Thames Path Walk - National Trail - March / April 2019

 

 

 

 

Thursday 28th March Kemble to Cricklade Day One

We were very excited and looking forward to being back on the road with our rucksacks on. We booked the trip the day before, after checking the weather forecast for the next ten days. We had previously read the guide books and studied the path. We then booked the first 3 nights of accommodation and the train from Manchester to Kemble.

Leaving home in Manchester at 6.45am, and after catching 5 trains, (the cheapest way), we arrived in Kemble at 12.30pm, having eaten our sandwiches on the train. There is a village shop in the Post Office in Kemble (turn right at the station and walk for 5 minutes, closed between one and two), where we bought a large bottle of water. Other food we had already. Food and drink are also available to purchase there.

To start the walk we decided to turn left from the station and walk down the road to take a look at the Thames Head Pub which is located on the A433, the old Roman Fosse Way. We took photos, then turned left after the pub down a footpath leading to the Thames Way. If you are arriving later it is possible to stay at the Thames Head, then begin the walk in the morning.

http://www.thamesheadinn.co.uk/

After about one mile we saw the marker post (signed by an Acorn, symbol of the National Trails) for the source of the river, and a sign for the Thames Path, 184 miles to the Thames Barrier, very exciting. When we reached the source, as it had been dry there was no sign of any water. We started the walk  through the fields over the road until we came to Lyd Well. This is a natural spring with lots of water bubbling up, marked by a copse of trees and the retaining wall of a pond. To me this was the true start of the river. This is well worth a close inspection. We continued for many miles following the now obvious river, with beautiful clear water, insects flying, and plenty of bird song. We passed the village of Somerford Keynes where the Bakers Arms pub can be found.

http://www.thebakersarmssomerford.co.uk/

The path continues through the very picturesque Cotswold Water Park. This consists of 140 lakes formed by old gravel pits filling with water. Again more birdsong, we spotted Heron, Swans, Ducks and Moorhens. Arriving in Ashton Keynes, we made a small detour to the village shop for more drinks. There is one pub The White Hart, with very limited restaurant hours.

https://www.thewhitehartashtonkeynes.com/

After a 14 mile walk, we arrived in Cricklade at 6.30pm  just before the sunset (this being March). It had certainly been a fantastic day of travel and walking through the beautiful peaceful countryside, with perfect Spring weather. We met only one other couple out walking, who had spent a week walking from Oxford to the river source. (The other way to us). We checked into the White Hart pub which we had booked the day before, visiting Tesco Express opposite to buy sandwiches for dinner. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants and take-outs in Cricklade, but having been up since 6am we wanted to relax in the hotel room instead.

https://www.thewhitehartcricklade.co.uk/

Distance km 21.10

Duration of Walk Hours  5.15

Average Pace Min/km  14.54

Steps 33651

Friday 29th March Cricklade to Radcot Bridge Day Two

 

 

 

 

We had a long day ahead so we got up at 7am, in time for the continental breakfast  which was included in the room price (English breakfast available for an extra £6).   

 

We again visited Tesco Express in order to buy fruit and sandwiches for lunch. It was fairly cold and foggy for the first couple of hours this morning, then became a beautiful day. We followed the well signposted path, and after one hour45 minutes of walking arrived in the beautiful village of Castle Eaton. There is a large pub, The Red Lion, but unfortunately we were too early for the opening time of 12pm. We looked at the beautiful church, the graveyard of which backs onto the river.  

https://www.red-lion.co.uk/

The path from here to Lechlade is fairly obvious, sometimes by the river, sometimes along small empty roads, and across fields. Just before Upper Inglesham a new path has been completed which is not in our book or map. So now instead of having to walk down the side of the A361 the path continues through the countryside, past the old junction of the Thames-Severn Canal into Lechlade.  

