Join us on this great journey along the River Thames as we walk from ancient Newbridge to the university city of Oxford!
Only 60 kilometers from the source of the Thames, which lies in a remote meadow on the edge of the small village of Kemble, this section of the river is surprisingly remote and tranquil. Throughout the walk, we’ll enjoy lovely views over the river, weirs, countryside and locks.
On our way we will see the oldest bridge over the main Thames, built in 1250, which despite its age is still in use today! We will also pass the Swinford Toll Bridge, one of the last two remaining toll bridges over the river, with cars having to pay 5p to cross it 😊
The climax of the walk is the beautiful city of Oxford, which we will approach through the vast expanse of the ancient Port Meadow with lovely views of the famous dreaming spires. As an alumna of the University of Oxford, I will tell you more about the traditions of the world’s second oldest university and take you on a small tour around the city. The hike will finish in an atmospheric but well-hidden 14th century Turf Tavern pub, that has served many celebrities including Margaret Thatcher, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Hawking, Emma Watson and Bill Clinton.
On this day hike, we will walk along the Thames Path National Trail, a 184 mile (296km) route that follows the UK’s best known river from its source in a remote Cotswold meadow to the Thames Barrier in the heart of London.
During this almost 300km journey the Thames goes through many changes – from rural and quiet with barely any settlement next to the source to royal Thames with castles and palaces as it approaches London. On this hike, we will walk the more remote part of the river.
The hike will start from the New Bridge, which despite its name is the oldest bridge over the main Thames, dating from around 1250. It was built from stone from nearby Taynton quarries, same stone that helped build Oxford colleges and even St Paul’s Cathedral.
From there we will continue to Northmoor Lock and then Bablock Hythe, the best known of all the Thames crossings, where Romans forded and where later for about 1,000 years was a ferry crossing.
The route will then take us to the Swinford Toll Bridge, one of the last two remaining privately owned toll bridges on the Thames. The bridge is governed by its own Act of Parliament, which allows the bridge owner to collect tolls tax-free and makes the building of bridges for three miles upstream or downstream illegal. Cars have to pay 5p to cross the bridge!
After stopping for lunch at the nearby Talbot Inn (feel free to bring your own packed lunch), we will continue along the Thames through woodland and open pasture to the remains of Godstow Nunnery, founded in 1133. Ironically, the best-surviving fragment of the nunnery is the lovely Trout Inn pub across the bridge, built as its hospice!
The last stretch before entering central Oxford is a delightful walk across the vast, open grazing of Port Meadow with magnificent views of Oxford’s famous skyline of spires.
Distance: 16 miles (26 km).
This hike is suited for those with a medium level of fitness. The walk is very flat with no hills, it’s graded challenging due to longer distance.
We will meet at the London Paddington railway station on the benches next to Burger King (WHSmith is right opposite it) at 8:15am and leave the meeting point at 8:25am. Planned arrival time back to London is 8:20pm.
We will stop for lunch at the Talbot Inn. Feel free to bring your own packed lunch! After the hike, we will visit the 14th century Turf Tavern pub, where you can purchase food and a very well-deserved beer 🙂
This hike is led by an experienced, Outdoor First Aid qualified hike leader.
What to bring:
That’s it, we will take care of the rest, so just turn up and have a great day hiking! 🙂
If you’d like to walk at a faster pace than the group, we recommend to download the Maps.me app on your phone. All maps in the app are offline, which means that you’ll be able to use them without an internet connection or in places with poor reception. The Maps.me app is free and is very easy to use. On the day, I will explain how to use the app and share the GPS route of the hike. For more details on how to download the app see here.