The River Thames


Iffley Lock on the River Thames, Oxford  (Andrei Nekrassov/Shutterstock)

Iffley Lock on the River Thames, Oxford (Andrei Nekrassov/Shutterstock)

Looking for some Great British adventure inspiration? You're in the right place. Here you'll get an independent, ad-free lowdown on Britain's top 50 adventure locations - the online yin to the paper yang of our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map.

Why Go To The River Thames?

Because it's Britain's most iconic river. Just some of things you can do on, in or near the River Thames that you can't do anywhere else..

  • Float down Britain's best-known waterway, from near its source in Gloucerstershire to London and the North Sea
  • Walk the Thames Path, a 184-mile national trail
  • Cycle the Thames Valley route between Oxford and London

Want to find out more? Read on for great photos, articles, videos, top tips and other content to fire up your adventure appetite. Got a question? Ask away.

Tell Me More

Britain's second-longest but best known and most iconic river. Rising in Gloucestershire, it flows through Oxford, Reading and Windsor before reaching London and giving the capital (and the credits for EastEnders) that distinctive meandering flourish. It can be swum, travelled on foot, thanks to the Thames Path national trail, kayaked or attempted by paper boat (the distance record is 160 miles, broken in 2003 having stood for 383 years).

   The River Thames flowing past the Houses of Parliament, London  (TTstudio/Shutterstock)


The River Thames flowing past the Houses of Parliament, London (TTstudio/Shutterstock)

The essential journey on the River Thames is the River Thames itself, of course. Actually, there are two essential journeys, a wet one and a dry one: instead of floating down the river, the Thames Path takes you by foot from the source to the sea.  


Getting To The River Thames, Maps & Guides

Getting there: It's quite close to London, as you've probably guessed, but the source in the Cotswolds is 2.5 hours by car from the capital. Or however long you need to paddle 180-ish miles upstream.

Travel times from where you are: See the River Thames on Google Maps.

Maps: Find the right Ordnance Survey maps and / or get a month's free subscription to their excellent OS Maps app.

Guidebooks: The Wild Guide to London & South East. 

Walking route guidance: Thames Path national trail.

Tourist board: Visit Thames.

Even More River Thames Adventure Inspiration

Halfpenny Bridge over the River Thames, Lechlade, England  (Martin Fowler/Shutterstock)

Halfpenny Bridge over the River Thames, Lechlade, England (Martin Fowler/Shutterstock)

Two great books about journeys on the Thames are the classic by Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men In A Boat and Tom Chesshyre's Source to SeaThis Telegraph article is about paddling on the Thames the easy way. For something a little more strenuous, read about the Thames marathons. For cyclists, Sustrans' Thames Valley route is well worth a look.

And here's the BBC's Ramblings podcast with Steve Backshall along the Thames.

There are some good record-breaking journeys on the Thames to check out:

Here's a good bit of history about swimming on the Thames. And on that note...


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What Next?

Click here to see 49 other Great British adventure locations and tell us about your adventures, plans and suggestions for these pages.

Britain's Best Outdoorsy Bits... Mapped!

Liking what you see, but fancy keeping it old school with an actual paper map? Our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map features all of Britain's best outdoorsy bits (including the Top 50), plus some enjoyably random and vaguely useful stuff too. Available either as a 2-sided fold-out map or a framed wall map (office furniture and fake plants not included).