Henley Circular via Great Wood walk

The Thames Path in the morning, historic Hambledon for lunch, and back via the hills above Henley in the afternoon. Short but pretty.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Option Post # Weather
Sat, 04-May-24 Saturday Walk - Henley Circular via The Great Wood (reverse) 7 glorious sunshine
Sat, 28-Jan-23 Saturday Walk - Henley Circular via Great Wood walk (reverse) 9
Sat, 01-Jan-22 Saturday Walk New Year's Day walk - West: Henley Circular - out along the Oxfordshire Way and through the Great Wood, then return along the River Thames 23 bits and pieces of rain till lunch
Wed, 16-Jun-21 Wednesday walk Henley Circular via Great Wood walk - The Thames path, Hambleden, the Great Wood, then along the Oxfordshire Way through Henley Park 9 very hot sunny day
Sat, 15-Aug-20 Saturday Walk Henley Circular (reverse & variation) 8 dry and overcast
Sat, 23-Feb-19 Saturday walk - Henley Circular via Great Wood - the original SWC walk 20 lovely sunshine
Sat, 03-Feb-18 Saturday Walk Henley Circular Via The Great Wood (Reverse) 15 light but persistent rain
Wed, 29-Nov-17 Wednesday Walk: Henley Circular via the Great Wood (clockwise) - The Great Wood, Hambledon, and the Thames Path 11 mainly sunny
Sun, 01-Jan-17 New Year's Day Walk - West 8 drizzle turning to steady rain all day temperature mild but conditions miserable
Fri, 01-Jan-16 New Year's Day Walk - Champers by the Thames 10 cloud with drizzle late afternoon
Sat, 28-Feb-15 Henley Circular 6
Sat, 12-Apr-14 Henley Circular 30
Wed, 01-Jan-14 ? Henley to Marlow (longer version of 2–08b) 9
Sat, 13-Jul-13 Henley Circular 10
Tue, 01-Jan-13 ? Henley Circular (clockwise)
Sat, 30-Jun-12 Henley Circular
Sat, 01-Jan-11 Henley Circular
Sun, 04-Jul-10 Henley Circular
Sat, 02-Jan-10 Henley Circular
Sat, 03-Jan-09 Henley Circular via Great Wood
Sun, 14-Sep-08 Henley Circular via Great Wood
Sat, 05-Jan-08 Henley Circular via Great Wood
Sun, 22-Apr-07 Henley Circular via Great Wood
Sat, 06-Jan-07 Henley Circular via Great Wood
Sun, 29-Oct-06 Henley Circular via Great Wood
Length: 16.1 km (10 miles) 3 out of 10 T=1.1
This is a lovely walk, and by doing it in reverse (there are instructions for doing it this way), you have a short leg back to Henley after lunch. I would also recommend taking a different route back from Hambledon, using the instructions from the book 2 walk 7 ending via Aston & Remenham here, or just do the normal route along the river.
Trains: Get the 1008 Didcot Parkway train from Paddington arriving Twyford 1037, where you change to the 1045 Henley train, arriving 1057. Using the Elizabeth Line: Farringdon 0938, Ealing Broadway 0955 Twyford 1033.
Return trains are xx00 & xx30.
Lunch: The Stag & Huntsman (01491 571 227), in Hambleden. For picnics, the nearby church. The Flowerpot, on the alternative route back, is apparently open as a free house after refurbishment.
Tea: Various places in Henley, with The Chocolate Factory and Angel on the Bridge on your route to the station.
  • 08-May-24

    Given his 'photos taken on this walk are up on the website, there were at least 2 on this walk. If there were more of you, please don't be shy in correcting this number.

  • 09-May-24

    7 in total on the walk in glorious sunshine . An Elizabeth Line cancellation meant some arrived late and reversed the reverse ending to make a 12.30 lunch booking, and some arrived early! (Dont ask). The Flowerpot has reopened and was doing extremely good business both inside and out in its large garden, as was The Stag and the Chocolate Cafe. Five had Fish and chips at the Stag which all agreed was excellent. Reversing the walk is a most sensible idea.

