Thames Path - Reading to Henley-on-Thames
17 February 2007
With Lucy going to Reading to steward for a dog show, Stephen and Henry took
advantage of the opportunity for a car at both ends of a one-way walk, and went
for another Thames walk, starting at Reading. The original intention had been to
walk to Shiplake, but such good progress was made that we reached
Having walked from the Rivermead Leisure Centre, we reach the River Thames just
above Caversham Bridge
The weir at Caversham Lock
This tree has grown right through the railings
We then reach Kennetmouth, where the River Kennet exits into the River Thames,
and National Cycle Network route 4, having taken the route of the Kennet and
Avon Canal from Bristol, meets route 5 from Widnes, before route 4 continues on
to London along the Thames.
Kennetmouth, where the River Kennet meets the River Thames. Beyond the riverbank
are lots of boats in the marina formed from gravel workings.
One has to question whether it is a good use of the Environment Agency's limited
resources to put up an EA sign which conveys exactly the same information as the
older adjacent Thames Conservancy notice.
Sonning Bridge has a total of eleven arches, and spans the main channel of the
river; the brick structure was built in about 1775 to replace an earlier wooden
bridge. More modern concrete bridges span more minor channels.
Having crossed Sonning Bridge onto the island, a footbridge carries the Thames
Path over the rest of the Thames and onto the north bank.
A hot air balloon taking some lucky passengers on a morning journey over
Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
"Danger Deep Water" warns the post, but it was only a few muddy puddles to find
our way around.
The river bends as we approach Shiplake: white cliffs can just be seen behind
the moored narrowboat
Henry looking muddy but about to get much cleaner, as our route lies ahead
through that water pouring off the fields into the river. Unfortunately there
was no way round, so we both ended up with very wet feet.
It was only 20cm deep at its worst, but enough to make the rest of the walk
rather wet underfoot.
Henry looking a bit cleaner, hoping that there is no more paddling to come.
We reach Shiplake, where the station has a splendid-looking old fashioned sign,
albeit now moved to the car park. It is a great shame such signs were removed
from platforms - not only do they look more elegant, but they are much easier to
read from a moving train than the much smaller modern signs that replaced them.
Having made good time to Shiplake, and with no news from Lucy on her progress at
the dog show, we pressed on towards Henley-on-Thames. As the old towpath had
changed sides at least twice by use of ferries, the Thames Path now progresses a
fair way along minor roads and pubic footpaths before regaining the river.
The route took us along a private road with lots of very expensive-looking
houses, but the most interesting was the one with its own miniature railway,
with several sets of points...
...and its own large miniature railway station building. At this point we were
rather harassed by a muzzled greyhound which kept charging at Henry. We
gradually pulled away from the dog and its owner as we walked back alongside the
Henry explores the waterside as we near Marsh Lock
The Waterman boat owned by
Henley makes its way upstream after exiting Marsh Lock
The impressive wooden walkway takes the Thames Path across the weir stream onto
the lock island
And then takes the Thames Path back to the north bank. A lot of water is coming
down the river, with most of the gates fully open.
And so we reach the waterfront at Henley-on-Thames. A good walk, only slightly
marred by the underwater section! Henry got extremely muddy, with a short clean
interval - quite a contrast with the dogs at Lucy's show.
Total 16.5km, (15.1km on the Path) in 4 hours 5 mins (including 35 mins stopped).