The Thames Path London – London’s Best Walk

The Houses of Parliament that are seen from the Thames Path London.
The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, viewed from the Thames Path
The Thames Path, London

There’s no path like the Thames Path and no walk like the Thames Path London walk. Don’t quote us on this, and please correct us if we’re wrong, but the Thames Path National Trail between the Thames Barrier and Putney Bridge must have the most visitor attractions, things to see and do, points of interest and iconic locations and landmarks of any stretch of river or walking trail in the world. This alone makes this one of the best walks in London, if not the best! And yes, we’ve listed all of the points of interest! Scroll down to read said list, Bumper Crew fans!

We first saw the Thames Path London walk on ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100. Hosted by Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba, the show contained a list of Britain’s favourite walks as voted for by the British public. In the programme, Julia Bradbury says, “It’s basically like going for a walk across the opening titles of Eastenders…” And it is! Just check out our Strava recording below! Before we get into the Thames Path London to help you plan your walk, here’s some information about the Thames Path National Trail.

A metal sign with the words Thames Barrier providing directions to Blackwall Point, Geenwich foot Tunnel, Tower Bridge and Source of Thames, along with distances.
Keep an eye out for the Thames Path signs to help you navigate

What Is the Thames Path National Trail?

The Thames Path National Trail is a whopping 185.2 miles (298 km) long walk along the River Thames, believe it or not! Where does the Thames Path start and finish, you ask? The Thames Path National Trail runs from its source at Thames Head, near Kemble in Gloucestershire, all the way to the Thames Barrier in Woolwich, London. The Thames Path in London runs along both the north and south banks, but we chose to stick to the south bank.

A girl walk down an old street called Shad Thames, near Tower Bridge
The incredible Shad Thames, near Tower Bridge

What Are National Trails?

The Thames Path National Trail is part of the National Trails network, a series of walks through some of the best landscapes the United Kingdom has to offer. They are special routes, too, because National Trails have been designated by the Government and are managed by dedicated officers and volunteer teams to ensure they meet a set of quality standards to keep them in tip-top condition for your pleasure.

A row of beautiful trees overhanging the Thames Path in Wandsworth Park
A row of beautiful trees along the Thames Path in Wandsworth Park

The River Thames

The River Thames is the second-longest river in the UK at 215 miles (346 km), after the River Severn, which runs through Ironbridge Gorge. Undoubtedly, the Thames is the most famous of all the UK rivers because it runs through one of the world’s greatest cities and England’s Capital – London, AKA The Big Smoke!

Victoria Tower, of the houses of Parliament, with a bridge in front and trees framing the shot, viewed from the south bank of the Thames Path.
Did you know this tower of the Houses of Parliament is called Victoria Tower?

Thames Path London

The Thames Path London is easy to reach by public transport, is nice and gentle with no hills and is easy to break into sections, making it an enjoyable walk for anyone of any age and ability, whether you want to head out for a short wander or a bit more of an epic like we did! The Thames Path London is also easy to navigate. It’s way-marked the entire way. Just follow the signs with the acorn or the ones that read ‘Thames Path’.

The Thames Path London also incorporates other walks, including The Queens Walk and The Riverside Walk, so keep your eyes peeled for their markers to help you navigate. The only point where you might find some difficulty navigating is where diversions are in place. But don’t worry, you won’t go far off course if you follow the roads and keep an eye on those signs!

But before we get into the sections of the Thames Path Walk, let’s talk about the toilet situation. It’s a long way to go without stopping for a wee!

The Thames Barrier with Canary Wharf in the distance
The Thames Barrier with Canary Wharf in the distance

Public Toilets

Public toilets are relatively scarce along the Thames Path London between the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge. You can always use cafes along the way and nip to the loo, but there’s also a bit of a lack of them on the first part of the walk. There are free toilets at the Thames Barrier Information Centre that are open even if the centre isn’t. We recommend you use them before you start. Below are some other toilets we found on, or very near, the route:

  • Greenwich Tourist Information Centre
  • Cutty Sark (paid)
  • More London Riverside (paid)
  • Oxo Tower
  • Jubilee Park & Gardens (The Jubiloo, paid)
  • Battersea Power Station (under the bridge on the route)
  • Battersea Park

Thames Barrier to Putney Bridge

Approximate distance: 19.9 miles

Undoubtedly, this walk has to be one of the best walks in London because it incorporates so much! The question is – do you have the legs to walk the distance?! Of course, you could break the route down and walk some of the sections below if you want something a little less strenuous or time-consuming. The choice is yours! The route on ITV suggested the walk was 19 miles. Although we wandered off course to get lunch, and there was the odd diversion, we don’t think this added more than an extra mile or so.

