The Thames Path is unique, it's the only long distance path to follow a river for most of its length. And, of course, it's the river which gives the Thames Path its character and fashions the countryside through which you will walk.
From a trickle to a stream
a real sense of remoteness and rural tranquillity
At the start, the source of the River Thames in a field in the Cotswolds, you may well find no water at all. However, gradually as you travel the trickle becomes a stream and soon a river bordered by willows and alders. As far as Oxford, apart from a couple of small towns and a few villages, there is a real sense of remoteness and rural tranquillity as the Thames winds its way through flat water meadows grazed by cattle or sheep, or fields of crops.
Beyond Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, you will still be in the heart of the countryside but the river continues to widen, the willows seem to grow larger, and settlements become more frequent. From Goring, where the Thames Path coincides for a short distance with another National Trail, The Ridgeway, the Chilterns provide a wooded backdrop, the colours changing dramatically with the seasons.
The Royal River
When you reach Henley, the Trail starts to get busier with more people enjoying picnics on the bank, or boats on the water. Usually however, once you're away from towns or villages around a bend or two of the river, you'll regain the rural peacefulness. As the Thames Path passes beneath Windsor Castle, you are reminded that you are following a Royal river, and the palaces of Hampton Court and Kew soon to follow confirm this.
From the last non-tidal lock on the Thames at Teddington, you can choose to walk on either the north or south banks of the river through London. You'll pass leafy Richmond and Kew, remarkably green areas, before entering the heart of the City and on to the final section of the Thames Path amongst restored warehouses and working wharves in London's docklands.