Is it possible to take a river cruise from London to Oxford? Or better how far up the Thames can one reach on a commercial cruiser?

  • 2
    @pnuts: well, in principle you can get to Lancaster. Or setting out from London in the other direction, with the right boat you can reach Calais from the Thames. But if you're in Birmingham or Calais then you aren't on the Thames any more ;-p Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 20:22
  • 1
    If you do just hire something and stick to the Thames until you run aground (not literally), the answer is probably Lechlade. But I don't know whether that's actually the highest point you can go while sticking to your rental agreement. It's traditionally given as the highest navigable point of the Thames, but I've never been there and I don't know "navigable by what". I also don't know if it's the river as such that becomes unnavigable, or just the lowest weir with no lock or something like that. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 20:32
  • @SteveJessop Most people going long distances starting from the Thames take a right turn by the station in Oxford, go a short way along the Castle Mill Stream (under the brand new railway bridge!), and onto the canal round the back of Worcester College. From there, large parts of the UK's waterways are you Oyster! (Well, freshwater oyster anyway...)
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:49
  • 2
    The lock you go through to join the Oxford to Coventry canal (onwards links to Birmingham etc) is quite pretty, shown in this photo of mine
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:51
  • Did you take this cruise? Anything to share about it?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


The River Thames is technically navigable as far as Lechlade, a few miles upstream from Oxford. However the river narrows significantly just above Oxford and is not used, as far as I know, by cruise boats. Boat cruises are available from Oxford going downstream - this Google search will give you a start point. This page and website will give you links to other cruises around London, and places between the two.

As far as I know there are no cruises that run to Oxford from London (or vice versa), because of the distance and the need to navigate multiple locks. Going one way would occupy at least a day's sailing at riverboat speeds, and there isn't much demand for multi-day cruises.

In order to see as much of the Thames as possible, I would recommend multiple cruises starting from different places. Boats operate out of Oxford, Windsor, Henley, Caversham (near Reading) and Maidenhead, as well as London, and there may be other places.

If cost is no object you can organize your own private boat cruise (see the River Thames site above). For the right price they will probably go as far as you want, but without a significant number of people the cost is going to be extreme.

As a much cheaper alternative to private charters, rent a self-drive boat for a week. These are surprisingly affordable, and need no qualifications to drive. A week rental will allow you to see a large chunk of the Thames. The rentals are generally in the Upper Thames (i.e. outside of London). You won't be allowed into the busy commercial waterway that is the London Thames, but outside of that you are free to go where you want. Hoseasons is the market leader, but there are others as well.

  • Cheaper alternative, walk the Thames Path, which stays mostly on the bank of the river, although it alternates in sides at times. nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path It will take more than one day as well.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 16:30
  • 5
    " simply because of the distance." - plus the fact that there are about 35 locks between Teddington Lock (the end of the tidal section of the Thames) and Oxford.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 19:00
  • "there may well be other places" definitely Henley and Caversham (Reading). You can barely heave a brick without hitting one ;-) There may be some gaps in coverage between Reading and Oxford just because that stretch is a bit more rural. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 20:15
  • 4
    Another option is to grab 8 of your closest friends, hop into a coxed 8, and row it! Takes about 2 days, assuming you carry the boat at locks rather than waiting to go through them the "normal" way. It's a moderately popular option for college boat clubs looking to raise money for themselves or other charities!
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:53
  • 1
    @Willeke The most famous other kind is quite a bit slower though! ;-)
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .