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Hiking in Britain

Walk #794: Thames Path: Marlow to Reading

 

P2007B040247	Sencan outside Marlow station.
     
P2007B040251	Detailing on Marlow Bridge.
P2007B040247 Sencan outside Marlow station.
     
P2007B040251 Detailing on Marlow Bridge.

General Data

Date Walked 04/11/2007
County Berkshire, Oxfordshire
Start Location Marlow
End Location Reading station
Start time 08.49
End time 16.32
Distance 18.2 miles
Description This was a pleasant walk following the Thames Path southwestwards.
Pack Today I carried my 30-litre Karrimor rucksack, filled with waterproofs, a book and other odds and ends.
Condition I feel absolutely fine after this walk.
Weather Today was a bright, sunny and slightly chilly day, with little cloud in the sky.
OS map Landranger number 175 (Reading & Windsor, Henley-on-Thames & Bracknell)

 

P2007B040261	Looking back to Marlow.
     
P2007B040267	Heading southwest towards Temple Lock.
P2007B040261 Looking back to Marlow.
     
P2007B040267 Heading southwest towards Temple Lock.

 

P2007B040273	Temple Bridge.
     
P2007B040283	A sign at Hurley Lock.
P2007B040273 Temple Bridge.
     
P2007B040283 A sign at Hurley Lock.


Map of the walk


Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.

 

P2007B040292	Heading west from Hurley Lock.
     
P2007B040319	Heading west to Hambleden Lock.
P2007B040292 Heading west from Hurley Lock.
     
P2007B040319 Heading west to Hambleden Lock.

 

P2007B040331	The Thames between Hambleden Lock and Temple Island.
     
P2007B040340	Temple Island.
P2007B040331 The Thames between Hambleden Lock and Temple Island.
     
P2007B040340 Temple Island.


Notes

Due to our house move, the plan for Sencan and myself to walk the Thames Path had taken a back seat. However, with all of our boxes (nearly) unpacked and the house more or less right, we decided to do the next stretch of the path from where we had left off in Marlow. The journey up to Marlow from Southampton took longer than I expected, and we pulled up in a narrow car parking space at the station and started to get ready for the day ahead.

The weather looked to be promising, with bright clear skies overhead that were cold nonetheless, and as we walked down the road towards the river we pulled into a shop and bought some food for the day - crisps, nuts, some chocolates and, joy of joys, some custard cream biscuits. Suitably provisioned, we walked down the roads to the magnificent Marlow Bridge, an old suspension bridge that uses chains instead of cables. Marlow is a lovely little town, and like many of the Thames-side towns the river seems to give it a heartbeat.

We chatted as we walked along the path towards the Temple Bridge, repeatedly passing a man who was taking photographs of the scenes in the sunshine. It was a marvellous, if slightly chilly, day for a walk, and I also frequently stopped to take photos of the riverside scenes. Although I have walked this stretch of river three times before it was still a pleasure to be doing it again.

It was a gloriously sunny day as we walked on, crossing a bridge on the island that passed Hurley Lock, where unofficial yellow signs pointed the way to various places along the Thames nearby. Another bridge led back onto the southern riverbank, which we followed westwards. We chatted away as the path eventually left the riverside and started climbing up, passing below Culham Court and reaching the little hamlet of Aston, where the Flower Pot Inn looked very inviting, but we walked on back towards the river.

There was a bench by the river here, and Sencan stopped to tie up her boots, which had come undone. The next stretch of the walk past Hambleden Lock was very pleasant, and we concocted stories together as we strolled along. On the other side of the river there were some formal gardens in front of some very expensive houses, and a few of the small tree were spectacularly fire-red. Sencan was impressed by the lovely little fishing lodge on Temple Island, after which we headed down the long straight towards Henley. The towpath was very busy with people out for the afternoon, and I made some strange comments to some just to see their reactions. Yes, I am that strange, but I was very happy, and deeply in love with the woman beside me. Love does that to me.

After crossing the Thames in Henley we continued on along the western bank of the river, leaving the busy Henley behind as we walked along the long footbridges that take the walkers across to the island that houses Henley Lock. This bridge is quite spectacular, and there were some good views along the river. After passing the lock another bridge led back to the riverbank, and we headed on across a lovely meadow. Unfortunately we came across the less pleasant side of walkers - a dog off its leash ran loose and started trying to attack another dog that was firmly on a leash. It was the sort of situation that causes everyone to stop and stare, and fortunately the owner of the loose dog ran over and restrained it before too much damage was done. The viciousness of the dog was frightening.