After an 11 mile morning walk we arrived in Lechlade at 12.30pm, and ate our sandwiches on a bench in the riverside park  by halfpenny bridge. We carried on for another mile to the first of 45 locks along  the Thames, St John's Lock. Here there is a statue of Old Father Thames, which has been moved from his original location at the source of the Thames. We crossed over the bridge and called in the Trout Inn for a cup of tea. It is amazing how large the Thames seems to have become, with lots of boats and canal barges being moored both before and after Lechlade. Lechlade is worth a visit and  there are shops, bars, restaurants and accommodation, but we continued our walk.

http://www.thetroutinn.com/

We continued along the river bank past Kelmscott for 5 miles until we reached the Swan Hotel at Radcot Bridge. The bridge is certainly in a very picturesque location, parts dating from the 12th century  making it one of the oldest bridges on the river. The Swan unfortunately does not have rooms at present, but there is a rumour that there may be in the future. We had booked to stay at The Old Crown Coaching Inn in Faringdon, which we thought was the nearest  location for accommodation and food to the path at this point. Stage 2 in the book is from Cricklade to Lechlade, but we wanted to travel further.  We phoned Faringdon Taxis who arrived promptly, charging us £10 for the fare for 3 miles to Faringdon.  

https://yeoldeswan.co.uk/  Radcot Bridge

http://www.faringdoncars.co.uk/   Taxi Company

In the town of Faringdon there are 3 pubs, Indian restaurants, many take-outs and Tesco Metro. We opted for a lovely large portion of fish and chips in the Harbour Fish Bar.

The Harbour Fish and chips takeaway 6 Marlborough St, Faringdon SN7 7JP

 

https://www.historicinnz.co.uk/faringdon/  The Old Crown Coaching Inn

Distance km 29.12

Duration of Walk Hours  8.30

Average Pace Min/km 17.30

Steps 51227

Saturday 30th March Radcot Bridge to Eynsham Day Three

 

 

 

 

We were up at 7am. Breakfast in The Old Crown Coaching Inn is served at weekends at 8.30am till 9.30am, and during the week 7.30am till 8.30am. So this being a Saturday, and a long walk today, we had no time for breakfast and left at 7.30am. We ate teacakes that we had bought from Tesco the night before whilst waiting for a taxi back to Radcot Bridge. 

We started the walk at 8am from the same location we had finished the night before. It is a very pretty walk, with the mist lifting faster than it had done the previous day. It took one hour 20 minutes to walk the 4 miles to the Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge. It was too early to be open for the casual walker, so we carried on another 6 miles to Newbridge. 

https://troutinn.co.uk/

There is nothing at Newbridge except for 2 pubs, one of which, the Maybush has been shut for about 6 months. We visited the other the Rose Revived , for a quick drink. We ate our peanut butter sandwiches by the Thames, with just the sound of birdsong. 

http://www.themaybush.com/

https://www.greenekinginns.co.uk/hotels/rose-revived/

Carrying on we reached the Ferryman pub at Bablock Hythe at 2.30pm, calling in for another cordial drink. Arriving at tonight's destination of The Talbot in Eynsham at 4pm after an 18 mile walk. The pub itself is very old, we stayed in a lovely room in a separate annex. If searching for this pub on line, it actually is listed under  Oxford, as it is just outside Eynsham. We were going to walk into town to get some food and supplies for the next day, but thought better of it having a delicious meal in The Talbot instead. 

https://theferrymaninn.co.uk/

So after 2 and a half days of walking we have covered about 48 miles, had some glorious weather- for the end of March, and had seen some beautiful countryside, Swans, Heron, Geese, Ducks, and heard many birds. The walk has been fairly quiet, with not many people around, and the only boats we have seen have been moored up. I suspect that the walk will gradually get busier as it heads through Oxford, and towards Reading and Windsor. We are looking forward to seeing some towns, instead of just countryside. I would also advise carrying all food and water for this section, as the only shops were in Cricklade and Lechlade, and any pubs on the river may not be open or serving food when you arrive.

https://www.talbotoxford.co.uk/

Distance km 28.66

Duration of Walk Hours  8.03

Average Pace Min/km 16.51

Steps 49240

Sunday 31st March Eynsham to Abingdon Day Four

 

 

 

 

Again we were up fairly early, and  this time we decided to wait until 8am for the full English Breakfast to be served. Definitely worth waiting for in such a lovely pub with great food. We left at 8.45am, and  walked 200 meters back to river over the bridge and regained the path. After 5 miles of walking the first boat actually moving on the river for 50 miles seen. Hopefully the river will get busier from here.

