Wide River, 94 miles, 5 days, 45 broad locks, Tidal below Teddington Lock.
All Thames locks have lock-keepers who do all the hard work. Some locks are mechanically operated and you can usually go through them on your own outside the keepers working times.
The River Thames
The Thames is England's premier river and much of English history has been lived, worked and fought over alongside this river.
London, was a Roman trading centre and port, boats travelled up to Oxford from the the twelfth century onwards, and palaces, castles, country houses, abbeys, water mills, historic villages and inns are heavily scattered along the Thames Valley, far too many to mention them all here.
The river rises near Cricklade in Wiltshire and runs for just over 200 miles to enter the North Sea east of London; the navigable Thames from Lechlade to London is 94 miles so allow a week to cruise. The Upper Thames winds through watermeadows, below Oxford the banks are more heavily wooded, especially around Goring where the river cuts through the southern end of the Chilterns. Closer to London modern dwellings of every fashion and colour line the banks, and the London river-front, past the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London, is world famous.
Oxford is renowned for its Universities and churches and there's a wonderful view of its spires from the river. Dorchester Abbey dates back to the 7th century while Reading is the capital of England's Silicon Valley. The Henley Royal Regatta is held on the river each July, Marlow has many fine Georgian buildings and Cliveden House and gardens, famous for their Churchill connections, sit high above a beautiful steeply wooded stretch of river.
Windsor has its Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world, favourite home of Queen Elizabeth and now restored to its full glory after the disastrous fire, and Great Park. A few miles further on Runnymede is where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 and the Kennedy Memorial is sited, an English acre given to the American people.
Hampton Court Palace is just before Teddington where the river becomes semi tidal. The canal system can be joined at Brentford or by carrying on along the commercial Thames through the heart of London to Limehouse basin, leaving the now wide river to head for the sea.