Hiking and Biking in the Thames Valley

The Thames Valley is a great area to explore on foot or by bike. It's not too hilly, and pubs and easily accessible lodgings dot the riverside and small towns. The Thames is almost completely free of car traffic along the Thames Path, a 184-mile national trail that traces the river from the London flood barrier to the river's source near Kemble, in the Cotswolds. The path follows towpaths from the outskirts of London, through Windsor, Oxford, and Lechlade.

Good public transportation in the region makes it possible to start and stop easily anywhere along this route. In summer the walking is fine and no special gear is necessary, but in winter the path often floods—check before you head out.

For the best information on the Thames paths, contact the National Trails Office or the Ramblers' Association, both good sources of information, advice, and maps. The Chiltern Conservation Board promotes walking in the Chilterns peaks.

Biking is perhaps the best way to see the Chilterns. Routes include the 99-mile Thames Valley Cycle Route from London to Oxford, and the 87-mile Ridgeway Path from Uffington that follows the Chilterns; the National Trails Office has information. The Thames Path also has plenty of biking opportunities.

Contacts and Resources

Chiltern Conservation Board. Aylesbury, 01844/355500; www.chilternsaonb.org.

Chiltern Way. Aylesbury, 01494/771250; www.chilternsociety.org.uk.

National Trails. Aylesbury, www.nationaltrail.co.uk.

Ramblers' Association. Aylesbury, 020/7339–8500; www.ramblers.org.uk.

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