Buckinghamshire walk around Dorney
PUBLISHED: 15:43 05 July 2016 | UPDATED: 15:43 05 July 2016
Steve Davison heads to South Buckinghamshire and the village of Dorney, one of the venues for the 2012 Olympics, for a walk alongside two rivers, passing film set locations
The first leg of the walk heads across Dorney Common, just to the west of Eton Wick, to reach the Jubilee River. This man-made river was constructed to help alleviate flooding caused by the River Thames around Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton. We follow the river upstream for a while and on the way, it’s worth taking a short detour along the boardwalk for a close-up view of the local wildlife. Next stop is Dorney, home to a pub and some lovely brick and timber cottages along Village Road, including the White Heather Garage and Cottage, which featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders.
We then head towards the River Thames, passing Dorney Court Kitchen Garden Cafe (open daily) and Dorney Court (01628 604638). Although the manor of Dorney was mentioned in the Domesday Book, the present manor house dates from the 15th century and is said to be one of England’s finest Tudor manor houses. Although the house is only open during August, you can get a view of the beautiful brick and timber building from the cafe driveway. And if it looks familiar, the house has appeared in a number of film and TV productions including episodes of Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
Adjacent to the house is the 12th century Church of St James the Less. Inside is the tomb of Sir William Garrard, onetime Lord Mayor of London, who bought Dorney Court in 1542, and his wife, Elizabeth.
After passing close to Dorney Lake – where the 2012 Olympic rowing events were staged – we follow the Thames Path and River Thames downstream for a couple of miles. Whilst following the river, take a look over to the Berkshire side to catch sight of Down Place and Oakley Court Hotel. In the 1950s, the 18th century Down Place was the home of Hammer Film Productions and the nearby Victorian gothic mansion, Oakley Court (now a luxury hotel), was used as the setting for several Hammer Films as well as starring in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
On reaching the picturesque 12th-century Church of St Mary Magdalene the route heads back to the car park. Anyone wishing to look inside the church, which is cared for by The Friends of Friendless Churches, will need to obtain the key from the lock keeper at Boveney Lock (500m each way).
• Start/finish: Rambler’s car park at Boveney (SU939778); from the B3026 at Dorney Common follow Boveney Road south and 125m after the left-hand bend, turn right into the car park opposite a house
• Map: OS Explorer 160
• Distance: 5 miles (8.1km)
• Terrain: some gates, fairly level, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2.5 hours
• Refreshments: Dorney – The Palmer Arms (01628 666612) and Dorney Court Kitchen Garden Cafe (01628 669999)
1 (SU939778) – From the car head back to the lane and turn right for 300m. Shortly after passing the cattle grid turn left on a signed path, following the left-hand field edge.
Keep ahead at the path junction and then follow the path to the right at the field corner. After 125m turn left across a narrow footbridge over Cress Brook and head diagonally right (north-east) across Dorney Common, aiming for Common Road just to the left of the houses at Eton Wick. Cross over the road and head alongside the stream (Roundmoor Ditch). At the corner go through the gate and keep ahead. Cross straight over the gravel bridleway and head down to the wide gravel path with the Jubilee River beyond.
2 (SU942791) – Turn left and keep the river over to the right. At the cross junction (bridge on the right) go straight on; soon, on the right, is a small gate that gives access to the boardwalks down by the river. Keep along the track and on drawing level with another bridge on the right, turn left. Go through a gate and continue along the fenced path towards the houses. At the far side of the field turn right for 100m and then go left along the narrow, fence-enclosed path.
3 (SU931790) – Turn right along the road (B3026) through Dorney passing the Palmer Arms pub. At the junction turn left along Court Road (path on right-hand side). Soon, on the left is the entrance to Dorney Court Kitchen Garden Cafe and Dorney Court (limited opening). Continue along the path beside the road and shortly on the left is the access lane leading to the Church of St James the Less. At the sharp right bend, cross over the main road, pass the entrance gate for Dorney Lake (also known as the Eton College Rowing Centre) and follow a path along the right-hand side of the drive for 175m.
4 (SU922788) – At the cycle path junction turn right along the gravel track; to view the 2.2km long Olympic rowing lake keep straight on for 200m and then retrace your steps. Follow the gravel cycle track and footpath to reach the River Thames. Turn left and follow the riverside Thames Path for 2 miles to reach the Church of St Mary Magdalene. Turn left (church on right) and follow the enclosed path for 100m before turning left through a small gate to arrive back at the car park.
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