Berkshire walk along the River Thames at Remenham and Aston
PUBLISHED: 15:24 25 August 2017
Steve Davison leads the way on an easy wander alongside the picturesque River Thames, passing through Remenham and Aston
Our walk this month actually starts in Buckinghamshire, part way along the beautiful Hambleden Valley, though most of the walk itself lies within Berkshire, just on the other side of the tranquil River Thames.
After following the valley southwards we head past the picture-perfect Hambleden Mill, before following the raised walkway across the river to Hambleden Lock. There was a mill mentioned hereabouts in the Domesday Book, though the present weather-boarded mill – now converted to flats – is a bit more recent than that. The original pound lock (a lock with two sets of gates) was constructed in the 18th century, though the present structure, which featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders, is a more recent addition.
Once across the river we follow the Thames Path downstream for a while to reach the aptly named Ferry Lane; it was from here that a ferry used to operate, linking Aston in Berkshire with Mill End in Buckinghamshire.
We head away from the river for a while, passing The Flower Pot pub at Aston before following the Chiltern Way down towards Remenham. The riverside hamlet consists of little more than a farm, a few houses and St Nicholas’s Church which dates from the 13th century although it was almost entirely rebuilt by the Victorians.
From here we rejoin the Thames Path and head downstream again towards Temple Island with its elegant folly designed by James Wyatt in 1771; anyone wanting a longer walk could follow the Thames Path upstream to bustling Henley on Thames before retracing the route back (adds 2.5 miles).
This stretch of the river, which is the longest straight stretch on the Thames, is known the world over as the home of the famous Henley Regatta that was first held in 1839. From 1851 it has been known as the Henley Royal Regatta after H.R.H. 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 yard course (112m longer than the standard international distance of 2000m) which starts at Temple Island and goes upstream to Henley.
Shortly after passing Temple Island a large white mansion comes into view on the opposite side of the river. This is Greenlands, once the home of a certain William Henry Smith, the name behind the famous chain of newsagents - W H Smith. The mansion, built around 1810, now houses the Henley Business School, which forms part of Reading University
Interestingly, Charles Dickens mentioned this stretch of the river, from Temple Island (then known as Regatta Island) past Greenlands to Hambleden Lock, in his short ghost story The Phantom of Regatta Island published in 1869.
All too soon we arrive back at Hambleden Lock from where we retrace our steps back to the car park.
• Start/finish: Hambleden Valley car park (SU785854), 400m north along Skirmett Road off the A4155 at Mill End
• Map: OS Explorer 171
• Distance: 4.5 miles (7km)
• Terrain: some gates and stiles, fairly level, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2 hours
• Refreshments: Aston – The Flower Pot (01491 574721)
1 (SU785854) – From the car park, cross over the lane and turn right (south) along the pavement for 400m, crossing the lane again near the junction at Mill End. With care, cross over the A4155 and follow the signposted path between the white-painted houses. Keep ahead to follow the enclosed path past Hambleden Mill, and then along the walkway above the weir to reach Hambleden Lock. Cross via the walkway beside the lock gate and turn left, 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, with Hambleden Place across the river.
2 (SU786845) – Turn right along Ferry Lane to reach a junction beside The Flower Pot in Aston. Turn right along Remenham Lane for 130m 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 (Chiltern Way) westwards for just over ½ mile, soon with views across to the Chiltern Hills. Cross a stile in the far hedge and turn right along the lane, keeping left at the junction to reach another junction beside Remenham Church.
3 (SU770841) – Turn sharp right and follow the lane past the church (which is on your right) and then continue past Remenham Farm. Go through a kissing gate, then a small gate to join the Thames Path. To the left leads to Henley on Thames (1.25 miles each way), however, we turn right with the river on the left. Soon pass Temple Island and then later, over to the left, can be seen a large white mansion (Greenlands).
4 (SU776853) – Continue along the riverside path and go through a gate to reach Hambleden Lock. Turn left across the walkway beside the lock gate and retrace the outward route back across the weir, admiring the view on the way. Continue past the mill, then over the A4155 again before following Skirmett Road back to the car park.
To find out more about Steve, including his walking books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk