Henley to Pangbourne walk

A lovely country ramble, starts and finishes by the Thames, via forests and country pubs.


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, 03-Feb-24 Henley to Pangbourne - hopefully with some snowdrops 27 mostly cloudy
Sat, 02-Sep-23 Henley to Pangbourne 5 hot and sunny
Sat, 17-Sep-22 Saturday Walk: Henley-on-Thames to Pangbourne 8 sunny
Sat, 12-Feb-22 Saturday Walk - Henley to Pangbourne with a twist 15 mostly sunny mild conditions
Sat, 17-Aug-19 Saturday Walk Henley to Pangbourne 4 some sunshine and one shower
Wed, 26-Sep-18 Wednesday Walk - Henley to Pangbourne 18 warm and pleasant
Sat, 22-Oct-16 Saturday Second Walk - A southern Chiltern classic 18 some nice sunshine
Sat, 14-May-16 Saturday First Walk Book 1 Walk - Henley to Pangbourne 20 sun and cloud and a light breeze
Sat, 27-Sep-14 Henley to Pangbourne 20
Sun, 27-Apr-14 Henley to Pangbourne 0
Sat, 05-Oct-13 Henley to Pangbourne 10
Sun, 08-Sep-13 Henley to Pangbourne 5
Sat, 09-Jun-12 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 08-Oct-11 Henley to Pangbourne
Wed, 03-Aug-11 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 26-Feb-11 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 18-Sep-10 Henley to Pangbourne
Sun, 21-Mar-10 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 24-Oct-09 Henley to Pangbourne
Sun, 12-Apr-09 Henley to Pangbourne
Sun, 17-Aug-08 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 26-Apr-08 Henley to Pangbourne
Sun, 02-Sep-07 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 21-Apr-07 Henley to Pangbourne
Sat, 23-Dec-06 Henley to Pangbourne
Length: 19.2km (11.9 miles) T=1.51
10.08 train from Paddington to Twyford, arriving 10.37, changing there for the 10.45 to Henley
You can also make this connection via the Elizabeth Line, as follows: 9.38 Farringdon, 9.41 Tottenham Court Road, 9.43 Bond Street, 9.47 Paddington, 9.55 Ealing Broadway, arriving at Twyford at 10.33
A day return to Pangbourne should serve for Henley, unless you get a hard-hearted ticket inspector, in which case you need a Twyford to Henley single too.
For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.
For most this walk needs no introduction - a pleasant ramble through wood and field on the southern edges of the Chilterns. I have records of good displays of snowdrops and aconites in the churchyard of Rotherfield Pepard, so let's hope they are a) out and b) still there.
Lunch pubs have come and gone on this walk, but the latest intel is that there are two mid walk - the Red Lion after 4.7 miles and the Unicorn after 5.3 miles, so hopefully one will serve our purposes. The Cafe St Louis in Pangbourne is supposed to open late, and the village also has at least three pubs.
Trains back from Pangbourne are at 22 and 52 past the hour. You can theoretically shave ten minutes off the journey time to Paddington by changing for a fast long-distance train at Reading, but personally I would just stay put on the stopper. For Ealing Broadway change at Slough.
  • 03-Feb-24

    Cafe St Louis is unfortunately permanently closed....

  • 03-Feb-24

    I was astonished to find 25 assembled at Henley station for this walk, including some faces new to me at least. It later turned out that at least two got an earlier train (though neither one saw the other), so 27 .

    The weather was mostly cloudy and the ground remarkably dry - the latter just as well as I had forgotten to bring my trekking pole (protects the knee ligaments, don’t you know). Nice snowdrops in Rotherfield Pepard churchyard, plus crocuses, aconites, some daffs and a few adventurous lesser celandines. There were also various pockets of woodland snowdrops throughout the walk, which were a delight to see. Quite a few birds were feeling the sap rising and belting out their mating songs.

    I felt the sap rising too as we approached the Red Lion, since there were some flashes of sun at this point. I might have been tempted to sit in the garden, but 15 others were already ensconced in a gloomy tent that smelled of paraffin. The food was nice, but portions were small, was the general consensus. I had the fish and chips and so got a reasonable calorie intake, but my portion of mushy peas was barely bigger than the tartare sauce.

