Walk Distance: 3km starting from Shiplake Lock
Walk Duration: 40 minutes (more like 1hr30 at duck-feeding, puddle-jumping, stick-collecting toddler speed)
OS Map: OS Explorer 171, Chiltern Hill West; OS Landranger 175 Reading & Windsor.
Suitable for: little legs, babies in carriers, Mill Road & Mill Lane suitable for buggies – the rest is possible with an all-terrain buggy in very good weather only.
Walk features: Riverside walking, railway, great meadows by Shiplake Lock for a picnic, Baskerville pub nearby.
The meadows next to Shiplake Lock are perfect for a traditional picnic – you know, the good old fashioned type that used to come complete with wicker hampers, children in white smocks and home-made lemonade! If pub grub is more your thing then start your walk at The Baskerville next to Shiplake station instead – it adds on an extra 1km to the route but the food is delicious (if a little on the expensive side) and they have a climbing frame in the garden for kids. Don’t try this walk after prolonged periods of rain – the area is prone to flooding making the walk muddy at best and impassable at worst.
The walk starts from Shiplake Lock which is accessed from Mill Lane in Lower Shiplake, There is some limited roadside parking here and on Mill Road nearby. The walking route doesn’t actually pass the lock but it is worth taking a quick detour – it’s a really pretty spot. If you approach Mill Lane from the main road, the footpath is on your right just before you reach the residential houses and the lock is just over the field beyond – literally a 5 minute detour.
Back on Mill Lane, continue walking on the road towards the river. The lane passes Shiplake Lock on your right and continues on past some houses on the right-hand side. Some of these are up on stilts – a reflection on their position on Shiplake ‘s water meadows and the frequent flooding that occurs in this area.
At the bottom of the lane it peters out into a gravelly farm-track. Walk under the railway bridge . Pass two farm-gates on your left and keep walking straight ahead into the field beyond, following the fenceline on your left-hand side. If you look right as you walk, there are good views over the river to Wargrave on the opposite bank of the Thames.
At the bottom of the field, walk through the gate onto the riverside. Turn left and follow the banks of the Thames until the path ends at a bench and information board.
Pass through the gate here back into the fields. Follow the path across the field and through another gate, heading straight towards the railway embankment. At the opposite side , the path leaves the fields. Follow it under the railway bridge ( it is pretty low and requires some stooping so watch out if you are 6ft plus). Train-loving kids will enjoy this spot – they come pretty close by!
Walk down the narrow path beyond – this takes you back out to Mill Road. If you are heading back to central Shiplake for the Baskerville pub, shop or station, turn right here and follow to the village centre. Otherwise, turn left at Mill Road and walk on until you come to the drive to Lashbrook House Care Centre on your left, opposite Crowsley Road on your right. This is the point where those joining the walk from central Shiplake will start the route. I’ve never personally tried it, but Lashbrook House offer basic refreshments for walkers in return for a donation if you are thirsty. Go down the drive and turn right onto the footpath just over the bridge.
Follow the footpath signs across the field and along the hedgerow of the next. The path turns into a track which brings you back to Mill Lane and Shiplake Lock a short distance later.
Map of Route:
There is roadside parking near Shiplake Lock – please be mindful of both local residents and leave sufficient passing spaces for traffic.
Shiplake can also be accessed by train from Henley-on-Thames or via Twyford. There are some direct services to London Paddington. Buses also regularly pass the top of the village running between Reading and Henley-on-Thames.
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