Thames Path

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thames Path
Thames Path sign, Thames Barrier.jpg
The Thames Path sign at the end of the walk, by the Thames Barrier
Length 184 mi (296 km)
Location Southern England, United Kingdom
Designation UK National Trail
Trailheads Kemble, Gloucestershire and Thames Barrier, Charlton, London
Use Hiking, cycling
Hiking details
Season All year

The Thames Path is a National Trail following the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton, south east London. It is about 184 miles (296 km) long.[1] A path was first proposed in 1948 but it only opened in 1996.[2]

The OXO Tower in central London; the south bank branch of the Thames Path passes to the river side of the building

The path's entire length can be walked, and a few parts can be cycled. Most of the Thames Path uses the original towpath which extends upstream as far as the connection with the now disused Thames and Severn Canal at Inglesham, one and a half miles upstream of the last boat lock near Lechlade.[3] This point is the limit of navigation for powered craft and although there is a right of navigation for smaller craft up to Cricklade, there is no further towpath so public access by footpath to the riverbank does not always exist and where necessary the Thames Path diverts from the river to the nearest public footpaths to extend the route to Thames Head.
Between Inglesham and Putney Bridge, the only reason that the Thames Path diverts from the towpath is that the towpath is now a dead-end because towpath traffic previously crossed the river using ferries.[4] Only one operating ferry now connects up such sections of towpath, the Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry. Over history there were replacements for towpath ferry crossings with bridges at Goring, Clifton Hampden and Bourne End and the path on the weir at Benson Lock. Recent crossings built for the Thames Path are Bloomers Hole Footbridge built in 2000 and at Hurley, where the Temple Footbridge was built in 1989. Due to the lack of other replacement river crossings for ferries, in places such as Shiplake, Whitchurch-on-Thames and Moulsford the Thames Path has to divert away from the towpath.
The towpath still allows access by foot to at least one side of the river for the whole length of the river navigation (but not a few meanders cut off by navigation cuttings) continuously from Putney Bridge to Inglesham. The exceptions to this are two sections of towpath without connecting public paths, the first 1km downstream of Mapledurham Lock and the second at Whitchurch Lock including 500m upstream on the North bank, and a short stretch of river without any dedicated path in Home Park, Windsor lost due to the Windsor Castle Act 1848. Another section of towpath is still accessible, but requires entry to Cliveden.
Some parts of the Thames Path, particularly west of Oxford, are subject to flooding during the winter.

Temple Footbridge was built in 1989 specifically for the Thames Path
Thames Path under the Blackfriars Railway Bridge

The river is tidal downstream from Teddington Lock and parts of the path may be under water if there is a particularly high tide. There is also a path on both sides of the river downstream of Teddington. In central London sections of the Thames Path often divert away from the river around riverside buildings.[5] The path is one of the Mayor of London's Strategic walking routes.

The Thames Path Cycle Route is a black-signposted route that follows the river between Putney Bridge in the west and Greenwich in the east. It mostly follows the Thames Path, but diverges in various sections, especially where the path follows a footpath-only route. It also links National Cycle Route 1 (east of London) with National Cycle Route 4 (west of London).[6]


The route can be divided into these sections:

Thames crossings[edit]

Bloomer Hole Footbridge built 2000 for the Thames Path

The list below shows the points going downstream where the path crosses the river between Cricklade and Teddington. Above Cricklade the Thames is a stream and in some places there may be no water except after rain. Below Teddington there are paths on both sides of the river until the Greenwich foot tunnel, after which the path is only on the south. The letter in brackets indicates whether the path downstream of that point is on the northern or southern bank (using north or south in reference to the river as a whole, rather than at that specific point). Bridges and ferries are listed in full under Crossings of the River Thames. Islands are listed under Islands in the River Thames.

The reverse direction of the path going upstream on the non-tidal part is obtainable by following the locks up from Teddington Lock. Between Teddington Lock and Lechlade the locks divide the river into reaches and a description of the reach above each lock includes the route of the Thames Path going upstream. Locks are listed under Locks on the River Thames.


  1. ^ "Thames Path". Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "Thames Path". Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Fred. S. Thacker The Thames Highway: Volume II Locks and Weirs 1920 – republished 1968 David & Charles
  5. ^
  6. ^

Coordinates: 51°40′N 1°15′W / 51.667°N 1.250°W / 51.667; -1.250