The upper Thames from its source in the Cotswolds downstream to elegant Henley includes a great variety of landscapes. From remote and wild pasture meadows to the steeply wooded Chiltern slopes the river threads its way through sleepy rural villages and through the heart of bustling historic towns such as Oxford and Henley. With our long experience of the river's passage, we have created this tour to include all the variety on offer but none of the repetition.

Much of the route is along the Thames Path, but occasionally we will take you along infinitely preferable bridleways which are closer to the river and notably prettier. We have made sure you will have time to discover all the Upper Thames has to offer including the stunning delights of Oxford and a short river boat hop from there to Abingdon. The tour is such a great way to discover the sights, sounds and smells of quintessential England as the river threads its way through history while water meadows, old inns, wildlife and weirs lead you serenely on your adventure.



Holiday details

Price

Classic

from £1,290 per person

Luxury

from £1,775 per person

Based on two people sharing a room

What’s included?

There are no extras, however you’ll love what’s included as standard

Duration

7 nights or 13 if combined with our Thames Path from Henley to London trip

Start & Finish

Starts Tuesdays from Ewen near Cirencester. Finishes Henley. Ewen is a short taxi ride from the mainline station of Kemble which is 1.25 hours from Paddington, London. Henley is 1 hour from London by train

Hotels

Classic

Centrally located hand picked hotels, inns and 2 b&b's

Luxury

3, 4 and 5 star hotels that include 4 inns dating from the 13th to 17th Century

Holiday type

Self-guided

This tour is priced without a guide and you are free to explore on your own.  If you would like a guide for part or all of your trip, we are happy to provide a knowledgeable, local guide

Activity level

Not so gentle walking. More info...

Mileage

7 days of walking 6 - 15 miles (10 - 24 km) per day

Terrain

More or less flat

Options

  • Additional nights in Oxford or Henley
  • Follow the entire river to London by adding our Walk the Lower Thames trip. 13 nights in total, costing:
  • £1,695 per person for the classic trip
  • £2,390 per person for the luxury trip




Itinerary day-by-day


Classic

  1. 1. Day one

    Arrive Ewen

    Arrive in the village of Ewen close to Cirencester where a warm welcome awaits you at your accommodation. Take a short walk along the trickling waterway if you wish, to the source of the Thames River and its headstone for a photo call to mark the start of your adventure.

    Optional 6 miles (10 km)

  2. 2. Day two

    Ewen to Cricklade

    Your host for the tour will meet you this morning and run through your itinerary before moving your luggage to Cricklade where you will be tonight. Your walk there along the Thames Path begins with the fledging waterway as a mere trickle. The route includes several lakes, idyllic meadows and some very pretty villages and willow lined paths. Cricklade - described as the first town on the Thames, dates from the 9th Century and your overnight stay is in an ancient inn in the heart of the town. Our luxury tour stays in our classic pick.

    9 miles (14 km)

  3. 3. Day three

    Cricklade to Kelmscott

    This section of the river is often remote, very quiet and immensely beautiful with some gentle folds in the landscape and the occasional village. The market town of Lechlade breaks the silence. It marks the upstream limit of navigation today and is a characterful place known for its antique shops. Just beyond lies the lovely hamlet of Kelmscott where you will stay the night. William Morris spent many summers here in the manor house as it's such an idyllic spot.

    12 miles (19 km)

  4. 4. Day four

    Kelmscott to Oxford

    This morning we will transfer you to Eynsham, a typical Cotswold village not far from Oxford. From here you will have the pleasure of walking towards the dreaming spires of Oxford through the extensive wild meadows which lead virtually into the heart of this historic city and to your hotel. Spend the afternoon exploring the splendid university colleges and take in a museum or two and some of the charming Oxford lanes and alleyways.

    7 miles (11 km) walking and a transfer of 40 minutes by road

  5. 5. Day five

    Oxford to Dorchester

    Enjoy the luxury of a short 2 hour river boat trip first thing in the morning to the market town of Abingdon where you disembark. Take time to explore this ancient town before meandering on along the peaceful river bank, fragrant with the scent of meadow sweet in the summer. There are the two very pretty villages of Culham and Sutton Courtenay to enjoy before you reach Dorchester on Thames with its half timbered houses and thatched cottages. Once the capital of Wessex - until the end of the 11th Century, this delightful town has a wonderful abbey where home made teas are served. Your overnight stay is in an old coaching inn in the town.

    7 miles (11 km) walking with a boat ride of 2 hours

  6. 6. Day six

    Dorchester to Pangbourne

    After breakfast, we will transfer you to Wallingford, the neighbouring market town downstream of Dorchester. This is another charming country town well worth exploring before you ramble on. The river scene is very rural counting tiny ancient hamlets, water meadows and splendid weirs along the way. As you approach the villages of Goring and Streatley, straddled either side of the river and home to several notable novelists, the scene shifts for here the Thames starts to cut dramatically down through the beech clad slopes of the Chiltern hills. Walking through the woods you have fine views of the river from the cliff before crossing the tollbridge and reaching Pangbourne for a well earned rest.

