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Canal Holidays 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.

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, Oxford Canal.

Cruising the Thames Ring

Hampton CourtStarting 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 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.

Routes in a Google Map
Thames Ring

Distance, Time, and Locks

about 115
  • One week and short break section are available

Autumn on the River Thames

Customer Comments

Read what some of our previous clients say about the Thames Circuit.

"Brian and I would like to thank all of you for your help in formulating our recent narrowboat trip. We ended up on the Oxford canal and made it to Cropedy. The staff were so pleasant and helpful and we enjoyed the experience tremendously. Don't know when we'll be back but you can count on it. (Of course it helped that I came home with a tan... people couldn't believe I got it in England.. the weather was beautiful most days.) Thanks again."

"Excellent holiday. And an excellent way to book it!! You provided really invaluable advice and made booking a real pleasure. We will definitely turn to you next time we're embarking on a trip in the UK."

"Weather was great, boat yard friendly, canal beautiful. One week on the Grand Union was not enough!"

"I think the best thing was how easy it all was to sort out! You were very helpful and it really made the whole thing more enjoyable knowing that I didn't have 10 tonnes of papers and 7 phone numbers to cope with!"