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2 days
SwimTrek Experience

Trip Dates


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Tour Highlights

  • Explore the upper meanders of one of the world's most famous rivers.

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

  • Discover fantastic wildlife and historic sites as you journey along picturesque stretches of freshwater.

Swim the River Thames with us on this unique and peaceful tour along England’s longest river. Set among the beautiful English countryside, this one-day or two-day swimming tour gives you the chance to experience the River Thames from a completely new perspective. Discover a clean and healthy river, as well as some fantastic wildlife and historic sites as you travel this picturesque stretch of water.

Stretching from the edge of the Cotswolds to the nation's capital, the River Thames passes through gorgeous countryside and charming villages. We start our trip close to the source of the river, where the fish are jumping and birds are singing. We then meander 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 the view – the same waters that inspired so many poets, artists, and authors over the centuries.

This trip is designed as a two consecutive day journey from Buscot Lock to Tadpole Bridge and can be booked like this. Alternatively, if you are short on time, each day section can be booked as a stand-alone day trip. With both weekday and weekend departures. A picnic lunch is provided on both days, however overnight accommodation between days is not included as part of either package.

Who is this trip for?

This trip is designed for swimmers who enjoy river swimming and are looking for a chance to experience the beautiful English countryside from the water.

Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average swim distance of 3km prior to the start of the trip. The average daily swim distance is around 6km (split over a minimum of two swims).

We have given this trip a ‘Moderate’ grading. Most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday on the River Thames
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Picnic lunch is provided on both Day 1 and Day 2
  • Tea, coffee and snacks between swims
  • Full ABTOT Financial Protection

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the tour
  • Overnight accommodation between days is not included (for either package)
  • Breakfast, and evening meals

Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during the course of your trip. However, actual swims may vary according to local weather and river conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swims each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Trip Schedule

Day 1: Buscot Lock to Ye Olde Swan

Start / Finish Point Location / Time
Start Point Buscot Lock, Buscot (near Lechlade), SN7 8DA
Start Time 10:00 on Day 1
Finish Point Ye Olde Swan, Radcot-on-Thames, Bampton, OX18 2SX
Finish Time 16:30 on Day 1

Day 2: Ye Olde Swan to Tadpole Bridge

Start / Finish Point Location / Time
Start Point Ye Olde Swan, 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 16:30 on Day 2

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 - 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. After arriving in Kelmscott, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch along the river bank prepared by your SwimTrek guides.

The afternoon is split into two swims through a landscape which has remained 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, the oldest bridge on the Thames, we reach our finish point at Ye Olde Swan.

Day 2

We meet in the morning on the island opposite Ye Olde Swan, where we hold a pre-trip briefing to 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 oxbows 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’ll stop for lunch on the river bank and provide you with a hearty picnic. After time to rest and relax we head off to Rushey Lock, one of 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.

Location Summary


Situated at the start of the navigable section of the Thames, this picturesque market town lies approximately three kilometres from our start point at Buscot.

Buscot And Kelmscott

These charming, small villages are both situated near the National Trust estate of Buscot Park, which offer a glimpse back into the past.


Featuring the oldest bridge on the Thames and home to Ye Olde Swan Pub, Radcot is the endpoint of Day 1 and the start point of Day 2.

Rushey Lock and Tadpole Bridge

Rushey Lock has a pretty stone lock-keepers cottage and well-kept garden, full of topiary bushes, including one in the shape of a frog! Tadpole Bridge crosses the Thames above Shifford Lock, and is a large stone arch, built in the late 18th Century.

Trip Grading

We have given this trip a ‘Moderate’ grading. Most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.

Swimming Distances

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 1½km
Radcot Lock to Lunch on the riverbank 2km
Lunch spot to Rushey Lock 1½km
Rushey Lock to Tadpole Bridge 1½km

*Please note that these swims are an example of what may take place during your trip and should be used as a guide only. Actual swims may vary according to local weather and river conditions.

Swimming Conditions

While this stretch of the River Thames is among the cleanest and healthiest in the country, water quality can sometimes be an issue due to water run-off from the fields. Blue-green algae can be present and there is a low risk of Weil’s disease from this type of river swimming. More information about Weil’s disease, including a handy information card, will be provided at the start of your trip. If you do feel unwell at any stage during or after the trip, you should go to your GP immediately and tell them you have been river swimming.


Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
July/August 17-21°C / 63-70°F 22-24°C / 72-75°F

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

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.

