I had a meeting this morning with a client who lives in Henley, so Hooves and I used it as an excuse to go down to the banks of the River Thames for an amble throughMill Meadows & Marsh Meadows in Henley-on-Thames.
We parked in the pay & display car park at Mill Meadows, which is on the banks of the river, in Henley. (map) Mill Meadows is part of the flood plain and is a huge green space very close to the town centre. Along with Marsh Meadows, Mill Meadows form both formal & informal parks adjacent to the river – they have recently been awarded the Green Flag award, which recognises the best green spaces in the country.
After we had parked we walked straight across the park to the footpath that follows the river. (streetview) We then turned right and walked in the opposite direction to Henley. This footpath is actually part of The Thames Path, which is a national trail that runs for 184 miles from it’s source in Kemble, Gloucestershire to the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich in South East London. For the first section of this walk the footpath is wide and tarmacked, and there are plenty of benches, so it is the sort of walk I could take my parents on and then leave them to have a sit down whilst I carry on and wear the dog out. After around half a mile we reached Marsh Lock and Weir. The lock is close to the Berkshire bank of the river but it is accessed from the Oxfordshire side by two long walkways, which is the side we were on. The weir itself consists of two iron watergates and is located between the two walkways. The Thames Path takes you across the walkways so you get great views right down the river.
Where the walkways reach land again (still on the Oxfordshire side) the path enters a field and the path becomes grassy at best, and muddy after rain. Ideal for dog walkers. We followed the path for another half a mile or so until the path turned inland at Bolney Court, and because we were a bit pushed for time we retraced our steps back to the car at this point. However if you would like to walk further the Thames Path continues through Shiplake to re-join the river again at Lower Shiplake. Alternatively if you want to carry on but get back to the riverside sooner you can leave the Thames Path at Lashbrook, just the other side of Shiplake, and pick up the tow path again (the Thames Path cuts this ‘corner’ off). Of course it’s up to you when you turn back. I have added a screenshot of a route you could take if you wish…
Mills Meadows has a cafe (Henley Piazza), with a serving hatch so you can grab a coffee without leaving your dog outside, or putting him back in the car while you buy it. It has outside seating too, but on a warm day it’s just nice to sprawl on the grass together. In the summertime the Tourist Information Centre is open, and you can hire deck chairs here, so if you need to catch your breath after your walk you can sit and watch the boats go by. There is also a children’s play area, poo bins, and public loos, which are very respectable. Also in the summertime there are regular weekend concerts on the bandstand. Marsh Meadows has some BBQ sites for the more organised among us to use.
There is lots to see on the river at Henley. Not only are there all manner of craft passing up and down, there are some beautiful houses to see, and of course there are people to watch…always a good sport.