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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

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, 18 January 2020

Saturday Walk – The Thames Path from Reading to Henley

Extra Walk 61 – Reading to Henley
Length: 15.2 km (9.4 miles). Toughness: 1/10

10:47 Swansea train from Paddington, non-stop to Reading and arriving at 11:10. From Ealing Broadway take TfL's 10:21 Reading train arriving at 11:11; if you just miss this, GWR's 10:35 Didcot train arrives a few minutes later at 11:14. Buy a return to Henley-on-Thames via Reading (if you get the cheaper ‘Not via Reading’ ticket by mistake you'll have to pay an excess fare at Reading).

Trains back from Henley are half-hourly at xx:01 & xx:31 (hourly after 8pm) and go to Twyford, where you change for a GWR or TfL service to Paddington.

Note: London Freedom Pass holders can now travel free all the way to Reading on TfL Rail services only. If you want to take advantage of this, get the 10:13 Reading train from Paddington (Ealing 10:21, arr Reading 11:11; as above). On the way back you'll need to buy a single from Henley to Twyford and take a TfL service back to Paddington.

This simple walk along the well-waymarked Thames Path hasn't had an outing for 2½ years. It's just been tweaked to provide a better route from the station to the river, so it seems a good time to give it another look. The riverside path shouldn't be excessively muddy, but a few short stretches were reportedly flooded (though not impassable) after the incessant rain before Christmas. As it's been much drier since then I'm sure there won't be any serious problems, but be prepared…

The published route includes some roadside walking away from the river after Shiplake Lock, but if you're not a slave to your GPS device you could continue along a section of the Thames Path which was restored in 2012 after a long campaign by the Ramblers. It adds about 1 km to the walk length and should be well signposted.

It's possible to cut the walk short just after this new riverside section and return from Shiplake station (on the Henley branch line; trains at xx:05 & xx:35), but the riverside stretch into Henley is described as a beautiful part of the walk.

You should download and bring the straightforward walk instructions from the Reading to Henley walk page. Lunch is in the pretty village of Sonning, where you can choose between the popular Bull Inn and a newish alternative, Coppa Club (which got a favourable mention from some walkers last May). There's lots of choice for tea in Henley, with most walkers favouring the riverside Chocolate Café near the town bridge.


Walker said...

Just to point out that TFL Rail trains have NO TOILETS. There are toilets on each platform at Reading, however.

(Gawd help those who want to travel from Shenfield to Reading on the Cross-Elizabeth-Purple Line when it finally opens. You will need strong bladders...)

Anonymous said...

The stretch between Sonning and Shiplake can be very muddy.

Walker said...

I did the walk on 30 December, and the Sonning to Shiplake section then had slithery surface mud rather than the deep gloopy variety. It was a trifle tedious, but not terminally so, and the lovely scenery made up for it. In the morning the paths are mostly gravel.

Nearing the Boat House at Old Shiplake (1km before the lock) there was one large flooded bit, which I had to wade through, but this was because heavy rains before Christmas had inundated a playing field. This flood was now draining into the river, whose level was much lower by that point. We have not had heavy rain of this kind since, so I would be surprised if this section was still a problem.

PeteG said...

Just to clarify, it is only the Freedom Pass, not the 60+ London oyster card that is valid beyond West Drayton (I had initially thought it was both)

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Pete G for the fare information,
I too, thought it was both.

Chris L said...

Since the GWR and TfL trains arrive at the same time on different platforms, it may be best to meet up on the overhead concourse, near the escalator exit on the north side of Reading station (NOT the main concourse on the south side of the station).

Chris L said...

TfL trains from Twyford to London are at xx:28 and xx:58, taking 49 minutes.

BrightSpark said...

This walk had to be abandoned after a couple of miles due to the Thames path being flooded in several places. n=16 walkers turned up for it. I didn't want to return to London straight away so I walked up the River Kennet which took me into the the centre of Reading. There I saw the abbey ruins, Jane Austin's boarding school, a vibrant and friendly town centre and a first class museum. Hopefully this walk can be re-posted in the Spring or Summer.

MG said...

Having taken an earlier train I walked the first section, Reading to Sonning. Though there was flooding in places, especially in stretches of the water meadows, it was possible to get through and much of the path was OK. Admittedly it helped in the odd place to be wearing wellies. But after Sonning (lunch at Coppa Club excellent), the path was fully flooded, the river well over its banks and flooding over the land on the far side of the path as well. I proceeded for possibly a couple of hundred metres to see if the situation would improve and wss just wondering if I should turn back when a red inflatable boat came into view, motoring down the river. I called to ask if it was better to go forward or back, they indicated back and immediately came over, had me in the boat and took me back to Sonning. They were the Berkshire Search and Rescue Service and told me that the path was flooded up to Shiplake, also that the river was still rising even though the rains had ceased. I walked back to Reading finding a different way to get through the partially flooded meadows.

PeteB said...

Bad luck on those who had to abandon the walk, but better to be safe than sorry If someone had a map or gps an alternative might have been to walk to Pangbourne and then possibly on to Goring or as I once did, walk to Pangbourne and then follow a route back to Reading on the opposite side of the river.

Sean said...

Apologies for posting this walk. The full route was passable a couple of weeks earlier but after last week's storm it looks like I should have played safe and substituted something else (not that there are that many mud-free walks in our winter repertoire). Congratulations to those of you who improvised a town walk around Reading or got a free boat trip.