    11 miles (18 km) walking with a 20 minutes transfer by road

  7. 7. Day seven

    Pangbourne to Henley

    Your final day of walking is full of variety. Following a riverside bridleway you will pass a vineyard and idyllic Mapledurham House nestled at the foot of the Chilterns. This is such a beautiful reach that leads on to the wide meadows through Reading and to Sonning - described by some as the prettiest village on the Thames. The final stretch into elegant Henley takes in weirs, locks and the River Museum. Famed for its annual rowing regatta, Henley is a fitting finale for this walk and your overnight stay is in the heart of the town.

    15 miles (24 km)

  8. 8. Day eight

    Depart Henley

    Take time to explore Henley today as it offers a wonderful riverside location with waterside cafes, boats galore and interesting shops. Depart at your leisure.

Luxury

  1. 1. Day one

    Arrive Cirencester

    Arrive in the Cotswold capital of Cirencester. A warm welcome awaits you at the elegant Boutique Hotel in the heart of this historic town. If you have time, we will transfer you to the nearby village of Ewen so that you can take a short walk along the trickling waterway to the source of the Thames River and its headstone for a photo call to mark the start of your adventure.

  2. 2. Day two

    Ewen to Cricklade

    Your host for the tour will meet you this morning and run through your itinerary before moving your luggage to Cricklade where you will be tonight. Your walk there along the Thames Path begins with the fledging waterway as a mere trickle. The route includes several lakes, idyllic meadows and some very pretty villages and willow lined paths. Cricklade - described as the first town on the Thames, dates from the 9th Century and your overnight stay is in an ancient inn in the heart of the town. Our luxury tour stays in our classic pick.

    9 miles (14 km)

  3. 3. Day three

    Cricklade to Kelmscott

    This section of the river is often remote, very quiet and immensely beautiful with some gentle folds in the landscape and the occasional village. The market town of Lechlade breaks the silence. It marks the upstream limit of navigation today and is a characterful place known for its antique shops. Just beyond lies the lovely hamlet of Kelmscott where William Morris spent many summers in the manor house as he loved this idyllic spot. A short transfer takes you to the manor house in nearby Clanfield for your overnight stay

    12 miles (19km)

  4. 4. Day four

    Kelmscott to Oxford

    This morning we will transfer you to Eynsham, a typical Cotswold village not far from Oxford. From here you will have the pleasure of walking towards the dreaming spires of Oxford through the extensive wild meadows which lead virtually into the heart of this historic city and to your hotel. Spend the afternoon exploring the splendid university colleges and take in a museum or two and some of the charming Oxford lanes and alleyways.

    7 miles (11 km) walking and a transfer of 40 minutes by road

  5. 5. Day five

    Oxford to Dorchester

    Enjoy the luxury of a short 2 hour river boat trip first thing in the morning to the market town of Abingdon where you disembark. Take time to explore this ancient town before meandering on along the peaceful river bank, fragrant with the scent of meadow sweet in the summer. There are the two very pretty villages of Culham and Sutton Courtenay to enjoy before you reach Dorchester on Thames with its half timbered houses and thatched cottages. Once the capital of Wessex - until the end of the 11th Century, this delightful town has a wonderful abbey where home made teas are served. Your overnight stay is in an old coaching inn in the town.

    7 miles (11 km) walking with a boat ride of 2 hours

  6. 6. Day six

    Dorchester to Pangbourne

    After breakfast, we will transfer you to Wallingford, the neighbouring market town downstream of Dorchester. This is another charming country town well worth exploring before you ramble on. The river scene is very rural counting tiny ancient hamlets, water meadows and splendid weirs along the way. As you approach the villages of Goring and Streatley, straddled either side of the river and home to several notable novelists, the scene shifts for here the Thames starts to cut dramatically down through the beech clad slopes of the Chiltern hills. Walking through the woods you have fine views of the river from the cliff before crossing the tollbridge and reaching Pangbourne for a well earned rest.

    11 miles (18 km) walking with a 20 minutes transfer by road

  7. 7. Day seven

    Pangbourne to Henley

    Your final day of walking is full of variety. Following a riverside bridleway you will pass a vineyard and idyllic Mapledurham House nestled at the foot of the Chilterns. This is such a beautiful reach that leads on to the wide meadows through Reading and to Sonning - described by some as the prettiest village on the Thames. The final stretch into elegant Henley takes in weirs, locks and the River Museum. Famed for its annual rowing regatta, Henley is a fitting finale for this walk and your overnight stay is in the heart of the town.

    15 miles (24 km)

  8. 8. Day eight

    Depart Henley

    Take time to explore Henley today as it offers a wonderful riverside location with waterside cafes, boats galore and interesting shops. Depart at your leisure.