It was a sunny January afternoon when Hooves and I walked this section of The Thames Path – from Maidenhead to Bray Lock. The riverside at Maidenhead is a lovely place for a wander, and weather permitting, an ice cream, however if you wish to go for a decent walk to exercise your pooch then following the Thames Path towards Bray is just the ticket.
You can chose to park at either one of two car parks along the A4094: the closest to the town centre by a few hundred yards is at Riverside Park (map). Here two hours costs a pound and you pay in the coffee shop upon arrival. (streetview) The second of the two is just a bit further along at Boulters Lock, (map) which is a pay and display car park.
As you leave either of the car parks you need to cross the road to the riverside and turn right. You are now on the Thames path. Follow the path alongside the river until you reach the bridge. Here you will have to cross over the river – there is a pavement on both sides of the carriageway, so whilst the road can be busy, you can cross safely with care.
Once across the river turn right again, so you are walking away from the bridge. The route of the Thames path follows a residential road for a short distance, but as soon as you have passed under the railway bridge, which you will see up ahead, (streetview) the river bank opens up and you can walk on grass for a short distance. There are often geese here, which kick up a bit of a fuss as you approach…
After the grass stretch the slither of land between you and the water’s edge actually belongs to the homes that are on your left, but these are shallow areas of garden and the views over them and across the river to the super-smart houses on the opposite bank are very interesting. Each one seems to be elaborate than the last…
As the houses on the left peter out it appears at first glance that the path ends, but continue onto the five bar gate and you will see a gap to the right of the gate, which is the route of the path. A sign confirms that you are not trespassing. Shortly after you have passed this last house the path becomes much more rustic and there are open fields on your left. Keep walking and you will eventually reach the lock at Bray. The footpath here returns to tarmac.
If you fancy a round trip rather than a ‘there and back’ walk then follow the tarmac path as it turns to the left away from the river, a short distance after the lock… another short distance after that it turns left again onto a bridleway (Armenden Lane). This continues for a while until you reach a turning on the left to Barge Farm. Do not turn left, or carry straight on, but turn diagonally left into the field in front of you instead. It is quite clear which way to go (see the photos). Follow the track across the field to the opposite side, and stay in this field until you pass through a wide opening into the next field. Keep going straight on through two small fields, and as you reach the third field you will see a property in front of you. Keep going towards this property with the hedge of your right, and carry on the short distance onto what looks like a gravel drive. As you continue down the gravel drive the property you have walked towards will be on your left. The river will be up ahead of you and you may well recognise where you are! When you reach the water turn right and retrace your steps back to your car.