After walking for 6 miles we came into Oxford at 11am, leaving the path and  called in at The Four Candles Wetherspoons pub for a coffee.  Oxford would be a lovely place to stay the night looking round the colleges, old buildings etc, which we have done previously. We had a lovely stroll around Oxford for a couple of hours, before returning to the river at Folly Bridge at 1pm.


https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/oxfordshire/the-four-candles-oxford


We had lunch bought in Tesco in Oxford and ate it whilst sitting on a bench by the river. More people were out than we had previously seen, tourist boats and rowers on the river, also  people out cycling, jogging and walking along the concrete tow path. The walk was much more interesting than before with these activities and lots of rowing clubs to walk past. We called in at Kings Head pub, Sandford-on-Thames  for a pot of tea, a beautiful location.

 

https://www.chefandbrewer.com/pubs/oxfordshire/kings-arms/


The path grew quieter again until Abingdon came into view at around 4pm. We had booked the Crown and Thistle pub, which has a great location very close to the river. It is a beautiful old coaching house, with various bars/restaurants, and football is shown.  We went for a walk round Abingdon, which is another beautiful old town,  before buying our dinner from Tesco. But there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to eat in.


Today, the fourth day of walking, the bags felt lighter, the distance covered felt not as far, and there a is nice easy concrete section of path from Folly Bridge to The Kings Head. Looking forward to tomorrow, and maybe more towns to visit!!! 

 

https://www.crownandthistleabingdon.co.uk/

Distance km 27.55

Duration of Walk Hours  7.46

Average Pace Min/km  16.55

Steps 47433

Monday 1st April Abingdon to Goring Day Five

 

 

 

 

The Crown and Thistle was a lovely pub to stay in, if slightly noisy by the road. 
We tried to leave early and get on our way, especially with such beautiful weather forecast. However our plans were thwarted with the appearance of a fantastic breakfast that we just could not resist. Delicious food with plenty of choice, not just an English Breakfast. 

We finally left at 8.15am, walked over the river and resumed the well signposted route. A beautiful morning with buildings and trees reflected in the water. We had decided not to book any accommodation in advance, just see where the day took us. After 2 hours of walking we arrived at the Barley Mow Pub, Clifton Hampton built in 1352, making it one of England's oldest pubs visited by the authors Dickens and Jerome K Jerome. Unfortunately it did not open till 11.30am so not visited by us, we moved on.  

 

https://www.chefandbrewer.com/pubs/oxfordshire/barley-mow/

We came across Benson waterfront cafe, which was amazingly busy considering we had again hardly seen any people all morning. We would have popped in, but were put off by the queues. 

 

https://www.waterfrontcafe.co.uk/

An hour later we came to a path to the left which follows an ancient dyke to Dorchester. This village is well worth a detour, with ancient pubs, houses and the church that was once an Abbey, and the first public toilets seen so far. We then walked down a path at the side of the A4074 road, where the Thames Path joins it  to the Kingfisher pub in Shillingford. Arriving at 12.45 unfortunately it was shut. 

 

http://www.kingfisher-inn.co.uk/

Disappointed we followed the path down the lane to river, sat on bench and produced our bread bought in Tesco the night before, and the stalwart peanut butter. Our next stop was Greggs bakery in Wallingford, a lovely town and again worth a visit.

 

Greggs Sandwich shop,  (A chain bakery that prepares breads, savoury snacks, sandwiches and sweet treats).5-6 Market Pl, Wallingford OX10 0EG

 

We wandered through Wallingford, returning to the Thames Path at the Beetle and Wedge restaurant which also looked shut.  We checked bookings.com and booked The George Hotel at Pangborne. There were nearer hotels,  but unfortunately a lot more expensive. Pangborne was actually too far to walk that day so when we arrived in Goring after 22 miles/9 hours of walking, we visited Tesco and then caught the train just one stop to Pangborne. The train was about £2.00 each, and runs every 15 minutes. We planned to catch the train back in the morning, and resume our walk from Goring station. The advantage of this being as well as saving money, we can leave a rucksack at The George to collect later. I saw that tomorrow rain was forecast, hopefully not making the path too muddy. We have had fabulous weather

so far. 

