Thames Path

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The Thames Path on Fiddler's Island
The Thames Path sign at the end of the walk
The path beneath the OXO Tower in metropolitan Surrey

The Thames Path is a National Trail, opened in 1996, following the length of the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton in Kent. It is about 184 miles long.

The entire length of the path can be walked, and some parts cycled. Most of the path uses the original towpath but in some places this is not possible. The main reason for this is that towpath traffic used to cross the river at several points using ferries,[1] but apart from Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry these no longer operate. This means that in several places such as Shiplake, Whitchurch-on-Thames and Moulsford, there are diversions away from the towpath. At other places, there are replacement connections. An example of this is at Hurley in Berkshire, where the Temple Footbridge was built in 1989.

Some parts of the Thames Path, particularly those west of Oxford, are subject to flooding during the winter months. The river is tidal downstream from Teddington Lock, and parts of the path may be underwater if there is a particularly high tide.

The Thames Path Cycle Route is a mapped (and black signposted) route that follows the river between Putney Bridge in the west and Greenwich in the east. This follows the majority of the Thames Path, but does divert in various sections, especially where the Path follows a footpath only route. It also links National Cycle Route 1 (eastwards from London) with National Cycle Route 4 (westwards from London).[2]


The route can be divided into sections as follows:

  • Thames Head (source of the river west of Cricklade) to Oxford (54 miles): a generally rural, agricultural area, where the river is sometimes difficult to follow, particularly until Lechlade (23 miles) is reached. The path passes through Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.
  • Oxford to Henley-on-Thames (51 miles): passing through Abingdon (Berkshire), where it crosses the river, Dorchester on Thames (Oxfordshire), Benson (crosses again), Wallingford (Berkshire), Streatley and Reading. The walk leaves the river bank through the towns, and crosses from one bank to another at various places, between Oxfordshire on the north bank and Berkshire on the south.
  • Henley to Windsor: (23 miles): through Marlow and Maidenhead. The path leaves the river on some occasions. It is here initially on the south bank, in Buckinghamshire, but crosses to the north near Hurley and runs through Oxfordshire then Buckinghamshire, and swaps sides a few times more downstream.
  • Windsor to Richmond (28 miles): along the edge of a portion of Windsor Great Park; past Runnymede; through Hampton Court Park. The path leaves the river to make way for residential areas at times. It crosses the Thames on a number of occasions, passing through Buckinghamshire for a few hundred yards, then Berkshire, Surrey and Middlesex.
  • Richmond to the Thames Barrier (28 miles): Passing Kew Gardens and the Wetlands Centre at Barnes then through London, using parkland (for example Battersea Park) to continue beside the river. Through most of the section, the Thames Path is actually two paths, one on either side of the river.
  • Thames Barrier to Crayford Ness, just beyond Erith (10 miles), connecting with the London Outer Orbital Path. This is considered an extension of the Thames Path (as recognised by the Ramblers Association) and was opened in 2001, but is not part of the National Trail. It has its own Thames Barge symbol, and is sometimes referred to as the Thames Path Southeast Extension.

Thames crossings

Temple Footbridge, built in 1989 for the Thames Path
Newbridge, Oxfordshire and Berkshire
Footbridge over the Hincksey Stream

The list below shows the points going downstream where the path crosses the river below Cricklade. Above Cricklade the Thames is a mere stream and in some places there may be no water except after rain. Below Teddington there are paths on both sides of the river and so there is no need to cross the river, until the Greenwich foot tunnel. Downstream of the Greenwich tunnel the path is only on the south bank of the river, in Kent.

The letters in the second column indicate whether the crossing at that point is from north to south or south to north, for a walker progressing
and 'north' and 'south' are in reference to the river as a whole, rather than its direction at that specific point. Almost every one of the crossings below Water Eaton is also a crossing between counties, which are given in the third column.

A full list of bridges and ferries is given in the article 'Crossings of the River Thames', and islands are listed under 'Islands in the River Thames'.

Crossing Downstream journey:
Direction Counties
Cricklade N to S Wilts
Eysey Footbridge S to N Wilts
Water Eaton House Bridge N to S Wilts
Bloomers Hole Footbridge S to N Gloucestershire to Berks
Radcot Bridge N to S Oxon to Berks
Tadpole Bridge S to N Berks to Oxon
Tenfoot Bridge N to S Oxon to Berks
Newbridge S to N Berks to Oxon
Pinkhill Lock N to S Oxon to Berks
Fiddler's Island S to N Oxon
Osney Bridge N to S Oxon to Berks
Abingdon Lock S to N Berks to Oxon
Clifton Hampden Bridge N to S Oxon to Berks
Day's Lock S to N Berks to Oxon
Benson Lock N to S Oxon to Berks
Goring and Streatley Bridge S to N Berks to Oxon
Whitchurch Bridge N to S Oxon to Berks
Sonning Bridge S to N Berks to Oxon
Henley Bridge N to S Oxon to Berks
Temple Footbridge S to N Berks to Bucks
Bourne End Railway Bridge N to S Bucks to Berks
Maidenhead Bridge S to N Berks to Bucks
Windsor Bridge N to S Bucks to Berks
Victoria Bridge, Datchet S to N Berks to Bucks
Albert Bridge, Datchet N to S Bucks to Berks
Staines Bridge S to N Surrey to Middx
Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry N to S Middx to Surrey
Hampton Court Bridge S to N Surrey to Middx
Kingston Bridge N to S Middx to Surrey
Teddington Lock Footbridges (Path bifurcates)
Greenwich Foot Tunnel N to S Middx to Kent

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Thames Path)


  1. Fred. S. Thacker The Thames Highway: Volume II Locks and Weirs 1920 – republished 1968 David & Charles
Long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom

Cleveland WayCotswold WayGlyndŵr's WayGreat Glen WayHadrian's Wall PathIcknield WayNorth Downs WayNorfolk Coast PathOffa's Dyke PathPeddars WayPembrokeshire Coast PathPennine BridlewayPennine WayThe RidgewayScottish National TrailSouth Downs WaySouthern Upland WaySouth West Coast PathSpeyside WayThames PathUlster WayWest Highland WayYorkshire Wolds Way