Trip Information

Group Size and Boat Support

This trip has a maximum group size of 12. The group will be split into a maximum of two groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort.  Boat support on this trip includes one main boat and one inflatable boat to be piloted by your SwimTrek guides and a local boat pilot. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Sweater/Fleece
Swimming Goggles* (x2) Waterproof Jacket
Sun Hat, Sunglasses and Sun Cream Walking Shoes/Boots
Small Daypack (Preferably Waterproof) Aqua Shoes
Towel Personal Drink Bottle (x2)

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Tri Wetsuit Hire & Wetsuit Hiring Option

For all UK residence we have partnered with Tri Wetsuit Hire who offer different hiring options for our SwimTrekkers from 2 weeks or 4 weeks, to a whole season - Use 'SWIMTREK5' for a special discount on their website.

SwimTrek will supply swim hats, water and electrolyte drinks. The guides will no longer distribute shared drinks bottles but will fill your personal drink bottles. Please ensure these are clearly marked to help our guides identify yours. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you. For more on our Updated Packing List check out our Covid-19 guidance.

Getting There

The easiest way to reach Buscot Lock or Ye Olde Swan is by car. However, you can travel here via train, bus and taxi, too. While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

As SwimTrekkers come from all over the world, and join our swimming holidays in numerous destinations, we don't currently offer flights or transport as part of our SwimTrek packages. We do however want to do as much as we can to ensure that our guests get the best deals when travelling to one of our trips so check out SwimTrek's tips to help you get the best deals for your flights page on the website.

Getting There On Day 1

If you are driving to Buscot Lock, the best postcode to use is SN7 8DA. When you get to Lechlade, take the A417 to Buscot and follow the signs for Buscot Weir. The Lock is just 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 for a small cost of around £4 a day. National Trust members should remember to have their proof of membership in order to obtain their free parking.

If travelling by public transport, we recommend taking a train to Swindon and then connecting with the Stagecoach bus to Lechlade Markets. For more details on bus timetables, please visit: Stagecoach. From Lechlade, you can either walk along the river path (approximately one hour) or catch a taxi, which takes approximately 15 minutes. To book a taxi, please contact CT’s Taxis on +44 (0)1367 252575. Alternatively, if travelling by taxi directly from Swindon to Buscot Lock (approximately 40 minute drive), we would recommend contacting V Cars on +44(0)1793 701701.

Upon finishing the trip, you will be able to share a taxi with other guests back to our Day 1 starting point at Buscot Lock, at a cost of approximately £20.

Getting There On Day 2

If you are driving to Ye Olde Swan, the best postcode to use is OX18 2SX. At Faringdon, follow the signs onto the A4095 towards Witney (there is a sharp left turn off Church Street onto Radcot Road). Continue on this road for approximately 5km, 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. This field sits opposite Ye Olde Swan and is where you will meet your guides.

If travelling via public transport, we recommend taking a train to Swindon or Oxford, then connecting with the Stagecoach bus to Faringdon. For more details on bus timetables, please visit: Stagecoach. From Faringdon, you can catch a taxi to Ye Olde Swan, which takes approximately 10 minutes. We recommend using Faringdon Cars, who can be reached on +44 (0)1367 243838 or via:

Alternatively, if travelling by taxi directly from Swindon to Ye Olde Swan (approximately 30 minutes drive), we would recommend contacting V Cars on +44(0)1793 701701. If travelling by taxi directly from Oxford, please contact 001 Taxis on +44 (0)1865 240000.

Upon finishing the trip, you will be able to share a taxi with other guests back to our Day 2 starting point at Ye Olde Swan, at a cost of approximately £20.

Travel Advice


As this trip is offered on a one-day or two-day basis, accommodation is not included as part of your package. This gives you the flexibility to stay wherever you prefer before, during and after your trip.

If you would like to book accommodation in the area, there are some fantastic B&Bs available only a few minutes away from the river. Please see the below information on the B&Bs which our guests have often used in previous years.

B&B Contact Website
The New Inn Hotel, Lechlade 01367 252296
The Plough Inn, Kelmscott 01367 253543
The Trout at Tadpole Bridge 01367 870382

Food and Drink

A picnic lunch on the riverbank is provided for all guests on both Day 1 and Day 2 of the trip. If you have any special dietary requirements, please ensure that these are listed in the relevant section of your SwimTrek profile prior to your trip.

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as dinners, drinks, entertainment and taxi fares. The local currency in the UK is Great British Pounds (£). We recommend bringing approximately £20 - £30 a day to cover your extra expenses.

