Thames Path - Reading to Henley-on-Thames

17 February 2007

With Lucy going to Reading to steward for a dog show, Stephen and Henry took advantage of the opportunity for a car at both ends of a one-way walk, and went for another Thames walk, starting at Reading. The original intention had been to walk to Shiplake, but such good progress was made that we reached Henley-on-Thames.

River Thames above Caversham Bridge, Reading
Having walked from the Rivermead Leisure Centre, we reach the River Thames just above Caversham Bridge

Weird at Caversham Lock, River Thames
The weir at Caversham Lock

Iron railings growing through a tree
This tree has grown right through the railings

National Cycle Network signpost, Kennet Mouth, River Thames
We then reach Kennetmouth, where the River Kennet exits into the River Thames, and National Cycle Network route 4, having taken the route of the Kennet and Avon Canal from Bristol, meets route 5 from Widnes, before route 4 continues on to London along the Thames.

Kennet Mouth, River Thames, Reading
Kennetmouth, where the River Kennet meets the River Thames. Beyond the riverbank are lots of boats in the marina formed from gravel workings.

Thames Conservancy and Environment Agency signs on River Thames
One has to question whether it is a good use of the Environment Agency's limited resources to put up an EA sign which conveys exactly the same information as the older adjacent Thames Conservancy notice.

Sonning Lock, River Thames
Sonning Lock

Sonning Bridge, River Thames
Sonning Bridge has a total of eleven arches, and spans the main channel of the river; the brick structure was built in about 1775 to replace an earlier wooden bridge. More modern concrete bridges span more minor channels.

Concrete bridge taking Thames Path over the River Thames, Sonning
Having crossed Sonning Bridge onto the island, a footbridge carries the Thames Path over the rest of the Thames and onto the north bank.

Hot air balloon
A hot air balloon taking some lucky passengers on a morning journey over Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Henry on a muddy Thames Path near Shiplake
"Danger Deep Water" warns the post, but it was only a few muddy puddles to find our way around.

River Thames near Shiplake
The river bends as we approach Shiplake: white cliffs can just be seen behind the moored narrowboat

Flooded Thames Path near Shiplake
Henry looking muddy but about to get much cleaner, as our route lies ahead through that water pouring off the fields into the river. Unfortunately there was no way round, so we both ended up with very wet feet.

Flooded towpath above Shiplake
It was only 20cm deep at its worst, but enough to make the rest of the walk rather wet underfoot.

Henry looking a bit cleaner, hoping that there is no more paddling to come.

Shiplake railway station sign
We reach Shiplake, where the station has a splendid-looking old fashioned sign, albeit now moved to the car park. It is a great shame such signs were removed from platforms - not only do they look more elegant, but they are much easier to read from a moving train than the much smaller modern signs that replaced them.

Having made good time to Shiplake, and with no news from Lucy on her progress at the dog show, we pressed on towards Henley-on-Thames. As the old towpath had changed sides at least twice by use of ferries, the Thames Path now progresses a fair way along minor roads and pubic footpaths before regaining the river.

Miniature garden railway, Shiplake
The route took us along a private road with lots of very expensive-looking houses, but the most interesting was the one with its own miniature railway, with several sets of points...

Garden railway station, Shiplake
...and its own large miniature railway station building. At this point we were rather harassed by a muzzled greyhound which kept charging at Henry. We gradually pulled away from the dog and its owner as we walked back alongside the river.

Henry by the River Thames
Henry explores the waterside as we near Marsh Lock

Waterman boat owned by Hobbs of Henley above Marsh Lock
The Waterman boat owned by Hobbs of Henley makes its way upstream after exiting Marsh Lock

Wooden walkway takes Thames Path over weir stream to Marsh Lock
The impressive wooden walkway takes the Thames Path across the weir stream onto the lock island

Weir at Marsh Lock on the River Thames
And then takes the Thames Path back to the north bank. A lot of water is coming down the river, with most of the gates fully open.

River Thames at Henley-on-Thames
And so we reach the waterfront at Henley-on-Thames. A good walk, only slightly marred by the underwater section! Henry got extremely muddy, with a short clean interval - quite a contrast with the dogs at Lucy's show.

Total 16.5km, (15.1km on the Path) in 4 hours 5 mins (including 35 mins stopped).

previous Thames Path walk - Cholsey to ReadingThames Path walks next Thames Path walk - onwards to Cookham


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson