Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 10: Henley-on-Thames to Tilehurst

Section 1

Henley Bridge to Sonning Bridge

Stepping out of Henley station I saw this replica of an an old engine covered in flowers. It was to mark Henley in bloom this week.

Next to the flower engine was this sculpture 'The Frog Ball' by Judy Boyt.

The stone bridge at Henley with its five arches was built in 1786.
Overlooking the river is the church of St Mary the Virgin which has been a landmark here for almost 800 years.

The Angel public house marks the start of my walk today, beautifully adorned with window boxes bursting with flowers.
I have to walk around the back of the pub to reach the tow path. From Henley I now have 100 miles to go to reach the source of the river.

It is still too early for the tourists to descend on Henley and hire one of these rowing boats. It is a glorious day, just right for a day on the river.

The area alongside the tow path is known as Mill Meadows. It used to be farmland but regular flooding made farming impractical. Instead this has become a wetland habitat due to the winter flooding bringing silt and vegetation onto the meadow.

Across the river you can see the trees and higher ground of Park Place.

This gentleman lives in Henley and told me I needed to return in the Autumn as the woodland on the opposite bank rivals anywhere in the country for its autumnal colours.

The wooden bridge leads to Marsh Lock which is unusual in that it is situated in the middle of the river.

These are the Marsh weir fish ladders. There are over 20 species of fish that live in the river around Henley. Weirs stop them from travelling upstream to breed or feed. Since the1980s the Environment agency has been building fish ladders on weirs to enable the fish to move upstream. There are metal plates at the bottom of the ladders which slow the flow of water allowing the fish to swim upsteam. At the side is some green brush material allowing the eels to crawl back through the weir.

The Georgian Lock Office was surrounded by flowers.

Once past the lock there was a second causeway taking you back to the pathway.

Once back on the North side  the path takes you away from the riverbank and through a tree lined way where the houses go down to the river and it is no longer a public right of way there.
In one of the gardens was this miniature railway with its own miniature station.

I thought this path would lead me to the river but no it led to the railway line.
This style takes you over the railway line. I didn't realise these were still around. I thought you could only ever cross a railway line at a level crossing which had lights warning you of oncoming trains. Obviously not.
I walked a little more  to find a safer crossing point at Shiplake station.

A little further on to return to the path I had to go back across the railway lines again but this time you had to go under them. I'm not sure you can tell from this photo but the height was about 4ft from the ground to the bridge. What a pity I was on my own so there is no photo of me negotiating this bridge.
Crossing the field I arrived back at the river at the Lashbrook ferry site. I could see no evidence that ferries still crossed the river at this point. I was now walking with the river on my left and fields on my right for some distance.

I can see the lock ahead with the Wargraves boating club  nestled on the banks of the Thames and the river Lodden.
I wonder if these boats will have any takers today.

Shiplake railway bridge.

A very clever way of deterring walkers from using the right of way. What did I do? Well, opened the gate to walk through of course. However, there was a family gathering in one of the gardens so I did walk around the front of their houses instead. Not a more attractive walk but not very long either.
As soon as I was back on the path Shiplake lock was in front of me.

Next to the lock was this small camp site.

This is Shiplake College and up ahead you can see where the pathgoes over a small footbridge.
Shiplake College Boating Club.

Once I rounded the bend of the river Sonning bridge came into view. It is said that this is one of the earliest bridges over the river. In fact there were two bridges One a red-brick, starting from the Berkshire side which still remains. The other supported on wooden piles from the Oxfordshire side. With the increase in traffic this was replaced in the early 1900s by the present bridge despite many protests. Altogether  the bridge has 11 arches all of different sizes. It is a tight squeeze for some of the larger boats goingthrough the centre arch.

Looking more closely at the bridge you can see a post box between the arches. Try as I might I cannot find a reason for this although I doubt it is still in use. I can only imagine that it was for those on the boats to post their letters but of course it would have to have a postman in a boat to collect the mail



  1. Wonderful captures of a beautiful place and wonderful reflections for the day!! Hope you have a great weekend!!

  2. The frog ball is a very interesting sculpture : I'm intrigued... Nice post too : it is so nice of to share that much of your day, with you... You must have had a lot a fun : it looks like a really pleasant walk.

  3. Sonning bridge was closed for weeks last winter due to flooding this caused increased traffic on the other bridges in Reading and huge traffic jams. People should not be deterred by the notice on the gate as it is a public right or way and family gathering or not I would have gone through. I've come across a few of those unmanned footpath crossings and you have to be very cautious and check for trains, they give me the creeps. Don't worry you won't have any more now. That frog ball and train were brilliant.

  4. Thanks for sharing this part of your "back to the source" journey - lovely scenery and a happy reminder of having witnessed the traditional Oxford vs Cambridge boat race here more than 40 years ago!

  5. Wow! What a delightful place and wonderful photographic tour with you ~ You certainly have a great beginning for enjoying the next ten years ~ thanks, it is a great role model for me ~ Happy Weekend, carol, xo

  6. The place must captivated everybody...great shots...

  7. Surely your 'prettiest' day yet. We came across style railway line crossings in the north. I didn't think much about them. We just checked no trains were coming and crossed.

  8. Enjoying your postings still. I have this question: you mention tow paths and locks so is the river treated as a canal now? Did the locks replace rapids that once flowed there?

  9. The age of the bridges just amazes me. Some were built before Australia was discovered,

  10. Hello, I hope you are well. I was wondering it would be possible to use you picture of the Red Letterbox on Thames Sonning Bridge for the

    1. P.S. A full credit will be given.


      Peps Mall
      Mirror Online

    2. Thank you for asking and yes you are welcome to share that photo.

  11. Hello :)

    May I use some of your images of Henley on my site please? I'd be more than happy to write a credit and link back to this page too. The site is

    Great images btw!


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