Walking and Cycling the Thames

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Family Walks -near the River Thames

by Jeannette Briggs

 Want an good afternoon’s walk with the family?

Not just a gentle stroll, but perhaps a circular route, that just happens to finish up at a quaint old tea room or pub? For some real walks near the River Thames that will stretch your legs we suggest you consider the following routes:-

Lechlade – starting at Ha’penny Bridge along the towpath to St John’s Lock and back along the road to the centre of town. Plenty of interest here - see if you can spot the herons and kingfishers – and do quench your thirst at one of the several pubs in Lechlade! If you're really lucky you might see some otters.

 Radcot Bridge(see sketch on right) starting at The Swan, walk along the towpath to Grafton Lock and back again – one of the most beautiful stretches of the Upper Thames and full of interest. This is an energetic stroll that even young children should be able to manage. If you want to lengthen this walk you can visit Kelmscott Manor and return to Radcot via well marked footpaths and Grafton Lock. Get the children to try and spot the otters that nest on this stretch.
 
Newbridge and Grafton Lock (photos courtesy of Jeannette Briggs)

Newbridge – start at The Rose Revived pub, along the towpath trail noth of the river to Hart’s Footbridge, then across to the southern side of the Thames and follow a footpath through North Audley Copse back to Newbridge.

Abingdon – start at Abingdon Bridge and follow the towpath to Abingdon Lock – cross the Thames here and return to Abingdon through the Abbey Meadows and Abbey Ruins back to the bridge. Again, a walk for the whole family, and “do-able” with a pushchair.

   
Abingdon -photos 

This part of the Thames valley is within the Cotswolds.  Further downriver at Goring you can start a walk along the towpath up to Cleeve Lock.  Cross the lock and retrace your steps along the road on the north bank of the Thames back to Goring Bridge.

From Henley you can tackle a slightly more ambitious walk starting from Henley Bridge along the towpath for 2 and a half miles to Hambledon Lock. From there you continue along footpaths through the villages of Aston and Remenham, returning to Henley via the road. See sketch below.

 

Henley upon Thames Church and marketplace - Photo by Simon Worsfold

 
At Marlow you can take a delightful walk along the Thames in either direction. Striking west from Marlow Bridge follow the Thames Path to Temple Lock.  Cross the Thames and return to Marlow on the southern side of the Thames through Temple, Hurley and Bisham.  Or start at Marlow Bridge and follow the Thames towards Little Marlow and Bourne End.  Turn away from the Thames at Bourne End and return westwards back to Marlow via the footpath. 
   
The beautiful stretch of the Thames at Marlow (photos courtesy of John Olney) 

Maidenhead  offers an attractive start point for a short and pleasant walk along the River from Boulters Lock up to the famous village of Cookham. Here you can visit the Stanley Spencer Gallery and the famous views across the river to Cliveden. Return to Maidenhead through open fields along well-marked footpaths.

It should be emphasised that all the above walks will need a degree of forward preparation in order that they can be fully enjoyed. The appropriate Ordnance Survey maps are very useful and you should also take water and - perhaps - some biscuits for your use if you don't come across a little local pub or tearoom!  These walks are designed for families who like to step out and do about 3-6 miles on a walk.

If - however -  you want some ideas for much more relaxed strolls along the river in order to "walk off your lunch", or feed the ducks and just to get some fresh air, before collapsing on a handy wooden bench by the river, then visit our section entitled "Walks By The River".  There are several gentle walks included there that fit this description! Click here!

Written and researched by Jeannette Briggs -

Photo of the Thames at Cookham - photo courtesy South Bank Consultancy

Diagrammatic maps reproduced by courtesy of Tourism South East whose brochures can be downloaded from their own website or a copy ordered on visitsoutheastengland.com.


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