Who owns the Thames Path?
The land that Thames Path crosses is privately owned by many different individuals or organisations. The Trail itself follows ‘public rights of way’ across this land which are of four types - footpath, bridleway, restricted byway or byway. You have a legal right to walk on any public right of way or cycle/ride on all except public footpaths unless you have the landowner's permission to do so - most of the Thames Path is a public footpath and therefore very little of it can be cycled/ridden. The National Trails Office does not own any of the land the Thames Path passes over, but co-ordinates the management of the route. For further information about public rights of way, please visit Natural England's website.
Who looks after it?
A National Trails Management Group composed of representatives of the highway authorities through whose area the Trail passes (22 of them), Natural England, the Environment Agency and Tourism South East manages the Thames Path. The Management Group publishes a Thames Path Management Strategy to direct the management of the Trail for five years at a time; see our management page for further information.
Most of the day to day work is undertaken by a small team of National Trails staff, helped by Volunteers managed by the team, based within Oxfordshire County Council's Countryside Access – doing much of the physical maintenance and improvements, and providing a range of information for users.
Outside London the Thames Path travels through the following highway authorities areas:
Gloucestershire County Council
Swindon Borough Council
Oxfordshire County Council
West Berkshire Council
Reading Borough Council
Wokingham District Council
Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead
Buckinghamshire County Council
Surrey County Council
In London the Thames Path travels through the following boroughs (highway authorities):
City of London
City of Westminster
Hammersmith & Fulham
Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
Richmond upon Thames
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
What is the National Trails Volunteer Scheme?
Volunteers perform a vital role in helping to maintain both The Ridgeway and Thames Path National Trails. They carry out an ongoing programme of maintenance and improvements which include tasks such as vegetation clearance, installing and repairing signs, gates and information boards, fencing, building steps, riverbank repairs and conservation of wild flower habitats. Tasks are carried out on most weekdays, led by a Volunteer Coordinator from the National Trails team. There are also two weekend tasks per month. All tools and training are provided and the tasks are a good way to meet like-minded people. Our quarterly newsletter has a list of all forthcoming tasks on both Trails and is sent to all volunteers who register onto the scheme.
Alternatively, some volunteers prefer to take on small tasks which are carried out independently such as cleaning signs and clearing encroaching vegetation from the signs in the summer. Volunteers can also become 'monitors' by adopting a 2-3 mile section of a Trail, walking it once a month and reporting back any problems.
How do I register onto the National Trails Volunteer scheme?
Volunteer Coordinators can be contacted by email at NTvolunteers@oxfordshire.gov.uk or telephone at the National Trails Office on 01865 810211
Further details of the scheme will be sent to you together with a registration form. Once this is completed and returned you will be added to the volunteer database and a full Volunteer Introductory Pack will be sent. You will receive forthcoming newsletters and task diaries and you will also be covered by Oxfordshire County Council insurance. For further information, see our volunteering pages.
Who pays for looking after the Thames Path?
Generally up to 75% of the money needed to keep the Thames Path in good condition comes from Natural England and the other 25% from the highway authorities and the Environment Agency. Opportunities are also taken to find funding for specific projects from a range of partners and grant aid bodies.
Can I make a donation or bequest?
Yes you can! The National Trails team endeavours to maintain and improve the Thames Path National Trail and we would be very grateful for any support you can give. If you’d like to make a donation, please send a cheque (any amount would be welcome and help us in our work), made payable to “National Trails Trading” and send it to us at our address.
If you are interested in getting involved in voluntary work to care for the Thames Path, then please see the following page to and find out how to get involved
How do I report fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping doesn’t occur too often on the Thames Path but when it does we take it very seriously. Fly-tipping creates eyesores in the countryside, can cause problems with pollution of watercourses, can attract vermin and, of course, detracts from people’s experience of using the Thames Path. Litter also can be washed up onto the Thames Path by flooding. Dealing with fly-tipping and litter takes up valuable resources in terms of time and money and, although local authorities are responsible for it (contact links to relevant local authorities/ Unitary Authorities the National Trails team and others work in a multi-agency approach in order to manage and reduce the problem.
If you spot flytipping on the Thames Path then you should contact the local authority to report it. If this is not possible then contact us and we will report it.
Members of the public can also help the Environment Agency combat environmental crime by reporting incidents to the emergency hotline on freephone: 0800 80 70 60.