The review below was very kindly written for me by Thea, who recently walked the Thames Path, booked by BookMyTrail. Thea actually contacted me last year and walked the South Down’s Way in glorious weather in April. She was one of my first 10 bookings! I was delighted to receive another email from Thea this year asking if I book the Thames Path. My answer was no, not as standard, but I am always happy to give routes a go. That being said I have booked it a few times but always found it a little tricky to put together so I tend to avoid it as a standard offering.
Fortunately, everything went well, and Thea kindly sent me this wonderful write up after her walk.
Thank you for your business Thea! I hope you book with us again for your next walking break.
I was very lucky with the weather. It was mostly dry and sunny during the two weeks, I walked – only a few hours with light rain.
This route following the river Thames is very easy walking. There are only a few short ascends, where it is necessary to divert from the river. Walking 20-25 km per day was no problem for me (woman, 57 years, experienced long-distance walker). My biggest challenge was during the first few days: The winter 2017/18 had been very wet, and the walking route was flooded in some parts – never dangerous – but in some places, I had to walk through ankle-high water for some miles – or divert from the route either by following another trail or by trespassing into the next field. From the Round House near Lechlade, the route mostly follows old towpaths and flooding is not a problem.
In planning, I had expected a route walking from town to town. But in fact, it is surprisingly rural. And in late April not very busy. Apart from the morning dog walkers, I had hours and days walking alone until I reached Richmond. It is only the last two days you walk on hard surface. But if you seek wild nature, mountains or dramatic views, this is not a route for you.
I found the walk beautiful in springtime. Passing through meadows, fields, small woods, attractive villages and small towns, weirs and locks – farmland and nature formed by people and the water way. The few longer diversions away from the river were very attractive. And most of the accommodations located in villages or small towns giving you the possibility of more choices for your evening meal. Be aware that in the smaller villages especially in the Cotswolds, it is necessary to book a table at the pub, if you want to eat there in a weekend or bank holiday.
Walking along a big river was very interesting for me: Once the river was big enough for sailing, it was always busy with barges and boats and in many places rowing teams would train. And plenty of wildlife – primarily birds – all along the way.
The route only skirts around the edge of the Oxford, so if you want to visit, you have to book at least one extra overnight stay. The first stop after Oxford was Abingdon – my favorite along the route and a place not to pass by.
I would recommend finish walking either in Richmond or around Battersea. Until then the walking is attractive, through green corridors, but from Battersea and on it is through the city. If you want to reach the Thames Barrier and the other sights on the last walking day, I would recommend taking a boat or a bus, or if you are very determined walk as far as Greenwich. The last hours around the Millennium Dome is not worth the effort.
The route is very well marked, even through the towns. This is one route, where maps are not needed to follow the route. And if you have a smartphone, you won’t need it to find your accommodations. But it is nice to have a guidebook to read about all the historic sites along the way. And a map to tell you how far you are en route.
I used the National Trail Guide Books. The first volume “Thames Path in the Country” has chapters with information and maps, and each chapter ends with a small section with helpful information i.e. where to find public toilets along the route. This book takes you as far as Hampton Court.
“Thames Path in London” was more a city guide with a lot of alternative routes and circular walks. If you are following the Thames Path, you do not need this book.