About Thames

Boating on the Thames, you discover historical cities and untouched countryside.

Boating vacations on the Thames are a pleasant way to travel through South East England, a region soaked in history and luscious nature. As you gaze at magnificent Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace or the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford, you feel transported back in time.

The river meanders through large towns and cities with shops, pubs and museums. You’ll also stop in small villages where the pace is slow and the living is easy!

 

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Map showing where the Thames boating region is in England

The perfect boating region for...

History & heritage

The Thames River is perhaps one of the world's most historic waterways. That becomes obvious as you travel to Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and Cliveden House. But the history and heritage is everywhere! Often you'll dine in a pub that was built 500 years ago!

Family

Kids will love LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with its fun rides and live shows! While the family is seeing Hampton Court Palace near Kingston-upon-Thames, why not build time in to enjoy Chessington World of Adventures. It's perfect for kids under age 12!

Fishing

The beautiful Thames River boasts gorgeous reaches where the riverboat fishing is superb! There are free fishing sites set up for anglers anxious to land roach, perch, barbel, chub, pike or carp! Fish free at Oxford and Reading!

Useful information

A bit of background

The River Thames has been England’s most important river for millennia. It served as a major artery for shipping goods at home and abroad, and as a protected base for the British navy. It’s still busy in places. From its source in the Cotswold Hills it flows 346 kilometres (215 miles) to the North Sea. Only the Severn River is longer. At its mouth, the Thames is five miles wide and home to delta wetlands teeming with birds and marine life. It helps to have this general Thames River information to get an idea of the size of the waterway. Your Boating Vacations on the Thames will take you from just above London to lovely Benson. You’ll find it’s a perfect stage for a River Thames boat rent! The river flows past meadows, woodlands, mediaeval villages and castles, and it’s simply delightful!

Great rivers almost always spawn great cities, and the Thames is no exception. The first settlers to arrive were probably Stone Age nomads, based on the discovery of Neolithic manmade shards. Bronze Age wanderers also came. In A.D. 43, Roman legionnaires occupied England and built a seaport they called Londinium near present-day London Bridge. The Thames became the lifeblood of England from then on, assuming its important place in world history.

The Thames River is easy to navigate and suitable for beginners. Traffic can be heavy at times.

Locks on the Thames are automatic and operated by keepers. There is no lock charge.Cruising beyond Teddington Locks towards central London is prohibited.

 

Opening hours: During the busy summer season locks are open 09:00 to 19:00 (7:00 p.m.) every day in July and August. They close at 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) in May, June and September. Locks are closed for lunch between 13:00-14:00 (2:00 p.m.).

 

Lock Closure dates : Please be aware about the lock closure dates by local authorities. During that day(s), you won’t be able to go through the locks. For more details and questions, please contact our sales team. All locks closed on: 1st November

Moorings are plentiful on the Thames River.

To find out how to get to each of our bases in this boating region, as well as what facilities and amenities are available at each base or nearby, click on the relevant base below:

  • Rental of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demontration prior to departure
  • Technical support
  • On-board maps and visitor information
  • Passage through locks
  • Optional vacation extras
  • Boat damage waiver
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour
  • Travel to and from the base(s)
  • Waterside services if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
  • Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
  • Food and drink

Interactive map of the Thames 

Base pin  = Le Boat base                 Point of interest pin  = Point of interest

Great to see...

