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You don't need to get far out of the city to enjoy the best of the English countryside with this fantastic swim in one of the world's most famous rivers. The Thames derives its name from the Celtic word Tamese, meaning tranquil river, and you'll get to see this more peaceful side of it, as well as the fantastic wildlife and historic sites along the way, on this unique SwimTrek trip.

There are one-day and two-day options on this trip; however we recommend you take the two-day option to get the most out of this experience.

Stretching from the edge of the Cotswolds to the nation's capital, the River Thames passes through beautiful countryside and picturesque villages. We start our trip at the upper part of the river, where the fish are jumping and birds are tweeting. We then head past some of the 140 historic sites of special interest, and occasionally take some time out on the banks of the river to really appreciate its influence on all those poets, artists, and authors over the centuries.

What's included?

  • Fully guided tour with full safety escort on Day 1 and Day 2
  • Lunch on Day 2

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the tour
  • Lunch on Day 1
  • Accommodation, breakfast, and evening meals

Tour Highlights

  • Swim in one of the world's most famous rivers on this popular SwimTrek trip

  • Take in the beauty of the picturesque English countryside from a truly unique perspective

  • Combine swimming, nature and history as you make your way down this beautiful section of the Thames

  • Escape from the everyday hustle and bustle to experience the tranquillity and relaxed nature of life on the river

Day 1

We meet in the morning at Buscot Lock near Lechlade, where we will hold a pre-trip briefing in which we discuss in detail the plans for the day. From here, we start our first swim to the tranquil village of Kelmscott, the summer home of William Morris the renowned writer, designer and socialist. Pill boxes, which were built to halt an anticipated German advance through England’s waterways in World War II, will guide our way. We take lunch at the Plough Inn built in 1631.

The afternoon is split into two swims through a landscape unchanged for centuries. The picturesque Grafton Lock is an ideal rest and refreshment point which separates the afternoon swims.

On swimming around a bend in the river and under Radcot Bridge, we reach our finish point at the Swan Hotel, a welcome sight!

Day 2

We meet in the morning on the island opposite The Swan Hotel, where we will hold a pre-trip briefing in which we discuss in detail the plans for the day. From here, we begin our first swim to Radcot Lock. From Radcot, the Thames meanders in an array of ox-bows which are a haven for bird and animal life.

This section of the Thames is very rural, with fields lining both banks for most of the way and many old pill-boxes visible in the nearby fields. We stop for lunch on a suitable river bank and provide you with a wholesome picnic. After time to rest and relax we head off to Rushey Lock, the most picturesque of the Thames’ 45 locks.

The last swim of the day is one of the shortest, but most enjoyable as we swim under Tadpole Bridge and finish on the lawns of the Trout public house bringing our river swimming adventure to an end.

Trip Schedule

Day 1: Buscot to Radcot Bridge
Start Point: Buscot Lock - Buscot near Lechlade, SN7 8DA
Start Time: 10:00 on Day 1
Finish Point: The Swan Hotel, Radcot-on-Thames, Bampton, OX18 2SX
Finish Time: 16:00 on Day 1
Day 2: Radcot to Tadpole Bridge
Start Point: The Swan Hotel, Radcot-on-Thames, Bampton, OX18 2SX
Start Time: 09:00 on Day 2
Finish Point: The Trout Inn, Tadpole Bridge, Buckland Marsh, Faringdon, SN7 8RF
Finish Time: 16:00 on Day 2

Trip Information

Equipment to bring along with you

In addition to “normal” daily clothes, you will need to bring the following:

  • Swimming costume (2 of)
  • Swimming Goggles x 2 - try to bring 1 clear lens and 1 tinted lens for different light conditions
  • Towel
  • Sunhat
  • Waterproof Suncream
  • Sweater/Fleece
  • Small Daypack
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Warm clothes including woolly hat
  • Aqua Shoes/Sandals

Swim Hats, Flippers, Rashvests and Wetsuits and Water Bottles

SwimTrek will supply swim hats. We will have a limited supply/range of flippers, rashvests and wetsuits available on the trip, but we cannot guarantee sizes for all. If you have your own flippers, rashvest and wetsuit we would recommend you bring these with you in order to maximise your enjoyment of the trip. Please note that SwimTrek will provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along.

Day 1

Swim Distances
Buscot to Kelmscott 3km
Kelmscott to Grafton 2½km
Grafton to Radcot Bridge 1½km

Day 2

Swim Distances
Radcot Bridge to Radcot Lock 1km
Radcot Lock to Lunch on river bank 2km
Lunch spot to Rushey Lock 1½km
Rushey Lock to Tadpole Bridge 1½km

During the tour we plan to undertake the above swims, however the itinerary may change depending on weather. Also, remember, you can always jump onto the escort boat at any stage.

Temperatures

Month Water Temp (°C) Air Temp (°C)
August 18-21 25

Please note that these temperature are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Group Size

Up to a maximum of 12 people, with two swimming guides and escort boats.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Water quality*

Water quality can be an issue with water run off from the fields with blue-green algae and Weil’s disease all possible contaminants. If you do feel unwell at any stage during or after the trip, you should go to your GP immediately, telling them you have been river swimming.

Getting There Day 1

Public transport

Catch a train to Swindon, then take the connecting Stagecoach bus (No 64) to Lechlade Markets. Please note that there is no bus service on a Sunday. From Lechlade you can either walk along the Thames Path (approx 1 hour) or catch a taxi (Lechlade Taxis 01367 252575) which takes approx 15 minutes. You may need to book the taxi in advance as it is a solo operation.

Driving

At Lechlade take the A417 to Buscot and follow signs for Buscot Weir. The Lock is behind the weir. There is a National Trust car park 200m before the Weir, where you can leave your car for the duration of the trip.