Length: 16.1 km (10 miles) 3 out of 10 T=1.1
This is a lovely walk, and by doing it in reverse (there are instructions for doing it this way), you have a short leg back to Henley after lunch. I would also recommend taking a different route back from Hambledon, using the instructions from the book 2 walk 7 ending via Aston & Remenham here, or just do the normal route along the river.
Trains: Get the 0957 Didcot Parkway train from Paddington (Ealing Broadway 1005), arriving Twyford 1035, where you change to the 1045 Henley train, arriving 1057. Using the Elizabeth Line: Farringdon 0930, Ealing Broadway 0949 Twyford 1026.
Return trains are xx00 & xx30.
Lunch: The recommended pub is the Stag & Huntsman (01491 571 227), in Hambleden. For picnics, the nearby church. Unfortunately, The Flowerpot, on the alternative route back, is apparently closed at the moment.
Tea: Various places in Henley, with The Chocolate Factory and Angel on the Bridge on your route to the station.
  • 27-Jan-23

    A train ticket with Network Card is cheaper than contactless

    The contactless price cap is £25 to Henley (no Network card discount), about the same price at 2 (via zone 1) singles.

    With a Network Card, from Paddington, its £12.80 return, so cheaper.

    If already on the Elizabeth Line, it might be easier to continue to Ealing Broadway, and get a train ticket there, for £10.75. If you did this, you'd have to change there on the way back to tap back in.

  • 28-Jan-23

    9 of us assembled outside the station, welcoming 2 new walkers. The day stayed fine, if overcast & the walking was good with little mud for the time of year. We stayed together until lunch except for one slower person, where 4 went to the pub and 4 had sandwiches in the church porch.

    Afterwards, 3 went on & one joined the others for a beer. The five of us then took the high route back,catching the 1700 train after tea & cake or in one case, a beer in the Angel.

Book 1, Walk 1 - Henley Circular Walk via the Great Wood (R)

Length: 16.1 km (10 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10

London Paddington: 09-57 hrs Great Western service to Didcot Parkway Ealing Broadway: 10-05 hrs
Arrive Twyford: 10-37 hrs Change trains
Leave Twyford: 10-46 hrs Great Western service to Henley-on-Thames
Arrive Henley: 10-58 hrs
London Paddington: 09-43 hrs TfL Rail service to Reading Ealing Broadway: 09-51 hrs
Arrive Twyford: 10-31 hrs Change trains
Leave Twyford: 10-46 hrs Great Western service to Henley-on-Thames (as above)
Arrive Henley: 10-58 hrs
Travel note If you plan to travel from home to Paddington by LT u'ground do please allow plenty of time - on NYD there can be 15 minute gaps between trains on a number of the lines.
Return 01 mins past the hour
Rail ticket
If travelling on the Great Western service out of Paddington you will need to buy a day return to Henley-on-Thames (from the edge of whatever travel card you may possess). Holders of London Councils Freedom Passes may travel on the TfL Rail service out of Paddington "free of charge" as far as Twyford, leaving you to purchase a day return from Twyford to Henley-on-Thames.
After an absence of five years on New Year's Day (during which absence we twice visited Cookham, then Chalfont St Giles, before Covid intervened last year ) it is perhaps time to return to Henley for our traditional start to the New Year. As in previous years we do this classic Book 1 walk in reverse - or backwards - starting with the leg along the Oxfordshire Way before heading down through the Great Wood and on to lunch in Hambledon at the popular Stag & Huntsman pub.
Up on the Oxfordshire Way and early on in the walk we will stop to toast in the New Year with some bubbles - complying with whatever Covid regulations may be in place on the day. I will bring the basic supply of shampoo and perhaps one of you chaps could bring a back-up bottle. If the ladies could bring a few nibbles that should add to the enjoyment of our NY celebration.
I have reserved a limited number of places for NY regulars for lunch at the Stag & Huntsman but if others would like to have lunch here do please make your own reservation - asap - particularly if you are planning to come along with a number of friends. ETA at the pub is 1-30 pm. The Stag & Huntsman's telephone number: 01491 571227.
It is relatively safe to walk beside the River Thames on the tow path in the gloom or darkness (hence why we do the walk this way round in winter) so we do not have to leave the pub before 3 pm, which should gives us sufficient time to enjoy lunch without rushing it.
Back in Henley - if we arrive in time - our traditional tea stop is the Chocolate Cafe, within ten minutes walk of the railway station.
Walk Directions are here: L=1.1
  • 14-Dec-21

