The Thames Path

Staines to Windsor

Staines to Windsor
Upstream: Windsor to Bourne EndBack to Main Page Downstream: Hampton Court to Staines

Introduction

This walk heads from the re-developed riverside at Staines out to the meadows of Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed. The meadows soon give way to the residential properties lining the Thames at Wraysbury before heading along the edge of Windsor Great Park through the attractive village of Datchet and finally into Windsor, with it's magnificent castle and Eton, with it's famous college over the river.

Getting to the Start

Staines has a well-connected station, with trains running regularly from Staines to London Waterloo (typically 6 trains per hour), running via Ashford, Feltham, Twickenham, Richmond, Putney and Vauxhall, with some also going via Hounslow and Brentford. To the west, trains run frequently (typically two per hour) to Reading, via Egham, Virginia Water, Ascot, Sunningdale, Bracknell & Wokingham. To the south, trains run twice per hour to Weybridge, via Virginia Water & Chertsey. Finally, trains run twice per hour to Windsor, via Datchet.

Buses run regularly from Staines to Hampton Court and Heathrow Airport. Local buses run from Staines to Egham, Chertsey, Addlestone, Byfleet and Shepperton . Staines is also easy to get to by road, being just off junction 13 of the M25 motorway. It is also just off the A320, A308 and A30. Parking can be a little hard to come by in Staines, the place most likely to have spaces being the car park to the west of Staines bridge, on the same side of the river as the town centre.

The Walk

Rejoin the Thames Path by the railway bridge slightly east of the town centre.

Staines Railway bridge
Staines Railway Bridge

Continue along the riverside under the railway bridge. The river front in Staines has improved in the last few years, there is now some sort of modern amphitheatre, on a pleasant walkway next to the river, which continues past the old Town Hall.

The riverfront in Staines The Old Town Hall, Staines
The riverfront in Staines The Old Town Hall

The walkway continues as far as Staines bridge, and beyond past the car park, however it ends at a park beyond the bridge - the official Thames Path route crosses Staines bridge onto the south side of the river again. There has been a bridge here since Roman times initially a wooden bridge, but a new stone bridge was built in 1796, but this began to crack and was replaced with an iron bridge which also had to be replaced in 1807, although the older wooden bridge still survived. The current bridge was opened in 1932.

Approaching Staines Bridge Staines Bridge
Approaching Staines Bridge Staines Bridge

The path along this side of the bank pasts mostly office buildings and industrial units, but the views along the river are attractive, with the small park on the other side of the river, as well as the many swans on the river. The island in the middle of the river (Church Island) is connected via a bridge to the park on the other side of the river.

The River at Staines Church Island & Ashby Recreation Ground
The River at Staines Church Island & Ashby Recreation Ground

The industrial buildings continue on the left as you approach Holm Island, again connected to the North bank of the Thames with a footbridge. The twin bridges that carry the M25 motorway over the Thames are ahead.

Holm Island The M25 bridge
Holm Island The M25 bridge - looks like part of it has been knocked off!

Travelling under the M25 is a reminder that London is well and truly behind now, as the Thames now heads towards Runnymede, past the Runnymede Hotel on the left before getting to the next lock on the Thames, Bell Weir Lock.

Bell Weir Lock Bell Weir
Bell Weir Lock Bell Weir

Both banks return to residential properties for a short while after the M25, with some especially large houses on the North side of the river (known as Hythe End).

Hythe End Geese
Hythe End Geese

Soon the houses give way to the attractive open meadows of Runnymede as you come into Runnymede Pleasure Ground. Beyond the road and across the meadows you can see Copper's Hill, which has the Air Forces War Memorial on top, behind which is the Runnymede Campus of Brunel University.

Hythe End Geese
Runnymede Pleasure Ground, with the Air Forces War Memorial visible on the top of the hill Runnymede Meadows

In the summer months at weekends boats stop by the river at Runnymede, going towards Windsor. Soon the busy A308 runs alongside the river as the path approaches Magna Carta Island, a site of historic interest. It was near here in 1215 that King John signed the Magna Carta, a document that limited the power of the monarch and gave legal rights to all. This document also forms the basis of the American Declaration of Independence, and so it's a site of particularly interest to Americans. There is an acre of land American land here, on which stands the John F Kennedy memorial, which was given to the Americans in memory of the President's role in civil rights.

Boats near Magna Carta Island
Boats near Magna Carta Island

Beyond Magna Carta island the Thames is once more lined with houses, leaving the road behind. On the left is old Windsor, whilst across the river is Wraysbury.

