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From source to sea - following the greatest river in England

The Thames Path

Thames Path National Trail
Neigh Bridge Country Park - Thames Path National Trail
Goring on the Thames Path National Trail
Thames Path National Trail
Thames Path National Trail
London - Thames Path National Trail
Thames Path National Trail
Thames Barrier - Thames Path National Trail

What is the Thames Path?

The Thames Path is a long distance walking trail, following England's best known river for 184 miles (294 km) as it meanders from its source in the Cotswolds through several rural counties and on into the heart of London. On its way the Trail passes peaceful water meadows rich in wildlife, historic towns and cities and many lovely villages, finishing at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich just a few miles from the sea.


From the source of the Thames the trail wanders through pastures and small Cotswold villages characterised by creamy stonework buildings with stone slate roofs.


As well as miles of rural walking you’ll also pass through towns and cities - Oxford, Reading, Henley and Windsor – and of course, London.


There are a number of nature reserves along the trail, all worth exploring. Don’t miss the wildflowers at North Meadow National Nature Reserve near Cricklade, Chimney Meadows near Abingdon for its ancient landscape and wading birds, the carpet of snake's head fritillary at Iffley Meadows near Oxford or the rare Loddon lily at Cholsey Marsh Nature Reserve.


You’ll be in your element if you’re interested in history and architecture – don’t miss the 13th century Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, the home of Henry VIII - Hampton Court Palace, Strawberry Hill House, a Gothic Revival villa in Twickenham and Ham House, one of the grandest Stuart houses in England.


Other highlights include the enchanting landscaped gardens at Buscot Park, William Morris's Cotswold retreat, Kelmscott Manor, the site of the sealing of Magna Carta 800 years ago at Runnymede, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the iconic parks and bridges of London.


This National Trail can be enjoyed in many ways, whether for an afternoon’s stroll, a weekend’s break or a full scale, but relatively gentle, trek of its whole length. It is very well way-marked so following the route is easy. But it is always a good idea to take a guidebook or map.

How long does it take to walk the Thames Path end to end?

As a guide, using roughly 15 miles/24 km a day as an average daily walking distance, the trail can be completed in 14 days allowing for a couple of days’ rest. However it’s important to walk at the pace that suits you, allowing time for exploring and relaxing, and there is no pressure to do it quickly - the Thames Path is there for you to enjoy, and doesn’t have to be a route march! You don’t have to walk it all in one go of course, you can dip in for half or a full day’s walk or complete is section at a time.

How hard is the Thames Path?

The Thames Path is a gentle Trail, suitable for people with a wide range of abilities. It is mainly flat, with just a few natural slopes. Many places along it can be accessed by people with limited mobility such as users of wheelchairs or mobility scooters, parents with pushchairs or those using a walking stick.  

Which direction should I walk the Thames Path in?

Most people walk the trail from west to east, starting at the source of the River Thames in the Cotswolds and walking towards London. This is because the the prevailing wind is from the southwest so walking in this direction means the wind is behind you.

If you do start at the source of the Thames and head east you’ll initially find yourself meandering through the relatively quiet and remote rural landscape that surrounds the upper reaches of the Thames as far as Oxford. Downstream of Oxford as the river grows wider you’ll increasingly encounter villages, small market towns and larger settlements, with your final destination being one of the world’s greatest and most thriving cities, London. Walking in the other direction, you’ll move from the dynamism and bustle of London into gradually quieter and less busy countryside.

There are guidebooks written in both directions - the Aurum and Trailblazer books are written from west to east and the Cicerone book is written in the opposite direction, starting in London and ending at the source of the River Thames.

Who can enjoy the Thames Path National Trail?

The Thames Path has been developed for walkers and most of the trail is a public footpath which cyclists and horse riders are not permitted to use.

There are some sections of the trail open to cyclists including 5.4 miles (8.7 km) through Oxford and 5.8 miles (9.4 Km) from Weybridge to Hampton Court. Cyclists wanting a long-distance ride should consider the the Thames Valley Cycle Route, a 97-mile (155km) route from London to Oxford that in places shares the same route as the Thames Path.

Taking your dog on the Thames Path

Your dog is welcome on the Thames Path, but please do make sure it’s fit enough to do as much walking as you. When on the Trail your dog must always be under close control to prevent it from disturbing livestock or wildlife.

