The following tips and suggestions should stand you in good stead for your walk along the National Trail. Any further tips will be gratefully received - please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and put 'Top Tips – Thames Path' as the e-mail subject.
1. The best time to walk the Trail is from April to October when the ground is drier. The upper sections of the Path can be prone to flooding in winter, sometimes as far downstream as Maidenhead. If you are planning to walk any of these sections between December and February you should check the Environment Agency's flood information. You may also be able to find out conditions at specific locations from lock keepers or pubs along the route. If you are not sure, or there is very heavy rain, it is sensible to consider postponing your trip. When floodwater is high, not only is walking the Thames Path unpleasant, but it can be potentially dangerous as in places it may be difficult to see where the Path ends and the river starts.
2. Parts of the Thames Path adjacent to tourist attractions can be busy in the school holidays and at weekends in summer (particularly those with a car park close by). You may want to plan your walk to avoid these times. By starting your walk on a weekday you might avoid some of the crowds and find it easier to book accommodation. If you are thinking of having lunch at a riverside pub or restaurant consider booking ahead as some are very popular in summer and can be crowded at lunch time. Avoid places during the dates of particular annual river events, eg Henley during the regatta weekend! You can check the dates for these on the VisitThames website.
3. Do not try and do too much in one day, especially if you want to take in local attractions along the way. The Thames Path has been divided into 15 sections according to what seems a reasonable amount that can be walked in a day by many people - see our About this Trail pages for details.
4. Wear sensible footwear and carry waterproof clothing, just in case. Carry a hat and sun block too in spring and summer.
5. Book your accommodation beforehand. If you turn up without a booking during the main season you risk being disappointed.
6. When booking accommodation check to see if a pick-up and drop-off service is provided.
7. Carry a cheque book. Not all accommodation providers accept debit and credit cards. Also, plan ahead and note where you can find banks, cash point machines and Post Offices.
8. Carry your mobile phone with you, if you have one. Use it to phone ahead to order sandwiches or reserve a table for lunch at a pub or restaurant, or to meet your pre-arranged pick-ups.
9. Know where you can access public transport and carry the necessary timetables.
10. If you are a member of either English Heritage or the National Trust, remember to pack your membership cards as there are several sites owned or managed by these organisations close to the Trail.
11. Don't forget to pack your map and/or guidebook!