    I’m in ! Will bring both champagne and nibbles


  • 26-Dec-21

    Hi all,

    just have found the club - the NY walk sounds fab!

    Re booking a place The Stag & Huntsman: shall I need to know who has already made a reservation? (just to add me to the existing list - or is that senseless?)

    Many thanks and looking forward very much to joining you!

    Merry Xmas!


  • 28-Dec-21

    Hi Margarita

    Firstly, welcome to the SWC ! If you are the same Margarita who was on yesterday's Windsor walk - hello again !

    Reference our New Year's Day Walk - West, I have no idea how many plan to show up or who wish to have lunch in the pub mid-walk. I will try to keep a place for you on one of my tables - I expect the pub is now fully booked. See you on the 1st.

  • 30-Dec-21

    and will bring nibbles. Is it alright if I take Adrian's place as he's gone to Hathersage?


  • 30-Dec-21

    Hi Marcus! Many thanks for responding. Yes that's the same Margarita.

    Happy new year and see you and all soon!

  • 30-Dec-21

    Forgot to say: I also have some bubbles - how many we are? I mean isn't it too much to have three bottles for four people?

    Shall I brig some disposable paper cups for bubbles? I have some too.

  • 31-Dec-21

    Hi Rita. No need to bring bubbles but do please bring some paper cups (plastic champagne flutes better even if not environmentally friendly).

  • 31-Dec-21

    Sorry Valerie, I no longer have any spare places at the pub. But do bring some nibbles, and perhaps a sandwich for your lunch.

  • 31-Dec-21

    The Stag and Huntsman have over 100 people booked to eat inside and there is no outside table service. Anyone wanting to eat or drink outside where there are a few tables will need to queue up at the bar and the wait will be considerable but there may be some food available if arriving early. Sounds like a better and safer bet to take a festive picnic!!

  • 31-Dec-21

    Hi All,

    Last-minute change: unexpectedly, I am leaving London for Kent, a place close to Ashford; this makes me rethink the New Year walk. I think I will join the Hastings group. Sorry, no plastic flutes from me.

    Valery, I hope you can take my place in the pub - if I had it of course!

    Have a lovely walk and let's meet up in 2022.

    Happy New Year!

  • 31-Dec-21

    Noting Marion's comment below, I can confirm The Stag & Huntsman is fully booked. Due to Covid regulations I have not been able to make a sizeable block booking at this pub, as in previous years. Might I suggest those of you looking to go on a New Year's celebratory walk with the (almost) certainty of a pub lunch should consider going on the New Year's - Shoreham walk in Kent, where you have several pubs to choose from in both Shoreham and Otford. Otherwise, please bring along a sandwich if you plan to join me on the Henley walk. Thanks.

  • 31-Dec-21

    Thanks Marcus I was able to reserve a table for 2 however on line for 1.30pm confirmed but I shall take a hot meal in a vacuum flask plus a Stollen cake to share as I don’t want to hang around for an hour to get served if the service is too chaotic.

  • 31-Dec-21

    Thank you, Rita.

    Is that OK Marcus?

    I haven't been to Henley for 25+ years and am really looking forward to the walk :-)


  • 31-Dec-21

    Yes - that's fine, Valerie.