 

http://www.georgehotelpangbourne.com/

 

Distance km 34.7

Duration of Walk Hours  9.10

Average Pace Min/km 15.52

Steps 57451

Tuesday 2nd April Goring to Henley-on-Thames Day Six

 

 

 

 

Again we were up at 7am we left one bag in room, taking the other rucksack just with essential supplies in. We caught the train at 7.47am back to Goring, again calling in Tesco for fruit and bread for breakfast. This is the only part of the walk where the path is not flat, leaving the Thames it undulates along a hillside  for about 90 minutes.  We walked back over a bridge to collect the other rucksack from the room at the George and checked out. .  

 We walked down  the Thames in the rain to Reading, and ate lunch in The Monks Retreat Wetherspoons pub.  Back to the river and we called in the very conveniently located Tesco Extra, which had a path leading straight to it from the river. We did not like Reading as along the towpath we found various undesirable characters, who seem to live on boats there.

https://www.greatukpubs.co.uk/monksretreatreading/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=local_seo_gmb&utm

_content=website

Continuing on past Reading business park, and football stadium, we came to the very pretty Sonning  village which is worth a look round. If interested, George Clooney has a house near Sonning Bridge. If you fancied breaking your journey here there are 3 pubs with rooms.

https://www.bullinnsonning.co.uk/drink

https://greathouseatsonning.co.uk/

http://www.thefrenchhorn.co.uk/

We continued another 3 miles to Shiplake. Having covered 18 miles at 4.30pm we called it a day, leaving the tow path at Shiplake College rowing club.  We walked up to the main road and caught a taxi 3 miles into Henley, which cost about £15.00.

https://www.taxihenley.co.uk/

We stayed at The Catherine Wheel  Wetherspoons pub in the middle of Henley, checking in for 2 nights, dining there on the first evening too. Again looking at the cost of accommodation, and the chance not to be carrying 2 rucksacks, we had decided to stay for 2 nights. Henley is a lovely old town dating back 800 years famous for the Henley rowing regatta each year in July. If walking this route in July, be sure to check the dates of this event, as rooms will  hard to find.

https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/oxfordshire/the-catherine-wheel-henleyonthames

Distance km 29.24

Duration of Walk Hours  8.14

Average Pace Min/km 16.53

Steps 50295

Wednesday 3rd April Henley-on-Thames to Marlow Day Seven

 

 

 

 

We ate a lovely breakfast in The Catherine Wheel where we were staying. Then caught a taxi back to where we had ended the walk the previous day, Shiplake College. We started walking at 9am, arriving back in Henley by 10.30am. We crossed over the river, following the rowing route of one mile, passing many rowing clubs en-route and Temple island, with lovely views of the Chiltern Hills in the distance.

 

We stopped at the Flower Pot pub, Aston, for a drink. The pub has a very interesting interior, with many dead animals in display cabinets on the walls. This has to be one of the most unfriendly pubs I have ever been in. They did serve food, which looked expensive, but we would not have stayed anyway.

 

https://brakspear.co.uk/pub-finder/flowerpot/

We stopped at Hurley village stores to buy a sandwich for lunch, eaten on a bench at Hurley lock.  Again Hurley merits a walk round, with ancient churches, tithe barns, and the Olde Bell pub, which claims to date from the 11th century.

 

https://www.bigreddirectory.com/hurley-village-shop-maidenhead

 

https://www.theoldebell.co.uk/

 

Walking back past the very pretty Hurley Lock (toilets available) the path then follows a diversion, due to an unsafe foot bridge. The diversion is well signed. going  behind Bisham Abbey, then along the A404 (not the best), over the bridge into Marlow.  There are public toilets in Higginson Park Marlow.


We called it a day and caught the bus number 800 back to Henley at 3.50pm, returning for our second night at The Catherine Wheel. We went to the Cafe Le Raj Indian restaurant for dinner  with lovely food and great service, well recommended.

