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Places

Walk the River Thames

Most of us know the River Thames as the majestic ­waterway that runs under the bridges of central London. But did you also know that you can walk follow 296km of it on foot?

However, at 346km, it’s actually the second-longest river in the United Kingdom and the longest in England. Since the opening of the Thames Path in 1996, you can now follow 296km of it on foot along a route from Kemble, Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton in southeast London. The full walk takes 12 days to complete, but this nine-day itinerary runs from Oxford to Hampton Court. A nine-day, 150km walk along the Thames Path from Oxford to Hampton Court. The walk is graded as easy. For more information, check out celtictrailswalkingholidays.co.uk.

 

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Start: Oxford

The walk begins in the historic university city of Oxford. Life here revolves largely around its prestigious univer­sity, established in the 12th century and made up of 38 colleges, most of which are located in the medieval city center. When in Oxford, don’t miss an oppor­tunity to eat at the Magdalen Arms, famous for its superb British food.

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Wallingford

Day three ends up in the quintessentially English town of Wallingford, known for its maze of cobbled streets and marketplace, which still hosts regular markets.

Pangbourne

Experience life at a leisurely pace alongside the barges and boats that line the River Thames at Pangbourne. This beautiful village, surrounded by lush green countryside and flowering meadows, is home to The Swan at Pangbourne Riverside, a delightfully charming gastro-pub housed in a listed building that dates back to the 17th century.

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Marlow

There is a reason why well-to-do Londoners abandon the city and move to Marlow when city life gets too much for them. From the the old town to the weeping willows that line the river­bank, this is arguably the prettiest spot on the Thames Path. The town’s most famous landmark is its suspension bridge designed by William Tierney Clark, who applied largely the same design for his bridge that still links Buda and Pest in Hungary.

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Windsor Castle

Europe’s oldest royal residence is the highlight of day seven of the itinerary. The original castle at Windsor was built in the 11th century, following the Norman invasion of England. These days, Windsor Castle remains the favorite weekend residence of the British royal family, and is often used by the Queen to host state visits from overseas monarchs and presidents.

Runnymede

Another historic highlight of the Thames Path is Runnymede, dubbed the “birthplace of ­modern democracy.” Runnymede is the location of the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215. The Magna Carta, which laid the foundations for individual freedom, parliamentary democracy and the supremacy of law, remains one of the most important legal documents of all time.

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Finish: Hampton Court

The Thames Path itinerary ends in Hampton Court, the royal palace best known as the home of the most famous maze in the world. The estate and gardens of this majestic Baroque and Tudor-style residence are also well worth a visit.

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