  • 01-Jan-22

    “Nice weather”, someone said to me, staring up at the blue skies above Paddington station. But it was not to be. The grey permacloud had reasserted itself by the time we got to Henley.

    23 assembled at the station. Most had come on the earlier TFL train. I didn’t know so many of us were that old….

    We walked up onto the hill, cracked open the two bottles of champers kindly supplied by our walk poster - and then the rain started. Not heavy or persistent but bits and pieces of rain till lunch . But at least it was ludicrously mild - the warmest New Year’s Day since the last one that was this warm (107 years ago, apparently).

    No New Year’s Day is complete without a paddle, and on our way to Great Wood we all got to splash about in some gloopy mud. But otherwise it was a pleasant morning in cheerful company.

    At the start of the walk we established that we had collectively booked more tables at the Stag & Huntsman than there were people on the walk - so much for warnings about not coming on this walk if you want a pub lunch. In the end 15 ate there, ten of us at a big table by the windows (one of which I opened for extra ventilation and omicron thwarting purposes. Odd to eat on the first of January in a gentle breeze...)

    A nearby table of non-walkers ordered after us and got their food first. Paying was a bit of a palaver. Otherwise no complaints: a nice lunch.

    We left at 3.15pm and had time to finish the walk to Hambleden Lock and along the Thames before dark. The last stretch on the river path was in truth a bit more tedious in the gathering gloom than it is in the opposite direction in the daylight, but the Chocolate Cafe was still open to welcome us at the end.

    I got my tea and cake at 4.45pm, at which point there was a mass rush for the 5.01pm train. Thankfully three of us were happy to wait for the 6.01 (though the cafe staff were perhaps less happy about this). We were efficiently whisked back to London to await whatever 2002 has in store for us.

Book 1, Walk 1 - Henley Circular

Length: 16.1 km (10 miles) If extending to Shiplake: 19.6 km (12.2 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10 (more when the Great Wood is muddy)
London Paddington: 10-27 hrs GreatWestern service to Didcot Parkway Ealing Broadway 10-35 hrs
Arrive Twyford: 11-07 hrs Change trains
Leave Twyford: 11-12 hrs GreatWestern service to Henley-on-Thames
Arrive Henley: 11-24 hrs
Return from Henley: 15-57, 16-27, 16-59, 17-36 and 18-07 hrs and later.
From Shiplake: 4 minutes after Henley
Covid-19 Compliance: please note the current guidance on this website and observe social distancing. You should all come prepared to exchange contact details for track and trace purpose. You can either pre-register for this walk (not essential ) by e-mailing me at swc-marcus@walkingclub.org.uk or, if you prefer, please write your name, e-mail address and contact 'phone number on a small piece of paper for handing to me on the train or when we assemble at walk start. Thank you.
It's back to basics today and the very beginning - Walk 1, Book 1. With a late start today, I suggest we do the walk the original way round - that is, anti-clockwise, with the River Thames path leg first - in order to get to the pub in Hambleden in time for lunch.
You will all be familiar with this walk so I am spared having to provide the details. But to summarise the walk, we head out along the River Thames and return to Henley via the Great Wood and hills above Henley. We stop for lunch at the usually very good Stag and Huntsman pub in the pretty village of Hambleden, with picnic spot options. After heading up and through the Great Wood we have a section of road walking which some find tedious, but we are soon on the Oxfordshire Way as we head back down to Henley, enjoying some fine views along the way. Back in town, a favourite tea stop for SWC walkers is the Chocolate Cafe, ten minutes before the railway station.
For those who would like a final, relaxing walk back alongside the River Thames, you can continue today's walk beyond Henley to Shiplake, which adds 3.5 km to the overall walk. Your refreshment stop in Shiplake, next door to the railway station, is the Baskerville pub.
Walk Directions are here: L=1.1

  • 17-Jun-21

    Some travelled to Twyford on LT Trains, some on GWR trains, and one by car to Henley, and outside Henley railway station 9 of us assembled for today's walk on a very hot sunny day , pushing 30 degrees C, and far too hot for most people's preferred walking conditions.

