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The River & Great Outdoors

Photo of Old Poud - River Thames

The River Thames flows within a few hundred yards of the town centre, spanned by the medieval bridges which give Bridge Street its name. You can be watching the bustle of the market place over a cappuccino at 11am; striding out along the Thames Path by 11.05am.

This is a unique market town where the countryside sits on the doorstep, and the rural riverbanks look across to the medieval wharf of St Helen's. The rushing water of the lock and weir falls into the main flow less than half a mile up-river from the  town centre. Canoeists practise on the tumbling water, as holiday narrowboats pull up for water and supplies. In Summer, hardy outdoor swimmers can wave from the safety of the heated outdoor pool to the hired boats chugging past on the river.

Thames Path National Trail is one two national trails passing through town, four national trails are close to town including the Ridgeway and the Oxfordshire Green Belt Way. There is more useful information for anyone planning to explore on foot or deciding upon a walking holiday on the National Trails website or for a quick summary please download the leaflet pdf below.

At any time of year, take photographs yes -  but please do not walk through flood water anywhere. The Thames has great force and strong currents. Walking through water in wellies is especially high risk. For up-to-date flooding news visit 

For a walk which includes higher ground The Vale Way is 27 miles long, generally running East to West from here, connecting the three market towns of AbingdonWantage and Faringdon. It also passes through a number of the larger villages such as pretty Steventon and Stanford in the Vale, as well as smaller settlements. Geographically it travels from the source of  the River Ock to where it flows into the Thames in Abingdon but doesn't follow it closely. Two other important trails or recreational paths in Oxfordshire are connected by the Vale Way, the Thames Path at Abingdon, and the d'Arcy Dalton Way at Longcot. Throughout its length the Vale Way uses existing Public Rights of Way. Hard work by The Ramblers has promoted the new trail avoiding the lengthy procedure of attempting to establish new paths.

Details of the route.  To Open the map below, click

Abingdon-on-Thames is on Route Five national cycle route from London to Oxford which links with the canal path to Banbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham. The town is on three rivers - Ock and Stert lead into the Thames. The Thames and other footpaths are not for cyclists except where gravelled, and marked as such.

There is more useful information for anyone planning to explore on foot or deciding on a walking holiday on the National Trails website 

For a circular walk use part of the Thames Path and the Countryside section of Oxfordshire's website. An Abingdon Walks website as well as an i-footpaths phone app are helpful. Abingdon Archaeological and Historical Society has walks for enthusiasts to download. Picture clue trails are on the Civic Society's information.

The town Visitor and Community Information Centre will have details of the many led walks including those offered each second and fourth Tuesday at 10.30  from the Market Place. Health walks mainly for locals start at the Leisure Centre. They gather at 10.15 Monday, Wednesday, Friday or from Long Furlong Medical Centre on Tuesdays. This year booking may be continuing.

There are short led walks see Get Oxfordshire Active. GO Active Gold is a range of sports and walks for 55 plus age at low cost some £3.50 and see if a voucher or offer is available. Many of these activities are FREE to local residents

WalkAboutAbingdon offer guided walks which are very good fun and you will learn a lot about the town's history - morning or afternoon.

Food festivals, Head of the River race, boating all through the year, regattas  April to September, boat trips from late May to September all make use of being on or by the Thames. One of the events to finish the season is Dragon Boat Day organised by local Rotarians with the support of Abingdon Lions. THis year an outside possibility.

Swimming the Thames with its strong currents and undertow can be avoided by pool swimming alongside the Thames at Abbey Meadow. The heated outdoor pool allows young and old to enjoy a very relaxing expereince. booking is essential this year.


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