 

https://www.cafeleraj.co.uk/#/

 

Distance km 23.51

Duration of Walk Hours  6.31

Average Pace Min/km 16.39

Steps 40074

Thursday 4th April Marlow to Windsor Day Eight

 

 

 

 

We were up at 7am, and after a quick breakfast caught  bus number 800 at 8.30am back to Marlow. We walked to Bourne End, crossed over the bridge by the railway line into Cookham. By this time it was pouring in rain, we tried sheltering in the pub, but it was closed so waited the worst of the storm out in the public toilet in the car park on the main road. We left even though it was still raining. The path leaves the river for a while, and we walked on towards Maidenhead.  We had planned to go into Maidenhead, but it was too wet. We had a lovely sandwich and coffee for lunch at the Riverside Cafe, and managed to dry out, at the same time booking Windsor Travelodge for that night. We crossed the river and  carried on, past a rowing centre. 

https://www.bluerivercafe.co.uk/

The path goes past Dorney rowing centre, made famous in the London Olympics, and home of Eton School rowing team. In hindsight with better planning maybe we could have followed part of the path towards Dorney Court then walked the full length of Dorney Rowing Lake, (toilets available) to Boveney Court. This would have been lovely  instead we followed the Thames Path, and only managed to see one end of the rowing Lake.

Altogether this was a bit of a wet day but dried up later and it could have been worse. The highlight was Windsor castle as it came into view. We arrived in the Travelodge (very near the station) in Windsor at 4.15pm. After planning and booking the remainder of the trip, we went for a walk round Eton, made famous by its school, where 19 British Prime Ministers have been educated.  Unfortunately, we got very wet, then went to Waitrose for a sandwich for dinner. There are plenty of bars/restaurants in Windsor.

Windsor and Eton would be a lovely place to spend the day visiting Windsor Castle the oldest at around 800 years, and largest inhabited castle in the world, and the Queen's favourite weekend home.  A walk round Windsor and Eton is well worth finding the time to do too.   

https://www.rct.uk/visit/windsorcastle

https://www.etoncollege.com/Visits.aspx

https://www.travelodge.co.uk/

Distance km 23.85

Duration of Walk Hours  7.03

Average Pace Min/km 17.45

Steps 42333

Friday 5th April Windsor to Shepperton Day Nine

 

 

 

 

Leaving the Travelodge at 7.45am we walked by the river, then the road through Datchet, rejoining the river at Albert bridge. We were disappointed with the direction that the path took, as views across to Windsor Castle were rare. Again in hindsight I would have considered taking the path through Windsor park  to see more of this great castle, especially as part of the path follows the road anyway.

We carried on reaching the very historic site of Runnymead at 10am. It was here in 1215 King John signed The Magna Carta, on which the constitutions  and laws of many countries are based. There is also a memorial to JF Kennedy slightly up hill, off the path, but well worth diverting to visit. There are toilets here but the cafe was shut for refurbishment.  

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/runnymede-and-ankerwycke

 

The path continues under the M25, passing an old Coal Post from 1831, marking the boundary where historically merchants had to pay a tax levy on coal. By the river behind the War Memorial in Staines is a copy of the London Stone. This represents the upstream limit of the City's rights from 1285 to 1857. All  these are signs that London is getting nearer. 

We ate lunch in The George Wetherspoons pub in Staines.


https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/surrey/the-george-staines


Today it has not  rained, but is not very warm. We are looking forward to getting into London soon. It is still very quiet on the tow path and the river. Nice houses now line the river banks making the walk more interesting, than the previous meadows. There is still plenty of birdlife along the Thames. We have not met anyone else walking to London, since the source!!

Just prior to Shepperton the path splits. The Southerly part of the walk can be reached by taking a small ferry. The ferry is £2.50 for a single fare, and can be requested by ringing the bell. We were heading North, as we had not been able to discover in advance if the ferry was running. We reached our next destination The Anchor in Shepperton  at 4pm after 16 miles. There were various restaurants and pubs to eat in, but we bought our dinner from Sainsbury's. 

