Experienced walkers will be acutely aware of their capabilities. For inexperienced walkers, you should consider an average walking speed of 2 miles per hour including rest breaks. Which means that if you set off at 9am you will need until 3pm to walk 12 miles. That’s probably enough for one day.
Unlike most long distance paths, the Thames Path passes by many attractions and you may want to consider planning some time to visit these. We have listed some of the places that you might want to spend an extra half-day or more:
Source to Oxford
It’s definitely worth spending at least half a day in Oxford. And you don’t need to dig deep to enjoy. Many of the attractions are free. Highlights are Carfax Tower, the prison, Christ Church cathedral and college, the Bodleian Library Magdalen (pronounced maudlin) College, Radcliffe Camera, and the Ashmolean Museum (free admission).
It’s worth stopping overnight in Oxford. If not, then divert off the Thames Path and walk through Oxford. The Thames is about a mile from the centre of Oxford so the Path does not go through the town centre.
Oxford to Reading
During this section you will walk through some of the most beautiful countryside on the Path. However, there is nowhere worth spending an extra half day unless you want to try some birdwatching (see our Experiences page). So just enjoy and keep walking!
Reading to Staines
Like the last section, there are many beautiful places en route: Sonning, Henley, Marlow and Cookham among them. Enjoying a leisurely lunch is probably enough. However, on the other side of the river from Cookham lies one of the most beautiful and intriguing stately homes in he country: Cliveden. Home for many years to the Astor family, throughout the 20th century it was a weekend retreat for the rich and famous: Chaplin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Kipling, Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw. The names go on. The house is now a luxury hotel and the grounds, overlooking the Thames, are owned by the National Trust. A walk in the gardens or a spa treatment followed by afternoon tea is surely well-deserved.
It is definitely worth spending some quality time in Windsor. The castle has been home to kings and queens of England since William the Conqueror. For £23.50 you can wander around the grounds, through the state apartments, and into St George’s Chapel where Harry and Meghan were married. And don’t forget Eton. It’s a stone’s throw away on the other side of the river. Walk a half mile along the High Street and you will arrive at Eton College which has educated 20 former British Prime Ministers, including the current incumbent, Boris Johnson. The school is a collection of buildings on public roads. Don’t be surprised to see boys crossing the road in their tailcoats.
Staines to London
Hampton Court Palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey during the reign of Henry VIII. He gave it to Henry in 1529 in an effort to stay in his favour having failed to get the Pope to grant an anullment for his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Wolsey died a year later. The Palace was one of Henry’s favourites and still belongs to the Crown. The Palace, with its Great Hall, Tudor kitchens and extensive gardens is well worth visiting. That’s a goof half day
Past Hampton Court
As far as we know, the Thames Path is the only long-distance footpath to go through a capital city. As a consequence, there are many, many attractions to see. It’s tempting to put your head down and push for the finish line. But you would be missing some real treats.
We can’t possibly name all the attractions in London. However, we’ve listed our highlights – all of which are either on or very close to the Path:
- Kew Gardens
- Tate Britain
- Tate Modern
- Globe Theatre
- Southwark Cathedral
- Tower of London
- Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum
Even if museums are not your thing, it’s impossible not to be distracted by the side streets, alleyways, pubs and restaurants that are found in London. So take your time.
HINT: Consider having a short day when passing through places like Oxford and Windsor so that you can spend a half day there. You don’t have to necessarily stop there for the night. After all, if you’ve booked through Walk the Thames, you will only have your day pack.
When walking through London, consider making each day quite short to allow you time to zig zag across the bridge to the many sites that are on offer.