The Thames Path National Trail follows England ‘s most famous river from its source in the Cotswolds to the North Sea. We offer the section from the source of the River Thames near Kemble and Cirencester in Gloucestershire to Pangbourne, near Reading. From a meadow spring it is eventually transformed into a significant waterway, passing through a varied pastoral landscape of quiet river banks, water meadows and fields, woodland, and charming villages and towns, where a wide range of architecture reflects the history of England. Notable places en route include Saxon Cricklade, Lechlade with its spire made famous by the poet Shelley, and, of course, Oxford. This is an easy walk that has a little bit of everything. Extra nights can be inserted into the itinerary.
Travel to Kemble.
Day 2: Kemble to Cricklade – 12.5 miles/20 km
Follow the infant river through meadows and Cotswold villages built out of the local gorgeous limestone. local pubs. You’ll also pass through the Cotswold Water Park that has 140 lakes created mostly from gravel extraction. Just before Cricklade the Thames Path skirts around the edge of North Meadow. This National Nature Reserve is where, in late April, the rare snakeshead fritillary flowers in unimaginable numbers, a truly tremendous sight.
Day 3: Cricklade to Lechlade – 11 miles/17.5 km
Leaving Cricklade you follow the still small river as far as the village of Castle Eaton with its lovely 12th century church. Reach Inglesham, and visit the charming church of St John the Baptist. The small prosperous Cotswold town of Lechlade is reached by leaving the Thames Path at Ha’penny Bridge, an ancient stone toll bridge.
Day 4: Lechlade to Newbridge – 16. 5 miles/26.5 km
Once you leave Lechlade behind, you are are in countrysid made up of meadows and hedgerows. Pass through Chimney Meadows National Nature Reserve, a vast area of wildlife rich meadows managed by the local Wildlife Trust. Pass the oldest bridge on the Thames at Radcot and finally reach Newbridge (dating from the 13th century).Once you leave Lechlade behind, you are are in countrysid made up of meadows and hedgerows. Pass through Chimney Meadows National Nature Reserve, a vast area of wildlife rich meadows managed by the local Wildlife Trust. Pass the oldest bridge on the Thames at Radcot and finally reach Newbridge (dating from the 13th century).
Day 5: Newbridge to Oxford – 14 miles/22.5 km
The River Thames is now large enough to be used by river craft whilst your route remains highly rural all the way to the heart of Oxford, one of the oldest university towns in Europe.
Day 6: Oxford to Abingdon 10 miles/16 km
Head south into countryside. Cross the Thames at Abingdon Lock and come to Abingdon Bridge, dating to 1422. Abingdon is one of the most important of all the historic towns on the Thames, with a magnificent town hall and abbey founded as early as 675AD.
Day 7: Abingdon to Wallingford 13 miles/21 km
This section encounters several villages on or close to the Thames Path, from tiny Little Wittenham at the foot of Wittenham Clumps, to Benson and finally Wallingford. Visit Wallingford Museum, or browse the antique shops, take a stroll around the Castle Grounds (former site of one of England’s most impressive citadels) or trace the remains of Wallingford’s Saxon past. Wallingford has a strong presence in murder mystery fiction. Agatha Christie (whose remains are buried locally at Cholsey) lived and worked in Wallingford, and is the location of Causton in the television series, ‘Midsomer Murders’.
Day 8: Wallingford to Pangbourne 11 miles/17.5 km
The first few miles of your walk pass through wide open countryside with large undulating arable fields stretching away to the east to a beech wood skyline. Come to Pangbourne-on-Thames, where Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows, retired to Church Cottage. The illustrator of the Winnie the Pooh stories, E. H. Shepherd, is said to have been inspired by the Thameside landscape here.
8 nights accommodation in en-suite rooms in selected hotels, inns and guesthouses along the route. Breakfast each day. Door to door luggage transfer. Guidebook with maps describing the trail. Emergency assistance.
Kemble is easily reached by train. There are direct services from London (Paddington), some services requiring a change at Swindon.
- Total Distance: 88 Miles (140 km)
- Duration: 8 nights, 7 walking days
- Minimum/Maximum Daily Distances: 10 miles (16km)/161/2 miles (26.5km)
- Waymarking: Good
- Season: All Year