sits, renovated by William Morris.
Beyond Tadpole Bridge, the Thames Path passes through Chimney Meadows National Nature Reserve. If you are lock counting, you should know there are 45 locks on the non-tidal section of the Thames River.
As you start heading toward Oxford you will start to notice the river becomes used by boats more frequently. It is well worth taking some time to visit Oxford, so here would make a perfect Rest Day choice.
Beyond Oxford and Abingdon, you will come across two impressive Abbeys. Abingdon Abbey and the great Abbey Church of Dorchester, built around 1140AD.
Now progressing toward the end of this section of the Thames Path, the hills start to grow on either side of the river. The Berkshire Downs to one side, the Chilterns to the other. Here when you check out your map, you will see The Ridgeway, another National Trail runs along the opposite side of the Thames River.
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