Must see
The spires of Oxford
Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires, will inspire and enchant you with its architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Home to royalty and scholars for over 900 years, it is full of old buildings, many owned by the famous University. Excellent shopping, museums and tours will keep you busy for a whole day at least.
Must see
Henley Rowing Museum
Best known for its Royal Regatta, Henley is synonymous with rowing and attracts some of the world's finest rowers. Just a few strides from the riverbank is the heart of Henley with its historic church, town hall and market square, the latter bustling with busy stall-holders and shoppers on market days.
Must see
Cliveden House
As the river snakes past Cookham, the beechwoods rise steeply and you will see the Cliveden Estate. A country retreat on a grand scale, it was once the glittering hub of society; visited by virtually every British Monarch since George I.
Must see
Royal guards marching in Windsor
The Royal Town of Windsor is full of history and charm and is home to Britain's largest inhabited castle and royal residence of over 900 years – Windsor Castle. You'll also find a bustling town centre with contemporary shopping, fine dining and leisure activities. Well worth a stop for the day.
Must see
Hampton Court Palace sculpture
Hampton Court Palace, billed as 'The Greatest Palace in Britain', offers a magical journey through 500 years of royal history. Resident included King Henry VII, William III and Queen Mary, who each expanded and modernised various parts. Experience the grandeur and splendour of the state apartments, tour the largest kitchens of Tudor England and get lost in the gardens and the UK's oldest surviving hedge maze.
Abingdon, a lovely market town, has some 56 buildings from the 17th century and prior. Evidence also exists of a 6,000 year old settlement, making this the oldest, continuously-occupied town in Britain. By contrast, it's known for its MG car manufacturing and was one of the UK's first towns to offer free wi-fi for all.
Dorchester-on-Thames is a village at the confluence of the River Thames and its tributary The Thame. It is ideal for exploring the beautiful surrounding countryside by foot or bicycle. For something different to do, nearby Day's Lock hosts the World Pooh Sticks Championships every spring.
A small, but pretty village which faces South Stoke on the opposite bank. South Stoke has a quaint church and a 17th century village pub. Neither village has any shops but the highlight in Moulsford is the famous Beetle and Wedge Hotel.
This pretty town sits between the Chilterns and the Berksrent Downs within a designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'. The Norman church of St Thomas can be seen overlooking the river and there are many shops, restaurants and bars to help while away a lazy afternoon.
Pangbourne dates back to Saxon Times. Lord Nelson's Bo'Sun lived in Pangbourne and is buried at St James the Less church, built in 1660. The individual shops are full of character and the surrounding area is ideal for walkers, photographers and artists alike.
Mapledurham is one of the most picturesque spots on the Thames with views of Mapledurham House and the country's last working mill, which still produces stone-ground flour. Mapledurham has one pub, The Pack Saddle, in Chazey Heath.
Famous as one of the UK's top ten retail destinations, the heart of Reading offers much more than superb shopping. The Forbury Gardens, a nationally acclaimed Victorian formal garden, leads you beautifully to the ruins of Reading Abbey, an ancient monument and burial place of a King of England.
Sonning-On-Thames is a picturesque riverside village with half timbered Tudor houses and is one of the prettiest stops along the Thames. Sonning Lock, with its colourful gardens, is lovely place for a stroll and the impressive arched bridge, built in 1775, spans the River Thames perfectly.
Marlow is a charming Georgian market town, spanned by an elegant suspension bridge. Marlow is the venue for the annual royal ceremony of 'Swan Upping' when cygnets are tagged, and for the Marlow Town Regatta, held in June. With its many restaurants and bistros, every month in Marlow has a vacation feel.
Cookham is a pretty village with a delightful High Street that has changed little over the centuries. Today it boasts many fine restaurants and inns. Kenneth Grahame lived in Cookham and is said to have been inspired by the River Thames at Cookham to write The Wind in the Willows.
Maidenhead is an ancient town with a history going back to early Saxon times. This bustling town is now a centre of rowing excellence. It is a popular destination for shoppers and, for those who love fine dining; the area is home to some fantastic restaurants including some Michelin-starred venues.
Across the river from Windsor is Eton, home to the famous public school, Eton College, one of the most exclusive schools in the world with annual fees of around £20,000. The ancient desks and benches bear the graffiti of generations of former pupils, which include 19 former British Prime Ministers.
This water-meadow alongside the Thames makes a great place to moor up and enjoy a stroll or reflect on world history. It was near here, at Runnymede in 1215, that the historic Magna Carta was sealed. This charter laid down the foundations of much of the current British constitution and law.
Staines is a bustling town which attracts scores of visitors to its impressive retail areas - The Elmsleigh Centre and Two Rivers, as well as the town centre with its pedestrianised shopping area offering a wide range of shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs.
Kingston-upon-Thames was once the coronation place of Saxon Kings (902 – 978). Today this busy market town has developed into a major shopping and entertainment hub, although it retains much of its original charm. It also has a strong arts culture and a vibrant festival programme.

Route suggestions

To help you get an idea of how far you can travel in the time you have, here's a selection of routes to and from our bases in this region. You dont have to stop at all the places listed or follow the route exactly. So long as you return your boat to your end base by the date you've booked - you're free to enjoy your cruise however you like. For a comfortable pace, allowing you time to regularly stop and explore, we'd recommend an average of 2 - 4 hours cruising each day.