Great name for a boat! Houses at Wraysbury
Great name for a boat Houses at Wraysbury

Although the noise from the road has gone you can't fail to notice that this part of the path is under the flight path from London Heathrow Airport. From here there are flights all over the world, from the west coast of America to Australia and New Zealand and planes pass low overhead every few minutes. Soon there are two islands ahead, the second one joined to the land by Old Windsor Lock. The Thames path follows another man-made cut (called New Cut) whilst the river heads round this small loop, the island is known as Ham Island.

Great name for a boat! Old Windsor Lock
Approaching Old Windsor Lock Old Windsor Lock
The weir at Old Windsor Lock
The weir at Old Windsor Lock

Once past the weir, the path runs adjacent to Windsor Great Park all the way into Windsor. There is a farm to the left and ahead is Albert Bridge which The Thames Path crosses.

Albert Bridge The view from Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge The view from Albert Bridge

You have to walk both over and under this bridge, round a field and then you have to head inland briefly along the road into the attractive village of Datchet.

Datchet Datchet Church
Datchet Datchet Church

Soon after Datchet the path leaves the road and heads back next to the river once more, with imposing Windsor Castle coming into view. Soon you come to Victoria Bridge, which you need to cross, into Home Park.

The first view of Windsor Castle Victoria Bridge
The first view of Windsor Castle Victoria Bridge - looks a bit tatty

Home Park is a public recreation ground, with a football and rugby pitch, set to the magnificent backdrop of Eton College Chapel and Windsor Castle.

The playing fields of Home Park, with Eton behind Windsor Castle across the park
The playing fields of Home Park with Eton behind Windsor Castle and Home Park

The Thames path runs round the edge of the park and under the railway bride and into a boat yard. The path isn't too welcoming here, with plenty of private notices, but it is the correct path. Once round the boat yard, you walk on a narrow strip of land between the railway line and the river to Windsor Bridge.

The Railway bridge The Thames at Windsor
The Railway Bridge The Thames at Windsor
Windsor Castle - the Queen is in Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle (the Queen is in) Windsor Castle
The river at Windsor Windsor Bridge
The river at Windsor Windsor Bridge

Windsor is a lovely town that is well worth spending some time exploring. The famous castle is open to the public, and is well worth a visit. The admission ticket includes admission to the castle grounds, St George's Chapel, Queen Mary's Dolls' House and State Apartments (when open). There is a good range of shops and restaurants in the town centre which are worth exploring. The historic Guildhall is also worth seeing, further up the High Street, with the appropriately named Crooked House Tea Room next door. Opposite the castle is the grand facade of Windsor Royal Station. This grand station building was formerly the home of the Royalty and Empire exhibition, (that closed several years ago), the station has now been turned into an interesting shopping complex, although it is still used by trains too. Down by the river you can take boat trips during the summer.

It's also well worth visiting Eton across the river. The bridge is now pedestrianised and takes you right into attractive and historic Eton high street. If you continue past the many shops, restaurants and pubs you get to Eton College, with the skyline dominated by the impressive Chapel. The round building across the road is the School Hall. Both buildings are normally open to the public.

Eton High Street The Thames at Windsor
Eton High Street Eton College Chapel
Eton College Windsor Castle
Eton College Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle The Crooked House Team Room
Windsor Castle The Crooked House Tea Room
Windsor & Eton Central
Windsor & Eton Central Station

Getting Back

There are two stations in Windsor, both are fairly grand, especially the central station. Windsor & Eton Riverside station is at the bottom of the high street, near the river and has trains every 30 minutes to Staines and on to London Waterloo, via Twickenham and Richmond, taking around 50 minutes, operated by South West Trains.

Windsor & Eton Central station is right opposite the castle, but trains seem to be it's secondary purpose today - the single platform is right at the back of the building. The line is the end of a branch line, with trains operating every 30 minutes to the main line at Slough, operated by First Great Western Link. From here there are fast trains into London Paddington station, with the journey from Windsor to London taking from just 25 minutes, including a change at Slough.

Green Line Coaches run coaches approximately every hour from London Victoria Coach Station to Windsor, via Kensington, Hammersmith & Slough and on to Ascot and Bracknell. First Beeline run frequent buses from Windsor to Slough, Heathrow Airport, Reading, Winnerish, Wokingham and Bracknell.

Links

The following web sites provide information on the area.


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