Holidays in the UK Masthead

Guide to the Thames Ring

This superb route includes many excellent one week cruise sections. The Ring itself can be covered in a very energetic two week cruise, but three weeks will allow time to explore a route covering canals, the River Thames, Oxford and many scenic villages.

Distance, Time, and Locks

Full Ring: 245 miles, about 115 hours cruising, 175 locks.

The Ring can be divided into suitable one week and short break holiday sections, each of which has its own Cruising Guide. These are: Grand Union Canal, London Ring, River Thames, Oxford Canal.

Cruising the Thames Ring

Starting at Braunston in the north head down the wide Grand Union Canal to Stoke Bruerne and its Waterways Museum.

The canal continues in rolling countryside with few locks to Milton Keynes new town, then through the Chiltern Hills to meet the River Thames at Brentford Lock in west London.

The Museum shopThe Paddington Arm leaves shortly before, and forms part of the London Ring through central London, Little Venice and Camden Lock.

At Brentford a short tidal section of the River Thames leads to Teddington Lock and keeper controlled locks for the section to Oxford (licence fee payable). The Thames goes past Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Henley on Thames, and Wallingford to reach Oxford, with its historic University, 'dreaming spires', and Inspector Morse locations.

Joining the South Oxford Canal, noted for its scenery, lift bridges, and narrow locks, the meandering route passes through Banbury and picturesque villages such as Cropredy to reach the Grand Union Canal at Napton and on to Braunston.

Possible Holidays on the Thames Ring

Click on a boat base below for more information and possible routes from that base.

River Thames

Canal Holidays near Northampton from Base 41

Canal Holidays near Oxford from Base 43

Canal Holidays near Rugby from Base 62

Holidays in the UK, Bowers Wharf, Skipton, BD23 2PD