 

http://www.anchorhotel.co.uk/

Distance km 25.97

Duration of Walk Hours  8.30

Average Pace Min/km 19.38

Steps 49202

Saturday 6th April Shepperton to Mortlake Day Ten

 

 

 

 

Again up at 7am, leaving Shepperton at 7.45, nice early start. The Path did a strange detour to river and back to road. Then carried on over the bridge. We walked through the pretty Hurst Park, which used to be a race course, and  after walking 6 miles arrived in Hampton. Visiting the Five At The Bridge cafe, which being a Saturday morning in London had many cyclists and walkers in.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g504169-d4177963-Reviews-Five_At_The_Bridge-East_Molesey_Molesey_Surrey_England.html

Walking over the bridge, the very Spectacular Hampton Court Palace comes into view. This is well worth a visit maybe for a day. Make sure you walk through part of the grounds, re-joining the Thames just before the actual Palace is reached. Hampton Court was built for Henry V111 in 1515, and is a very impressive Tudor building.

The river and river bank definitely becomes a lot busier from here on in, and it is lovely to see so many people out enjoying themselves. We carried on past Kingston, to Teddington Lock, the last lock on the Thames. From here the river is tidal, with a rise and fall of between 5-7 meters resulting in some very strong currents, very different from the river upstream of here. From Teddington Lock, the path is on either bank of the Thames, if the North Bank route if taken from The Lock to the Thames Barrier it is 2.5km longer. It is nice to swop banks in order to see the best sites and as there are numerous bridges, it is possible to do this.

We continued along the Southbank past Ham Wetlands, Richmond, and Kew Gardens, to Mortlake. We then caught the train from Mortlake to Clapham junction, and checked into the Travelodge at Battersea for 2 nights. A good plan then the larger rucksack can be left there for a day.

https://www.travelodge.co.uk/

Distance km 30.71

Duration of Walk Hours  8.07

Average Pace Min/km 15.52

Steps 50848

Sunday 7th April Mortlake to Vauxhall Bridge Day Eleven

 

 

 

 

After staying the night at the Travelodge in Battersea, we left and caught the
train back to Mortlake rejoining the Thames path at Barnes. We walked along the south bank leaving the path to go to a lovely little cafe in Barnes, called The Boathouse Cafe.

 

http://www.fresh-cafe.co.uk/ Barnes, now called The Boathouse Cafe


The river was busy with rowers and the towpath was busy with runners ,and as it was Boat Race day, many television crews and television gantries were being assembled. The Boat Race takes place annually between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, usually in April, it draws large crowds along its 4 mile course from Putney to Mortlake. We had not seen so many people in the entire trip so far. We carried on along the Southbank passing Battersea at 12pm. Crossing over the river we suspended our actual walk at this point Chelsea Bridge, in order to go back and watch the boat race. 

 

We caught the tube from Sloane Square to Hammersmith. We walked down to the river, sat and watched the ladies race at 2.15pm then the reserves, then the men's race. Cambridge won them all. We caught tube back to Sloane Square, resuming our walk from Chelsea Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge, giving us slightly less far to walk on our last day. We continued walking to Vauxhall visiting Tesco to buy dinner, and caught the  tube back to the Travelodge. Today had been a short day of only 10 miles.

 

Distance km 14.83

Duration of Walk Hours  4.00

Average Pace Min/km 16.06

Steps 24777

Monday 8th April Vauxhall Bridge to the Thames Barrier Day Twelve

 

 

 

 

We are very excited as it is the last day of the walk, and looking forward to reaching the Thames Barrier. We were up at 7am, and walked to Clapham junction train station. We caught the train one stop to Vauxhall Bridge, went to Tesco, then started the walk at 8am. The path on this stretch through London  has various diversions due to building works and repairs to pathways along the river. We followed the path on the Southbank, then took a detour to visit Westminster. We continued along the Northbank, crossing the Millennium Bridge to Southwark, passing the Globe Theatre and the Shard. We called in a coffee shop trying to avoid the worst of a sudden shower, then crossed over Tower Bridge, following the Northbank passing numerous old warehouses now converted into flats. This is a very interesting area, very quiet, but with some of the oldest pubs in London which front onto the river, and are well worth visiting. We went to Ledger Building Wetherspoons pub in Canary wharf for lunch at 12.00pm.

 

https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/london/the-ledger-building-docklands

Walking round all the modern buildings of Canary Wharf would have been fascinating, but we carried on through The Isle of Dogs reaching the foot tunnel, (opened in 1902,) under the Thames to Greenwich 2pm.

