Main walk: 14.9 km (9.3 miles.
a) Using shortcut to lunch: 12.8 km (8.0 miles), or four hours walking time.
b) Henley to Marlow: 16km (9.9 miles).
|Maps||OS Landranger Map No 175. OS Explorer Map 171|
|Toughness||3 out of 10|
|Features||Though it shares the picturesque flint stone village of Hambleden for lunch, this pleasant and undemanding walk follows a completely different route from the Henley Round walk in the first Time Out Book of Country Walks. In the morning it follows the left bank of the river (wilder and less manicured than the right bank) along the stretch where the famous Henley Regatta is held each summer), before passing through fields and woodland to Hambleden. After lunch, it follows the valley down to cross the Thames over the weir at Hambleden Mill and Aston, and then crosses the lower part of Remenham Hill to return to Henley for tea.|
a) Shortcut to Hambleden: this shortcut, indicated in the walk directions, saves you 2.1km (1.3 miles) off the main walk, giving a total walk of 12.8km (8.0 miles)
b) Henley to Marlow: This alternative ending follows a route over wooded hills from Hambleden to Marlow (the same route as is taken by Book 2, Walk 8, Marlow Circular). It is 8.2km (5 miles) from Hambleden to Marlow, making a total walk of 16 km (9.9 miles).
There are also hourly buses from Mill End, the hamlet next to Hambleden Mill, back to Henley until 10pm daily (including Sundays), a journey of about ten minutes. This shortens the walk to 9.8km (6.1 miles) - or 7.7km (4.8 miles) if you have used the shortcut to lunch. For bus times, call 0871 200 2233
Henley is supposed to be the oldest settlement in Oxfordshire, dating at least from Roman times, but it really came into its own from the 12th century onward as a river crossing and a port for shipping grain and timber to London. These days the town has a much more refined air. It is supposed to have 300 listed buildings and is famous for its annual Regatta, held in the first week of July since 1839. Though the Regatta does include five days of rowing competitions, its more serious side is as a part of the summer "season", a social whirl for the well to do which also includes Ascot and Wimbledon. Non-rowing fans/socialites may prefer to avoid this walk during Regatta week, though only the first section as far as Temple Island is really affected by it.
The neo-classical folly on Temple Island, two kilometres downstream from Henley, was built in 1771 by James Wyatt as a fishing lodge for Fawley Court, the Christopher Wren designed mansion further down the river. It was the first example in England of the so-called Etruscan style. Today the island is owned by the Henley Regatta, and is rented out for corporate entertaining.
Hambleden is not to be confused with Hambledon in Hampshire where cricket was invented. WH Smith, founder of the newsagents (and also, incidentally, the supposed target of the satirical Gilbert and Sullivan song "Ruler of the Queens Navy" in HMS Pinafore), is buried in the churchyard. His widow became Vicountess Hambleden and the family still own the manor house. The parish church has several interesting memorials, including one to the family of Sir Cope D'Oyley, who died in 1633, on which the children are shown carrying skulls if they died before their parents. To the left of this tomb is an oak chest used by the Earl of Cardigan when he led the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854
Trains go hourly from London Paddington to Henley, changing at Twyford (journey time 1 hour). Take the train nearest to 10am from Paddington to get to lunch in Hambleden in time.
By car: The railway station has a substantial car park that charges £3.90 a day. Otherwise, you can try to park anywhere near Henley town centre. To start the walk, find the town’s bridge over the Thames (there is only one) and follow the directions from the point marked [*] in the walk directions
If you are doing option a) a day return to Henley will usually be accepted from Marlow: if not, you will only need to pay for a single from Marlow to Maidenhead, where the two rain routes converge once more.
The recommended lunchstop is the Stag and Huntsman (tel 01491 571227) in Hambleden, 7.8km (4.8 miles) into the walk. This cosy and atmospheric village pub with a blazing fire in winter and a garden in summer serves food noon-2.30pm and 6.30-9.30pm daily.
Hambleden Post Office and Stores, next to the church, also has a few outside tables and serves tea, coffee, cakes and delicatessen items. It is open until 5.30pm Monday to Friday, 5pm Saturday and 4pm Sunday.
3.5 miles (2.2km) further on, the Flower Pot Hotel (tel 01491 574721) in the tranquil hamlet of Aston is a homely unpretentious place, serving food to match from 12-2.30 pm daily (evenings 6 pm to 9pm Mon-Sat). The bar is decorated with stuffed fish, and there is a large garden..
The early riverside part of the walk is a fine picnic spot, as is the churchyard in Hambleden and the far (south) side of Hambleden Weir.
There are several places for tea in Henley but the favourite Saturday Walkers haunt is the The Chocolate Cafe in Thames Side, the waterfront just by the bridge, which has an excellent selection of chocolate cakes, and is open until 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 6pm Friday to Sunday.
If finishing in Marlow, there are plenty of tea options in the town: see Walk 8 for details
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 2. We now recommend using this online version as the book is now dated.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk
Sorry, the sketch map they refer to is only in the book.