Thames Path - 2010, 2011, 2012 x 3

MY STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED:
Places:  [* -
not worth stopping] [** - things to see] [*** - don't miss]
Accommodation  & Food: [* - I'd find somewhere else] [** - OK] [*** I'd definitely stay here again]
Prices: are for a twin room for two people.

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DAY PLACES PHOTOS miles total miles Walk Review Stay
(for 2)
B&B Review Food Review
First trip: SOURCE TO OXFORD - June 2010 - mixed weather with one very rainy day.
1

Arrive at EWEN**

Ewen is a lovely Cotswold village with beautifully kept gardens. No shops - just a pub.

Thames Head

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2.8

2 hrs

2.8

Train to Kemble then walk to source and then back to Ewen.

Pleasant walk from Kemble to Thames Head. Not much evidence of the source in the first field or two because it was very dry when we were there but look at these photos from another walker earlier the same year.

£60 Brooklands Farm  Ewen,**
Old, traditional Farmhouse with guinea fowl in the garden and where the kind proprietress let us have a room each for the same price. Comfortable although not en suite.Breakfast in super, working farmhouse kitchen.
Wild Duck Inn **
Good food in upmarket inn. Short walk from B&B in this very small village - just the pub and a few houses.
2

Cricklade**

Attractive little town with a longish high street sloping up from the river to the church (locked).

Cricklade churchyard

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11.2

6 hrs including a couple of stops.

 

14.0

Georgeous walk, peaceful cows, butterflies lovely lakes and very pretty villages such as Ashton Keynes where we spent some time looking for the shop to buy some lunch. We were an hour too early for the pub.

£60 Red  Lion, Cricklade, ***
Lovely modernised room in old inn right by the river. But it was closed when we got there and we had to hang around for a couple of hours till they opened. Fortunately, we could have a good cup of tea in the café.
The Red Lion (which had a good reputation for food) was closed so we ate in Indian Restaurant The Ancient Raj*** which was very good.
Stacey's Kitchen**
on the High Street provide a welcome resting spot while waiting for the Red Lion to open and they opened early the next morning for sandwiches.
3

Kelmscott ***

Delightful village location of the Kelmscott Manor, William Morris' house museum.

Lechlade Church

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13.9

almost 9 hrs including 3 stops (1 hr at Lechlade).

27.9 Miserably rainy day along very wet, overgrown paths, past boring farmland or depressing road walking where "footpath closed". However a highpoint was the exquisite Inglesham Church. £60 Manor Farm ***
Lovely large room in old manor house. En suite. Kind landlady dried our sodden clothes over her aga and provided a packed lunch provided for the following day.
The Plough. Kelmscott. where we had two very good evening meals. On a return visit a couple of years later though it appears to have changed hands - the welcoming host had disappeared, it was more expensive and not quite as good.
4 REST DAYto visit William Morris House Museum
5

Newbridge **

It's just a bridge with a pub at either end. However, a convenient stopping place.

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13.0

7 hrs including two stops.

40.9 After Lechlade the river becomes more animated as you follow the river bank and weirs, locks and boats appear. There were, however, some very frisky (menacing?) bullocks in one very, very, long field. Stick necessary. £52.50 The Rose Revived **
Basic room but convenient location and cheap. They also did breakfasts from 7:30 for those who want to make an early start.
The Maybush**
The Rose Revived was OK but we went across the brige to the Maybush where the husband and wife team were much friendlier. Warm reception and home-cooked food. Sadly the Maybush appears to have closed since.
6

Oxford ***
Wonderful approach into Oxford past Godstowe Abbey through parkland with superb views of dreaming spires and finally through picturesque Osney right into the heart of the city.

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14.0

c. 9 hrs including 3 stops.

