The Thames Path

Bourne End to Henley-on-Thames

Bourne End to Henley
Upstream: Henley-on-Thames to TilehurstBack to Main Page Downstream: Windsor to Bourne End

Introduction

This part of the Thames path heads through open fields from Bourne End to the beautiful town of Marlow. The path leaves the riverside briefly as it goes through Marlow, returning to the river under Marlow bridge. Beyond Marlow, the Thames path passes through the villages of Temple, Hurley and briefly leaves the river at Aston. Returning the river, the Thames path goes past Hambleden Lock, with it's large weir, then round through Remenham to the beautiful town of Henley-on-Thames, home of the famous regatta.

Getting to the Start

There is a station at Bourne End, at the end of two branch lines, one from Marlow, the other on the main line at Maidenhead, with the both lines operated by First Great Western Link. Trains run hourly off-peak from Maidenhead to Bourne End. From London Paddington the journey takes around 50 minutes, including the change at Maidenhead. Direct trains run from London to Bourne End at peak times Monday - Friday.

Alternatively, Chiltern Railways run trains regularly from London Marylebone to High Wycombe, from where there are Arriva Shires & Essex bus services (approximately every 30 minutes) to Bourne End.

The Walk

The Thames Path continues on the north bank of the river from Bourne End, so cross on the pedestrian bridge attached to the railway bridge. Shortly after crossing the bridge (where you turn left), you come to an attractive grassy area next to the river and then pass a small mariner.

Looking back to Bourne End Bourne End
Looking back to Bourne End Bourne End

Beyond the mariner is a boat-sales office and then the Thames Path returns to the edge of fields once more. You might be surprised to see trains running right next to the path - this part of the path is right next to the branch line to Marlow (known locally as the Marlow Donkey). The trains are infrequent however so are not much of a disturbance.

Upstream from Bourne End The Marlow Donkey pases
Upstream from Bourne End The Marlow Donkey passes

The path continues next to fields most of the way into Marlow, with a few houses appearing on the other bank. Soon you pass an area with some seats, with a sports ground behind.

Between Bourne End & Marlow Between Bourne End & Marlow
Between Bourne End & Marlow Between Bourne End & Marlow

Soon you come through another field and under the road bridge that carries the busy A404. Once under the bridge you come into the edge of Marlow, with Marlow Lock ahead. You pass some modern houses, then head through narrow lanes away from the river into the town. The path is well signed here, but do walk down the path to Marlow Lock, as the views from here are superb.

Marlow from Marlow Lock The other direction from Marlow Lock
View from Marlow Lock View from Marlow Lock

From the Lock, retrace your steps back to the Thames Path signs, through another lane, where you follow the path through some roads around the edge of the town. Marlow really is a gem - it's a beautiful and peaceful town, making it a popular place to visit. Soon you come to the church - the Thames Path passes through the church yard. The church itself is fairly large, with a particularly attractive tower. Just beyond the church is Marlow bridge, one of the more attractive bridges on the Thames, which dates from 1832. It looks to have been recently restored, as it's practically gleaming.

Marlow Marlow
Marlow Marlow
Marlow Marlow
Marlow Marlow
Marlow Marlow
Marlow Marlow

The path continues on the same side of the Thames and resumes on the other side of the bridge. Beyond the bridge the path becomes rural again very quickly, although some large houses continue to line the south bank of the river. Soon you get excellent views back to Marlow. Across the river is the lovely Bisham Church, soon followed by Bisham Abbey, which is now a sports centre used by the England Football Team.

Looking back to Marlow Bisham Church
Looking back to Marlow Bisham Church

Beyond Bisham Abbey, both banks of the Thames are relatively undeveloped, but soon you see Temple Lock and weir ahead. The lock keepers cottage on the island is now a cafe.

Temple Lock Temple Lock
Temple Weir Temple Lock

Although the Thames Path crosses to the other bank near here, it doesn't do so via the bridge over the lock, but instead uses a more recent (and attractive) footbridge beyond the lock which was opened in 1989.

