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Thames Path National Trail

The Thames Path is a National Trail which runs for 213 miles (340km) from the river's source, near Cirencester, to the Thames Barrier, in London. The path meanders through open countryside and meadows, and passes around historic towns and cities.

 

The non-tidal, western section of the route, from the source to Teddington, can be traced through aerial photographs on our website. This feature highlights some of the most notable features along the way. 

 

 

1. Source

 

Marked by a stone beneath an ash tree, the Thames rises in a field near Cirencester. It then makes its way through lush meadows and stone villages of the eastern Cotswolds.

 

2. Somerford Keynes

 

At Somerford Keynes, the Thames threads its way between old gravel workings. These have flooded naturally and now form the Cotswold Water Park, one of the largest wetlands in Britain.

 

3. Lechlade

 

From Lechlade downstream, the Thames is a navigable waterway originally used by commercial vessels. The Thames Path now uses the towpath once tread by horses. 

 

4. Rushey Lock

 

Dotted along the northern bank of the Thames at Rushey is a chain of Second World War pillboxes. These formed a 'Stop Line', built in 1940 to defend against an expected German invasion.

 

5. Farmoor Reservoir

 

Drawing water from the Thames, Farmoor Reservoir supplies fresh water to parts of Oxfordshire. It is also used to raise the river level in times of drought.

 

6. Oxford

 

The path follows the Thames round the western edge of the university city of Oxford, and through the Victorian suburb of Grandpont.

 

7. Reading

 

Continuing along the towpath, the walk passes along the riverfront at Reading. The River Kennet flows into the Thames at Reading, and boats can navigate from here to Bristol, via the Kennet and Avon Canal.

 

8. Medmenham

 

Danesfield House sits on the left bank of the Thames, below Henley. During the Second World War, this was RAF Medmenham, home to the Allied Central Interpretation Unit (ACIU), where aerial photographs were analysed to glean intelligence on the Axis war effort.

 

9. Penton Hook

 

Downstream from Staines, the long, goose-neck meander of the river is bypassed by a lock built in 1815. The adjacent flooded gravel pits have been developed into a marina for recreational boats.

 

10. Hampton Court

 

Now within Greater London, the path skirts the palace and extensive formal gardens of Hampton Court.

 

11. Teddington

 

From Teddington downstream, the river is tidal and is known as London River. Teddington has the largest locking system on the river, with three locks, one of which is 650 feet long.