54.9 Another lovely walk through hay meadows or sheep grazing. Stopped off at The Talbot, a friendly pub just off the path at Swinford. Open all day and serves good ice cream.   Train Home The Perch*, Binsey. Signed from the path on the approach to Oxford this pub is in a lovely setting with a beautiful beer garden, and we stopped for coffee. But the coffee was neither cheap nor tasty.
Trip 2: OXFORD to WINDSOR - October 2011 - amazingly warm and sunny!
7

Sutton Courtenay **
According to our landlady this village is the setting for the river scene in the film of Howard's End and now the home of Tim Burton and wife, Helena Bonham Carter. The guidebook mentions a "long attractive green" but it was dark when we went there so we missed it.

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12.0

7+ hrs including 3 stops and a 25 min delay because I left my stick at the pub and had to go back for it.

66.9 Attractive walk (c. 5 hours without stops). Sun came out as drew level with Christchurch Meadow - lovely. Met interesting LockKeeper at Sandford Lock where we saw a kingfisher and had welcome drink in friendly pub, The Kings Arms opposite. Stopped for tea in Abingdon in the St. Nicholas Church complete with talk on its history. Walked on past the impressive Culham Manor House. £45 Appletree cottage***
en suite room. Friendly landlady. Very good value.
The Fish was recommended but it seemed a bit expensive so we ate at the George and Dragon **which was cheap and cheerful. We enjoyed ourselves.
8

Shillingford*

Not a lot to see here

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10

c. 7 hours including three stops.

76.9 Glorious weather. The first stretch is overshadowed by Didcot Power Station always looming on the horizon. But once past the pretty little village of Clifton Hampton (shop sells food but no loos in the village!), the walk is through lovely meadows with sleepy cows. At Little Wittenham the posh riverside houses begin to appear. Dorchester was not specially impressive apart from the Tree of Jesse window (no postcard sadly! £70 Marsh House ***
Lovely en suite room.

Shillingford Bridge Hotel**
Food was OK: two courses for £13.65. Nothing memorable though.

9

Streatley**

Attractive twin towns (Goring and Streatley) on opposite sides of the river.

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10

c. 7 hours including three stops.

86.9 Idyllic day. Stopped in Walingford, a busy, attractive town. Bought Avocado and Beef Salad sandwich in super Salvador's Deli on main square. Ate lunch by the river north of Cholsea. More very posh houses with riverside moorings on the approach to Streatley. £55.90
(members price)
Streatley YHA*
Private room for two but loo down corridor and it was rather pricy compared to Appletree Cottage where we had stayed a couple of days before.
Streatley YHA**
Fish and Chips, OK. Friendly service, TV. Lounge.
In the afternoon we had a very welcome pot of tea and biscuits at The Beetle and Wedge Inn***. Expensive but a lovely spot.
10

Reading*

Riverside approach through parkland is very attractive but don't bother going into the town!

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10

 

96.9 Not such a pleasant walk as the trek up the hill before Pangbourne was a shock after all that level strolling and, worse still, the toilets had closed at the end of September! However, the Mapledurham Lock Tearoom shed was still open for a welcome cup of tea and use of loo!   TRAIN HOME  
Trip 3: READING to WINDSOR: May 2012
11

Henley***

Yet another picturesque Thames Valley town.

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9.0

5 hrs including 2 stops.

107.9 Lovely, sunny walk out of Rading along King's Meadow studded with Oracle sponsored benches inscribed with short pieces of poetry and prose about the Thames. Spotted a lonely black swan being bullied by the other birds, also - oh frabjous day! - four cygnets hitching a lift on mum's back. This was a fairly rural stretch with some narrow muddy paths. Just before Henley the path veers inland a little past some ridiculously posh houses owned, we were told, by some Swiss Banker. £75

Old School House *
Great old house full of character but the owners had messed up our reservation and given our requested twin room to someone else! An uncomfortable night ensued.

Sonning Lock hosted another shed tea-room which served good filter coffee. Sadly, we couldn't find anywhere to stop and have a hot drink later on in Shiplake.
Ate our picnic lunch on a bench by the Shiplake College boat launching spot.
The Angel on the Bridge**
Friendly service and a good evening meal at the Angel.

 

12 Cookham Dean*
Nothing much to see here in this rather suburban hillside development west of Cookham. Good pub though - once we found it!
Marlowe - we did stop here and it is a sizable place but the Tourist Office was very unhelpful when we asked for information about Cookham, which, being in a different county, is of no concern to them at all.
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11.0

c.7.5 hrs including 2 longish stops.

