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Swimtrek river thames 0021 edited

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

Swim the River Thames with us on this unique and peaceful tour along England’s longest river. Set amongst 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 along the 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 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 the view that inspired so many poets, artists, and authors over the centuries.

This trip is offered on a one-day or two-day basis with both weekday and weekend departures. A picnic lunch is provided on both days, however, accommodation between days is not included as part of the 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 daily swim distance of around 6 km (current-assisted and split over several swims) prior to the start of the trip.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday on the River Thames
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Picnic lunch on Day 1 and Day 2
  • Tea, coffee and snacks between swims

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the tour
  • Accommodation, 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.

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. After arriving in Kelmscott, we enjoy a picnic lunch of the river bank which is 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 the Swan Hotel.

Day 2

We meet in the morning on the island opposite The Swan Hotel, 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 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, 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.

Trip Schedule

Day 1: Buscot to Radcot Bridge

Start / Finish Point Location / Time
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 / Finish Point Location / Time
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 Checklist

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

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Towel
Swimming Googles* (x2) Waterproof Jacket
Sunhat and Sunglasses Sweater/Fleece
Waterproof Sun Cream Walking Shoes
Small Daypack Aqua Shoes

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

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats and 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. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Day 1

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

*During the tour we plan to undertake the above swims, however the itinerary may change depending on weather.

Day 2

Swim* Distances
Radcot Bridge to Radcot Lock 1km
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 the 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 part of the River Thames is amongst 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.

Walking Distances

Most walks take place on recognised paths and tracks, however there may be cases where we walk along trails or other unsealed surfaces and care should be taken in these areas.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
August 19-21°C / 66-70°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.

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 boats 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.

Getting There

The easiest way to reach Buscot Lock or the Swan Hotel 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.

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.

If travelling by public transport, we recommend taking a train to Swindon and then connecting with the Stagecoach bus (number 64) to Lechlade Markets. For more details on bus timetables, please visit: Stage Coach. 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 Lechlade Taxis on +44 (0)1367 252575.

Upon finishing the trip, you will be able to share a taxi with other guests back to the start point at a cost of approximately £20. We recommend using Webb Cars, who can be reached on 07970 395697 or via: Webb Cars.

Getting There On Day 2

If you are driving to The Swan Hotel, 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 five kilometres, 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 The Swan Hotel 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 (number 66) to Faringdon. For more details on bus timetables, please visit: Stage Coach. From Faringdon, you can catch a taxi to The Swan Hotel, which takes approximately 15 minutes. We recommend using Webb Cars, who can be reached on 07970 395697 or via: www.webbcars.co.uk .

Upon finishing the trip, you will be able to share a taxi with other guests back to the start point at a cost of approximately £20.

Practical Information

Accommodation

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 the B&Bs which our guests have often used in previous years.

B&B Contact Website
The Plough Inn 01367 253543 www.theploughinnkelmscott.com
The Trout Inn 01367 870382 www.trout-inn.co.uk

Meals

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.

Extra Expenses

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.

Passports and Visas

The UK is part of the European Union. Non-residents of the UK require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Citizens of most countries, including all E.U. member states, U.S., 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.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

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

  • 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