    Henley was getting ready for next month's regatta with marquees being erected in the parks next to the River, and the town was busy, despite the heat. Fortunately there was a bit of a breeze off the river during our morning leg, which kept us from over heating, and it was lovely to linger when crossing Hambleden Weir, with its cooling spray, but then it was a slog over the fields in stifling heat to the village - and respite inside the Stag and Huntsman pub. I dined indoors, and enjoyed an excellent meal, whilst others found some shade in the pub's garden and took on liquid.

    The afternoon was a bit trying although the Great Wood did provide some shade. I was alone, trying to book check, but found it difficult to concentrate in the heat, so eventually gave up, said "sod it" and just pushed on to the end.

    On the outskirts of Henley I caught up with two stragglers who were heading for Wetherspoons to rehydrate but I just wanted to get home. At the station one other walker was waiting for the train, although at Twyford he waited for the LT Train service, whilst I was happy to get on the more comfortable air conditioned GWR train, and thought the few quid extra for the rail ticket was well worth it.

    This is a lovely walk - and I might even post it for another New Year's Day extravaganza, when we do it in reverse - but it was hard work on a hot sweaty jockstrap of a day - and although our sun-buffs might have enjoyed their day, I did not.

  • 17-Jun-21

    For LT Trains, please read TFL Trains.

Henley Circular (reverse & variation) T=1.1

Length 10-12 miles

An easy walk (for a day in the rain?). To participate, you will need to give contact details & respect social distancing. Also mask wearing on the train.

The proposal is to do the Henley Circular in reverse (the directions are at the end of the instruction download here). From Hambledon, the book 2 walk 7 ending via Aston & Remenham here, or just do the normal route along the river.

Trains: The 0957 Didcot train from Paddington, Ealing Broadway 1005. Change at Twyford 1037 for the 1046 Henley train arriving 1058.

Lunch: Stag & Huntsman or the Flowerpot Aston, which may need booking.

Tea: Multiple options in Henley

  • 13-Aug-20

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • 14-Aug-20

    I'll collect them at the start.

  • 15-Aug-20

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • 15-Aug-20

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • 15-Aug-20

    8 off the train, with contact details & toilet queuing making for a fragmented walk through Henley. 3 went to the Huntsman,the rest of us a picnic by the church. Rain threatened, but dry and overcast . The picnicers headed off to the Flowerpot for a beer in the garden. We all eventually regrouped in Henley, with 7 staying for a drink at the Anchor & one going for the train.

Length: 16.1km (10 miles) T=1.1 (with possible 3.7km/2.3 mile extension)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.42 train from Paddington (9.50 Ealing Broadway) to Twyford, changing there (arrive 10.30, depart 10.38) for Henley-on-Thames, arriving 10.50

Walk directions are here. The walk home page is here. The GPX file is here.

I thought we would go back to where it all began this week - book one, walk one, the original SWC walk. It is a very simple outing, with an easy walk along the prettiest stretch of the River Thames in the morning and then over the fields to picture-perfect Hambleden, beloved of film makers.

Lunch will hopefully be at the Stag and Huntstman: it is always a popular pub but we usually squeeze in. The alternative is the Hambleden Village Stores nearby which has some deli items, serves hot drinks and has a couple of outside tables.

The hard work, such as it is, is after lunch - an extended climb up through Great Wood. (It is for this reason that I have bumped the toughness rating up from the stated 2 out of 10). After that it is downhill all the way on quiet lanes and the Oxfordshire Way to the lovely delights of the Chocolate Cafe in Henley, or the characterful Angel on the Bridge pub.

If you want to extend the walk after tea, it is 2.3 miles down the Thames Path to Shiplake, a very lovely walk for the mile and a half or so, taking in the striking Thames Lock and a watermeadow. After that, it is a bit more suburban, though you get to see how the other half lives. The Baskerville Arms by Shiplake station is a possible drink stop. A day return to Henley covers return from Shiplake.