Houses on the side of the River Thames are dwarfed by the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf
The skyscrapers of Canary Wharf dwarf houses

We ended up walking 25.5 miles, according to Strava. I (Joel) wasn’t in the best books with Stacey after we had to walk an extra distance! Ooops. And she did it all in Converse All Stars, would you believe?! She even walked Ben Nevis in a pair of Jules wellibobs!

Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge

Section distance: 10.2 miles

This is the longest section of the three and, therefore, the best one to get out of the way first. The path starts with a tunnel before you head through an industrial part of the docklands. Don’t worry; this part will quickly be behind you before you get to some less industrial parts, and you’ll eventually end up by the magnificent Old Royal Naval College.

Highlights of this section include Old Royal Naval College and Cutty Sark in Greenwich and wonderful historic Shad Thames before emerging at Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge

Section distance: 2.6 miles

If we were to pick a segment of the Thames Path London to walk, this would be it. We have walked it time and time again because it’s one of the best walks in London. This section is our favourite because it contains so much of what makes London…London – history, culture, world-famous landmarks, food, people and vibrant atmosphere!

If you walk the whole path from the Thames Barrier to Putney Bridge, you will notice this is the busiest section. It goes from reasonably quiet as you approach London Bridge to super busy until Westminster Bridge, where the foot traffic drops off again.

This section is suitable for a lunch stop, but if you’d rather miss the crowds, you’re best to walk this stretch earlier in the morning or later in the day. We recommend stopping for some grub at Borough Market. You won’t be disappointed with the choice!

Highlights of this section include the Tower of London, Borough Market, Millenium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral Dome, Tate Modern, Southbank Skate Space and the London Eye.

Elizabeth Tower of the Houses of Parliament with boats in the foreground and trees overhanging in the frame of the picture.
Did you know this is Elizabeth Tower, not ‘Big Ben’? Big Ben is the main bell inside!

Westminster Bridge to Putney Bridge

Section Distance: 7.1

You’ll be glad to know this is the last stretch of the Thames Path London! This part is wonderful, even if your legs are starting to feel the pain. It’s wonderful because there are still some iconic London landmarks to see but also some gorgeous green spaces. You’ll also be glad to know that at the very end there are a couple of pubs, including a Wetherspoons, so you can reward yourself with a refreshing pint at the end as you rest your legs!

Highlights of this section include the Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station, Battersea Park, and Wandsworth Park, where you will see the imposing trees lurking right over the path.

Painted hearts on a wall known as the Covid Memorial Wall.
The Covid Memorial Wall

What You’ll See Along the Thames Path London

The list is almost endless! Everything you read below you can either see from the Thames Path, or you’ll walk right on by it. It’s a MASSIVE list! And this is what makes this walk one of the best walks in London because there’s so much to take in!

The Thames Barrier (of course!), Emirates Air Line, O2 Arena, Old Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark, Brunel Museum, Shad Thames, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, HMS Belfast, Borough Market, London Bridge, The Golden Hinde, The Clink, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Millenium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral Dome, Tate Modern, Oxo Tower, Southbank Skate Space, Southbank Centre, Jubilee Park & Garden, The London Eye, The London Dungeon, Shrek’s Adventure London, Sea Life Centre London Aquarium, Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament, The National Covid Memorial Wall, Battersea Power Station, Battersea Park, Alert Bridge, The London Peace Pagoda, Wandsworth Park…plus one or two other things we’ve probably missed…get them in the comments below! Now that is a comprehensive list!

The Thames Path London, taken on the stretch between Westminster Bridge and Putney Bridge with shrubs at the bottom and right of the frame.
The Thames Path London, taken on the stretch between Westminster Bridge and Putney Bridge

How to Get to the Thames Barrier

The reason we chose to start at the Thames Barrier was purely logistical. It seemed like a better idea to start where the transport links aren’t quite as good, and there are more options for food at the end. Regarding transport links, the Thames Barrier isn’t as accessible as Putney Bridge, but it’s still reasonably good. We used the DLR and buses to get to the start. There’s a short walk (10 minutes or so) from the nearest bus stop to the Visitor Centre at the Thames Barrier.

Get off at Greenwich Trust School and follow Eastmoor Street north. There’s a handy Google Maps route for you below.

Address: The Thames Barrier Information Centre, 1 Unity Way, London, SE18 5NJ

How to Get to Putney Bridge

If you choose to walk the other way, Putney Bridge is easily accessible. There are bus stops along the bridge itself or Putney railway station, just a 7-minute walk from the Thames Path.

If you’re interested, here’s the snippet of the ITV show Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100

That wraps up our post on the Thames Path London. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and fancy giving it a go. And finally, if you want more information, you can find out more about National Trails by clicking here and about the Thames Path National Trail by clicking here.

The Thames Path London
Can you believe Stacey walked all that distance in a pair of Converse All Stars?!
The Thames Path, London

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