Benson RETURN via Marlow

Benson
Moulsford
Goring
Pangbourne-on-Thames
Mapledurham
Reading
Sonning-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames
Marlow
Benson

14hr(s) of cruising

75.00km 28 locks 3 nights

Benson RETURN via Marlow

When approaching Henley-on-Thames, you gaze at a postcard-perfect scene — sculling crews row sleek craft, and colourful waterfront pubs and shops look inviting. You know you’re in the midst of quintessential England, so you stop for a lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding washed down with a pint of local ale, a favourite on River Thames cruises!

14hr(s) of cruising

75.00km 28 locks 3 nights

Benson RETURN via Oxford & Henley

Benson
Dorchester-on-Thames
Abingdon-on-Thames
Oxford
Moulsford
Goring
Pangbourne-on-Thames
Mapledurham
Reading
Sonning-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames
Marlow
Benson

24hr(s) of cruising

186.00km 30 locks 7 nights

Benson RETURN via Oxford & Henley

England’s city of learning, venerable Oxford, rises in understated grandeur over the shimmering blue of the Thames. You’re all set to go ashore to sightsee, shop, dine and trek the river’s excellent trail. The laid-back quality of the landscape has soothed you, and you’re glad you made sure your Thames riverboat cruise included some bird-watching at Benson Lock.

24hr(s) of cruising

186.00km 30 locks 7 nights

Benson RETURN via Windsor

Benson
Moulsford
Goring
Pangbourne-on-Thames
Mapledurham
Reading
Sonning-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames
Marlow
Cliveden
Cookham
Maidenhead
Eton
Windsor
Benson

24hr(s) of cruising

155.00km 34 locks 7 nights

Benson RETURN via Windsor

You have fun trying to make the palace guards at Windsor Castle smile, but you don’t succeed! Then you take a picnic lunch to the Royal Gardens to relax under the warm sun, vastly content from the rigors of the morning. Royal Cruise boat vacations on the Thames have bewitched with the grand castles and homes you’ve seen so far!

24hr(s) of cruising

155.00km 34 locks 7 nights

Benson to Chertsey

Benson
Moulsford
Goring
Pangbourne-on-Thames
Mapledurham
Reading
Sonning-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames
Marlow
Cliveden
Cookham
Maidenhead
Eton
Windsor
Egham
Staines
Chertsey

15hr(s) of cruising

96.00km 22 locks 5 nights

Benson to Chertsey

Every mediaeval village you pass draws the eye with ornate buildings and beautiful waterfronts. You’ve just gone by Beale Park outside Goring, but you didn’t stop for a picnic. Instead, you travel on to spend the night in Henley-on-Thames. You’ve decided to take it slow and easy on your River Thames boat rent, savouring the delights of cycling, golf and hanging out in friendly pubs!

15hr(s) of cruising

96.00km 22 locks 5 nights

Benson to Chertsey via Kingston-upon-Thames

Benson
Moulsford
Goring
Pangbourne-on-Thames
Mapledurham
Reading
Sonning-on-Thames
Henley-on-Thames
Marlow
Cliveden
Cookham
Maidenhead
Eton
Windsor
Egham
Staines
Kingston-Upon-Thames
Chertsey

23hr(s) of cruising

128.00km 30 locks 7 nights

Benson to Chertsey via Kingston-upon-Thames

Hampton Court Palace, once the home of King Henry VIII, looms above you and the circular fountain in front murmurs in the background. You smile as you recall the varied charms of your Thames riverboat cruise, a unique way to travel! The world just looks different from a boat, and you know that now at the end of the trip! Cycling, pubs, historic sites — it was all part of the fun!

23hr(s) of cruising

128.00km 30 locks 7 nights

Chertsey RETURN via Henley-upon-Thames

Chertsey
Staines
Windsor
Eton
Maidenhead
Cookham
Cliveden
Marlow
Henley-on-Thames
Chertsey

16hr(s) of cruising

75.00km 18 locks 3 nights

Chertsey RETURN via Henley-upon-Thames

The easygoing pace of a River Thames boat rent relaxes you almost immediately after you get going. The villages with waterside pubs and pretty greens tempt you to stop, and you often do! Cycling takes you into the countryside to get a real taste of beautiful England, and sightseeing is unforgettable in Windsor, where you can feel the presence of the Queen!

16hr(s) of cruising

75.00km 18 locks 3 nights

Chertsey RETURN via Windsor & Kingston-upon-Thames

Chertsey
Kingston-Upon-Thames
Staines
Egham
Windsor
Eton
Chertsey

14hr(s) of cruising

70.00km 18 locks 7 nights

Chertsey RETURN via Windsor & Kingston-upon-Thames

Standing in front of the stately Hampton Court Palace near Kingston-upon-Thames, you think about King Henry VIII, who once lived there. You spend time sightseeing, and then your cruise on the Thames lures you past Chertsey to incredible Windsor Castle. Along the way, you stop often at waterside pubs for a bit of steak and kidney pie!

