If you want to commune with old father Thames, nothing beats camping on the riverbank. A handful of locks offer basic camping facilities for the summer season, with access generally by boat or foot only. Perhaps the best of the lot is at Hurley, where the river is split by a dozen small islands – one of which has been given over by the Environment Agency to up to 10 tents. The village is a quiet backwater, home to the stylish Olde Bell coaching inn and a wonderfully ramshackle old boatyard, and the Thames walks are pure bucolic bliss. In season the lock gets busy with pleasure boats and kayakers, but at night you can retreat to your private island, with only your fellow campers and river birds for company. There are also camping facilities at Cookham Lock, and – west of Oxford – at Pinkhill and Rushey locks. You can download a guide to camping on the Thames from the Environment Agency website.


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