118.9

Another interesting walk past Temple Island at the end of the Henley Regatta course and Bisham church with its tombstones almost standing in the river. There were free range hens, cockerels, peahens and peacocks disporting themselves in a large run at Aston where the Flower Pot Inn was sadly very closed at 10:30 and an unpleasant section through the Culham Estate where a huge building and landscaping works were taking place.
The walk up the hill through the woods from Marlowe at the end of the day was not as tiring as anticipated and only took us an hour.

70.00 Cartlands Cottage*
Rather chilly summer house in the garden. But the landlady was friendly and interesting.

Refreshments along the way were scarce in this section. We stopped at Hurley hoping to find something to eat for lunch but were told there was nothing (this seems to have been inaccurate). But we found a shop (where there were no sandwiches left) and managed to put together something to eat, which we did in the pleasant churchyard.
Uncle Tom's Cabin***
We had a lot of trouble finding this pub in Cookham Dean but when we did it was well worth the rather roundabout walk there.

13 Cookham***
The attraction here is the Stanley Spencer Gallery. Definitely worth the extended stop!
Cookham itself though appeared to have no shop, no postbox and the tearoom had no toilets!

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4.0

1.5 hrs to Cookham. From there to the path via the B&B is c. half an hour further.

122.9 We skipped this bit of the Thames path in favour of walking to Cookham over Winter Hill with views of the valley below. £55.0 White House Farm**
Comfortable accommodation, shared bathroom on large working farm, very convenient for path. Landlady friendly but obviously distracted by having much to much to do!
The Bel and Dragon was recommended but it was full so we ate at the Spice Merchant Tandoori where the food was OK but rather too hot for my taste.
14 Windsor***
Loads to see and do here. Don't miss the castle (go early to avoid the worst of the crowds) and Eton College. I found it curious that the Windsor side of the river was full to bursting with tourists while the Eton side was very quiet - although equally (perhaps more) interesting.

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9.0

6 hrs including two stops.

131.9 From White House Farm, there is a short cut over their fields to the river path. Stopped briefly at Ray Mill Island: an attractive small park by a weir complete with aviary. Walk spoiled somewhat by a considerable detour around Dorney Lake caused by the footpath closure in advance of the Olympics. However, we did picnic with great view down the Millennium Lime Avenue while the RAF considerately held a jubilee flypast over Windsor castle in the distance. Great views of the castle from the riverside path. £59 Crown and Cushion Inn, Eton ***
Lovely, large room, friendly staff. Great Value!
We didn't eat here but I would definitely try their food another time.
Jenners Café, Maidenhead: Conveniently placed for buying our picnic sandwiches in a small park by the river approaching Maidenhead bridge - the cafe was full to bursting with cakes and pensioners.
The Bel and Dragon,Windsor*** : good food and cream teas.
Crème, Windsor,*** super lunch.
Chocolate Theatre**: Excellent chocolate drinks but the food was nothing special.
Trip 4: WINDSOR to RICHMOND - October 2012 - misty starts followed by sunshine
15

Staines**
Despite the name, Staines is quite an attractive little town. Runneymede and Magna Carta Island are worth a detour (although we found the general site signage and information somewhat lacking - nor could I find any postcards!).

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8.25

5 hrs including a longish stop at Runneymede

139.34 A pleasant walk mostly along the river towpath but very muddy in places. Autumnal weather: mist and dank, muddy paths but much enlivened by the autumn yellow leaves on the trees and good views of the castle leaving Windsor. Beyond Belweir Lock there were quite a few picnic tables and places to have hot drinks. Lots of riverside housing - but more modest than previously.   TRAIN HOME Magna Carta Tearoom, Runneymede**: welcome stop here for a cuppa - reasonable prices but the staff were grumpy (possibly worried by lack of custom). We sat outside on the stone wall as we were so muddy and, oday only, had a dog with us - it would have been nice if they had provided benches.
16

Hampton Court***

Don't miss a visit to this splendid palace!
However, the town (East Molesey?) on the other side of the bridge, while crammed with places to eat and high class tourist boutiques had no postcards for sale!