At The End Of The Trip

On finishing the trip at Radcot Bridge, you will be able to share a taxi with other guests back to Buscot Lock and other destinations. It costs roughly £20 from Radcot Bridge to Buscot Lock, we would recommend for the taxi contacting Faringdon Cars on 01367703359.

Getting There Day 2

Public transport

Catch a train to Swindon or Oxford, then take the connecting Stagecoach bus (No 66) to Faringdon. Please note that there is no bus service on a Sunday. From Faringdon, catch a taxi (Webb Cars 07970 395697) which takes approx 15 minutes. We suggest booking the taxi in advance.

Driving

At Faringdon follow signs onto the A4095 towards Witney (there is a sharp left turn off Church Street onto Radcot Road). Continue on this road for approx 3 miles, and as you pass over a small bridge after a traffic light, there is a field to the right which is where you can leave your car for the duration of the trip. You will see the Swan Hotel opposite.

At The End Of The Trip

On finishing the trip at Tadpole Bridge, you will be able to share a taxi with other guests back to Radcot Bridge and other destinations. It costs roughly £20 from Tadpole Bridge to Radcot Bridge, and we recommend for contacting Faringdon Cars in order to make your booking: 01367703359

Practical Information

Accommodation

If you would like to book accommodation in the area there are some B&Bs available only a short taxi ride away. Please contact them directly.

B&B Contact
The Plough Inn, Kelmscott 01367 253543 www.theploughinnkelmscott.com
The Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge 01367 870382 www.trout-inn.co.uk

Meals

Meals are not included on Day 1. We stop at the Plough Inn at Kelmscott for lunch, and this is at your own cost. However on Day 2, we stop for lunch on the banks of the river and a wholesome picnic lunch is provided.

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover items such as taxi fares, entertainment, meals where applicable, snacks, souvenirs, etc. We recommend bringing between £20 - £30 per day.

Passports and Visas

The Thames is part of the United Kingdom. If you are from outside the UK, you will require a full passport to enter, that should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Holders of Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, South African and US Passports are given ‘leave to enter’ the UK. Citizens of the EU do not need a visa to enter. Visa regulations do change, so please remember to double check this before your trip.

Vaccinations

There are no essential vaccination requirements for the UK. However we recommend that your immunity to tetanus and polio is up to date.

Tour Highlights

  • Swim in one of the world's most famous rivers on this popular SwimTrek trip

  • Take in the beauty of the picturesque English countryside from a truly unique perspective

  • Combine swimming, nature and history as you make your way down this beautiful section of the Thames

  • Escape from the everyday hustle and bustle to experience the tranquillity and relaxed nature of life on the river

  • It was just one of the most magical experiences I have had.

    Molly N. UK - 2015
  • If you are looking for an event that accommodates all abilities, this is the trip for you.

    Helen & Hayley. UK - 2015
  • Thank you for a great trip. I look forward to joining you again!

    Adrian G. UK - 2015
  • At the grand age of 64 it was good to have a new challenge. I felt invigorated that I could achieve new goals with the help of the guides.

    Susan C. UK - 2015
  • It is a real priviledge to swim in the Thames and I would highly recommend this trip. The highlights for me are the wild flowers, looking up at inquisitive cattle and gliding past swans. It all went so quickly, I must have been having fun!

    Wendy R, 2014 - UK
  • Really lovely swimming and fantastic support from guides and fellow swimmers! A great experience!

    Jenny, 2014 - UK
  • It was like being part of Wind in the Willows/Tales of the River Bank from the inside!

    Charlotte S. 2014 - UK
  • Having had a bad experience through my own stupidity and swimming in a river on my own, my love of open water swimming was rekindled by Swimtrek and their fantastic team. I would highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in getting wild swimming experience with a safety net of the boats and the team.

    Elspeth Dougall - 2013
  • It felt like a privilege to swim down the Thames, so a huge thak you to Swim Trek for making that possible. I wouldn't have dared do it without your support. Following a river like that was a very special experience - to just keep swimming past changing scenery and get into the 'zone'. It all gave me a real buzz and I came away happy after my first ever river swim :o)

    Wendy Rooke - 2013
  • A great trip, great people, lots of laughing, great swims, so beautiful and the current makes you feel like challenging Phelps. Great pubs, great fun and all over too quickly. Thanks SwimTrek.

    Sarah C, August 2012, UK
  • I loved every moment. It was a privilege to be swimming through the beautiful countryside. It was also really fun. I hadnít expected to be doing handstands and somersaults or covering my feet in a Thames mud pack. We just laughed for 2 days.

    Vicky, August 2012, UK
  • It was a great experience and I felt a strong sense of achievement.

    Julian Wild - 2013

Tour Highlights

  • Swim in one of the world's most famous rivers on this popular SwimTrek trip

  • Take in the beauty of the picturesque English countryside from a truly unique perspective

  • Combine swimming, nature and history as you make your way down this beautiful section of the Thames

  • Escape from the everyday hustle and bustle to experience the tranquillity and relaxed nature of life on the river

Enter guest details to see which departures can accommodate your party:

Dates Availability Special Type Price From
04 Aug -
04 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day
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Trip Full Two Day
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05 Aug, 2016
1 Place Left One Day £110 Book Now
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06 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day
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07 Aug, 2016
Trip Full Two Day
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07 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day
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18 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day
18 Aug -
19 Aug, 2016
Trip Full Two Day
19 Aug -
19 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day
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21 Aug, 2016
Trip Full Two Day
20 Aug -
20 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day
21 Aug -
21 Aug, 2016
Trip Full One Day