    Five, I understand, ate at the Unicorn, but two were turned away from it for lack of staff, or some such. They found a nearby pub called the Greyhound, which they recommend to future walkers.

    In the afternoon lots of beech woods. Also “sheep with long necks” near Pangbourne. We reached the latter easily in the daylight, despite the fears of some walkers. The Cafe St Louis seems to be gone, but the Artichoke nearby was well spoken of by some. Three of us went to Costa and watched staff make several time-consuming and convoluted syrup and sugar concoctions (£4.80) before spending a nanosecond serving us tea (£2.60): pricing needs to be looked at here.

    Eight of us then gathered in the Cross Keys from whence we got the 18.22 train. We easily got eight seats together and I was just thinking someone should have bought supplies for the train when two bottles were produced. So a jolly journey home (for us at least: maybe not for the rest of the carriage).

Sat, 02-Sep-23 : Henley to Pangbourne 5

Length: 19km / 12m
Toughness: 6 / 10
Transport: Take the 9:38 from London Paddington to Twyford, then the 10:15 from Twyford to Henley, arriving in Henley at 10:27. Return from Pangbourne at xx:22 and xx:52 with the last train at 18:22. For tickets to buy please see the suggestions under Travel on the walk page.

A lovely walk, starting and finishing by the Thames, and passing through many woods en route. The Unicorn pub at Kingwood serves food until 14:30.

  • 05-Sep-23

    5 set out on a hot and sunny day to enjoy a favourite walk. It did not disappoint. An excellent lunch was enjoyed by 3 at the Unicorn with a fourth joining for a pint. The fifth speeded ahead to get home earlier. The abundance of the blackberries was sufficient to entice the bus driver at the Unicorn to get out and start picking. Other hedgerow fruits were at their best and a few sloes may have made their way back to London. The written instructions led to some confusion near the King Charles Head and there is one part of the GPS route that is blocked but there is an alternative path through a field with horses. A hot thirsty day out but summer isn’t quite over yet.

  • 07-Sep-23

    Thank you for your walk report, Alice.

    It's on my "to do" list to update / correct the written directions just before and after the King Charles Head point on the walk.

11.9 miles/19.2 km

A walk that starts and finishes by the Thames, taking in some lovely wooded countryside - as well as fields of alpacas just before Pangbourne.
Trains: 09:27 London Paddington, change at Twyford (arr 10:05, dep 10:15) for the Henley train, arriving at 10:27.
Return trains from Pangbourne are at xx:22/xx:55. These are direct to London, but you can get back quicker by changing at Reading.
A day return to Pangbourne is usually accepted - if not, you will only need a single for Twyford to Henley.
Lunch: The Red Lion (4.3 miles), Peppard Common. The Unicorn (4.9 miles), Kingwood, food served til 2:30.

Click here for full walk details

  • 17-Sep-22

    8 on a sunny day.

    The group fragmented before Rotherfield Greys into “on track” and “not so on track” segments. We waved at the latter group down in the valley. After a quick visit to the Knollys tomb, I let them catch me up.

    Most of the 8 sped on to the Unicorn where they had a slap up feed. 2 stopped at the Red Lion (it is open again, though they had limited capacity for walk-ins. One had celeriac and truffle soup and the other a rather nice pint of stout (brewed locally near Twyford). There was a brief reunion in the Unicorn but the ‘Lions’ went on ahead.

    The 2 Lions were hurled into paroxysms of doubt at point !9 on page 7, where the GPS route differs from the written directions. (one goes right into a field, the other straight on). They eventually decided to follow the GPS after seeing the Unicorns hurtle past.

    The Lions were further delayed by missing the concealed onward route through an overgrown arch. The Unicorns were never seen again.

    The Reformation is still closed, by the way, and, judging by the garden, will soon have been reclaimed by nature. And in Pangbourne, St Louis’ tea shop seems to have gone.

    A pleasant walk, though care is needed in the the long woodland stretches not to go astray, not that we did. Luckily, no gingerbread houses were encountered and Pangbourne was reached without further incident.


