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Thames Path walking tour: This wild but tranquil stretch will put a spring in your step

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Take me to the river (and its many pubs): this wild yet peaceful stretch of the Thames Path between Oxford and Marlow will be a source of inspiration

  • Ed Cumming did a self-guided tour of the Thames Path from Oxford to Marlow
  • He saw rowers row, swam in the river and made a pit stop for ‘cold pints’
  • Inntravel has organized a new walking tour on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the path










On a stretch of the Thames Path between Oxford and Göring, our route took us past a group of teenagers. We approached cautiously.

It wasn’t that they looked intimidating. They were fooling around. Drinking tinnies, playing music. Good for them.

I was just aware that my friends Jack, Roma, Charlotte and I were provocatively uncool with our backpacks, water bottles and hiking boots. It’s funny growing up.

Wander through Marlow: Ed Cumming completed the last stretch of the walk alone, ending in Marlow (pictured)

The Thames Path follows the route of Three Men In A Boat, pictured

The Thames Path follows the route of Three Men In A Boat, pictured

One minute you’re drunk in a meadow, the next you’re wondering if a 20-kilometer walk justifies treating yourself to a Solero for the afternoon.

I thought we had passed them without comment when a voice called cheerfully after us, ‘Oh, Duke of Edinburgh!’

The Thames in the south of Oxfordshire has long been a theme for entertainment.

It’s the setting for that classic tale of middle-class professionals on vacation, Three Men In A Boat.

Kenneth Grahame saw in the whirlpools and culverts a playground for Ratty and Mr. Toad.

Today, kayakers and wild swimmers mingle with barges and pleasure cruisers, but the principle remains the same.

There is something fundamentally unserious about the Thames beyond London. Although the Thames Path sounds like an old route, it was not formalized until 1996.

To mark its 25th anniversary, slow travel company Inntravel has organized a self-guided walking tour of the most interesting stretch, between Oxford and Henley.

We started in Oxford’s Port Meadow, where horses and cows tried to avoid the demob-happy students. The advantage is that it has many pubs.

We walked slowly and stopped for cold pints whenever possible. After lunch, to prove it wasn’t “stupid” to take my bags with me, I insisted on a swim.

Inntravel shows highlights of the 184 mile route, in days no longer than 12 miles. Between Oxford and Göring, the bank is a wild but peaceful place.

About Port Meadow Ed says: 'The advantage is that there are many pubs.'  Pictured is one of the pubs in the area, The Trout Inn

About Port Meadow Ed says: ‘The advantage is that there are many pubs.’ Pictured is one of the pubs in the area, The Trout Inn

Pictured is a view of the Thames at Henley, where Ed saw rowing eights sailing down the river

Pictured is a view of the Thames at Henley, where Ed saw rowing eights sailing down the river

TRAVEL FACTS

Inntravel (inntravel.co.uk, 01653 617000) offers a six night walking holiday with Trails of the Riverbank from £895 pp on a two share basis, including six nights B&B, three dinners, luggage transfer, route notes and maps.

We walked through fields of rough grass with butterflies and bees. In every city this gave way to houses, some spectacular, some spectacularly ugly.

The trail is a real snooper charter for backyard stuff – boathouses, gazebos, tennis courts, jacuzzis, and some really hideous sheds.

One by one my friends drifted back to work, or in one case beaten by a long lunch.

I did the last stretch from Henley to Marlow alone. Rowing eights went downstream.

It started raining. I passed a bachelorette party that boarded a boat and put a face on it as bravely as I could.

It may be true that there is nothing better than messing around in boats, but walking past other people messing around in boats is also enough to recommend it.

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