Windsor to Maidenhead
Eton College was founded in 1440 by Henry VI to provide a free education for 70 'poor scholars' who would then go onto King's College Cambridge. In the 18th cent the school began to take in paying scholars. It is a much larger school today than it was originally with approx 1400 students. Currently the fees are £32, 069 per year!
Moving away from the CollegeI rejoined the path which is on the Eton side of the river. It now felt that I was far away from the city of London. Lots of people were already by the riverside. Families in hired boats were hugging the edge of the river; swans by the dozen were floating along. The land by the river here is owned by Eton College and is known as The Brocas.
The mill stream cuts off what appears to be an 'island' . It is on this stretch of land that you find Windsor race course. I could just make out the track between the trees on the other side of the river.
On the Thames path side the land was becoming more agricultural, with a field of wheat almost ready for harvesting.
Looking on my map this looks to be a very large hotel in a wonderful location. I wouldn't mind spending a couple of nights there.
The path now takes you along the bottom of some very large gardens which I couldn't resist having a look out.
I liked the use of the oar as a handrail.
Maidenhead to Marlow
Just across the Maidenhead bridge was the aptly named Bridge gardens, an ideal spot to sit down and have some lunch whilst listening to the sounds of the river. There has been a bridge at this site since 1254 with the current one dating back to 1777. There was a toll in place until 1903 when the bridge was 'freed' and the townspeople threw the gates into the river.
Boulter's is an attractive lock and was the most fashionable spot on the Thames in the Edwardian era. The high point of the year would be Ascot Sunday when everyone would dress in their best and promenade along the lock admiring the 1000 os so small craft sailing through the lock. The tradition stopped in 1914 with the start of WW1.
The next part of the river bank is Cliveden Reach. On the opposite bank are the Hanging Gardens of Cliveden so called because of the way the trees cling to the chalk cliff. Cliveden was the home of Lord Astor and was at the centre of a great scandal in the 1960s. It was here that John Profumo, Secretary of state for war, met Christine Keeler with whom he had an affair. It transpired that she was also having an affair with a Russian diplomat. Profumo resigned in 1963 and the scandal has been known eversince as the 'Profumo Affair'.
This is Seven Gable cottage, part of the Cliveden Estate.
The path now leaves the riverbank and takes you into the village of Cookham. Walking along the path I could hear the unmistakeable sound of leather on willow and peeping through a fence I glimpse the quintissential sight of a cricket match in the grounds of the Odney Club grounds.
Cookham was the home of the artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1951). His paintings were centred on religeous themeswithin the village setting. He could often be seen pushing a pram around the village containing his artist's materials and a sign saying 'Do not disturb'.
The path continued through the village and then alongside the 16th cent tower of the church of the Holy Trinity.
The railway bridge leading to Bourne End station.
A number of sailing dingies and other craft were on the river at this point as this is the home of the Upper Thames Sailing Club.
This is one of the most beautiful stretches of the river with Winter Hill rising across the river and Quarry Wood on this side.
Up ahead I can see the church and Marlow Bridge so this is where I leave the path for today and make my way to the railway station for a long journey home. It has been a terrific walk today with stunning scenery. I have now walked a total of 74 miles leaving me with 110 miles to go.