Adam Smith: The River Thames by South Stoke is one of the prettiest entrances to a river that I have had the pleasure of getting in to. A leafy gladed path runs down to the water. The Thames Path runs on the west side of the river and the Ridgeway on the east.
You can park on the west bank at Cholesy almost up to the river itself (there is not much space for parking), or if you prefer to get in on the east side, you will need to park at the end of the gravel path as while there is a footpath (the Ridgeway), it appears to go through a small private estate.
A superb stretch for a moonlight swim because of the lack of foiliage along the edge. Many spots to get in and out all along up to the beautifully preserved viaduct that spans the river. Once past the viaduct the out spots are fewer but it is only another km or so up to South Stoke where you can get out and have a great lunch at the Perch and Pike who have become used to neoprene-clad customers traipsing into their car park looking for sustenance.
This is one of the longer stretches of the Upper Thames without any locks so you do get many rowers on this stretch, but it is an ideal swim for those who want to get their 'heads down' but at the same time you are out in the countryside for those that simply want to drift in the water peacefully. An Alternative route is to swim upstream from South Stoke to Little Stoke:
Boats, Rowers and FIshermen