However, once the main part of Greenwich was passed, the walk was not at all pleasant. I would not advise walking this stretch of the walk alone, and in parts there are lots of building works taking place, causing the path to divert away from the river. After a couple of miles 2 path signs are labelled one via the O2 arena, the other across the Greenwich peninsula. We went across the peninsula to the other side, when reaching the Thames again, turning right along the path, once more just not at all pleasant. We felt that in hindsight the walk should end at the Cutty Sark boat in Greenwich.

Greenwich is a beautiful place, again one could spend a whole day there, taking in Greenwich Park, The Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum etc. There are numerous places to stay and eat.

We were so excited to reach the Thames barrier. There is a plaque on the eastern side of the tunnel saying this is the Thames Path and 180 miles to the source, also a large frieze of the path located in the tunnel. There are picnic benches, toilets and a cafe that is shut to the public on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We celebrated with 2 small bottles of red wine. Then caught bus number 161 to Greenwich North station, then to the Victoria line back into London, before catching the train back to Manchester.

If advising someone to walk the Thames, I would say start in Oxford as it is more interesting from there, and finish at the Cutty Sark Boat in Greenwich. This would make a lovely end to the walk, instead of continuing and experiencing shut paths, and lots of building work. Also as I said earlier one could take some time to explore more of Oxford, Windsor and Hampton Court, and of course the whole of London. 

Distance km 26.41

Duration of Walk Hours  7.36

Average Pace Min/km 17.16

Steps 46058

 

 

 

Advice Thames Path walk. April 2019

Since we made a very late decision to walk the Thames we booked accommodation for the first 3 nights the day before our trip. Being the end of March, we presumed we could book further rooms as we went along,  depending how many miles we had walked each day. The advantage of this is that it makes the trip more flexible depending on fitness levels, weather and the wish to explore places along the way. We found no problem getting rooms, also some days we used public transport/taxis to reach preferred accommodation. I imagine in the Summer rooms maybe harder to find. The only place where we wanted to stay but couldn't was the YHA in Streatley which unfortunately was full. We usually use www.bookings.com.

We have a 2 together rail card which saves one third off the train fare. We went on-line booking the trains as 3 different transactions, booking the trains from Manchester (where we live) to the start of the walk in Kemble. This saves a total of £90, that we would have been charged booking it as just one trip. Altogether we caught 5 different trains, but all were on time.
www.nationalrail.co.uk
https://www.twotogether-railcard.co.uk/

However  good the weather forecast would appear to be, ensure that you take good waterproofs, hats, muffs and gloves. and take a good first aid kit, as there are no pharmacies or shops for many days.
Wear boots, the only way to go. We wear Lowa boots, originally designed in Germany, and very popular with walkers there. Having worn out previous pairs, with excess of 1,000 miles walked in them, we are now on our third pairs. They are available in Decathlon, and probably other places too. https://www.decathlon.co.uk/renegade-mens-waterproof-walking-boots-brown-id_8127214.html
I always wear Craghoppers walking shirts. These are easy to wash and are quick drying, and come with a level of protection from the sun.

We carried out own bags but bag carrying services are available.
https://www.movemybags.com/
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path/baggage-services

We ate many meals in Weatherspoons pubs, besides staying there. I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are always very good value for money, having a meal deal each day, unlimited free hot drink refills, nice toilets, and are very interesting as they are  usually based on a historic theme.  We also bought food at the many supermarkets to be found near the path, i.e. Tesco,  Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Greggs Bakery. However I would always recommend carrying spare food in case places are not open, especially in the first few days.
https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/

Whilst travelling around London, we used our contactless bank cards, these avoid the need to queue to purchase a ticket for each journey. Oyster cards can be bought if you don't have contactless.
https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/visiting-london/getting-around-london/best-ways-for-visitors-to-pay

Buy good guidebooks in advance, we did not see any for sale along the path. See later.
 
We enjoyed the Thames Path Walk as we always like a challenge. It goes through some beautiful peaceful countryside, with sightings of many species of birds. It passes some lovely historic English villages and towns, with options for day visits to Oxford, Windsor Castle /Eton and Hampton Court. The stretch of river through London centre is fantastic with so many historic buildings all around. 

