Walk Distance: 6 km (or as much of it as you want to do)
Walk Duration: 1 hour 45
OS Map: OS Explorer 159 – Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne, OS Landranger 175 Reading & Windsor
Suitable for: Pushchairs (exit Thames Path at Scours Lane to avoid rail bridge), little legs, babies in carriers, bikes, all the family.
Walk features: Riverside walking, rural views, plenty of ducks to feed, great picnic spots, great adventure playground at start, good paths whole route – fully paved for first third of walk, train spotting opportunities, return by train.
Despite starting in central Reading this stretch of the Thames Path is very scenic and becomes rural in feel within a surprisingly short walk whilst still on paths that are bike, toddler and pushchair friendly. I walked this route solo with my toddler, her pushchair and my 8 week old baby in a carrier. My toddler walked a good two thirds of the way and we made the return route by train from Tilehurst Station, finishing up with picnic supper and playtime in Christchurch Meadows back by Reading Bridge. A note for pushchair users – exit the walk at Scours Lane and take the no. 16 bus back to Reading Station. If not, you will end up hauling your pushchair up steps over rail bridges at both Tilehurst Station and the exit from the Thames Path – a mistake yours truly made for you! If you are a woman walking solo too you might not enjoy the narrow and concealed nature of this semi-urban final al stretch of path, although I met nothing or noone untoward when walking there myself.
The Reading to Tilhurst Thames Path walk starts from Reading Bridge, just a short walk from Reading Rail Station and the centre of town. At the south side of Reading Bridge (the station and city centre side) follow the footpath sign down the side of the Thames Water Utilities office building. This brings you out on the side of the river with Christchurch Meadows, tennis courts and playground on the opposite bank.
Turn your back to Reading Bridge and start your walk along the Thames Path. This stretch of the river is quite built up but interesting in its own right with painted canal boats moored to the banks and a great view of the Caversham and Christchurch Meadows War Memorial on the opposite bank.
The walk now brings you to Caversham Bridge. If you need a picnic then it is worth a diversion up and over the bridge into Caversham itself where there is a Waitrose as well as several delicatessens, bakers and other inviting options. Beyond Caversham Bridge the path opens out into pleasant formal parkland with a well paved promenade running next to the Thames. It’s a great spot for older kids to bike or scoot, to feed the ducks, watch the boats or stop for an al fresco snack or drink on one of the many benches.
From here the promenade continues with some lovely riverside views as well as some equally impressive ones of the backgardens (if you can call them that) of the luxurious residences on the opposite bank of the Thames. It begins to feel more and more rural as you leave the town behind you.
At the end of the paved promenade the walk continues on a narrower stony path. In good weather it is still well-made enough for most pushchairs to manage it ok but an all-terrain buggy definitely makes for a smoother ride. The path leads out into meadows and as the river bends around to the left the park bustle of the main Thames Promenade is abruptly left behind and exchanged for the reflective quiet and solitude of a very different Thames, broken only by noisy geese and the occasional rhythmic splash of oars as a rowing eight goes by.
Passing an island river, the walk continues back towards the outskirts of a more residential area and enters a stretch of meadow with a much more park feel to it. At the end of this stretch the Thames Path intersects with Scours Lane – the turn-off point for those wanting to avoid a struggle over lots of steps on a rail bridge with a pushchair. If you are leaving the Thames Path here then turn left and follow Scours Lane passing under the railway and coming to Oxford Road. From here you can turn right and catch a bus back to central Reading from the bus stop a few hundred yards up the road on your side.
For those continuing to Tilehurst Station, cross over Scours Lane, walking though the car park of the units opposite to rejoin the Thames Path. The walk now takes you on a narrow, shady stretch that follows the steep railway embankment on the left and a similarly narrower river on the right. Tiny tots prone to dashing off will benefit from holding hands here or a backpack with reigns! Kids who enjoy train spotting will be in their element as trains regularly thunder past above you. Eventually you reach a railway bridge leaving the path to the left. Head up the steps for even better views over a busy section of track below and then on up and over the railway, emerging by the side of the Roebuck Hotel – a bit of a run-down looking pub supposedly haunted by an old admiral!
Turn left onto the Oxford Road and continue until you come to Tilehurst Station – also with a ghostly reputation. Here you can catch a train back to Reading around every 30 minutes although do check the timetable before you set off. The journey takes five minutes and if you exit Reading Station by its north exit, you will find yourself on the opposite side of the road to your starting point just down from Reading Bridge.
Map of Route:
The start of the Reading to Tilehurst Thames Path walk is easily accessible by all transport modes. Reading Station is under five minutes walk away from Reading Bridge, the bus station is right outside Reading Station and for those arriving by car, there is a pay and display car park opposite Christchurch Meadows on the north side of Reading Bridge.
Rate this walk:[kkratings]