England's Thames Path Joins IAT
In November 2012, England's Thames Path National Trail followed the North Downs Way in joining the International Appalachian Trail. The path follows the most renowned river in England for 184 miles (294 km), from its source in the Cotswolds towards the English Channel. Along the way it passes through peaceful water meadows, unspoiled rural villages, historic towns and cities, and finally the heart of London where it ends at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich.
At the source, the River Thames is a trickle in a field in the Cotswolds, bordered by willows and alders.
With the exception of a couple of small towns and villages, there is a real sense of remoteness and rural tranquility as it winds through water meadows and fields of crops on its way to Oxford.
Beyond Oxford, the city of dreaming spires,
you will still be in the heart of the countryside, but the river continues to widen, the willows seem to grow larger, and settlements become more frequent.
From Goring, where the Thames Path coincides for a short distance with The Ridgeway National Trail, the Chilterns provide a wooded backdrop, with the colours changing dramatically with the seasons.
When you reach Henley, the Trail starts to get busier with more people enjoying picnics on the bank, or boats on the water. Usually however, once you're away from towns or villages around a bend or two of the river, you'll regain the rural peacefulness.
As the Thames Path passes beneath Windsor Castle, you are reminded that you are following a Royal river, and the palaces of Hampton Court and Kew soon to follow confirm this.
From the last non-tidal lock on the Thames at Teddington, you can choose to walk on either the north or south banks of the river through London.
You'll pass leafy Richmond and Kew, remarkably green areas, before entering the heart of the City and on to the final section of the Thames Path amongst restored warehouses and working wharves in London's docklands.
To learn more about the Thames Path National Trail, visit their website .... or better yet, walk the trail!