Reading to Henley: 15.2km (9.4 miles)
Reading to Shiplake: 11.5km (7.1 miles)
Landranger 175, Explorer 171
1 out of 10: entirely flat
|Features||This is a simple walk along a pleasant section of the River Thames, keeping to the riverside path throughout. Lunch is at the attractive riverside village of Sonning and the section of the river after lunch is particularly unspoiled. The Thames Path turns away from the river for a while between Shiplake Lock and while passing through the village of Shiplake, but then returns to the riverbank for a very pretty section past Marsh Lock with its dramatic weirs, and through a riverside park into Henley.|
|Walk options||It is possible to end the walk at Shiplake, as the walk passes the station there. This cuts 3.7km (2.2 miles) off the walk, making a walk of 11.5km (7.1 miles) but you will miss a beautiful approach along the river into Henley.|
|Transport|| Trains to Reading from Paddington are fast and numerous. Get a train that arrives at Reading between 10.30 and 11.00. Buy a day return to Henley-on-Thames valid via Reading (rather than the slightly cheaper return which is not valid via Reading). Ordinary rail tickets and Network Card discounts are valid on fast long distance trains from Paddington that call at Reading, and you can use a ticket starting from a London Transport zone boundary, despite what the occasional misinformed ticket inspector on these trains says.
Trains back from Henley are every half hour (hourly later in the evening), changing at Twyford.
|Lunch|| The Bull (0118 969 3901 www.bullinnsonning.co.uk) in the pretty village of Sonning, 5.5km (3.4 miles) into the walk, gets popular at lunchtimes gets popular at lunchtimes, especially at weekends, so it is as well to get there early. However it does have a good number of outside tables too, both around its car park and in a well-hidden garden around its back. It serves food from 12pm to 3pm daily (all afternoon at weekends and daily for drinks).
An alternative, next to Sonning Bridge, is the Coppa Club (0118 921 9890 www.coppaclub.co.uk), which despite its name describes itself as "an all-day restaurant and social hub where everyone is welcome". I have not tried this establishment, but it seems to serve pub-like food in a modern pub-like environment, and has a beautiful garden on the river's edge. It is open all day and evening.
The Baskerville Arms by Shiplake station, 11.5km (7.1 miles) into the walk, is a possible early tea stop.
In Henley best option is The Chocolate Cafe on the riverside near the town bridge, open till 5pm daily but sometimes later on summer weekends.
Another possible tea stop is the Henley Rowing Museum on the left in the riverside gardens as you approach Henley. Its cafe is accessible without paying to go into the museum. Further along in the gardens on the left there is a tea kiosk.
The centre of Henley (go to the town bridge and turn left) also has other tea options, and many pubs, the most obvious of which is The Angel on the Bridge by the town bridge.
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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