Ways to improve your walk
Suggested detours and alternative Routes
Whilst most of the time the official Thames Path route is both the obvious and the best route, there are occasions when it’s worth detouring away: not necessarily to save miles but to enjoy something else en-route. In any case, it’s sometimes good to have a break from the river and enjoy a change of scene. On this page, we feature some of the best detours.
- Cricklade, North Meadow +0.0 miles
In springtime, this meadow houses the largest population of snake head fritillaries in the UK. If you're not careful, you might just pass them by.
- Oxford +0.5 miles
It is a common misconception that the River Thames flows through Oxford. It doesn’t. Well, not through the centre. In fact, it flows around the western edge of the city. Purists may be left disappointed that they never saw the sites. So, even if you are not stopping in Oxford, this detour allows you to divert into the historic city and rejoin the Thames Path further on.
- Shillingford +0.0 miles
This detour avoids the (albeit short) walk along the A4074 into Shillingford by taking farm tracks above the river on the other side from the Thames Path. It provides the opportunity to walk through Wittenham Woods and gives good elevated views of the river. It can be combined with the detour to Wittenham Clumps
- Wittenham Clumps +1.8 miles
The Thames Path is fairly flat. Well, what do you expect for a river walk? So it may come as a pleasant interlude to break away from the Path and walk up a hill to stretch those thigh muscles. At Days Lock, Dorchester, 68.5 miles from the source, you have the perfect chance: a climb up Wittenham Clumps.
- Wallingford to Goring via the Ridgeway +0.1 miles
Thames Path walkers are often disappointed by the diversion away form the river and subsequent 1 mile road walk through Moulsford. This can be avoided by crossing the river at Nosworthy Way, just past Wallingford, and following the Ridgeway National Trail into Goring. This is a better route, passing a lonely church in Mongewell and the villages of North and South Stoke..
- Reading centre and the Kennet Canal +0.4 miles
This detour takes the walk into Reading town centre where they can pass by the Abbey ruins, believed to be the resting place of Henry I, and past Reading Gaol where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated, and Banksy's mural of the writer escaping with a typewriter. The walk then follows the Kennet Canal to rejoin the walk
- Windsor, the Great Park, and the Runnymede memorials +0.2 miles
Instead of following the river through the Home Park and past Datchet (which includes a 0.5 mile road walk), the detour takes you through Windsor's town centre allowing you to get close to the castle. The detour then follows the Long Walk starting at the private entrance to the castle all the way to the statue of George III. From here the detour turns away from the Great Park, through woodland and past the JFK Memorial and the Magna Carta monument. An optional extra is to visit the Air Force Memorial.
- Bushy Park -1.3 miles
Not so much a detour as a short cut, this route actually saves you some distance. Instead of following the river from Hampton Court you can walk past the Palace entrance and into Bushy Park where, if you are lucky, you may see some deer. Bushy Park will then lead you to Hampton Wick where you can rejoin the rest of the Thames Path walkers who may we wondering how you got past them!
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