Trains back are at 23 and 53 past from Henley (27 and 57 past from Shiplake) until 18.53, and then at 19.35, 20.23, 21.23, 22.21....

  • Anonymous

    Table booked for SWC at the S&H pub for 12.45 (eight peeps).The Llunch Monitor.

  • 23-Feb-19

    20 on this walk in lovely sunshine after early mist and cloud cleared (it only affected the first 45 minutes or so). A nice simple outing on a beautifully spring-like day. Chaffinches sang, daffodils and celandines were out and someone (not me, alas) reported seeing a brimstone butterfly.

    Our thanks to Anonymous for booking for eight at the pub, but surprisingly it was not that busy. Many of us decamped to the garden, where we sat in warm sunshine for the first time this year. Food came very quickly: in one or two cases it was on the table before its recipient had the chance to sit down.

    After lunch, the climb up into Great Wood and then a descent in the golden haze to Henley. Most seemed to go to the Chocolate Cafe, and eight of us carried on afterwards along the river to Shiplake. The first third of this walk - to Marsh Lock - was as busy as Piccadilly Circus, but it emptied out thereafter. At Shiplake we saw a train go up and while we waited for it to come back three blackbirds serenaded us.

    Just think: there will be days and days and days like this.

Henley Circular Via The Great Wood (Reverse)

Length: 10 miles (16.1 km) 2 out of 10

This walk was a regular New Years Day outing for a number of years. Doing it in reverse means getting more of the walk done in the morning, and a straightforward route back in the afternoon. If you feel the Thames path may be too muddy on the return leg, try the Book 2 Walk 7 ending from Hambledon, which adds around a mile to the walk.

Navigation is not that difficult, but by all means make a collective decision about which way to do it.

Trains: 9.42 Reading train from Paddington (9.50 Ealing Broadway) to Twyford, arrive 10.30, changing there for the 10.38 to Henley-upon-Thames, arriving 10.50. Alternatively the 09.52 Oxford train, changing at Slough for the above Reading Train. Buy a day return to Henley-upon-Thames.

Return trains are Henley xx,23 and xx.53.

Lunch: Stag and Huntsman pub, Hambleden, 6 miles (10km) into the walk (reverse) food to 1430.

Tea: The Chocolate Factory or various pubs.
  • Ian T

    15 at the station. light but persistent rain Going, muddy at times, OK at others. The directions were fairly easy to follow in reverse. The occasional twist and turn needed care but we made it. Great Wood was pretty, the fallen leaves still giving it an autumnal feel. The lunch pub was fine with speedy service – it is, after all, a favourite. Then the flat, bit along the Thames, which I would describe as ‘stultifying’, but others seem to like. The Chocolate Café was visited – a first for me, believe it or not. Then home.

Book 1, Walk 1 (R) - Henley Circular via the Great Wood

Length: 16.1 km (10 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10 (4 if muddy)

London Paddington: 10-11 hrs Reading service. Ealing Broadway 10-18 hrs
Arrive Twyford: 11-01 hrs
Leave Twyford: 11-08 hrs Henley service
Arrive Henley-on-Thames: 11-19 hrs

Return: Henley to Paddington via Twyford: 15-53, 16-24, 17-09, 17-46 and 18-17 hrs

As I do not intend to post this walk for New Year's Day this coming year I thought we would give it a Wednesday spin before current year-end. As in recent postings, doing the walk backwards (clockwise) is preferable in winter, as you can walk beside the Thames in failing light quite easily / safely.
I suspect all of you will have done this walk, albeit proper way round, so I will leave you to read the Directions to refresh your memory of its highlights ( The Oxfordshire Way, the Great Wood and the Thameside walk).
Lunch will be at the usually excellent Stag and Huntsman pub, Hambleden, a little over 2 hours into the walk.
After lunch we walk on the Thames Path back to Henley for tea at the Chocolate Theatre Cafe (formerly the Henley Tea Rooms) .
The railway station is nearby.
Walk Directions here: L=1.1
  • 29-Nov-17

    11 on this walk. Speaking personally, I was looking forward to riding on one of the new electric trains, but diesel still rules it seems, filling the Paddington trainshed with particulates. Our train was 12 minutes late but the Henley connection was held. We made a long stop at Henley station to use the loos, all train loos having been out of action.