What is the best time of year to walk the Thames Path?

The best months to visit are spring through to the end of autumn since during winter the Thames is prone to flooding, particularly upstream of Oxford.

If you’re interested in wildlife there are always a range of birds present on and around the river but they’re at their most active and visible during April and May whilst establishing territories and finding mates. If you’re keen on wildflowers, then April to September is the time to visit, and if insects such as butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies are the things you’d most like to see choose June to September.

Can I buy Thames Path merchandise?

We sell a range of Thames Path merchandise including sew on badges, enamel badges, mugs and other merchandise. 

Can I get a Thames Path National Trail completion certificate?

Our personalised Thames Path certificate is a great momento for anyone that has completed the trail.

Guidebooks & Maps for the Thames Path

Thames Path in the Country Thames Path in the Country loading
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Thames Path - In London Thames Path - In London loading
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Thames Path A-Z Adventure Atlas Thames Path A-Z Adventure Atlas loading
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Walking the Thames Path Walking the Thames Path loading
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Thames Path: Thames Head to the Thames Barrier - Trailblazer Thames Path: Thames Head to the Thames Barrier - Trailblazer loading
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Thames Path Harvey map Thames Path Harvey map loading
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Thames Path Merchandise

Thames Path enamel badge Thames Path enamel badge loading
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National Trail Completion Certificate National Trail Completion Certificate loading
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National Trail sew-on woven badge National Trail sew-on woven badge loading
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National Trail Mug National Trail Mug loading
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Thames Path Print Thames Path Print loading
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Personalised Thames Path Print Personalised Thames Path Print loading
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Personalised National Trail Sign Personalised National Trail Sign loading
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National Trail souvenir signs National Trail souvenir signs loading
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Mini National Trail Fingerpost Mini National Trail Fingerpost loading
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Trail Tealight Holder Trail Tealight Holder loading
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National Trails boot jack National Trails boot jack loading
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'From Sea to Summit' National Trail T-Shirt 'From Sea to Summit' National Trail T-Shirt loading
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Map of the Thames Path National Trail

What are National Trails?

National Trails offer some of the best long-distance walking, riding and cycling experiences in England and Wales, officially supported by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. All of the National Trails are within easy reach of buses, trains and the services of nearby towns and villages. In fact nowhere in England or Wales is more than 50 miles / 80km from a National Trail. Each National Trail has dedicated staff, often working with local volunteers, to look after the physical condition of the Trail, keeping paths, gates, stiles and signs in the best condition.

Which trails are National Trails?

The National Trails are: 
  • Cleveland Way
  • Cotswold Way
  • England Coast Path
  • Glyndwr’s Way
  • Hadrian’s Wall Path
  • Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way
  • North Downs Way
  • Offa’s Dyke Path
  • Pembrokeshire Coast Path
  • Pennine Bridleway
  • Pennine Way
  • The Ridgeway
  • South Downs Way
  • South West Coast Path
  • Thames Path
  • Yorkshire Wolds Way 

The Coast to Coast is not currently a National Trail but will become one in the next couple of years.

Are there National Trails in Scotland?

In Scotland long-distance routes are called Scotland's Great Trails. There are 29 routes, at least 25 miles in length providing over 1,900 miles of well managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands. Each is distinctively waymarked, largely off road and has a range of visitor services and are are suitable for multi-day outings as well as day trips.


Scotland's Great Trails are:


  • Annandale Way
  • Arran Coastal Way
  • Ayrshire Coastal Path
  • Berwickshire Coastal Path
  • Borders Abbeys Way
  • Cateran Trail
  • Clyde Walkway
  • Cross Borders Drove Road
  • Dava Way
  • Fife Coastal Path
  • Formartine and Buchan Way
  • Forth & Clyde/Union Canal Towpath
  • Great Glen Canoe Trail
  • Great Glen Way
  • Great Trossachs Path
  • John Muir Way
  • Kintyre Way
  • Loch Lomond & Cowal Way
  • Moray Coast Trail
  • Mull of Galloway Trail
  • River Ayr Way
  • Rob Roy Way
  • Romans and Reivers Route
  • Southern Upland Way
  • Speyside Way
  • St Cuthbert’s Way
  • Three Lochs Way
  • West Highland Way
  • West Island Way