What is the Thames Path?

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The Thames Path is a national trail that runs for 290km (180 miles) along the bank of the Thames river (mostly) from the sea to the source. The sea is determined as the Thames Barrier in south east London and the source is marked by a stone in a field not far from Kemble in  Gloucestershire. Because it is a national trail the path is very well marked with the national trail acorn symbol and would be easy to follow in either direction.

I walked the path in Dec 2013 from the sea to the source. The reason I chose to walk in this direction is because I live in London and wanted to commute back to my apartment for as many days as possible before having to stay in accommodation along the way. I also decided beforehand that I would like to challenge myself and complete the walk in 7 days. My guidebook sets the walk out in 20 stages and other sites recommend allowing 3 weeks for a leisurely walking holiday. By doing it in 7 days I was unable to visit sites along the way (Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace etc) and each day for me was just about walking. If I was to walk it again, I would like to average 25km (15mi) per day and would allow 12-13 days. If you’re walking the path and have never seen any of the sights along the way then 2-3 weeks would probably be a better length of time and a very enjoyable sightseeing holiday.

The path is generally a very flat path and easy walking with beautiful riverside views. I encountered a lot of mud and rainy days, but this was to be expected doing it in the middle of December. However, being a walk in England, I would always recommend carrying wet weather gear with you at any time of the year.

  • Guidebook: Cicerone, The Thames Path from the Sea to the Source, by Leigh Hatts, Second Edition
  • GPS: Garmin 62s
  • Total distance recorded: 313km / 194mi. Average per day 45km / 28mi (My total length is further than the suggested 180 mile length as I was walking to and from train stations or accommodation each day)
  • Shoes or boots? Shoes for me, I think boots would be overkill but this is personal preference.
  • Accommodation: Wallingford – Little Gables B&B, £70 for a single room. Oxford – YHA, £16 for a female dorm room. Lechlade-on-Thames – New Inn Hotel, £50 for a single room incl breakfast.

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