Thames Path Cycle Route Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Thames Towpath runs through South West London for 23 miles, mostly traffic-free. Given its location, it is surprisingly secluded, well wooded and quite rural in places.
Please Note: At the time of writing flood alleviation works are underway at Barnes and Putney resulting in towpath closures and necessary detours off the towpath.
The Thames Path starts at a small car park in Weybridge. A useful foot/cycle ferry just past the start allows crossing to Shepperton and is summoned by ringing a bell. There are also ferries at Sunbury & Molesey.
At Sunbury Lock cyclists are asked to dismount and there are gated chicanes (that can be opened) at the both ends of the path through the lock. A café and a large car park is located at Cowey Sale by Walton Bridge. Several cafés can also be found at Hampton Court on the Molesey bank.
At Hampton Court the towpath crosses over via Hampton Ct Bridge. Access to the bridge is via a busy road, so care must be taken here.
The towpath crosses over at Kingston and a short detour around the Riverside John Lewis store is needed to get back on the Towpath. At Teddington Lock the River becomes tidal and high spring tides can flood the towpath, so do check tide tables beforehand. You will see the tide marks on the boat houses in Richmond. There is a café at Hampton Court Palace. Cafés and other facilities are available at Richmond, Mortlake, Barnes and Putney.
You can combine the Thames Path with the Wey Navigation and the Downs Link, to have a mostly traffic-free ride from the heart of London to the sea.
Getting to the Thames Path
To get to or from Weybridge and Putney by train, use South Western Railway (they have restrictions on carrying bikes, so do read my Bikes On Trains guide first). Putney station direct to Addlestone, then cycle to Weybridge or Putney, change at Teddington for a train to Shepperton, then cycle to Shepperton Ferry cross and re-join the path.
Most of the information, and all the photos were supplied by Andy Collins. Any errors are mine alone.
The surface varies considerably. The path is generally wide and mostly surfaced with smooth well compacted granite aggregate although there are sections of smooth tarmac at Hurst Park, Sunbury Lock and at Molesey. There are narrower and potentially muddy sections between Walton and Sunbury. A small section of heritage surface at Walton Wharf, granite sets, is slippery when wet.
Between Hampton Court and Richmond is generally wide, with a smooth surface that’s mostly tarred. Minor sections are shared with very infrequent service vehicles. There are granite setts at Richmond Riverside and Mortlake, and these can be slippery when wet. The path beyond Richmond is rough and uneven in places, surfaced with large granite aggregate. Just before Putney Bridge the path is shared with motor traffic accessing properties on the embankment. Traffic is usually light and slow moving there.
Most types of bikes can use the route, but you will undoubtedly find it more comfortable on fatter tyres. Trikes and most cargo bikes will struggle.
There are toilets at Sunbury Lock, at Molesey Lock, Hampton Court Palace and at Teddington Lock.
Points of Interest
Do spend some time at Hampton Court Palace.
Routes in London
- River Wey Navigation traffic-free cycle route
- Thames Path traffic-free cycle route
- Escape The City
- Grand Union Canal – Paddington Branch
There are gated chicanes at both ends of Sunbury Lock, but the gates can be opened. Cyclists are expected to dismount there.
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐⭐
Forecast for the Thames Path
What the Thames Path looks like
To find more routes, click this link.
DayCycle routes are routes can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below) from which you can download the GPX file for the route.