This is a continuation from our Thames Path walk from Hambleden to Maidenhead Bridge topic - now following the River Thames via Dorney, Eton, Windsor, Datchet and Runnymede as far as Staines.
The majority of The Thames Path alongside this part of The River Thames is quite well surfaced although their are a few sections where
the trees and undergrowth totally overhang the route and these bits can be rather muddy after rainfall.
The path is well used by both cyclists and walkers and part of cycle route 4 uses it too for a while.
The Thames is generally quite wide and their are often some really beautifull
(and presumably exceedingly expensive) looking houses and buildings to look at on the river's opposite bank. One thing though is that due to the proximity of Heathrow Airport there is particularly in the Windsor area a significant amount of aircraft noise from low flying jets - sometimes these are going more or less overhead every 30 or 40 seconds.
Starting off from Maidenhead Bridge (which carries the A4 Bath Road across the Thames), the Thames Path fairly quickly joins River Road - this is a quiet, narrow tarmac road which is fine to walk
along.Maidenhead Railway Bridge
is now in view - this two arched beautiful old brick bridge is yet another example of the brilliant engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel's work and was opened in 1839. Once under the bridge the path continues along the road although there is a very wide grass area to walk on if you so wish. Less than a kilometre from the bridge where the houses end the path
continues as a proper path - sometimes going under a "tunnel" of foliage and trees with the river almost invisible - other times with fields on the left.
The Thames takes a typical bend - goes under the M4 roadbridge and subsequently passes Eton Dorney to arrive at the picturesque little St. Mary Magdalene Church at Boveney. Windsor Racecourse is now visible on the opposite side of the river. Apart from the beautiful setting this is worth noting because
down the sidepath next to the Church and just a few 100 yards away there is a very convenient (and as of August 2013) free car park (put SL4 6QQ onto google maps or your tomtom).
From here the River Thames - and The Thames Path - does a good job of wandering around the countryside and is excellent for walking along - soon reaching Boveney Lock and Weir and then eventually arriving at Windsor Railway
Bridge which is an excellent example of a girder railway bridge. This is another of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's masterpieces - the Grade II listed single-span bridge is the oldest example of an in-use wrought iron bridge in the world. Shortly after the bridge Windsor Castle comes clearly into view. On reaching Eton the Thames Path briefly leaves the river bank and then crosses the River Thames on a wide footbridge into Windsor - the way is clearly marked.
However before crossing into Windsor it is worth taking a wander up into Eton itself to look at the college buildings and also the church. Immediately over the bridge turn left, now with the Thames Path passing by several restaurants and pubs and bordered by the river on the left. Then pass Riverside railway station car park and railway lines on the right - after a short tree-lined section the
path goes onto a narrow road and then arrives at Romney Lock.
If time permits it's worth walking across the lock and then take a wander down to see Romney Weir - you also get a nice view of some old buildings including a pump house (which cannot be seen from The Thames Path itself). Romney Weir is particularly interesting because two turbines have been installed and the output generated
from them is being used to provide green power to Windsor Castle and also at times for several hundred houses in the immediate area.
From the lock the route takes another huge sweep to then pass under Black Potts Railwaybridge which was built in 1850. There are a couple of seats beside the river just here, the huge Home Park is on the right and also Jubilee River re-joins The Thames nearbye. (Jubilee River is a 7 mile long stretch of water which connects Maidenhead to Eton and has footpaths and cycle
ways so can be used in making circular walks involving The Thames Path). On arriving at Victoria Bridge go up the slope onto the road and cross the bridge as the Thames Path changes sides and
then continues along what can be a muddy narrow path which is lined with high undergrowth to then arrive at the B470 Windsor Road on the outskirts of Datchet. (Datchet is on the railway service from Windsor and Eton Riverside Station and the line also goes to Staines so this may be useful for creating short walks along the Thames Path
Unfortunately the Thames Path leaves the river and it is necessary to turn right and walk along this B470 road which becomes the B3021 Southlea Road. Just past the last house look out for and take a narrow path on the right which goes
alongside the road on a field edge - this path then turns sharp right and heads off back to the river.
Follow this sometimes muddy and certainly nettle-lined path to soon rejoin the B3021 at Albert Bridge. Go under the bridge, turn left on a narrow path onto the road - cross over the Thames and go sharp left down some steps and back alongside the river. The now grassy path is next
to the river - soon a good view of a weir appears which is where the Thames itself flows however the Thames Path follows New Cut (which was built in 1822 and created Ham Island) as far as Old Windsor Lock. From the lock continue along the river - a little way along the path crosses a wooden footbridge and continues left however you might want to to go right for several 100 yards to look at Old Windsor Church. The path
continues sometimes passing a few houses and also alongside a road for a while and then comes out at Runnymede.
Runnymede starts off with a narrow grass area but soon becomes a huge park with lots of seats, trees and even a cafe and toilets. There is also a children's water area where they can mess about with water jets and so on - the area is very popular on weekends especially when the weather is fine. Having left Runnymede the river is bordered by houses on both banks - the path follows the river at the bottom of these large gardens and is pleasant to walk along. It eventually passes Bell Weir and Lock and then goes under the M25 roadbridge before getting fully into Staines. Once at Staines Bridge the Thames Path crosses over the River Thames yet again.
For a continuation of this walk along the Thames please see our The Thames Path - going from Staines to Weybridge topic.