SWC Book 1 – Walk 51: Henley to Pangbourne (via Greys Court) T=1.51

Distance: 14.5 miles or 23.2 km for those more metrically minded with shorter options available – including doing the normal walk 51 route with a shorter morning (11.9 miles/19.2 km)

Difficulty: 6 out of 10 for the main walk

Train: Take the 9:27 AM Great Western Didcot Parkway train from London Paddington, changing at Twyford (arrive 10:07; depart 10:16), arriving at Henley at 10:28. Return trains from Pangbourne are at 22 and 52 past the hour. Buy a day return to Pangbourne.

From recollection when updating this walk years ago for the republication of book 1, several stretches of it are along charming country lanes – which should hopefully limit the mud factor. As a twist on the usual route (and to add a few miles), I thought it would be interesting to try the suggested option to start the walk with the reverse of Book 1 Walk 9(Shiplake to Henley) as far as Rotherfield Greys where you can pick up the standard walk 51 route. You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here. Since we will be doing the reverse of book 1 walk 9 to start -- best to also bring a map of that route or a GPX file....

The recommended lunch pub(s) on this version of the walk would be the Maltsters Arms (01491 628 400) in Rotherfield Greys or the Unicorn (01491 628 674) in Kingwood. Sadly, many of the other pubs on this former “pub crawl” walk have closed….

Once in Pangbourne, post walk refreshies can had at Café St. Louis or various pubs….

Enjoy the walk!

  • 13-Feb-22

    8 were on the designated train, 7 of whom set off on the suggested extended route which worked well. It was interesting doing the familiar route in reverse...we arrived at the Maltsters Arms about midday, so fine for an early lunch -- but sadly, it too is now closed -- for refurbishment apparently....but there is also a sign up inquiring if anyone wants to manage a pub....so we shall see if it reopens.....On we went, passing a splendid churchyard rich in color with a trifecta of yellow daffs, white snow drops and purple crocuses....one picnicked here...further on we went, passing the Red Lion which is still closed but has a sign saying, it will be back under new management. A local with whom we chatted said it would be some time as the property required lots of work...Even further on we went to the Unicorn where we found a renegade table of 6 walkers who had taken a later train and had done the standard walk 51 route...We settled into our table and all enjoyed a very nice lunch indeed -- interesting options, well prepared and generous in serving size...definitely a keeper... During lunch, another walker appeared off a pink bus and he had drinks and set off with the late starters who finished lunch a bit before us. After enjoying our sumptuous lunch we set off for the afternoon stretch passing a truly derilict Reformation also with signage looking for new management...We saw yet another late starting walker at the bus stop in front of the former thai/indian restaurant (now housing development), making for 15 under mostly sunny mild conditions . On the final approach to Pangborne, the alpacas were out in force and we caught sight of the late starters...In Pangbourne, our group went to the Swan on the river near the station where all enjoyed post walk bevies...2 left on the 17:52 and the others managed to let a few trains go, finally catching the 19:22. A fun day out!

TOCW1 walk 51 - Henley to Pangbourne

This is a lovely walk, which hasn't been posted on a Saturday for some time.

Length: 11.9 miles (19.2km) rated 6 out of 10.

There is an option to shorten it to 8 miles, but this involves getting a bus to Reading from Cane End.

Travel: Get the 0942 Reading train from Paddington (Ealing Broadway 0950) changing at Twyford 1030 for the 1038 Henley train, arriving 1050. Buy a return to Pangbourne. If you are running late, get the 0952 Oxford train, changing at Slough to join the above Reading train.

Return trains are xx:17 and xx:47 (change at Reading for a faster train to Paddington). The Pangbourne ticket is usually accepted to Henley, but you may be asked to pay for a single Twyford to Henley.

Lunch: The Red Lion (6.9 km/4.3 mi, food to 15.00) in Peppard Common, The Unicorn (7.9 km/4.9 mi, food to 15.00). The Reformation appears to be closed

Tea: The Swan at Pangbourne just a bit further on from the station turnoff, has a pleasant veranda on the river bank.


  • Anonymous

    hi peeps, just looking at some advice on GPS units please? have posted something in the forum but know no-one reads those posts!


  • Anonymous

    This may help


  • Anonymous

    thank you but read that, just want to know why it says Garmin are not recommended ? ta

  • Anonymous

    Maps.me is a very good app.

  • 17-Aug-19

    I once brought a Garmin GPS only to find it needed a bespoke £40 cable to connect it to a PC, which I thought a scam. Nowadays unless you're a serious mountaineer you can just use your phone or tablet rather than having a dedicated device.

