Walk Distance: 6.4km
Walk Duration: 1 hour 40 at a steady pace (with 1 year old in carrier, no toddler & no pub stop!)
Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 171 Chiltern Hills West, OS Landrager 175 Reading & Windsor
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, good little walkers, all the family. There is also the option to take a modified route with off-road pushchairs (involves some lane walking).
Walk Features: Riverside walking by the Thames, pub (the Flower Pot) en route, passes iconic Temple Island, duck feeding and boat spotting opportunities, public toilets and baby change facilities at the Mill End car park.
“I walked this route for the first time with Beth in a back-carrier on a glorious April day that felt more like June. The Hambleden Lock 6k Circular Walk enjoys the idyllic countryside around Henley-on-Thames at its best. Kids will love watching the water as they cross the weir. Beth was fascinated watching boats go through the lock and spent most of the riverside stretches of the walk shouting at the many ducks and geese!
As well as riverside strolling, the path takes you away from the river and up a gentle hill between Aston and Remenham, giving lovely views of the Hambleden valley. Parents will need to supervise kids near the weir and river but this shouldn’t put you off and the riverside paths, whilst not always fully paved, are wide and largely flat.
Pushchair walkers: be aware that large off-road pushchairs will have trouble navigating the weir and lock bridges – you may be better to start the walk from Aston or Rehmenham instead or start in Henley and extend the Henley Royal Regatta walk to Hambleden lock. The path between Hambleden Lock and Remenham is also hard going after wet weather or flooding.”
The Hambleden Lock 6k circular walk starts from the free car park just off the A4155 at Mill End. Head out of the car park and turn right, following the pavement back to the main road at Mill End.
Cross over the road (take care with kids – cars come far too fast). You will see Hambleden Marina signs on a driveway. The official footpath heads down a gap between the houses just beyond this. I’m afraid walking with a baby and some very busy traffic and the extra few meters on the road worrying me, I nipped down the marina driveway (the gates were open) instead which links in with the footpath a few meters on.
Follow the footpath as it leads to the right of the driveway along a fenced avenue. Hambleden marina and its bobbing assortment of boats becomes visible before you reach the entrance to the weir bridge. Most kids will love walking across the weir although be prepared for the nervous to be wary of trip-trapping over the gushing water. The bridge is pretty narrow and there is a bike chicane at the other end so only smaller sized pushchairs are likely to get across easily and be prepared to squeeze past people walking the other way. Whilst the weir today is of a modern construction, the mill (now flats) at Mill End is mentioned in the Doomsday Book and it is thought that it would have required some kind of weir to operate even then so the weir at Hambleden Lock has a long history.
On the far side of the weir the path comes out at Hambleden Lock, where, if you are lucky, a boat will be passing through to give the kids a first-hand demonstration of how a lock works! Cross the lock bridge (narrow again) and onto the path on the opposite side. This path is part of the Thames Path National Trail.
Turn left and walk along the paved path along the bank of the river Thames. This is a lovely spot for a riverside picnic with views back to the weir.
Follow the paved path as it bends away from the river and Hambleden lock to the right towards Aston. It leads through a woody area and over a small stream – perfect for paddlers!
The path continues up towards Aston, with the countryside opening out into a wide meadow as you walk away from the Thames. As you walk past the first house on the outskirts of Aston, ignore the signpost to the left and instead continue on the main path up the hill to the road.
At Remenham Lane, those wanting a detour to the Flower Pot pub can turn left and find the pub almost immediately beyond. Otherwise, turn right down Remenham Lane. Those walking with pushchairs can continue the walk down to Remenham via the lane. Take care – whilst it is a quiet, pleasant lane it can be busy at weekends and cars come too quickly, as per so much of the surrounding area.
Those without pushchairs should continue along the lane until you see the footpath sign on the opposite side of the road a short distance on passing over a stile to the left of a large gate into a field. Walk up the earth path as it climbs gently up the hill.
At the top of the hill turn right, following the track along the ridge of the hill, enjoying the occasional glimpses back across to the Hambleden valley and Chiltern Hills.
Eventually the path opens out into fields and the views are much clearer. Look out for Red Kites – there are so many of the majestic birds of prey in the area and this is a good spot to watch them.
After a small copse on the left hand side of the path the track leads over onto a stile and joins Remenham Church Lane. Turn right and head downhill along the road. There are some great views down to the ornate folly on Temple Island in the middle of the Thames from above the graveyard on the corner of the road.
At the bottom of the hill the road joins Remenham Lane – the point at which any pushchair walkers will rejoin the route.
A few meters to the left of the road junction (back to Remenham Church Lane) you will find the gate to Remenham’s Church dedicated to St. Nicholas. Walk through here to cut the corner off the road and enjoy the pretty churchyard. There has been a church here right back beyond the Doomsday Book with the first rector recorded from 1076 in the Westminster Abbey Charter. Near the main church gate you will find the grave of Cable Gould, the long-standing lock-keeper of Hambleden Lock from 1777 to his death in 1839. He was said to have been a beloved local personality and a bit of an eccentric, which his grave’s epitaph, a quote from poet Thomas Grey, would seem to reflect with the words:
‘This world’s a jest,
And all things show it.
I thought so once,
But now I know it.‘
With your back to the church door, follow the smaller path out of the gate ahead of you to the west. Back on the lane beyond turn to the right. You will walk past some of the pretty houses that make up this tiny village. Once Remenham was a larger village but after the plague struck back in 1664 nearly the whole village was wiped out. Remenham has remained small ever since. Remenham remains famous for its rowing connections and is the starting point of the Henley Royal Regatta races at Temple Island.
Walk past the gate, following the footpath signs and then through the kissing gate (big enough for pushchairs) and onto the riverside path beyond. It is a a bit rough in places and pushchair users will need a buggy able to cope with rough ground. In wet weather this stretch of the Thames Path may be too muddy for pushchairs at all.Here turn to the right and follow the path alongside the Thames. You pass Temple Island with its striking folly and iconic landmark of the Henley area. It was built in 1771 and designed by architect James Wyatt as a fishing lodge for Fawley Court. These days it is the venue of corporate entertaining and weddings and marks the start of the regatta course.
Beyond Temple Island, on the opposite side of the river the views open out onto Greenlands House. Nowadays Greenlands is home to Henley Business School and the occasional wedding but it has a history of prestigious owners including Thomas Chaucer, son of Geoffrey Chaucer, and W H Smith whose residency is mentioned in ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K Jerome.
Continue along the side of the Thames until you reach Hambleden Lock once more. Pass over the lock and retrace your footsteps over the weir and back to end of the walk at the car park at Mill End.
If you would like a longer walk then you can link in to the Henley Royal Regatta walk by turning left instead of right at the river at Remenham and visit Henley-on-Thames as an alternate lunch / ice-cream stop or as an alternative ending to the walk, taking the bus back to Mill End from Bell Street.
Map of Route:
The Hambleden Lock 6km circular walk starts from the free car park at Mill End. To get there turn left off the A4155 at Mill End towards Hambleden. It is signposted to the left off Skirmett Road a short distance from the main road.
If you are travelling by public transport then join the walk at the Mill End bus stop on the A4155 which is served fairly regularly by the 800 & 850 services between Reading & High Wycombe. Henley-on-Thames is on the bus route and is well served by trains from Twyford on the main London line. Alternatively if you are eating lunch at the Flower Pot pub you may be able to park there, in Aston or in Remenham although parking options are pretty limited. For those wanting a longer walk, park in Henley and link in to the Hambleden Lock walk via the Henley Royal Regatta walk.
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