    It was cloudy to start but things soon improved and it was mainly sunny to lunch. I think we all agreed that this is a great walk to do in reverse. Navigation is not hard and one has a gentle climb, a pleasant walk along a lane and then a lovely descent through Great Wood with the low sun shining through the trees and illuminating the last dribs of autumn colour. You can lunch knowing the main effort is behind you.

    Five of us lunched in the pub. A bit gastro - especially in portions, though also in prices: I was glad I had a thick parsnip soup to bulk out my micro main course. The kitchen seemed to be run on biblical principles - the first shall be last, good things come to those who wait. The sandwichers were long gone by the time we had finished, as is Midweek Walk tradition. One pub luncher went on ahead too. So four of us walked in part drizzle, part atmospheric dusk to Henley, where three of us had tea at the Chocolate Cafe.

    Two then rushed back on the 17.09 to catch the height of the rush hour (another Midweek Walk tradition). One (me) walked down to Marsh Lock and back, enjoying (sadly brief) flashes of moonlight and got the 18.17..

  • Anonymous

    Stunning views and good company on this walk.

    Thank you to Marcus.

Sun, 01-Jan-17 : New Year's Day Walk - West 8
Book 1, Walk 1 (R) - Henley Circular

Length: 16.1 km (10 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10

London Paddington: 09-45 hrs (Oxford Train) Ealing Broadway: 09-53 hrs
Arrive Twyford: 10-36 hrs
Leave Twyford: 10-43 hrs (Henley train)
Arrive Henley-on-Thames: 10-55 hrs

Return: 07 minutes past the hour

Last year our attempt at this walk - our traditional New Year's Day walk west of London - was nearly thwarted by two suicides on the railway line which closed Paddington for six hours. Car drivers came to our rescue - but let's hope no such tragedies on the line disrupt our departure by train this year.

As in recent years we do this walk "backwards", or clockwise, heading out of Henley onto the Oxfordshire Way and up into the hills of Henley Park above the town, where we stop to toast in the New Year with some bubbly. If I bring the shampoo, perhaps others could bring some savoury nibbles.

Then onwards through the village of Fawley and down through the Great Wood (which can be muddy) before we descend to Hambledon for lunch at the (usually excellent) Stag & Huntsman pub. We have a table reserved for our SWC New Year regulars - others will have to take pot luck. The pub is usually very busy on New Year's Day, and to make life easier for the pub's staff please bring cash if eating at our reserved table - no cards (last year the bill was recalculated a dozen times as individuals presented their debit / credit cards ). Only cash payments today, please.

Post prandial, we head for the River Thames and Hambledon Lock and its impressive weir, which we cross before taking the tow path beside the River all the way back into Henley. We will be losing daylight along this stretch, but provided we do not have to detour into the hills to avoid flooded sections of the path, we should be OK. But in case we have to make some detours please bring along a torch.

Tea in Henley is usually taken at the former Henley Tea Rooms (now called the Chocolate Theatre Cafe) but there are plenty of watering holes in the town, usually open, for those in need of a stronger drink. From the Tea Rooms it's a short walk to the railway station for your journey home.

