The Thames Path, Henley to Windsor

The Thames Path is one of a number of long distance walks in the UK, the so-called ‘National Trails’, but it was the first to follow the course of a river throughout its length. From its trickling source in a Gloucestershire field to the Thames Flood Barrier it is 184 miles long, flowing in an east/south-easterly direction, first slowly and serenely through picturesque rural landscapes of flat, open water meadows, gently undulating hills and wooded vales; through quiet market towns; and larger urban centres such as Oxford, and of course finally, through the bustling metropolis of our capital city, London. It is a Medieval river; a Victorian river; a Royal river; an Industrial and Commercial river and in more recent years, one for leisure, pleasure and residential living.

  • Walk

About The Tour

23 miles. 2 days walking, one overnight stop

This is essentially a ‘rural countryside walk’, but starting in a town and finishing in one, with an overnight stop in a third. The starting and destination points also have railway stations with excellent links into and out of London (under one hour), so for clients staying in central London hotels, a reasonably early start on Day 1 and return on Day 2 at a civilised hour, is perfectly feasible. 

After disembarking the train from London, we begin in the market town of Henley-on-Thames, most famous for its annual rowing regatta, but with other attractions too. On an initial amble around the town, we will see fine Georgian architecture; the entrance to the home of former Beatle, George Harrison; a graveyard memorial to another 1960’s icon, Dusty Springfield; and of course, the Regatta’s iconic riverscape.

After morning coffee in a 17th century pub whose previous guests are said to have included King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and King George IV, we then depart on our walk down-river towards the first day’s destination, Marlow. The route meanders sleepily past quaint riverside villages, pubs, locks, weirs, mills, small mid-stream islands and the ruins of not one but two Pre-Reformation Benedictine Abbeys (one actually a ‘Priory’ … to be discussed).  After 9 miles we enter in to Marlow. Like many of the towns on this stretch of the Thames, Marlow also has its own Regatta, though not as famous as Henley’s, but it is better known for its impressive iron suspension bridge. The overnight stay is in a riverside hotel with close views of the bridge, spectacularly lit up at night.

The following morning, we make a slightly earlier start, since the distance for this, the second leg of this walk to Windsor, is a little bit further – 14 miles.

From here, the topography of the land changes … less open meadows, more steep, wooded valley sides. There is much of interest on this section of the river – an art gallery dedicated to the 19th century painter, Stanley Spencer (… which we will visit); the England Soccer Team’s Training Ground (… which we won’t); a former home of William Waldorf Astor and scene of an infamous 1960’s political scandal; a bridge made famous by JMW Turner’s painting ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’; a Racecourse (horses this time, not boats); a rather posh school; and last but not least, a breath-taking sight to end the walk … the largest and oldest continuously inhabited a royal castle in the world and favourite home of our Queen.

We end the day with rest for weary feet and well-deserved refreshments in one of Windsor’s charming pubs, fortunately perhaps, just a stone’s throw from the Railway Station providing our transport back to London

We aim to portray the extraordinary contrasts of The Thames Path in walks that vary in their geography; their history; and in present-day socio-economic contexts. Also see our Hampton Court to Tower Bridge walks. They vary in their ambiance and mood, and in more practical terms - their length and degree of difficulty, some days offering a leisurely 4 hour ‘stroll’; others more of a physical challenge. What they each provide is enjoyable physical exercise; a snapshot of England in its many guises; and opportunities for shared learning with one of our experienced and qualified Professional Guides.