Riverside pubs become more plentiful on this stretch. We passed several, see under Food column for details.

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12.5

6 hrs including 3 short stops

151.84 Much easier underfoot than the previous day which made the going faster. There was a rather confusing detour along the North Bank where the signs were sometimes missing or appeared to have been turned around. However the stretch beside the Molesey reservoirs, desribed by the Guidebook as "claustrophobic" turned out to be an attractive stroll between an old ivy-covered wall and riverside trees. Approaching Hampton Court there are fine views across the river to Hampton Church and Garrick's temple and the sun came out just in time to operate the impressing person-activated sundial.   TRAIN HOME

The Kingfisher: sadly closed at 11:30 when we stopped there desperate for a hot drink.
The Thames Court***, Shepperton: Fortunately this was open and they were very friendly and tolerant of our muddy boots. Comfortable sofa seating and a downstairs loo.
The Ship at Shepperton is no longer a pub although the Red Lion next door appears to be still going strong. A little further along we stopped outside The Anglers for our picnic but had a coffee a little further along again at The Weir**, which was expensive at £2.10 for an expresso but, hey, it came with a biscuit.

17

Richmond***
We spent the morning visiting Hampton Court Palace and then walked on to Richmond in the afternoon in record time (for us). Definitely worth a detour into Richmond to see the Green and the old Palace Gateway. It also boasts as simply super old Theatre.

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7.52 miles

3 hrs
no stops

159.36 Pleasant walk along a wide gravelled drive on the north bank with views across the river to Kingston (the first encroachings of big city life). Then a shady, very rural seeming riverside path around the Ham Lands. Marvellous views approaching Richmond.   BUS HOME

Dish Café, Molesey ***- across the bridge from Hampton Court Palace. We had an excellent lunch here.

Tide Tables Café***
Another great café, very conveniently located right on the path at the end of our day out.

Trip 5: RICHMOND to THE BARRIER - November 2012 - misty autumn weather but no rain!
18 Kew Bridge**

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2.98 miles

c. 1 hr

162.36 Late afternoon walk along another very rural seeming stretch of river enjoyed by dog walkers and cyclists. Views of Kew Gardens and Syon House across the river.   TRAIN HOME  
19

Battersea Bridge**

If you have time, the London Wetland Centre** is worth a visit

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9.02 miles

c. 7 hrs inc. long 2 hrs plus stop

171.38 Gorgeous autumn day with lovely long break at the Wetland Centre. High tide floods on approach to Putney Bridge. We took the slight detour beside the lovely Lonsdale Road reservoir (now a nature reserve).   BUS AND TRAIN HOME Pleasant lunch at the London Wetland Centre**.
20

Greenwich***

Lots to see in Greenwich if you have time: The Cutty Sark, the Naval College, the Maritime Museum, the Foot Tunnel under the Thames.

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12.21 miles

7 hrs including stops

183.59 Cool, misty, dank day through this tourist-site-rich path across London. The walk started well through Battersea Park but deteriorated with the frequent, frustrating and often confusingly signed (or unsigned) detours round multiple skyscraper development works. Take your London street map!   TRAIN HOME Welcome hot drink at the Royal Festival Hall**.
21

Thames Barrier**

We made a detour to the Dome* (difficult as the entrance was invisible and unsigned from our approach). It's just a shopping mall and not really worth the detour

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4.27 miles

c. 1.5 hrs but felt much longer!

187.86 Slow, achy, depressing walk often round or through grimey building sites. The O2 website claims that you can "amble along the river around the historic and leafy Greenwich Peninsula to get to us. The scenery is excellent." Hmm, well, we didn't see it - check the photos! The stretch from the Dome to the Barrier was somewhat more straightforward but hardly scenically excellent.   TRAIN HOME

The Dog and Bell***
Friendly traditional pub.

The View Café**
Friendly service of food an hot drinks at the Thames Barrier.

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