The lovely River Thames is familiar worldwide as the river that flows in front of the Houses of Parliament in London. Before it gets to London though it gently weaves its way through some of the most beautiful English countryside. The River Thames is 346 km long . It has 45 locks or chiuse which make it navigable from the source to the sea. There is a perfectly kept and well marked footpath along side it all the way into London. There are steamers running from Oxford to Windsor to London. If you are lucky enough to go on the River Thames in a small boat you will see what delights there are to see along its banks. Small islands, little creeks and beaches, all overhung by lush trees, graceful Weeping Willows, tall soft reeds, beautiful horse- chestnuts. Nature seems so happy and settled there making a home for a wide variety of birds and animals. The water flows gently and smoothly and the locks make it easy as well as interesting. When you go towards London and the sea you are going downstream and so the water in the lock takes you down to a lower level each time. You call out a greeting to the Lock keeper, wave at all the people watching from the banks, maybe buy an ice cream and then you re on the way. There are lots of nice places to stop and have a drink, lots of different boats from small rowing boats and canoes to boats big enough to cross the channel. The pace of life is slow and dreamy . You can soon see what inspired Kenneth Graeme to write The Wind in the Willows. You half expect to see Ratty having a picnic on the bank, Mr.Toad skulling past. Here is what the poet Matthe Prior (1664-1721) wrote about the Thames.