A royal river meander near Henley
PUBLISHED: 15:33 28 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:33 28 June 2013
© Steve Davison
Steve Davison leads the way on this 5 1⁄4 mile walk, with shorter 3 1⁄4 mile option, alongside the River Thames, home to the famous Henley Royal Regatta
Start/finish: Remenham Church 1 1⁄4 miles along Remenham Lane from Henley on Thames, limited roadside parking; grid ref SU770842
Map: OS Explorer 171
Distance: 5 1⁄4 miles (8.3km) or 3 1⁄4 miles (5.1km)
Terrain: stiles and gates, some climbs, paths, tracks and country lanes
Time: 2 1⁄2 or 1 1⁄2 hours
Refreshments: Aston – The Flower Pot Hotel (01491 574721)
The hamlet of Remenham is spread out along the Berkshire bank of the River Thames, consisting of little more than a farm, houses and St Nicholas’ Church, which dates from the 13th century although it was almost entirely rebuilt by the Victorians. However, this stretch of the Thames, which is the longest straight stretch on the river, is known the world over as the home of the famous Henley Regatta that was first held in 1839 (in 2013 the event runs from 3 to the 7 July inclusive). From 1851 it has been known as the Henley Royal Regatta after HRH Prince Albert became the Regatta’s first Royal Patron. Unlike multi-lane regattas, Henley operates a knock-out draw with only two boats racing in each heat along the 1 mile 550 yards course (112m longer than the standard international distance of 2,000m) which starts at Temple Island and goes upstream to Henley. At the southern end of Temple Island is an elegant folly designed by James Wyatt in 1771, built as a fishing lodge for Fawley Court which is seen near the end of the walk.
1 From the church head past Remenham Farm and along the gravel track, go through a kissing gate, then a small gate and turn right alongside the River Thames, soon passing Temple Island. Later, over to the left, can be seen a large white mansion known as Greenlands. This was built around 1810 and was once the home of a one William Henry Smith (1825-1891), the name behind the famous chain of newsagents, W H Smith. The mansion now houses the Henley Business School, part of Reading University. At Hambleden Lock go left through the gate and continue past the lock gates.
Here you can take a short detour to the left across the lock gate and along the walkway above the weir to see the picturesque Hambleden Mill, however, our walk continues along the riverside track, keeping the river on the left. Where the track curves right, fork left (straight on), past a gate, still following the river (left). Go through a kissing gate and cross a footbridge to join a track – from here a ferry used to operate linking Aston on the Berkshire side of the river with Mill End on the Buckinghamshire side.
2 Turn right along Ferry Lane to reach The Flower Pot Hotel in Aston. Turn right along Remenham Lane and just past the brow of the hill, turn left over a stile to follow a permissive path up the left side of the field. At the T-junction turn right following a track westwards for just over ½ mile, soon with views across to the Chiltern Hills. Cross a stile in the far hedge and join a surfaced lane
3 Here the short and long walks go their separate ways:
Shorter route: Turn right along the lane and keep left at the junction, then turn sharp right at the next to reach Remenham Church.
Longer route: Go left for 200m and at the large oak tree turn right through a gap in the hedge following a path diagonally south-west across the large field, later descending towards the trees. Keep straight on at the cross junction with a permissive path, following a path through Remenham Wood. Cross a stile on the far side and continue diagonally right across the corner of a field and then follow a path gently downhill, with a steep wooded slope to the right. Cross a stile and head diagonally down across the open field; notice the small plaque to Minty – ‘a little dog with a big heart’.
4 Cross a stile in the hedge on the right a short distance before the field corner, now head for a kissing gate in the far left corner. Turn left along the lane and right at the T-junction towards Henley on Thames which is well worth a visit. As well as pubs and cafés there is the very interesting River and Rowing Museum (to visit the museum cross the bridge and turn left along Thames Side, then continue along the riverside path for 500m, the museum is on the right); anyone wishing to use public transport could start from Henley Railway Station.
However, shortly before the bridge our walk turns right along an enclosed path between high brick walls. Continue past the Leander Club and follow the Thames Path alongside the river for just over a mile. The Leander Club, founded in 1818, is one of the oldest and most prestigious rowing clubs in the world; its members have won over 100 Olympic medals. Shortly before the end of the walk, look over to the left to catch a glimpse of the elegant brick façade of the 17th century Fawley Court. It is said that Sir Christopher Wren had a hand in the design of the house, and the park was laid out by Capability Brown. Turn right through a small gate and retrace the outward route back to Remenham Church.
To find out more about Steve, including information on walking books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk