I know quite a few of the many walks near Thame as I live here. The small market town nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside boasts some of the finest footpaths and sites in the English countryside whilst Oxfordshire might not be known for having the biggest hills, it certainly has some truly stunning locations for you to walk. As well as the countryside there is a river Thames, also known as Isis. The Thames runs alongside Thame. On the outskirts of the town, there is a bridge over the river which is a great location to play Poohsticks with the kids.
Although not as breathtaking as the Wittenham Clumps, Thame has some amazing country walks to explore. Couple a long day striding out through the fields and byways around the town and you’ll be more than ready to take in some of the pubs and cafes that dot the area.
Some of you may already know I’m a keen runner. I spent many hours exploring the routes around that Thame. Some of these footpaths are great for both training and more sedate countryside walks.
Below are three of the best walks near Thame that I can recommend.
The Phoenix Trail
Distance: Varies. A good starting walk covers about 5 miles.
Difficulty rating: easy
Time: about two hours
The Phoenix Trail is an old railway line that runs from the centre of Thame to the nearby town of Princes Risborough. The total distance from end to end is around 7 miles.
The railway lines and sleepers have long since disappeared. Those pieces of history have been replaced by tarmac and limestone gravel.
Even though the route is easy going I’d recommend that you wear some lightweight walking shoes, or boots. About half of the trail has disintegrated and now consists of loose gravel and mud. During the winter it can get pretty dirty down there.
Some points of interest on the Phoenix Trail include several markers on the grass verges. Some resemble Telegraph poles a top which set some very unusual creatures. When I first saw these in particular the 2-mile marker I thought it was the woodcarving of your from the Winnie the Pooh books.
Other markers have been designed to look like railway signal towers. The copper sculptures on top of the poles are the work of artist Lucy Casson. The signal pole and seats were designed by a team of six students from Rycotewood College in Thame, led by Angus Ross.
This route is incredibly easy. There are no turns or junctions. All you need do is walk as far as you feel comfortable, then turn around and head back to Thame. The total length of the route to Princes Risborough back is just over 14 miles. I’ve seen some websites that suggest the total distance from Thame to Risborough is only 5 miles, but I’m assuming they don’t start at the end of the trail which is close to the Better gym.
Starting at Upper High Street car park follow High Street, heading away from the town centre, until you reach the mini roundabout. Take the road ahead onto Park Street and keep to the right-hand side path. Continue walking until you reach the fuel station, then turn right into Thame Park Road. Just after you pass the Falcon pub, cross the road and take the next left into Station Yard.
Walk for another 200m and turn right immediately after the Phoenix Electrical offices. In front of you is a gated fence which is always open. Go through the gate and turn left. You are now on the Phoenix Trail – feel to walk as far as you wish.
A quick note – the turnaround point for a 5-mile walk along the Phoenix Trail is marked on the map above. It’s the point where the trail crosses a minor road travelling from left to right.
Kingsey and Towersey via the Phoenix Trail
Distance: 6.2 miles
Difficulty rating: medium
Time: three hours
Kingsey and Towersey are two small villages not far from tame. At the heart of both are churches, stunning examples of mediaeval religious architecture. Towersey has a watering hole (link to the pub here) where you can stop off for a cold drink if you’re starting to feel the heat.
The longest of the three routes, this walk near Thame has a medium difficulty rating due to the distance. There are no hills, only the gently rolling countryside of Oxfordshire.
At the centre of Thame is the upper High Street car park and it’s here from where will start our walk. Follow High Street, heading away from the town, until you reach the mini roundabout. Turn left into East Street a good reference point here is the Cross Keys pub, which must be kept on your right.
Follow this road past the community hospital and go straight ahead when you reach the next mini roundabout. You’re now walking on Kingsey Road. The path does peter out, but you can cross over and use the path on the far side top the way behind the hedges in touch Churchill Crescent.
Continue on the path until you reach the main road.
On the far side, you’ll see the Chinnor Rugby Club.
Cross the road and head down the track keeping the rugby club on your left.
After a short time, this track narrows into a path through fields. In the distance on the far side of the field, you see a large stile which you need to crossover to continue walking through an avenue of trees. A point of interest: this used to be the old carriageway from Thame to Tythrop house.
Climb over the metal gate and cross the bridge. As you pass the cottage on your left bear slightly left across a yard, through the gate and across a small field until you come to another stile.
You’ll now find yourself standing in a large field. Ahead of you is a large block of woodland. Aim for the left-hand edge, then continue along the path keeping the woodland to your right. Cross the next stile and look slightly left. You should now see some horse jumps, keep these to your right.
Cross the stile in the fence and follow the track across the field until you reach the junction in the path. Turn right and continue up the incline Tythrop house is on your right. The path you’re on meets a metal fence. Follow this fence into the Richard gate. Go through and you’ll find yourself on a driveway on the edge of the village of Kingsley.
Follow the drive until you reach the road, then turn right. This is the main road to Princes Risborough Road. Crossover and turn right. You’ll have to walk on the grass verge for a short distance until you reach the track signposted public bridleway.
Follow this track until you come to the end of the horse paddocks.
Walk over the bridge and past the car park.
