Hambleden to Henley Circular Walk.
This 9.5 mile walk from Hambleden Lock via Henley to Marsh Lock goes a little into the hills and then returns on The Thames Path.
This walking distance can be easily reduced as once at Henley Bridge instead of going along through Henley as far as Marsh Lock and Weir before returning you can simply go back along The Thames Path to Hambleden - which will cut around 2 miles from the walk.
The walk could of course be started at Henley however if driving to the start then the town is busy and parking is not free. Whereas from Hambleden there is a free car park several 100 yards up Skirmett Road (just off the A4155 at Mill End - map reference ).
Also of possible interest - buses 800 and 850 operate several times an hour from/too High Wycombe and Henley and these go via Mill End (Hambleden). The way is quite easy to follow but you can see the area on Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 171.
From the car park turn
right and walk down to the A4155 and carefully
cross the road to the bus shelter opposite - although it is meant to be a 30mph speed limit vehicles go way faster here and this is the safest place to cross. Anyway then go right along the pavement and the footpath down to Hambleden Weir is signposted - the weirs are reached in just a few 100 yards. These are a beautiful set of weirs which dog-leg across The Thames and offer really lovely views as well as being a popular habitat for ducks. The weir ends beside
Hambleden Lock - cross the lock and turn left - taking care to look left over the river for some really great views of the mill and weir.
Follow the Thames Path firstly along a narrow road and where this road bends go straight ahead and follow the river to a gate.
This was once the location of a Thames ferry crossing which sadly no longer exists. Turn right and follow the lane which eventually passes by the Flower Pot Public
House in Aston Village - keep straight ahead and having just passed the houses take a marked path on the right. This path goes up the right-hand side of a field
and then on through another gate - keep straight ahead always gently climbing. This becomes quite an quite enclosed and really nice path to walk along. Simply follow the path until reaching a narrow road (Remenham Church Lane).
An optional diversion here is to turn right and walk quite steeply down hill some 500 yards to visit Remenham's picturesque church of St. Nicholas. The church can be best seen from going into the graveyard rather than just looking at it from the road.
There are several bench seats situated under the trees in the church grounds. Remenham Church is also one of the locations used in the
Midsomers Murders tv series. Several parts of the church date back to the 1320s and it is known that a church has long existed on the site since it is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Anyway from arriving at Remenham Church Lane turn left and walk some 260 yards uphill and take a signed footpath on the right - this crosses a field and there are good views of the surround countryside - however The River Thames itself is not visible due to the many trees bordering it. The path then continues through woods and emerges at a field edge - go half right to reach a gate. Continue on a narrow enclosed path which comes out at the grounds of Wilminster Park - follow the clear path which goes across
the grass area to another gate from where it continues to a narrow road.
Turn left to shortly reach a main road (the A4130), turn right and cross Henley Bridge. (If you want to shorten the walk you can turn right just before the bridge down an alley which is marked "Thames Path" and head off back to Hambleden on the towpath).
Once over Henley Bridge cross the road at the lights and take the road opposite - pass the pub on the left and rejoin the towpath. Often quite busy just here with several pubs and also you can take
boat trips etc., things do quieten considerably after a few 100 yards as the towpath goes past Mill Meadows. There are play areas for children plus facilities and also dozens of wooden bench seats around if you fancy a sit for a while. Eventually the towpath reaches the walkway which crosses the Thames at the start of Marsh Lock and Weir - it's worth walking across the walkways to see what is (or may not be) going on.
This is as far as this walk goes therefore return back to Henley Bridge. Cross the road and
then the bridge and take the marked Thames Path which leaves on the left. Once on the towpath it is a 2.5 mile long walk back to Hambleden Lock. This is the end of the Henley Regatta Course (1 mile 450 yards) and is an unusually straight part of the The Thames. Initially there are a variety of rowing club buildings and so on but eventually the towpath goes between somewhat quieter areas. Of note some way along it passes Temple Island which is sat in the middle of the river and is where the Henley Regatta boats start off
their races (i.e. Remenham). Temple Island was actually once a fishing lodge which was built in 1771 by James Wyatt - it is privately owned and presently leased by Henley Regatta so no access to the general public. Just follow the Thames Path back round a huge bend to Hambleden Lock enjoying the views on the way.
Note concerning Henley Regatta which is held at the beginning of July: The land between Henley Bridge and some distance towards Hambleden is owned by the Regatta and access to The Thames Path can at times be closed off whilst this is on - diversions are provided round the back of the huge amount of temporary tents and beer houses and so on. Once the Regatta is finished then fortunately all this mess is removed, access for the Thames Path is re-instated and the area returns to a happier condition.
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