20101
England
Walking the Thames Path
On foot and on riverboat, explore the idyllic countryside surrounding the River Thames, walking historic trails, parks and Heritage Sites and learning the story of this charming region.
Program No. 20101RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,899
Flights start at
800
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13 days
12 nights
27 meals
11 B 8 L 8 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Thames Path to Iffley village.
Oxford
L,D
Oxford Spires Hotel

Lunch: In the hotel, we’ll have a light lunch of soup and sandwiches or similar, tea, coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We'll take a late afternoon stroll along the Thames Path to the picturesque village of Iffley, with its historic Romanesque church, and back before our Welcome Meeting. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we will have a seated dinner with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy an expert presentation on "Oxford Past and Present".

DAY
3
Christ Church
Oxford
B,L
Oxford Spires Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Walk from the hotel into Oxford. Oxford was originally settled during Saxon times, at a point at which the River Thames could be easily forded. The settlement quickly grew in terms of both size and influence, and has played an important role throughout Britain’s history. Nowadays Oxford is best known as the oldest seat of learning in the English-speaking world, home to many fine museums and libraries, and for its wealth of superb architecture. A tour of Christ Church provides an insight into both academic life in Oxford and Oxford’s role in the history of Britain. A custodian leads you around Henry VIII's Christ Church, one of Oxford's largest colleges and uniquely the Cathedral seat of Oxford. Discover the Great Hall, the stairs leading to the hall and cloisters as seen in the Harry Potter films, the secret garden from Alice in Wonderland and the Jabberwocky tree. Walk in the Meadows, a tranquil pasture area bounded by the Rivers Isis and Cherwell.

Lunch: At a popular local café.

Afternoon: Enjoy and expert-led walk around Oxford, followed by free time in Oxford, before returning independently to the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. Your Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions for this opportunity to experience Oxford's extensive selection of gastro-pubs and restaurants.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Radcot Bridge to Lechlade via Kelmscott
Oxford
B,L,D
Oxford Spires Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Walk along the Thames Path from Radcot Bridge to Kelmscott. A pastoral riverside walk which starts at Radcot Bridge, built by Cistercian monks in the early years of the 13th century, during the reign of King John, and the oldest bridge on the river. It was built as a toll bridge and during medieval times the wharf at Radcot was of immense commercial importance to the Cotswold wool trade. Radcot Wharf went into decline when the Thames and Severn Canal was constructed in 1787 and the bridge and its nearby inn now stand alone amongst the picturesque meadow scenery. The morning walk ends at the picturesque village of Kelmscott, approximately half way between Radcot Bridge and Lechlade.

Lunch: Taken out in the Plough Inn in Kelmscott.

Afternoon: The field trip continues to the 16th century manor house, Kelmscott Manor. Kelmscott Manor was the summer home of William Morris, the 19th century artist, writer and socialist who was a leading member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It was built from Cotswold stone in around 1580 and contains a wonderful collection of artworks and possessions associated with Morris and his contemporaries. Following the visit to Kelmscott Manor the walk continues along the Thames Path, via Buscot to St John’s Lock at Lechlade-on-Thames. St John’s Lock marks the highest navigable point on the River Thames. Beside the lock is a reclining statue of ‘Old Father Thames’. The statue was originally made in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and stood, until quite recently, at the river’s source 20 miles upstream. The total length of the day’s walk is six miles.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Henley-on-Thames
Oxford
B,L,D
Oxford Spires Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Guided tour of Henley-on-Thames and visit to the Museum of the River and Rowing. The day will begin with a visit to Henley-on-Thames a market town world renowned as the home of rowing. Each June the Henley Royal Regatta attracts rowing crews from around the world for a week of stiff competition on Henley Reach, a straight 1.5 miles of river to the east of the town bridge. Henley Reach was the venue for the first ever Oxford v Cambridge university boat race in 1829, before moving to its present course in central London. The excellent ‘Museum of the River and Rowing’ houses a number of themed exhibitions, the most important of which is an interpretation of the River Thames from the source to the sea.

Lunch: At the Museum of the River and Rowing.

Afternoon: Walk the Thames Path from Henley-on-Thames to Hurley via Hambleden Lock. The walk from Henley to Hurley follows the length of Henley Reach to Hambleden Lock and Hambleden Mill, one of the most photographed landmarks on the River Thames. The next stretch of the walk leads across meadows and past the romantic ruins of Medmenham Abbey, notorious during the 17th century as home of Sir Francis Dashwood and the scandalous Hellfire Club, to reach the picturesque Hurley Lock.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Wind in the Willows River Cruise
Oxford
B,L,D
Oxford Spires Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy a river cruise from Folly Bridge; “In the footsteps of Wind in the Willows, Narnia and Alice in Wonderland”.

