• Start: Car park at recreation ground off Thames Avenue (SU637767) – accessible off the B471 between the railway bridge and Whitchurch Bridge; alternatively start from Pangbourne Rail Station; grid ref SU632766
  • End: Car park at recreation ground off Thames Avenue
  • Country: England
  • County: Berkshire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 159 or Landranger 175
  • Difficulty: Medium
Google Map


Steve Davison leads the way on this 5¼ mile circular walk (with shorter option) from the riverside town of Pangbourne meandering along beside the River Thames...

Take a look round the town of Pangbourne and meander along the Thames Path beside the peaceful waters of the River Thames with views of the Chilterns.

The first section takes you east along Reading Road to the edge of Pangbourne and then takes a left turn to pass under the railway. Here the short route continues to the River Thames and follows the riverside path back into town. Whereas the longer route heads towards Purley-on-Thames and takes in a longer section of the Thames Path from Mapledurham Lock to Whitchurch Bridge and Pangbourne. The walk may also be started from Pangbourne rail station which adds half a mile to the walk.

Before following the walk spend some time exploring the riverside town of Pangbourne which has a long history stretching back to at least Saxon times. The village sign depicts two local heroes, the first being the King of Mercia along with the village charter and a Saxon ship above the name of the village, the other, separated by more than 1000 years, is Kenneth Grahame symbolised by an open book and trees.

Grahame, author of the childrens classic Wind in the Willows, lived in Church Cottage next to church for several years. The Swan Inn close to the railway station was where Jerome K Jeromes Three Men in a Boat finally abandoned their adventure along the River Thames. Visit the Parish Church of St James the Less to see the vivid stained glass windows including the beautiful east window depicting the Virgin and Child along with St George and St Michael. The window was given by Sir George and Lady Armstrong in memory of their son and all men of the parish who died in the Great War (1914-1918).

A portion of the window, depicting the Angel Gabriel, was used on the Royal Mail Second Class Christmas stamp in 1992.

The Walk

Start/finish: Car park at recreation ground off Thames Avenue (SU637767) accessible off the B471 between the railway bridge and Whitchurch Bridge; alternatively start from Pangbourne Rail Station;
grid ref SU632766
Distance: 5 miles (8.5km)
or 2 miles (3.6km)
Map: OS Explorer 159
or Landranger 175
Terrain: Level with some gates, field/riverside paths, country lanes and main roads with pavements
Time: 2 hours without stops
Refreshments: A selection of pubs, cafs, restaurants and shops

1 (SU637767) from the car park head back along Thames Avenue and then left along the B471 under the railway bridge to reach the roundabout on the A329 beside the George Hotel.

To visit the Parish Church of St James the Less turn right and then left at the mini-roundabout passing The Cross Keys; retrace your steps back to the George Hotel.

Alternative start: if you are starting from Pangbourne rail station head down the road and then right along the A329 passing under the railway bridge following Station Road to reach a mini-roundabout. The Parish Church of St James the Less is ahead on the right, however, our walk turns left at the mini-roundabout to reach the George Hotel.

Both routes: from the George Hotel head east along Reading Road (A329) for a mile and just after passing Bourne Road and crossing the bridge, turn left along a footpath beside the stream signposted for the river. Go through the kissing gate and turn right along the concrete track bending left under the railway to go through a kissing gate on your right.

2 (SU644766) here the short and long walks go their separate ways:

Short Walk: bear left following the signed path along the field edge and stream on the left. Go through a gate to reach the Thames Path and turn left, now follow the main route from Point 4.

Long Walk: follow the signed footpath along the field edge on your right parallel with the railway line.

At the marker post keep straight on along the permissive path to reach a kissing gate in the far right corner of the field. Cross over the lane slightly to the right do not cross the railway though, and keep ahead along the enclosed path, still with the railway on your right. Bear slightly left (almost straight on) at the junction with a bridleway and later follow the path up to the right between the houses.

3 (SU660763) go left along Purley Village and, shortly before the T-junction turn left along Mapledurham Drive. Where the lane bears left, go through the gate following the Thames Path down to the River Thames.

Turn left along the riverside path passing Mapledurham Lock; a sign mentions that for boaters its 78 miles to London and 33 miles to Oxford. Continue along the riverside path and on the way youll see the majestic Hardwick House on the opposite bank, where Charles I is said to have played bowls.

4 (SU645771) - here the short and long routes rejoin. Continue westwards along beside the river, later passing through Pangbourne Meadow and heading towards Whitchurch Bridge. The bridge, with its distinctive white lattice metal work, is the third one to have been built across the river here, the earliest having been built in 1792. The present bridge, which dates from the early 1900s, is one of only a few remaining toll bridges on the River Thames.

To return to the recreation ground car park: shortly before the bridge turn left across the meadow and go through the gate just left of the clubhouse to reach the car park.

To return to the rail station: keep ahead and at Whitchurch Bridge go left across the grass and continue through the car park to join Whitchurch Road (B471). Cross over to follow a narrow enclosed path signposted for the railway station. Later keep along The Wharf and cross over the A329 to reach the railway station.

More Information
To find out more about Steve visit:
For more challenging walks in the Thames Valley see Walking in the Thames Valley by Steve Davison (Cicerone 12).

Latest from the Berkshire Life