In some countries tipping, gratuities, is not part of the culture in others it has become an expected norm. We believe that tipping is entirely at your discretion. If you have been provided with excellent it may be something you wish to do. Your SwimTrek Guides can advise on local norms for service providers like boat crew, waiters or taxis. Nothing is expected for your SwimTrek Guides but many groups like to present something to the Guides at the end of the trip.

Responsible Travel

SwimTrek is conscious of the importance of protecting the world’s natural wonders. We are acutely aware of our responsibility to not only take care of the natural environments which we are lucky enough to explore, but also to educate our guests about the importance of conservation efforts and responsible tourism. It’s for this reason that we have worked so closely with our partners to ensure that our trips are conducted in the most responsible and sustainable way possible, working tirelessly to minimise the impact of our presence on local marine life and the natural habitat.

For more information please visit: Sustainable Travel.

Passports and Visas

Non-residents of UK require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Citizens of all EU member states, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter UK. Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Health Information

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to the UK, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip. Please check UK’s COVID-19 entry requirements and those of any country you travel through. Travellers may need to provide proof of vaccination against the virus and/or a negative test.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit World Standards.

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  • A SwimTrek adventure makes me feel alive!

    Diana, UK - 2020
  • Great trip - really enjoyed it all! So pleased the trip could go ahead with social distancing precautions. Very well organised, safe and fun. Really refreshing especially when every other swim event has had to cancel, so thank you SwimTrek for making it happen in 2020!

    Alison, UK - 2020
  • We had a wonderful time on the Thames trip ! Thanks to the guides for making it a great day :)

    Despina, UK - 2020
  • This is a wonderful experience with expert coaches and friendly swimmers. I loved doing this trip a second year in a row! Thank you SwimTrek. Hugely appreciated!

    Sophie, UK - 2020
  • SwimTrek provides you with an excellent open swimming experience, with great guides and all of the organisation taken care of for you.

    Clinton, UK - 2020
  • Any swimmers hesitating about river swimming in the UK, it is sublime!

    Jane, UK - 2020
  • A wonderful introduction to SwimTrek, thank you!

    Chloe, UK - 2020
  • You did so well considering the difficult covid-19 circumstances. Our guides were the friendliest most helpful guys around. Thanks to you all.

    Celia, UK - 2020
  • SwimTrek blows the Lockdown cobwebs away! Back to nature with fantastically knowledgeable guides in beautiful locations.

    Etty, UK - 2020
  • Fantastic day with a lovely group led by two super guides, really lovely opportunity to test out whether a longer swimming holiday is for me.

    Lissa, UK - 2019
  • A really great day. Lovely friendly people. A lots of swimming and a lot of laughing! Brilliant!

    Sophie, UK - 2019
  • I never knew there were bits of the Thames that were so wild. An enchanting trip with knowledgeable guides in great company.

    Alisa A, UK - 2019
  • This is a brilliant trip, safe, well organised, relaxed, and in a fantastic location.

    J D, UK - 2019
  • An absolutely lovely trip with beautiful scenery, lovely conditions, great participants and excellent team.

    Andrew C, UK - 2019
  • I could kick myself for not booking sooner. It was everything that I hoped for; great swims through a beautiful part of the country, run by people who I genuinely enjoyed spending time with. One of the best trips I've been on. I will definitely book again.

    Patrick E, UK - 2018
  • Swimming in the Thames was truly lovely - clean, silky water, beautiful countryside, peaceful atmosphere. I loved it.

    Jane T, UK - 2017
  • When I completed the 6km swim in the amazing Thames scenery, although tired, I have never felt so alive !

    Michael L, UK - 2017
  • Swimming downstream from locks to pubs with swans, cygnets and kingfishers was bliss.... For me, gliding under those beautiful blonde Cotswold bridges was exquisite and I will do it again next year. The safety escort allowed me to fully enjoy and appreciate the river from this special perspective. Marvellous and memorable, thank you!

    Linda S, UK - 2017
  • The trip totally exceeded my expectations. The locations and duration of the swims were well planned, I felt I really achieved something whilst also feeling like it was a holiday.

    Robin O, UK -2017
  • I greatly enjoyed my swims on the upper Thames. The water felt fresh and clean and the countryside we meandered through was really beautiful. We were looked after extremely well by all the company's representatives. As with previous SwimTrek trips I have been on, there was an interesting mix of guests who were of mixed ability level, but united in a passion for outdoor swimming. Everyone was helped to swim well, but it didn't end up seeming competitive. I am very much looking forward to my next trip with SwimTrek and fortunately only have a month to wait!

    Daniel J, UK - 2017
  • One of the things I love about SwimTrek is that everyone , both swimmers and guides, are so friendly.

    Jenny K, UK - 2017

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