  • 17-Aug-19

    I use my phone, but they are no good in bad weather unless waterproof. Working in bad conditions & battery life is what you are paying for in a Garmin & similar

  • David M.

    A select group of 4 walkers on a day of sunshine and clouds with one brief, light shower before lunch. 3 pressed on to the Reformation Pub with the 4th not too far behind. The pub now serves food between 12-2pm. One dined on a perfectly passable and reasonably priced Ploughman’s lunch. The others had sandwiches. Tea was taken at the friendly and welcoming Garden tea room (under new management) in Pangbourne. Three took the 16.47 train home with 2 electing to stay on all the way to Paddington. Another saved himself 32 minutes by changing at Reading. Alpacas in abundance, a wide choice of pubs and tea rooms, open views and plenty of woodland shelter. A thoroughly nice day out.

  • 19-Aug-19


    some sunshine and one shower

Thomas G
Thomas G
Length: 19.6 km (12.2 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 250/242 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 4 ½ hours
Toughness: 4 out of 10
Take the 10.12 Reading train from Paddington (Ealing B’way 10.20), change at Twyford (11.00/11.08) arriving Henley-on-Thames at 11.20
Return trains: xx.16 and xx.48 (change at Reading)
Buy a Pangbourne Return.
A lovely walk, starting and finishing by the Thames, and passing through many woods and pubs en route.
The walk starts beside the Thames in Henley, goes down one of Henley's most ancient streets, out into a broad valley, to the church and first pub at Rotherfield Greys. It then goes to the church at Rotherfield Peppard, and thereafter it is fields, beech woods and small villages.
This walk does not suffer from a shortage of refreshment stops and includes three pubs ideally located for the lunch stop, plus others. The walk also includes an alpaca farm just outside Whitchurch where you can watch hundreds of alpacas grazing in the fields, towards the end of the walk.
The walk then carries on to the Whitchurch parish church beside the Thames, to the toll bridge over the Thames, and finally into Pangbourne for a last refreshment stop.
Lunch: The Red Lion (6.9 km/4.3 mi, food to 15.00) in Peppard Common, The Unicorn (7.9 km/4.9 mi, food to 15.00) in Kingwood, The Reformation (10.5 km/6.5 mi, food to 14.30 ) in Gallowstree Common/Kidmore End.
Tea: see the webpage.
For walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=1.51
  • 26-Sep-18

    trouble and strife. were rife. on the henley train...

    The ticket inspector on this branch line demanded (perfectly justified) that punters were buying a Twyford to Henley single (£2,00) on top of their Pangbourne return. One or other SWC-folk were having none of it. The ensuing verbals continued all the way to Henley, so that the inspector could not inspect anybody else's tickets. Taking one for the team...

    The weather was warm and pleasant , near-perfect walking conditions, so much so that plenty of fairweather walkers were in attendance. 16 got off the train, one was already waiting on the platform and another had also taken the earlier train but walked ahead to get back to London early. 18 therefore.

    Some very pretty valleys on the route, many (mostly) enchanting woods, but also some drab bits along country lanes and field boundaries. In all, still a very good walk. The undersigned passed on the first two designated lunch pubs to find the third (and last) closed, despite 'Under New Mgmt' and 'Now Open'-signs outside, so strode on. The promise of a Thai restaurant a few paras further along kept the spirits up, but that restaurant is now history: half torn down already and to be replaced by the inevitable 'Luxury' accomodation. So I had my lunch (and a very tasty Blacksheep) in Whitchurch, very near the end of the walk! A first for me.

Book 1, walk 51 - Henley to Pangbourne
Length: 19.2 (11.9 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10

9.50 train from Paddington (10.00 Ealing Broadway) to Twyford, arriving 10.42, changing there for the 10.50 to Henley-on-Thames, arriving 11.02.

Buy a day return to Pangbourne. This should be accepted from Twyford to Henley if you explain you are on a walk, but if not the upgrade cost should not be too much.

For walk directions, click here

What better way to celebrate this season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and deepening mud than this book one classic, which despite starting and finishing on the Thames is really a walk on the gentle southern fringes of the Chilterns.

