Thames Path – Henley On Thames – Marlow – 26.04.2013

In mud and elder-scented shade
A reach away the breach is made
By dive and shout
That circles out
To Henley tower and town;
And ‘Boats for Hire’ the rafters ring,
And pink on white the roses cling,
And red the bright geraniums swing
In baskets dangling down. © Henley On Thames, John Betjeman, 1948.

Once I had walked through the small town of Henley and I reached the shores of the River Thames and the Thames Path. Just like John Betjeman all those years ago I found there was a whole of host of boats ready to be sailed, many of which were for hire. However, for me I was not going to be taking a leisurely trip I was going to be walking along the River and taking in the sights and sounds along the way instead. I decided to take a quick tour of Henley’s shoreline before I departed, where I walked alongside Mill Meadows. I spotted a curious stone Oblelisk which was not a war memorial but used to be a water pump used for washing and was moved due to the new road system. A vaguely familiar story to the one found in Ruislip! I passed by the Boating Museum which surely would have been a good place to visit! I walked as far as a long wooden bridge which looked a little precarious to me, I was so glad that this was not part of my route!

Turning back on myself I walked back into Henley to rejoin the path. Once I was in Henley I could not continue straight along the footpath, I had to cross the large stone bridge to continue on my journey. It was here that path became quite peaceful away from the hustle and bustle of Henley. However, the peacefulness was broken up by builders! As I passed by some a strange temporary structures being constructed for the famous “Henley Regatta”. The Regatta first took place during 1839 and was so popular that was held annually ever since. Over the years the Regatta was held with a fair amongst other things but Rowing became its main focus. The Regatta started out over a single afternoon and is now held over 5 days! It must be quite fun to watch!

From 2013 – 26.04.2013 – Thames Path – Henley On Thames – Marlow -Walk

Walking further along the Thames, I was quite intrigued to see a strange little island with a white building on it. As I drew closer to it, I could see that this was a small Temple. The Folly was built in the C18th by James Wyatt as a Fishing Lodge for the nearby Country House, Fawley Court. The design’s for most of the temple were based on the discoveries at Pompeii at the time of it’s construction. This little Temple was used as the start point in the very first Boat Race in the Regatta. This little Temple even inspired a tale to be written by Charles Dickens in mid C19th called the “Phantom of Regatta Island”. In the late C20th, the Regatta Stewards bought Temple Island, and carried out an extensive renovation of The Temple, which included all the paintings and furnishings.

As I continued on I came to a bend in the river, it was here the weather unfortunately turned on me. Although this was a not a huge downpour I was really still quite soaked! It was then I reached “Hambleden Lock”. I finally managed to negotiate my way around the when I looked over the opposite side of the bank to see an large white Building, which was “Hambleden Mill”. The Mill has been in this area since C11th as was mentioned in the Domesday Book, however the Mill is no longer functioning and has been converted into residential flats. Although from across the river you are unable to tell it is inhabited as the building still has the look and feel of a working Mill. Particularly with the Water rushing from the weir close by I could almost imagine that water wheels were turning and harnessing the power of the River!

From 2013 – 26.04.2013 – Thames Path – Henley On Thames – Marlow -Walk

From here I followed the path around the river until I found a huge sign for a pub “The Flower Pot”, I thought nothing of this at first as it seemed to be more for passing boat traffic. I soon realised that the Thames Path was about to take me away from the Thames completely and up a lane and towards the little pub! I did not stop there for a drink as it was still quite early! The path then took me through a Deer Park, although I could not see any of the lovely animals 😦 .The park belongs to “Culham Court” Manor, unlike the imposing Mill, was a much smaller Red-Brick, Queen Anne Style House, built in the Mid C18th. Culham was the home of the 5th Duke of Marlborough where he entertained the likes of King George III. Whilst the King stayed he had bread specially brought to him by horse relay all the way from London! It is still a private home today and it must be lovely to live in especially as it commands some amazing views I should imagine!

As the park was private land, the Pathway was clearly marked, to ensure that walkers did not wander off route! This did make quite a change as I have had some strange experiences with missing pathway signs on previously!. The path eventually took me out into fields where did encounter some wildlife, cows to be precise. I have absolutely nothing against the lovely creatures, but they are very curious particularly when you are walking across their field! I calmly walked across the open grassland and straight through the herd and did not look back! The path was not straight forward at this point as I would have taken the extension so I took the path around the field so I hastened my walking pace a little just in case any of the cows decided to follow me! I did a peer across the river to see a strange memorial on the other side but I could not quite make out what it was, however I have looked around was this the monument to the “Medmenham Ferry”?

From 2013 – 26.04.2013 – Thames Path – Henley On Thames – Marlow -Walk

The path took me out onto “Frog Mill” which seemed quite quaint to me, with very small cottages. Apparently there is Mill along this section which is named “Frog Mill”, but I did not actually see it myself. I rather like the name Frog Mill, but I don’t think I derives from having an infestation of Frogs in the area (or least I hope not!). Just beyond the group of houses was a caravan site, where I was a little confused about the path, as I had been taken away from the Thames before I was unsure whether to follow the huge footpath signs towards the caravan site or to continue walking across the small open field. I decided to venture carefully across the field, where I discovered a tiny waymaker with the Thames Path sign on it, I walked the right way after all 🙂 The footpath was quite narrow here and it took me across several small bridges, which was quite interesting as I encountered quite a few other walkers on this part of the route!

Further down the path from the Frog Mill was “Hurley Lock”, it is here at this particular lock where the River Thames splits into a number of channels. Historically the River was very difficult to navigate due to it’s shallows and bends, the problem was enhanced by the mills, who built dams to provide themselves with power supplies. Locks, such as Hurley and indeed Hambleden, made the River much more navigable. The name Hurley, derives from the small nearby village, which is older than the C11th and was known by the Danes as “Herlei“. A lot of the older buildings which are close to the River, were part of a a Benedictine Monastery and are mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. The lock is no longer just used for boat traffic but for fish traffic, as a there has been an addition of a “Salmon Ladder” allowing for Salmon to migrate upstream!

I continued on walking on past Hurley when the path encountered a huge footbridge taking it across the Thames. The bridge was known as the “Temple Footbridge” and was built in 1969 to provide a continuous Riverside walkway between Henley On Thames and the town of Marlow. Just beyond the footbridge was Temple Lock on the River Thames, which seemed a much larger lock than the ones I had previously come across. During 1890, when the lock was due to be replaced the builders decided to construct a whole new one, leaving the original lock intact! The old lock was modified so it could be used for much smaller craft. People had been trying to make this part of the Thames passable since C16th as a lock and weir had been in place since that time! The path changed from rugged walkway to a much smoother path indicating that I was no longer in the countryside. I had reached the town of Marlow, where I decided to end the first part of my walk for the day. I did not spend much time here as I was headed for Maidenhead for next walk.

For all my photo’s please click on the photo below –

2013 – 26.04.2013 – Thames Path – Henley On Thames – Marlow -Walk

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2 responses to “Thames Path – Henley On Thames – Marlow – 26.04.2013

  1. Pingback: Maidenhead – Windsor – 26.04.2013 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  2. Pingback: Richmond – Teddington Walk – 28.04.2013 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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