Thames Path - Henley-on-Thames to Cookham
10 November 2007
Stephen and George took advantage of another fair autumn day for a walk along
the Thames, linking together previously walked sections. Much of the day had
grey, even dark, clouds scuttling across the sky, but fortunately it remained
The start of our walk on the riverfront in Henley-on-Thames, walking towards the
1780s bridge, which we then crossed to gain the eastern/southern bank.
Looking downstream from the bridge. Around that gentle curve is the Henley Reach
and the whole is the course of the Henley Regatta.
Boathouses across the river
At the end of the Henley Reach is Temple Island - the "Temple" is actually a
fishing lodge, with the cupola on top sheltering a statue staring up the reach.
It was built as a feature to enhance the view from Fawley Court.
As we start to round the corner towards Hambleden Lock, cattle watch rowers
After a short rest at Hamleden Lock (never ignore a bench on a rural walk!) we
pass the weir and Hambleden Mill, now converted to flats.
After a bit more walking along the river bank, the Thames Path is forced to make
a diversion away from the river when the old towpath changes to the other bank.
We walk up Ferry Lane to Aston where we pass the Flowerpot Hotel and pub.
We then climb past Holme Farm and contour along the hillside beneath
18th-century Culham Court. Near here we saw the first of a series of notices
offering a reward for a watch lost on a walk between Henley and Marlow, but we
didn't spot it.
After just over a kilometre away from the river bank, but with good views across
the river, we returned to the bank and pass a few houses near Frogmill Farm.
Past Frogmill, our route is overlooked by Danefield, built in 1900 as a private
house and now a hotel.
We have a long walk on the grass meadows to the west of Hurley, where there were
lots of Canada geese.
We then approach Hurley Lock and its weirs
The towpath takes this wooden bridge over the lock cut onto the lock island.
Half way to Cookham, and the picnic tables here were a good place to stop for
lunch. The tables were even equipped with barbecue stands, but it was just
sandwiches for me.
We crossed another wooden bridge back to the south bank at the tail of Hurley
Lock, and after a short way reach this 46-metre long curving wooden bridge
across the main channel. It was built in 1989 especially to take the Thames Path
to the north bank. Temple Lock can just be seen under the arch. (Intriguingly,
the guidebook has a photo of Temple Island on this page, which seems like an
editing error as Temple Island and Temple Lock are some way apart.)
George on Temple footbridge
There then follows a very pleasant section along quiet grassy meadows with
interesting buildings across the river.
Part of Bisham Abbey, now the Sports Council's National Recreation Centre.
Bisham church's late-17th-century tower reflected in the Thames
We then reach Marlow, the long autumnal sunlight shining brightly on the church
spire and on the 1832 bridge designed by William Tierney Clark.
The route through Marlow is convoluted and Seven Corner Alley along which the
towpath runs is well named. We took a small diversion to visit Marlow Lock from
where there is another good view, and a good spot for second lunch.
Horses by the towpath as we leave Marlow, with Quarry Wood ahead turning the
A long quiet section through fields is very pleasant (apart from the large
number of cowpats!).
Boats and cabins in the distance show that we are approaching Bourne End
Looking past boats to Bourne End railway bridge. A pedestrian bridge has been
attached to its side and takes the Thames Path to the western/southern bank,
from where more meadows take us pleasantly to Cookham. A delightful walk.
Total distance 21.6km (21.2km on the Thames Path)
in 4 hours 38 mins. I have now walked, in disjointed order, the Thames Path from
Reading to Kew, plus two small fragments at the very beginning and end,
amounting to 35% of the total Path now walked.