The River Thames Cruising Ground

Upstream or Downstream

Twickenham is an ideal starting point for extended cruising.


You don't need a large or fast craft to navigate the tidal Thames but it must be properly equipped. Take a look at the PLA's videos here at Boating on the Thames.

You can get to the sea, of course, and the world's your oyster. But you can also explore the Medway and the River Lee is accessible from Limehouse. Closer to home you can pick up the canal system at Brentford and spend the rest of your life meandering around our canals and rivers.

For a basic map of our waterways click here.


It's 130 miles to just above Lechlade and you will need a Licence from the Environment Agency and (for a cabin boat) A Boat Safety Certificate which, if your boat is equipped as it should be, is no problem.

At Shepperton you can branch on to the tranquil Wey and Godalming Navigations which go through Guildford.

At Reading you can take to the Kennet and Avon Canal and head off to Bath and Bristol or, if you feel competent, risk the Severn Estuary to Gloucester (on to the Warwickshire Avon and Stratford) or Worcester to reconnect to the canal system.

At Oxford you can connect to the Grand Union Canal which, sooner or later, takes you to most of the other canals in England.

All you need is time. A lot of it!

For a more pictorial satellite map of our waterways click here. Also take a look at the Environment Agency's advice on up and down river cruising. The Thames - A Secret Waterwayis a website worth investigating.

So if you're up for it you have to decide whether your up to it. Navigating our rivers and canals does not call for huge skill but you can still get yourself into embarrassing situations if nothing worse. Take a look at the Associated Thames Yacht Club Handbook. It tells you what you should know and be able to do.