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, 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).
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.
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
|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|
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Thames Path)
- Fred. S. Thacker The Thames Highway: Volume II Locks and Weirs 1920 – republished 1968 David & Charles