Here the track gets a lot narrower and remains so for about three-quarters of a mile after which you’ll arrive in the village of Towersey and follow the road keeping the pond on your right and the church on your left. When you come to the crossroads carry straight on.
Continue walking past the Three Horseshoes pub until you reach the bridge over the road. The Phoenix Trail travels over this bridge and will take you back to Thame. Look across the road and you’ll see a small footpath that rises up the shop incline and joins the Phoenix Trail.
Follow the Phoenix Trail towards Thame. Just after you pass the second bridge over the trail turn right and bear left onto a footpath alongside the houses. Walk past the John Hampton Primary School and turn right into Elms Park.
Follow the path across the park until you reach another set of iron gates. Go through the side entrance turn left into Park Street and follow the road back down into the town centre and the Upper Street car park. school
Thame to Long Crendon
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: easy to medium
Time: About 2 1/2 hours
Long Crendon is a large village approximately 3 miles away from Thame.
To get to Long Crendon you will cross the county border into Bucks, an equally beautiful part of the country. Part of the roots will use the disused Thame to Long Crendon road that was closed way back in the 1970s. But don’t worry about this, no traffic travels along this road as there is no vehicle access at either end.
Caution: part of this route requires you to cross the A419 leading to Oxford.
Starting at St Mary’s Church, Thame, travel north and walk between the line of metal stanchion posts in the road. You’re now on the old Long Crendon road. Cross over the bridge (maybe pause for a quick game of Poohsticks), then continue for about 200 m. At this point you reach the Thame by-pass. Please do take care crossing as the traffic is very fast moving.
On the far side, you’ll see a small footpath through the grass. Follow this path and you’ll rejoin the old Long Crendon Road. After a short distance, you’ll see a stile on your left – cross over into the field.
Keeping the fence on your right, keep walking and cross over the next stile. Once over the stile, turn right and head north until you come to another stile. At the stile turn left into the next field. Follow the public footpath markers and head in a north-westerly direction across two more fields.
Now you need to keep the hedge and stream on your left and cross both double stiles and the footbridges.
Cross the next field, exit via the stile and you’ll find yourself standing on a road. Turn right and keep walking until you see a fork in the road. At this point, you need to take the right branch. This road will take you into the heart of Long Crendon. Just you come into the village you’ll see a short, steep hill and, on your right, the manor house.
As you enter the village, you’ll see a few shops on your left. A perfect opportunity to grab a drink and a snack before moving on.
Directly ahead of you is High Street. Cross the road (there’s a pedestrian crossing a little to the left of your route), then keep walking until the High Street comes to a pretty abrupt end at the place where the old courthouse and church nestle. Whilst travelling along this road do take some time to look at the buildings that line the streets – they are stunning!
There’s also a fascinating museum in the courthouse – take a few minutes to explore some of the local history.
As you head towards the church look slightly right and you’ll notice a track heading down between a pair of houses. The enclosed trail is well-marked and is hard to miss.
As you exit the tree-lined track you’ll descend a small hill into the fields. Keep the hedge on your right, head towards the gap in the hedgerow, walk through and then continue following the footpath, keeping the hedge on your left.
Cross two fields and keep walking south east until a wider track crosses the trail. Turn right at this junction and walk towards the gate in front of you. Pass through the gate and along the footpath, keeping the hedge and pond on your left.
The track breaks out into an industrial estate. Follow the path to the end of the road, turn left and then right into Hikers Way. At the end of Hikers Way turn right and keep going until you see a stile into a field.
Head diagonally across the next two fields, then bear a little to your right and walk towards the stile up a small incline. Over the next stile is the main road. Turn left and follow the path south.
After a short distance, you see a junction conveniently marked with a former RAF trainer aircraft. Cross the main road and walk into the junction and down the road. After a few hundred metres you’ll come to the point where you crossed the Thame by-pass. Cross the road and head back to your start point.
Thame Outer Circuit
At 20 miles long, the Thame Outer Circuit is the longest circular walk around the town. For the most part, the route follows marked footpaths through the Oxfordshire countryside surrounding the market town. During this walk, you’ll travel through, or past, the villages of Long Crendon, Shabbington, Tetsworth, Sydenham, Emmington, Towersey, Kingsey and Haddenham Church End.
You’ll also cross the Rycote Estate and the Oxfordshire Golf Course (but you’ll need membership to pause at the 18th hole).
The going is good, the terrain is mostly flat with a few short, shallow climbs. However, Long Crendon sits atop a small hill and the rise from is quite steep. The good news – this climb is only around 100m.
One point to note for winter walkers, or anyone setting off after a period of heavy rain: the low-lying areas can be waterlogged, or even flooded (the latter often experience near the river Thame).
Broken down into three sections, the walking route is easily accessible. You can join the circuit at pretty much any point you choose – check the map below for access points – but the most widely recognised start and finish points are at Haddenham and Thame Parkway, the nearby train station.
Looking for More Walks Near Thame?
Three walks near Thame for you. To be honest, there are hundreds more to choose from and the chances of me documenting every possible option are slim. That said, I’ll be adding several more once I’ve walked and mapped out the routes.
Enjoy Thame. Enjoy the walks. Enjoy Life.