However, the walk on the whole was too quiet for us, maybe it was the time of year that we chose-end of March/beginning of April. We have completed a few Caminos across Spain and the English Coast to Coast where we have met many people from all over the world, building up a circle of friends on the way. We missed this feeling of friendship. 

I realise that the walk follows the river, but it is nice to explore some of the villages along the way, i.e. Dorchester on Thames. It is a shame that the walk does not deviate from the river. This would also bring a potential source of revenue to those places. 

If advising someone to walk the Thames, I would say start in Oxford as it is more interesting from there, and finish at the Cutty Sark Boat in Greenwich. This would make a lovely end to the walk, instead of continuing and experiencing shut paths, and lots of building work. Also as I said earlier one could take some time to explore more of Oxford, Windsor and Hampton Court, and of course the whole of London. 

Good luck to anyone who completes the walk.

Books we used

Thames Path A to Z for walkers, we followed this all the way.

Thames Path National Trail Companion, this provides practical advice about accommodation, refreshments, transport, toilets etc

Thames Path in the Country by David Sharp and Tony Gowers. This book has paths, description of the walk, and information about the places along the way. This follows the path from the source to Hampton Court on the outskirts of London.

All 3 books are useful in their own right.
(There is also a Thames Path in the City book, from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier which we did not buy)
Other useful websites

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path/plan
www.tfl.gov.uk for transport round London
https://www.visitthames.co.uk/places-to-stay/camping-and-caravans
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path/accommodation-camping

 

Places to eat at along the Thames Path walk. April 2019
Check opening times though


Day One
http://www.thamesheadinn.co.uk/
http://www.thebakersarmssomerford.co.uk/
https://www.thewhitehartashtonkeynes.com/


Day Two
https://www.red-lion.co.uk/  Castle Eaton,
Lechlade, slightly off the path, shops, pubs etc
http://www.thetroutinn.com/  Lechlade
https://yeoldeswan.co.uk/  Radcot Bridge
The Harbour Fish and chips takeaway 6 Marlborough St, Faringdon SN7 7JP

Day Three

Cricklade, slightly off the path, shops, pubs etc
https://troutinn.co.uk/
http://www.themaybush.com/
https://www.greenekinginns.co.uk/hotels/rose-revived/
https://theferrymaninn.co.uk/


Day Four

https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/oxfordshire/the-four-candles-oxford

Oxford, a large town with all amenities, shops, pubs, restaurants etc.

https://www.chefandbrewer.com/pubs/oxfordshire/kings-arms/

Abingdon, shops, pubs, etc

Day Five

https://www.chefandbrewer.com/pubs/oxfordshire/barley-mow/

https://www.waterfrontcafe.co.uk/

Greggs Sandwich shop,  (A chain bakery that prepares breads, savoury snacks, sandwiches and sweet treats).5-6 Market Pl, Wallingford OX10 0EG

Day Six

https://www.greatukpubs.co.uk/monksretreatreading/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=local_seo_gmb&utm

Reading, another large town with all amenities, shops, pubs, restaurants etc.
Henley,  a very pretty town with all amenities, shops, pubs, restaurants etc

Day Seven

https://www.bigreddirectory.com/hurley-village-shop-maidenhead

https://www.cafeleraj.co.uk

Day Eight

https://www.bluerivercafe.co.uk/

Windsor, a large town with all amenities, shops, pubs, restaurants etc.

Day Nine

https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/surrey/the-george-staines

Staines, a large town with all amenities, shops, pubs, restaurants etc.

Shepperton, small town with shops, pubs, restaurants etc.

Day Ten

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g504169-d4177963-Reviews-Five_At_The_Bridge-East_Molesey_Molesey_Surrey_England.html

Hampton, shops cafes etc.
Kingston a large town with all amenities, shops, pubs, restaurants etc.
Richmond, pubs, cafes etc.

Day Eleven

http://www.fresh-cafe.co.uk/ Barnes, now called The Boathouse Cafe

Barnes, shops, cafes etc.
Vauxhall, shops

Day Twelve

Tesco, opposite Big Ben, Westminster
Lambeth, cafes, pubs
Greenwich, pubs, cafes
https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/london/the-ledger-building-docklands