Lunch: A light lunch at the hotel.

Afternoon: A choice of free time in Oxford or a walk to Port Meadow and historic Godstow Abbey (four miles).

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Sutton Courtenay, ‘Pooh Sticks’, Dorchester-on-Thames
Oxford
B,L,D
Oxford Spires Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Walk along the Thames Path from Sutton Courtenay to Dorchester-on-Thames, via Clifton Hampden (7 miles). This walk starts in the picturesque village of Sutton Courtenay. Buildings in the village include a Norman hall built during the reign of Richard Coeur de Lion, an abbey building which dates from the early years of the 14th century, a fine manor house the core of which is medieval and once regularly frequented by King Henry I, and a church which contains Norman carvings and inscriptions made by crusaders heading for the Holy Land. George Orwell, author of ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ and ‘Animal Farm’, is buried in the churchyard. The level riverside path provides an easy route across the fields to the village of Clifton Hampden and the thatched Barley Mow Inn which found favourable mention in Jerome K. Jerome’s classic ‘Three Men in a Boat’, a humorous account of a 19th century boating holiday on the River Thames. Beyond Clifton Hampden a long sweeping bend in the river leads round to Day’s Lock at the foot of the Sinodun Hills. One of the hills is topped by an Iron Age hill fort. Beside Day’s Lock is the tiny footbridge renowned for its annual ‘Pooh Sticks’ competition and associations with AA Milne, the author of ‘Winnie the Pooh’. Just beyond Day’s Lock a path leads into the village of Dorchester-on-Thames, once the site of a Saxon cathedral and later a great Norman abbey church. The abbey, which survived the Dissolution and now serves as the parish church, contains some wonderful 14th century stained glass.

Lunch: A packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit and a drink.

Afternoon: The walk continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Windsor Castle, Runnymede
Richmond-upon-Thames
B,L,D
Richmond Hill Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Field trip to Runnymede Meadows, site of one of the most significant moments in history when, in 1215, King John signed the Magna Carta. The charter passed into English law and subsequently became the basis for the American Constitution. There are a number of significant monuments at Runnymede, including the Magna Carta Memorial erected by the American Bar Association; The John F. Kennedy Memorial which stands in an acre of land granted to the USA in perpetuity; and the RAF Memorial on Cooper’s Hill. From Runnymede Meadows we shall head away from the river and walk through the landscaped parkland of Windsor Great Park to Snow Hill, a wonderful viewpoint from which to look down upon Windsor Castle. Henry VIII is said to have waited on the summit of the hill for news of Ann Boleyn’s execution. The hill is now topped by ‘The Copper Horse’, a statue of George III on horseback. From Snow Hill the Long Walk, a splendid carriage ride through the park, heads straight towards the castle itself. Total distance six miles.

Lunch: A packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit and a drink.

Afternoon: Visit to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world, the oldest continually occupied castle in Europe, and a favourite of monarchs down the ages. The original castle was built by William the Conqueror to dominate a strategically important stretch of the River Thames. Throughout medieval and Tudor times it provided the perfect retreat away from the plague which was rife in London, but close enough to the capital to maintain effective control over the affairs of state. The River Thames provided a fast and safe route between Windsor and London, and Windsor Forest provided sport for the king and his entourage. Successive monarchs have left their mark on the castle which incorporates architectural features from every period of history. After the visit to the castle we shall complete the transfer to Richmond-upon-Thames.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Hampton Court Palace, Marble Hill House.
Richmond-upon-Thames
B,L
Richmond Hill Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Field trip to Hampton Court Palace and gardens. Hampton Court Palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey during the reign of Henry VIII, and was later taken over by the king for whom the palace was a favourite residence. The palace was witness to the most significant happenings of the king’s reign. Like Windsor Castle, Hampton Court had all the advantages of being relatively close to London with the river providing easy access to the capital, but away from the crowds and disease. The palace was extended and altered by successive monarchs until George III came to the throne in the 1730s and the royal family ceased to live at Hampton Court. The result is a magnificent palace which incorporates a number of different architectural styles and the work of such famous architects as Sir Christopher Wren and John Vanburgh. Highlights of a tour around the palace include the massive Tudor kitchens (built to feed a household of 600 courtiers and staff), the Chapel Royal with its fabulous vaulted ceiling, the Great Hall with its hammer-beam roof and the formal Privy Garden .

Lunch: In the Tiltyard Cafe at Hampton Court Palace.