There are four options for lunch, numbers two and three being perhaps best to aim for as they are close together and if one is full the other hopefully will oblige. Number one is a gourmet option but too early in the walk: number four would be a bit of a stretch for all but the fastest walkers. (Assuming all are still open: research - aka a quick Google - suggests they all still have active websites).

In the afternoon you can either hammer on to get to the Lou La Belle Cafe in Pangbourne, which closes at 5pm, or take it easy and enjoy the daylight which today lasts till the soon-to-be extravagantly late hour of 6.20pm (5.52pm sunset).

Trains back from Pangbourne are at 17 and 47 past. Don't bother trying to change at Reading for a faster train to London as this saves 10 minutes at best.

  • 22-Oct-16

    18 on this walk on a day of some nice sunshine . We soon split into sub-groups and as far as I know someone ate at each of the three middle lunch pubs. Seven or eight of us chose the Red Lion. The decor here was a bit shabby but the menu interesting. It was just about warm enough to sit in the garden.

    Most leaves are still green but some good autumn colours are starting to come through - gold on the tops and exposed sides of beeches, some cherries aflame with red, a few yellow maples, and all of these colours plus some attractive maroons in the hedgerows. There were lots of red fly agaric mushrooms in the woods. In general, though I say so myself, this was a good autumn choice, with even more woods than I remember.

    The walk was also given a thorough check by its adopter. An updated version will appear on the site in due course.

  • 23-Oct-16

    Terrific walk yesterday. I'd forgotten how lovely this walk is in the autumn, particularly the woodland stretches. I lost contact with the rest of the group after the first pub so walked alone for most of the rest of the day but enjoyed a close encounter with a small group of muntjac in the wood just before the Reformation pub.

    I don't know if the walks "adopter" picked this up but at para 38 when you come to a tarmac road and turn left you can cross this road, go through a wooden kissing gate directly opposite and bear left diagonally across an open field to reach the edge of the wood where you turn right and continue with the directions from the end of para 39. This is a public right of way on the OS map and avoids a bit of road walking.

TOCW1 walk 51 - Henley to Pangbourne

I remember this as being a lovely walk, which didn't get posted at all last year, and it avoids the current disruptions on Southern services.

Length: 11.9 miles (19.2km) rated 6 out of 10.

There is an option to shorten it to 8 miles, but this involves getting a bus to Reading from Cane End.

Travel: Get the 0943 from Paddington (Ealing Broadway 0951) changing at Twyford for the 1050 Henley train, arriving 1102. Buy a return to Pangbourne. Return trains are xx:17 and xx:47 (change at Reading for a faster train to Paddington). The Pangbourne ticket is usually accepted to Henley. An interesting one for rail ticket buffs, is whether you can get the later 0957 Henley train via Reading (2 changes arr 1102), which is the same fare?

Lunch: You pass three pubs on the walk, but the third, The Reformation, is about halfway, and according to its website does food from 12-3pm (it closes at 4pm). Anyone with a dog should go for the Unicorn.

Directions: L=1.51


  • Anonymous

    Would like to join on Sat but not sure where to download directions! A bit of an IT duffer!

  • 12-May-16

    Click on 'Henley to Pangbourne', the last words in the posting, then click on the 'Walk Directions' tab on the site that opens up. And Bob's your uncle.

  • Anonymous

    Number=20 Weather=sun-and-cloud-and-a-light-breeze

    There were about another 12 walkers on the train so it looked like we were going to be a rather big bunch but they got off of the train with us at Henley and then went so only 20 of us thankfully

    Some fast walkers at the front and others walking at their own pace meant for a number of little groups lunching in different venues

    5 of us had lunch at The Reformation which was good (the fish and chips was rated very highly) and they were fairly quiet and we had quick and friendly service. A nice pub with a good garden and lots of room.

    Tea at Lou La Belle was nice though not cheap and we were in time to check out the local organic supermarket and the charity shops

    The walk is pretty with a variety of woods and fields and fenced in paths and only a steep hill in the afternoon so not really a 6 out of 10. The end is about 2K of road walking which is unfortunate but for some reason it seems impossible to get down to the river on the side that we were on so you walk parallel to it alongside fields filled with alpacas or llamas, I can't work out which ones they were – the young had very big heads

    General Senseofduty

  • Anonymous

    20 sun and cloud and a light breeze