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This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 24 October 2015

Saturday Second Walk - Chiltern beechwoods, lovely views and chocolate cake for tea

Book 2, walk 6 - Henley via Stonor
Length: 21.9km (13.6 miles) or 19.4km (12.1 miles) - short walk of 14km (8.8 miles) also possible: see bottom of post
Toughness: 6 out of 10

8.57 train from Paddington (9.05 Ealing Broadway), changing at Twyford (arrive 9.42, depart 9.50: connection usually held, but you need to cross the footbridge so don't dawdle), arriving Henley at 10.02.

Buy a day return to Henley-on-Thames (NOT Henley-in-Arden).

Walk directions: the online version includes important updates and is to be preferred to bringing the book.

I had kept this walk back for the last day of Summer Time because it needs an early train from Paddington, as you see. I thought people might brave that on the last long walking day till March. But as we now know that walkers will happily get up for an 8.18 train from the same station not once but twice (!!!), this one is a positive lie-in. If you still need persuading, remember you get an extra hour in bed tomorrow.

This is essentially a Chilterns walk, with plenty of small beechwoods which may just be showing some colour by now (the Chorleywood to Chesham walk last Sunday reported some good tints...)

It is also many many years since I have managed to get to the proper lunch stop for this walk, The Crown in Pishill (no sniggering at the back there). This is a great little place, but popular and they are fussy about walking groups booking in advance. I have done my best to be charming to them and reserved a table for ten people under my name for 1pm. I was quizzed quite a bit about when exactly we would turn up ("so we can plan properly and the kitchen is not overwhelmed"), so if you walk faster and get there at 12.30 and they ask you to wait till 1pm till you order, please be polite and considerate about it.

Those in excess of the 10 booked for lunch can ring up the Crown and be even more charming and they may well be accommodated. Otherwise all a bit earlier in the walk is The Quince Tree "British Pub, Farm Shop and Food Hall". This has both a rather posh pub and a cafe and serves food all afternoon. If you eat here you can take the Stonor Short Cut and shave 2.5km (1.6 miles) off the walk. But when we tried it 2.5 years ago this was what I call a "bag of chips" place - that is, after spending £20 on lunch, you feel like buying a bag of chips to fill you up. 

You have roughly half the walk to do after lunch. Towards Henley take especial care in Lambourne Woods. There is only one official footpath through this and it is fairly straightforward but there are lots of side paths and trees with arrows on have a habit of disappearing. If in doubt, bear right.

The tea stop, if you can get there in time, is The Chocolate Cafe (ex Henley Tea Rooms), which when I last looked closes at 6pm. Henley is not short of other refreshment options.

It is nearly full moon and if the skies are clear, a moonlight walk down the Thames Path (all tarmac) to Mill Lock (about a mile, back the same way) is a lovely way to round off the day.

Trains back are at 24 past until late

** The short walk option is option a) in the walk document, but it is only three miles to lunch at The Rainbow in Middle Assendon and taking a train this early you will get there somewhat before they open at midday. But you could linger a bit in Henley, maybe.


Walker said...

n=17 on this walk w=grey-with-one-shower-then-heavy-rain-from-4pm Lovely autumn colours: the first walk this year that really felt like "high Autumn": good and extensive tints on beech, Norway maple, field maple, hawthorn, blackthorn.... Lovely views and some saw a red kite land just in front of them. Near Pishill the woods were full of the strange bark of rutting fallow deer.

Having booked 10 for The Crown it turned out we had just that number, and the pub proved a delight: cosy, atmospheric and with delicious food. In the afternoon the colours were especially nice but even the walk author (me) got lost a couple of times due to holly growth in the beech woods (directions will be updated). The faster walkers probably got to Henley before the downpour started: we caught it about two miles from the town and so got quite soggy. Only two of our lot went for chocolate cakes: the rest went to the pub. Sadly no moonlight walk on this occasion though it was shinning bright when I got home.

Kelda said...

The 6 “faster” walkers were back in Henley by 3pm. 2 stopped at the café for tea and cake. 4 comfortably made the 3.24pm and enjoyed take-away tea and cake in the warm and dry. A lovely day out!