Afternoon: Walk the Thames Path from Hampton Court Palace to Richmond via Teddington Lock, Eel Pie Island and Marble Hill House (7 miles). The first part of the walk along the River Thames from Hampton Court Palace to Richmond follow the Barge Walk which skirts the palace grounds and provides excellent views of the exterior of the palace and all of the different architectural styles. The next point of interest is Teddington Lock, the largest lock system on the river and the upper limit of the tidal Thames. Beyond Teddington Lock lies a surprisingly rural landscape where cows graze on the watermeadows and verdant lawns roll down to the riverbank. Handsome villas such as Marble Hill House (home to the mistress of king George II), Ham House and York House sit back from the river, but in full view of the passing public. These were the London residences of the rich, famous and influential during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. An opportunity to explore Richmond’s fine eclectic mix of dining establishments.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Kew Gardens, Syon House Gardens
Richmond-upon-Thames
B
Richmond Hill Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Walk along the Thames Path from Richmond Hill to Kew, via Richmond Lock and Syon House Gardens (3 miles). The day begins with a level walk along the riverbank, past the site of Richmond Palace (where Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 and Syon Reach (where the tidal meadows are flooded twice a day), to the Old Deer Park at Kew. Kew Palace and Gardens now come into view. Kew Gardens is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, with one in eight of all known species housed within its glasshouses and gardens. The collection of preserved specimens in the herbarium includes some seven million species. An introductory talk detailing the history of Kew, and pointing out the highlights of the season will be followed by open-ended free time to explore independently.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free to continue at Kew. Return to hotel independently (frequent public buses).

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Tower Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge and Southwark
Richmond-upon-Thames
B,D
Richmond Hill Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Field trip to the Tower Bridge side of the Thames. Option to visit the Tower of London (at own expense) or walk to Rotherhithe to see the church where pews are made from timbers of the Mayflower.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like around the riverside Hay's Galleria, next to HMS Belfast. Choices range from sandwiches bars to pubs and a carvery restaurant.

Afternoon: Walk along the Thames Path from Tower Bridge to Lambeth Palace and Westminster Abbey (3.5 miles). The walk from Tower Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge will pass HMS Belfast; he replica of the Golden Hinde in St Mary Overie Dock (St Mary Overie Dock is one of the oldest in Southwark and dates from the 16th century); Southwark Cathedral; Clink Prison; the Globe Theatre; the Tate Modern; the Millennium Bridge (built as a project for the Millennium, this is London’s newest bridge over the Thames and links the Tate Modern with St Paul’s Cathedral); Somerset House; Cleopatra’s Needle; the Victoria (built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as part of the project to clean up the Thames and build an underground system of sewers for the city); the bronze statue of Queen Boudicca and her daughters; the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Westminster Abbey where all bar one of our monarchs since the time of Edward the Confessor have been crowned and where many are buried. Many other notable historical, political and literary figures are either buried or commemorated within the Abbey, and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior stands in the nave. Note: this program does not include a visit to the interior of the abbey.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Greenwich
Richmond-upon-Thames
B,D
Richmond Hill Hotel

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: River boat from Westminster to the Thames Barrier, and back to Greenwich. Visit to Greenwich Park, the Royal Naval College complex and the Old Royal Observatory. The day will start with a boat ride along the Thames from Westminster Pier to the Thames Barrier. Built between 1974 and 1982, the Thames Barrier is the second largest movable flood barrier in the world and weighs over four thousand tonnes. It was built to protect London from the possibility of disastrous floods in the event of a North Sea tidal surge, the result of which could be the devastation of the London Underground, the City’s fresh water supply, power, sewage and communication systems. Greenwich is famous as the home of the Old Royal Observatory, the Royal Naval College (previously Greenwich Hospital) and the National Maritime Museum. The complex is one of the most distinctive landmarks on the River Thames and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Royal Observatory was established in 1675 by King Charles II for the express purpose of making detailed observations which would lead to the discovery of an accurate method of establishing longitude and perfecting navigation at sea. Success led to the adoption of Greenwich as the prime meridian. The handsome Baroque buildings of the Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich were designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in the late 1600s. In 1805 the body of Lord Nelson lay in the Painted Chapel in Greenwich Hospital after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. The buildings were taken over by the Royal Naval College in 1873. The National Maritime Museum contains exhibits and interpretative displays dealing with all things seafaring from the 16th century through to the present day.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like so that you can explore Greenwich Village or Greenwich Market.

Afternoon: Field trip to the National Maritime Museum. Return to Richmond by motorcoach.

Dinner: Farewell meeting and dinner in the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Breakfast: In the hotel depending on departure times. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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