The Thames Path West: Kemble to Oxford
Kemble to Oxford in 4 Days Walking Code: TPW5
We offer two options on the first part of the walk; 4 or 5 days walking. The 4 day option has one longer day of 17 miles.
Please bear in mind that the distances each day are trail distances only. They do not take into account walking to your accommodation. On some days the accommodation might be on or close to the trail but on other days you may need to walk one or two miles to get to your overnight stop.
From source to Oxford in 4 days walking. A lovely short walk with some longer days passing the historic Cotswold towns of Cricklade, Lechlade and the iconic 13th century Newbridge. It finishes in the vibrant city of Oxford, it is worth adding a rest day here to explore all that Oxford has to offer.
|Day 1||Travel to Kemble for your first nights accommodation|
|Day 2||Kemble to Cricklade||12||19|
|Day 3||Cricklade to Lechlade||11||18|
|Day 4||Lechlade to Newbridge||17||27|
|Day 5||Newbridge to Oxford||14||23|
|Day 6||Depart from Oxford after breakfast|
Kemble to Cricklade
During summer the start of the route often follows a dry river bed but it isn’t long until the river in its infancy appears. This section is particularly beautiful during spring when the fields are full of wild flowers. The Thames passes beautiful Cotswold villages renowned for their golden coloured stone which has been quarried from the areas Jurassic limestone bedrock. Just after passing through the hamlet of Ewen you are surrounded by the Cotswold Water Park on your route to Cricklade. Over the last 50 years this area set over 40 square miles has transformed from gravel pits to 150 lakes. Providing water sports and recreational activities along with many wildlife nature reserves. Keep your eyes out for all sorts of movement from water voles, shrews, and otters to dragon flies, chiffchaffs and water rail.
Cricklade to Lechlade
Follow the small reed filled river to Castle Eaton where a lychgate leads to a 12th Century church with Norman and early English gothic style along with a very distinctive corbelled bellcote which was added by William Butterfield in 1861-63. Continue along the river to Upper Inglesham, where we advise to skip this short busy road section, and continue enjoying the river slowly growing in size from Inglesham. You might be interested to visit the simple but magnificent church at Inglesham which has managed to avoid the Gothic restoration treatment of the Victorian age before trying to spot some of the first boats on the Thames as you approach the 18th century bridge into Lechlade called the Ha’penny bridge due to the toll once charged.
Lechlade to Newbridge
Leaving Lechlade you pass St John’s lock the furthest upstream lock on the Thames and the highest point on the Thames that trading barges are able to reach. This is just the first of 46 locks along the Thames path. You’ll be greeted here by the statue ‘Old Father Thames’ which was crafted by Raffaelle Monti in 1851 and has been relocated twice before being re-homed in Lechlade in 1974. Continue on past decaying pillboxes (concrete dug-in guard post) once used as a defence line in 1940 and now home to bats. The path meanders through the flat flood plain of the Thames valley passing another 5 locks, Chimney Meadow nature reserve and wonderfully named bridges, such as Tadpole Bridge, Newbridge (actually 13th century), the Tenfoot bridge (which is wider than 10 feet), along with the oldest bridge which is located in Radcot and made up of three gothic arches made of Taynton stone. You may be interested to stop and see Kelmscott, the home of William Morris (check the opening times).
Newbridge to Oxford
The river continues to grow on your journey towards Oxford, it is now already a respectable size with many boats negotiating its locks. Although today you will be heading towards a city, this part of the path is very rural, almost until reaching the city’s edge. As you wind your way along the path today you pass through Bablock Hythe, maybe the best known of the Thames crossings. A chain hauled ferry operated here for over 1000 years but now lies in disrepair after floods in 2007. A campaign is currently up and running to see it returned to its former glory. Pass Swinford Bridge, built in 1770 for the Earl of Abingdon and one of two remaining privately-owned toll bridges on the Thames, before passing the edge of Wytham Great Wood, a 600 acre wood and wildlife haven. Finally finishing through Port Meadow with stunning skyline views of Oxford and its spires, you’ll understand why Matthew Arnold coined Oxford as the ‘city of dreaming spires’. This area is largely unchanged since William the Conqueror gifted the land in return for helping to defend his kingdom from the Danes.
Easy to Moderate
Of the National trails we cover, this is one of the easiest. It is a gentle trail which is suitable for people with a wide range of abilities. The route journeys across obvious broad promenades to grassy paths.
Terrain: Mostly flat with well defined paths.
What’s it like underfoot? You may be walking on an obvious trail, path or pavement and occasionally on a path across a field just visible in the grass. The terrain when dry is often compact and easy going, however, when wet it can be muddy in sections.
