Henley to Bourne End - July 19th
This remains my favourite walk along the Thames Path. It’s approximately 11 miles and takes in Henley, Remenham, my favourite lock at Hambleden, the Culham Court estate with its deer park, Hurley and Marlow before reaching Bourne End. On this occasion I first drove from home to Henley, parked in the station car park and set off towards Henley Bridge. It was a very sunny Monday morning – a continuance of the hot and sunny weather we’d had all weekend when the temperature had reached 82°F. It was forecast to be just as hot, if not hotter today, so I must have been bonkers doing this walk! However, I’d brought plenty of water and sun cream with me, as well as my trusty Tilley sun hat!
Having crossed Henley Bridge and started walking along the path towards Remenham, I could see that work was already underway for Henley Regatta starting on August 11th. Huge marquees and seating grandstands were being erected and even this far ahead, there was a lot of grass watering going on. I guess everything has to be just perfect for the Regatta!
Once I’d passed Temple Island, everything calmed down. I soon reached Hambleden Lock with its outstanding weir. Even though walking along the footway over the weir isn’t on the path, it is a must-do every time I go there. I know I’m sad but I just love the loud noise of the water!
Another reason why I love this section so much is that the Thames Path has a right of way through Culham Court Estate with its beautifully manicured lawns and deer park. On this occasion I’d brought my ‘real’ camera with me and was really lucky enough to get some great photos of the white deer herd from a distance.
I reached Marlow at about 1 o’clock and sat on a bench overlooking the river, eating my sandwich. It was definitely ice cream weather so before setting off for the last few miles to Bourne End I treated myself to a 99.
There are always plenty of swans at Marlow. I did notice there was one particular adult swan with 10 cygnets in tow. I thought that this was rather a large brood. I overheard a couple discussing the large number and one told the other that half of them had been recently orphaned after their mother died and another swan had taken them on together with her own. A sad story if its true.
I was particularly interested in swans because the main reason I was walking the Thames this week of all weeks was that I wanted to witness the annual ceremony of Swan Upping. Swan Upping takes place in the third week of July annually, although for obvious reasons it was cancelled in 2020. In 2021 it was going to take place over the following 3 days. See the separate blog that I’ve written (or will be writing!) all about Swan Upping.
Anyway, back to my walk and I reached Bourne End marina at about 14:30. I was hot and very sweaty – yuk! To get back to Henley necessitated 3 trains from Bourne End railway station - Bourne End to Maidenhead, Maidenhead to Twyford and Twyford to Henley. This sounds horrendous but if you time it right it only takes 45 minutes and each train has air conditioning, so what’s not to like!
As mentioned, I was going to be staying over to see what Swan Upping was all about and had booked 2 nights at the Maidenhead Premier Inn. So, from Henley I drove the 10 miles to Maidenhead, checked in and had a much needed shower before feeling human again.
Once again, I’d had a thoroughly enjoyable walk along my favourite section of the Thames Path and had the excitement of Swan Upping to look forward to tomorrow!