Take a stroll round from Oxfordshire to Buckinghamshire along the exceptionally scenic Thames footpath.
Duration: 6 hours
Start at Henley-on-Thames station
Highlights: Boats, deer and a pint in The Flower Pot Hotel
Two short branch lines feed off the busy high-speed rail track between London and Reading. One leads to Henley in Oxfordshire and the other to Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Although not connected by rail they are linked by a beautiful stretch of the Thames footpath.
Leaving the shops, cafés and pubs of chic Henley, cross the bridge and turn left on to the well-signposted footpath. In late June this riverside location is packed with Henley Regatta revellers but for the rest of the year, beyond Temple Island, there are more ducks than people.
Open meadows merge into light woodland after Hambleden Lock, where the weir once powered Hambleden Mill. Then at Aston Ferry the path leaves the river for a brief detour that provides an opportunity for refreshment at The Flower Pot Hotel.
Signs direct walkers past Holme Farm and across the deer park of Culham Court. The path returns to the riverside, next to the grand 18th-century Culham House.
The river is crowded with ducks, geese and swans as you arrive at Hurley. This ancient riverside village has a priory, tithe barns and a 14th-century dovecote. What’s more, the village’s Olde Bell Inn has been around since 1135.
Back at the riverside, rustic bridges take walkers on to the north bank and into Marlow. Across the river is the impressive Bisham Abbey, a Tudor building but now also the very modern National Sports Centre. Around the last bend in the river, William Tierney Clark’s magnificent suspension bridge heralds the approach to Marlow.
Henley-on-Thames train station
Marlow train station