Route for a river walk in Taplow
PUBLISHED: 16:12 25 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:17 05 October 2017
© Steve Davison
Follow Steve Davison as he heads to Taplow for a walk alongside two rivers where Buckinghamshire meets Berkshire
The first mention of Taplow was in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was recorded as Thapeslau. However, its history goes back much further. On the hill overlooking the River Thames, near Taplow Court, there is evidence of Bronze and Iron Age occupation. It was here that Victorian excavations of a Saxon burial mound revealed a number of important artefacts dating from the late 6th century; the burial is believed to be that of Taeppa, a Saxon lord, after whom Taplow gained its name (‘hlaw’ is the Old English word for a burial mound).
The manor of Taplow, which dates back to Norman times, has had several owners over the centuries, including George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, who also owned Cliveden. In 1852 Charles Pascoe Grenfell acquired the manor; the last lord of the manor was his grandson, who was created Lord Desborough in 1905. The house was later used as a school and a communications research centre until SGI (UK) bought the property in 1988; Taplow Court is now a centre for Buddhist education (the grounds are open several days each year).
The area around Taplow Court was also the site of the original church; the present church, St Nicolas’, which overlooks the large village green, dates from the 19th century.
After leaving Taplow the walk heads downhill to follow the Jubilee River. This man-made river was constructed to help alleviate flooding caused by the River Thames around Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton, by taking some of the river’s flow from above Boulter’s Lock before rejoining the River Thames just upstream of Datchet.
The return route follows the Thames Path along the River Thames from Bray Lock heading upstream towards Maidenhead, passing Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous railway bridge built in 1883 to take the Great Western Railway across the River Thames.
The bridge, also known as the Sounding Arch due to the perfect echo that it produces, has the flattest and widest brick arch in the world; the bridge featured in JMW Turner’s painting Rain, Speed and Steam (National Gallery, London). After crossing the A4 the final section of the walk follows the Jubilee River again before climbing back up to Taplow.
For anyone wanting a shorter walk this route can easily be split into two walks at Point 2 by following the A4.
• Start/finish: Taplow village green beside the junction of Rectory Road and the High Street, just north of A4 between Maidenhead and Slough (SU 907 937); parking beside the village green
• Map: OS Explorer 172
• Distance: 5 miles (8km)
• Terrain: some gates (no stiles), one climb otherwise level, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2.5 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Taplow – The Oak and Saw (01628 604074)
1 (SU911821) – From the village green in Taplow, overlooked by St Nicolas’ Church, stand with your back to The Oak and Saw pub and turn right along Rectory Road. Immediately after passing St Nicolas House (right) turn right down the track (footpath sign). Go through a kissing gate to enter a field and bear right following the fence on the left. Go through the kissing gate at the corner and follow the narrow enclosed path through another kissing gate. Bear diagonally right down across the field and leave through another kissing gate in the lower right corner. Turn left along the lane to a crossroads with the A4.
2 (SU907812) – With care cross straight over the A4 and follow the lane ahead (signposted Bridleway leading to Amerden Lane) under the railway bridge. Keep right (straight on) at the split (left is Amerden Lane) passing the unusual White Place Lodge (looking more like a typical Cotswold style house with honey-coloured stone and stone roof). Soon, turn left across the bridge, crossing the Jubilee River and then turn left along the track keeping the river on the left. Turn left at the waymark and follow the gravel path still with the river on the left to reach a crossing road just after passing a parking area (alternative start). Turn right along the road (pavement) for 300m and then fork right along Old Marsh Lane for 200m to a junction.
3 (SU915798) – Turn right along the lane (parallel with the M4) to reach the River Thames and turn right; the walk now follows the Thames Path upstream for 1.5 miles. Continue past Bray lock and then along the narrow path beside the river with views of large riverside houses on the opposite (Berkshire) bank. Later keep ahead along the surfaced lane, now with houses on the right to reach Brunel’s famous railway bridge.
4 (SU902810) – Keep ahead under the bridge to a junction and turn right along Ellington Road (the Thames Path to the left gives a great view of Maidenhead’s A4 bridge). Follow the road as it swings left to reach the A4 and cross over with care (traffic island a short distance to the left). Turn right along the pavement for 200m and once level with the large white building (Silchester Manor Day Nursery) on the opposite side, turn left through a gate to rejoin the Jubilee River. Bear left following the riverside path upstream to a path junction. Turn right across the footbridge and follow the surfaced path uphill. Turn right along Mill Lane to a T-junction, turn left up Berry Hill and then go right along Rectory Road back to the village green in Taplow.