Temple Footbridge
Temple Footbridge

The path goes past the mariner and caravan site on the other side of the river and through some tress on the south side before opening out into a popular meadow a short distance on from the bridge. Continuing on along the meadow you come to the next lock, Hurley Lock. Unusually, the Thames Path actually crosses the lock here, via another footbridge, and runs along the south side of the island. Half way across another bridge leads into the attractive village of Hurley, but the Thames Path continues on the island until the third bridge, which returns to the south bank of the river.

Hurley Lock The Weir at Hurley
Hurley Lock The Weir at Hurley

The weir continues to your right for sometime, and there is a caravan site to the left. As the Thames rounds the corner you come to the attractive hamlet of Frogmill.

Frogmill
Frogmill

Beyond Frogmill the Thames Path is peaceful and pleasant, and fairly undeveloped. You pass over a couple of small footbridges near Lower Culham Farm, where the path leaves the rivers edge briefly. Soon you come to the imposing Culham Court, dating from 1771. The Thames Path climbs away from the edge of the river here, through the edge of the gardens, giving lovely views of the Thames and the hills beyond.

The Thames at Culham Court The Thames at Culham Court
The Thames at Culham Court The Thames at Culham Court

Continue along the path (which is well-signed) passing the large house at Culham Farm on your right. This brings you into the small village of Aston (not in Birmingham!), with it's hotel, pub and houses. You join the road at Aston Lane, turn right onto the lane and continue, down Aston Ferry Lane to rejoin the Thames.

Shortly after rejoining the Thames you come to another lock, this time known as Hambleden Lock. The beautiful Hambleden Mill is across the river, although has now been converted into flats. Unusually the many bridges over the lock and weir are open to the public, and you can really appreciate the power of the water by crossing these bridges.

Hambelden Mill Hambelden Mill
Hambleden Mill Hambleden Mill and Weir
Hambelden Mill Houses at Hambelden
Hambleden Mill Houses at Hambleden

Shortly after the lock, you can see the large white mansion, known as Greenlands across the river, which was built for W H Smith, the bookseller, now well known in most British town centres.

Greenlands
Greenlands

Shortly after Greenlands you pass a temple on the island (known as Temple Island). This marks the end of the famous Regatta route. Soon after the island on the right you pass by the small village of Remenham on the left, just back from the river.

Temple Island Remenham
Temple Island Remenham

Beyond Remenham, Henley is clearly visible ahead. This part of the path runs next to fields almost all the way into the centre of Henley, although the other side is built up a little further out, making for a pleasant walk into the town. Henley-on-Thames itself is another beautiful town, with many wealthy residents. It's worth spending some time walking round the picturesque town, with it's interesting range of shops and many attractive buildings. The bridge also marks the boundary between Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, with the north side of the river being in Oxfordshire.

View north from Henley Bridge Henley Bridge
View north from Henley bridge Henley Bridge
View South from Henley bridge Henley
View South from Henley Bridge Henley-on-Thames
Henley Bridge Henley on Thames
Henley Bridge Henley on Thames
Henley on Thames Henley on Thames
Henley on Thames Henley on Thames

Getting Back

There is a station in Henley-on-Thames, but you might have to look hard to find it! It can be found by crossing the road bridge, then turning immediately left into the narrow Thames Side, which comes into Station Road. The station is down here, next to the car park. It has an hourly service (seven days a week) to the mainline station of Twyford, one stop east of Reading, from where there are frequent services to Reading, Maidenhead, Slough and London Paddington. To get to Bourne End by train, you need to change twice, once at Twyford (onto a train for London Paddington) and again at Maidenhead (this time onto a train for Marlow or Bourne End). All these services are operated by First Great Western Link.

An alternative to the train is to travel by bus. Arriva services 328 and 329 run every 30 minutes from Henley to Reading and from Henley to Marlow and High Wycombe. Thames Travel service 139 runs hourly from Henley to Wallingford, for connections onto Shillingford, Dorchester, Berinsfield, Burcot, Culham and Abingdon.

Links

The following web sites provide information on the area.


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