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Introducing the Trail

Find useful facts and learn more about the Thames Path. Select the blue tabs below for more details.

About the Trail

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.

Easy to reach by public transport, the Thames Path is a gentle Trail, able to be walked by people of all ages and abilities. 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, to help you decide, check out the route descriptions

The best months to visit are spring through to the end of autumn. 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.

There are Route Descriptions in the Further Information section of this website. Check out the Visit Thames website for more inspiration and ideas, things to do and places to stay along the River Thames.

If you’d like to become a National Trail Volunteer, just visit our Volunteering webpage and send us an email:


Walking Holidays

Visit our Walking Holidays Page for holiday inspiration for the Thames Path.

Latest News, Newsletter and Trail Officer's blog

Visit our News Page for the latest interesting and exciting news about the Thames Path.

Check out our Trail Officer’s blog here.

Read our latest newsletter here


Take a look at our Events calendar to find details of the enjoyable events that are taking place along the trail. If you want, you can even add your own event.

What is special about the Trail?

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 that gives the Thames Path its character and fashions the countryside through which you will walk.

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.

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.

Thames Path

Click the play button to see the highlights of the Thames Path





Trail Itineraries

From the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds follow this iconic river through stunning countryside, the city of Oxford, famous Henley, past Windsor Castle and Hampton Court and into the heart of London.
Explore the Thames Path for three days, a week or even longer. Find inspiration for your walking adventure using our suggested itineraries, or select one of our bookable itineraries which are highlighted with a star.

Follow the River Thames through countryside and towns

Explore the river by boat, visit the fabulous stately homes, palaces, gardens and nature reserves along the way. Stop off to enjoy the sights of Oxford and London.

Create your own trip

Feeling inspired? Build a bespoke itinerary and start planning your visit to this great National Trail here.