How much up and down? If you start at the source the route spends the majority of the walk losing height. After you pass through Goring Gap there is a short climb up the chalk hills and steep descent to negotiate at Coombe Park before you reach Pangbourne.
Signposting: Good signposting, signs are marked with a white acorn to indicate the National Trail.
Navigation: Pretty straightforward, keep your map and guidebook to hand.
|Accommodation||Overnight Bed and Breakfast accommodation in selected hotels, farmhouses, village inns, guest houses and family B&Bs.Full English or Continental breakfast.|
|Guidebook||A detailed guidebook with route information, maps, photos and background information.|
|Information of Services Along the Route||A comprehensive Service Info sheet, including services such as cash points, banks, post offices, village shops, inns, cafes and taxis.|
|Maps||A waterproof 1:40000 map from Harvey Maps covering the whole route.|
|Personal Itinerary||A personal itinerary setting out each overnight stop, including large scale maps of each accommodation, to ensure you find it easily.|
|Emergency Telephone Support||If you get in to difficulties during your holiday, we are always available to help, even out of office hours.|
|15% discount at Cotswold Outdoors||We will issue you with a 15% Discount Card valid at all Cotswold Outdoor stores, and online, for the whole year on confirmation of your booking.|
|Luggage Transport||We will transfer your luggage between each overnight stop – if you leave your luggage at the accommodation when you set off in the morning, it will be moved on to your next B&B. You only need to carry a small day sack with the clothes and provisions you require during the day’s walk.|
| Packed Lunches
||Provided for each day’s walking and recommended on this holiday as there will not always be a handy shop or cafe on the route.|
|Off Road Parking||If you are travelling by car we can usually arrange off road parking for the duration of your trip. (There may be a small charge for this).|
|Arrangement of return transport||We can also arrange your transfer back to your car, (or advise you when public transport is a better option)!|
What’s not Included
|Evening Meals||Your evening meal isn’t included in the package, but we include full details and recommendations for each evening meal in your itinerary. You will normally be within walking distance of a pub and/or restaurant, or where there is good food available at the accommodation, we’ll book that for you. Allow about £20.00 per night.|
|Transport to the Start & Away from the Finish||Have a look at the “Travel Info” tab above for suggestions. If you’re still struggling, get in touch and we’ll help you sort it out.|
|Travel Insurance||Even if you are based in the UK travel insurance is worth having.|
Good accommodation and friendly hosts are an essential part of any holiday. We understand this and go out of our way to find the best. We put a great deal of effort into hand picking our accommodation and matching it to individual customer requirements. As well as visiting the accommodation ourselves, we ask all our customers to complete a short evaluation on each night’s accommodation, which then gives us an insight in to the day-to-day operation, and lets us spot any potential issues before they become a problem.
We use a variety of accommodation, including small country house hotels, guest houses in market towns, bed and breakfasts in farm houses, country cottages and Victorian town houses. In selecting the accommodation we look for helpful, friendly hosts with good quality, characterful accommodation close to the trail. For example, over the course of your trip you might stay in a village inn, a bed and breakfast in a converted barn, a Victorian guest house, on a working farm, and in a Georgian hotel.
We always try to arrange en suite accommodation, i.e. rooms with their own bathrooms for each night of your stay. However, in some of the more remote locations accommodation is limited and occasionally we may have to book rooms with shared bathrooms for one or two nights of your holiday, (especially if the booking is made at short notice), but we will always let you know if this is likely to be the case.
General travel information for the Thames Path walk will be in your holiday pack.
Detailed instructions on getting to your first night’s accommodation by car, or on foot from the nearest train or bus station, will also be included in the holiday pack on individual accommodation maps.
If you require secure car parking whilst walking this route, please contact us for information.
By Air: The nearest airports are Heathrow and Bristol. From Heathrow: either bus to Reading, then train to Kemble (change at Swindon) or Heathrow Express to Paddington, then train to Kemble, travel time 2 hours.
From Bristol airport: Bus to Bristol Temple Meads, train to Kemble (change at Swindon) travel time 2 hours.
By Public Transport:
There is a train station at Kemble. There are direct trains from London Paddington to Kemble (1.20 hr).
By Road: From the north take the M5 to exit 11A then A417 to Kemble. From London M4 to exit 15, then A419.
Leaving from Oxford:
To return to Kemble: Make your way to Oxford station, train to Kemble, change at Didcot Parkway (1.15 hours).
For all other destinations, go to Oxford station for onward travel.
The ancient university town of Oxford is well worth an extra day. There are many different walking tours of the town which can be booked in advance. You can also visit the Ashmolean Museum and the Museum of Natural History as well as many others. And why not hire a punt and see the river Thames from a whole new perspective!