For our Clapham Junctionite friends who do not like travelling north of the Thames, a Sunday Walk Poster will be posting a New Year's Day Walk - South, especially for you.
Directions for Henley walk here L=1.1
  • Anonymous

    Hope to be able to take part in this traditional walk posted and hosted in such a lovely way by Marcus jfk

  • 02-Jan-17

    A disappointing turn out of 8 (half our usual muster) probably due to the poor weather forecast, which for once turned out to be accurate drizzle turning to steady rain all day temperature mild but conditions miserable . However, the inclement conditions did not affect our good NYD humour and the drizzle was only starting as we toasted in the New Year above Henley. Onwards then as the weather deteriorated but with the bonus of mud levels being lower in the Great Wood than on previous New Year Days. The Stag & Huntsman pub was far less busy than usual (again, twas the weather) and we were served a pleasant lunch during which our damp walking gear dried off. We said goodbye to the 3 in our group after lunch who sensible opted for a taxi back to Henley, leaving 5 of us to re-don the gear and head back out into the steady rain as we maintained a good pace along the Thames path back to Henley. We judged the daylight well as darkness was setting in when we were made welcome at the Chocolate Cafe for tea and a shared huge wadge of triple chocolate cake. A short walk to the railway station, and the 5 of us were on the 17-07 hrs train with good connections to London, to end an enjoyable, albeit damp day in the very best of SWC company.

    Having now set this walk for our NYD walk west or north for a number of year's now, the consensus amongst our small group was we need something different for January 2018 - so plenty of time to plan that !

  • Anonymous

    VEry enjoyable new years Day Champagne walk in the rain. As usual admirably hosted and led by Marcus so big thanks to him jfk

    No better way to start the New Year.

Book 1, walk 1 - Henley Circular
Length: 16.1km (10 miles)
Toughness: 2 out 10

9.12 train from Paddington (9.20 Ealing Broadway), changing at Twyford (arrive 10.05, depart 10.17) for Henley-on-Thames, arrive 10.29

*** Be aware that tube trains are much more infrequent than usual early on 1 January. Plan your journey to Paddington using the TFL Journey Planner.

For walk directions click here

Marcus has used his considerable powers of persuasion to get us a booking for 14 people for 1pm at the lovely Stag and Huntsman pub in Hambleden - a pub otherwise hyper-busy on that day. The outward train (before anyone complains) has been chosen to ensure prompt arrival for our booking and also time to stop for our traditional drink of champagne halfway through the morning - if you want to bring liquids or festive snacks to contribute to this, please do, though a certain baseload of the sparkly stuff usually seems to mysteriously materialise.

Otherwise you get a classic walk along the Thames in the morning and back over the hills in the afternoon. The Chocolate Theatre Cafe (or whatever it calls itself these days) is usually open for tea.

Trains back are at 46 past the hour.
  • Casper

    As I don't drink..I'll be getting Sausage Rolls and a few chocolate bars for the group. Hope that's ok!

  • 31-Dec-15

    ......bringing nuts and short bread. With the early start we can eat on the train! P

  • Anonymous

    10 on this walk cloud with drizzle late afternoon . Those who got up early for this walk suffered the not-inconsiderable setback of all trains out of Paddington being cancelled due to a double suicide at Hayes and Harlington (The second time in little more than a month that a walk out of Paddington has been disrupted by serious train problems: we are seriously displeased - Ed). A few decanted to the Sevenoaks walk, but others persisted and decided to go onto the walk by car, as the following report from Marcus describes:

    "We mustered 10 thanks to David and his fellow car drivers who set out from Ealing and as our drive down was so quick we were able to set out on the Henley walk in reverse and enjoy the champers on the hill above the town. We arrived at the Stag & Huntsman bang on time to take up our reservation on one large table, which worked perfectly. With the short afternoon leg to follow we did not have to rush our lunch - just as well as the pub was very busy and there was a bit of a wait for our food to arrive, but the staff coped and they looked after us very well. Light drizzle and rain accompanied us along the (unflooded) Thames path back into Henley, where the stop at the Tea Room for all 10 was de rigeur.

    Although Paddington had reopened by 3 pm (six hour closure !) 3 of us accompanied David in his car back to London."