Soon afterwards the path left the riverbank and stared heading in towards Bolney Court and Shiplake. On the way we passed a little miniature railway in the gardens of a house on the left, complete with two branches and an ornate miniaturised station building. By the time we reached Shiplake we were both in need of a rest, so we stopped off at the Baskerville Arms, which was right on the path. I had a Sunday roast whilst Sencan had a vegetarian option, and as we set off I felt slightly unwell as a result of the combination of the pint of bitter I had consumed and the heat.

A road and footpath walk took us down to Shiplake Lock, after which we started following the northern bank of the river westwards. It was an enjoyable stroll in the afternoon, but Sencan start flagging slightly. It seemed to take an age to reach the magnificent 1775-built brick Sonning Bridge. It took a couple of minutes to cross due to the traffic, but we then headed back along the Thames southwestwards. We had to get the train back to Marlow, but Sencan was walking slower and slower as her feet hurt more. We struggled on along the fields to the east of Reading, and there were plenty of people out enjoying the late Autumn sunshine.

After the bridge over the entrance to the Kennet and Avon Canal (which I had to get a boat across when I walked this path in 2000 due to the bridge being replaced) we walked faster towards Reading Lock and the city centre. At one point we saw a very friendly grey squirrel who kindly paused long enough for me to take photographs of it. I guess that being in such a populated area it is used to people.

At Reading Bridge we left the river and started the walk south to the station. We arrived and managed to buy ticket in plenty of time before the next train, and Sencan rested her feet as we waited. It had been a lovely walk along a beautiful stretch of the Thames.

 

P2007B040350	Heading south to Henley.
     
P2007B040362	Looking north to Henley Bridge.
P2007B040350 Heading south to Henley.
     
P2007B040362 Looking north to Henley Bridge.

 

P2007B040382	A boat on the Thames near Shiplake.
     
P2007B040394	Heading southwest from Shiplake Lock.
P2007B040382 A boat on the Thames near Shiplake.
     
P2007B040394 Heading southwest from Shiplake Lock.


Directions

The walk is also covered in detail in the Thames Path National Trail Guide, by David Sharp, ISBN 1-84513-062-6 published by Aurum Press Ltd. Click on the image to the right to go to the Amazon page for the book.

The exceptions to this are at the start and end of the walk. At the start, leave Marlow station and follow Station Approach until it ends at a crossroads. Here turn left to head down Dedmere Road until it ends at the High Street. Turn left down the High Street, and when it reaches Marlow Bridge turn right to join the Thames Path.

The walk ends at Reading station. To get to the station leave the Thames at Reading Bridge, and turn left down the B3345 road. At a large roundabout carefully head straight on to pass under a large railway bridge, immediately on the other side of the bridge there is another roundabout. Turn right here and head along another road westwards for a short distance; the entrance to the station is on the right.

cover

 

P2007B040448	A squirrel in a tree.
P2007B040448 A squirrel in a tree.


Distances

From To Distance (m)Ascent (ft) Descent (ft)
Marlow station Henley-on-Thames 8.9 243 243
Henley-on-Thames Shiplake station 2.4 52 39
Shiplake station Reading station 6.9 157 135

This makes a total distance of 18.2 miles, with 452 feet of ascent and 417 feet of descent.

  Profile of walk #794
For more information on profiles, ascents and descents, see this page


Transport

There are regular train services between Reading and Marlow. Take a train eastwards to Maidenhead, and change there for the Marlow branch.


Disclaimer

Please note that I take no responsibility for anything that may happen when following these directions. If you intend to follow this route, then please use the relevant maps and check the route out before you go out. As always when walking, use common sense and you should be fine.

If you find any information on any of these routes that is inaccurate, or you wish to add anything, then please email me.

All images on this site are © of the author. Any reproduction, retransmissions, or republication of all or part of any document found on this site is expressly prohibited, unless the author has explicitly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit, or republish the material. All other rights reserved.

Although this site includes links providing convenient direct access to other Internet sites, I do not endorse, approve, certify or make warranties or representations as to the accuracy of the information on these sites.

And finally, enjoy your walking!


Nearby walks

#TitleWalk length (miles)
61Reading to Marlow18.5
62Marlow to Slough16.3
99Newbury to Reading19.6


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