14hr(s) of cruising

70.00km 18 locks 7 nights
Added on 22 June 2018

Richard Clarke said

The boat, a magnifique was good the staff at Chertsey most helpful and they provided us with good weather A lovely week end Great staff and a good place to start to go up the river
READ MORE
Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your five star feedback. Our customers' comments are very important to use and we will be sure to share your feedback with the base.
The Le Boat Team
Chertsey - Chertsey
Magnifique
Added on 09 June 2018

Richard Hunter said

Very happy. The boat was great. Great boat. All good We were very comfortable.
READ MORE
Benson - Chertsey
Royal Mystique A
Added on 02 June 2018

David Olson said

All was ready when we went to pick up the boat, They did forget to put sheets on two beds and life jackets. Yes, I would use Le Boat again. Marvelous trip, enjoyed all the scenery along the Thames and exploring the small villages.
READ MORE
Chertsey - Benson
Calypso
Added on 25 May 2018

Vicky Boughton said

Loved it! Great fun on the boat navigating the waterways and enjoying the pace of life on the river. Wonderful way to see this area of the country. We had a wonderful weekend on board Tango. It was a comfortable boat and we really enjoyed going along the waterways and through locks, having BBQ's on the side of the river and jumping in for a dip to cool off. Got the hang of boating really quickly and loved it.
READ MORE
Chertsey - Chertsey
Tango
Added on 07 May 2018

Caroline Ayres said

Reception was good although the lady there had only worked for Le Boat a couple of weeks and although very pleasant was inexperienced in knowledge - this was our first trip and we would have appreciated tips of where to moor, how far to travel each day etc. The handover of the boat was very quick - the guy spoke to my husband while I was bringing some luggage to the boat. By the time I got there the handover had finished. We would have benefitted from a little trip on the river with the handover guy to appreciate how to handle the boat. From leaving the dock and being presented almost immediately with a lock at Benson we struggled a little as the tide took us and the boat was a little unresponsive. After half an hour we were fine and had got used to it but it would have been beneficial to have had instruction while on the water. Just to note the first lock at Benson had no instruction (although every other lock we encountered did) - luckily another boater we encountered knew what to do and helped us out. The information and maps on board were good. The boat was basic but very clean and accommodated our party with ease but especially because we had fab weather and made the most of the top sun deck and front seating area. On returning to Benson at the allocated 9am there were no berths available even though we would have been expected and no one available to show us where to go. We ended up dropping one of our party off who walked to the office to get help. We then waited half an hour while fighting with the boat against the tide until someone came and moved two boats so that we could berth. These boats can be driven by anyone with a driving license whom may have no experience whatsoever so more instruction is required. This is such a relaxing way to holiday. People we met at the locks were helpful and lovely to chat to. This was our first boating holiday and would definitely do it again although we would like the option of a more luxurious boat - at Benson you are limited
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Benson - Benson
Calypso
Added on 21 April 2018

Caroline Gardner said

Had a fabulous last minute weekend on the Thames with Le Boat. The staff were excellent - very helpful and the boat was very comfortable Lovely scenery, especially around Windsor
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Chertsey - Chertsey
Classique Star
Added on 21 October 2017

Peta Barnard said

We enjoyed our cruise. The people at Benson were very helpful although they did forget to put the cushions on board I had paid for. I booked our cruise overy the phone and found the staff member incredibly helpful.
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Benson - Benson
Caprice
Added on 06 October 2017

Natasha Black said

Everyone was super friendly and helpful. The boat was great, spacious for the 4 of us. Its a great team holiday!
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Benson - Benson
Caprice
Added on 18 September 2017

Pat Armstrong said

Very friendly and helpful Staff. I would recommend them Excellent excellent Excellent
READ MORE
Benson - Benson
Consul
Added on 15 September 2017

Caroline Gardner said

Great last minute booking....fab service Fun cruising - boat was easy to handle
READ MORE
Dear Miss G,
Thank you for sharing your feedback, it is much appreciated. We are delighted to learn you enjoyed your cruise on the Thames with us and were satisfied with your boat and the customer service you received.
We would love to welcome you on board with us again soon.
Best wishes, The Le Boat team.
Benson - Benson
Continentale