The US designates 11 National Scenic Trails. England & Wales protect fifteen National Trails. Protected UK National Trails feature Hadrian’s Wall, the Lake District, & the Devon & Cornwall coastline. The Thames Path is the most accessible National Trail. Its 184 miles follow the Thames River from the Cotswold Hills to the English Channel. I’ve hiked segments of the Thames path near Oxford, Reading & Sonning, Hampton Court Palace, and the heart of London. This post will on the Thames Path in London. Highlights include:
- World famous landmarks like Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, & Parliament
- Outdoor access in one of the world’s leading cities
- Multiple historic & natural features
- Multiple length options with the London underground
I jogged and hiked this London route many times during a recent London business trip. My recommended walk starts near the Tower Bridge tube station. Jog along the yachts & schooners at St. Katharine’s Marina to Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge stands as a Victorian sentinel across the Thames. Its drawbridge and iconic towers were completed in 1894. Tower Bridge is also an excellent spot to snap the sunrise or sunset.
Immediately West on the Thames Path are the ramparts of the Tower of London. How many trails pass a Portcullis guarding a water entrance to a massive castle. William the Conquerer originally build the Tower of London to solidify the Norman hold on the UK was royal residence for many years since 1066.
My next favorite Thames Path spot is St. Paul’s Cathedral. Sir Christopher Wren designed the Church after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The Church was miraculously spared by the bombs of the blitz. I can only imagine the impact of a visitor from the countryside visiting London for the first time and seeing the dome reaching to the heavens.
The Millennium Bridge crosses the Thames in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. The walk across offers an outstanding view of Tower Bridge and an old & new London juxtaposition. Pick up the Thames Path on the other side in front of the Tate Modern Art Museum and the recreated Globe Theater. Shakespeare would be proud of your progress as you turn right (West) on the path.
The next section is more tourist, but the views north along the Thames are outstanding. Just past the London eye is London Bridge. Cross the bridge and continue toward the Houses of
Parliament, Big Ben, & Westminster Abbey. The Westminster tube station is an excellent spot to end the ~5 mile journey. Excellent extensions include St James Park, Buckingham Palace, & Hyde Park.
This section of the Thames Path offers one of the best urban hikes through history.