The Thames Path - walking from Caversham to Hambleden in England.

The River Thames and Thames Path walk from Caversham (Reading) via Sonning and Henley to the beautiful lock and weir at Hambleden.

A boathouse beside the River Thames in England.The River Thames has it's source in Kemble and travels 215 miles to The Thames Estuary and the North Sea passing through some really beautiful English countryside as it does so. One of the big problems which can occur when walking along The Thames Path is that you sometimes have to leave the river bank and use roads instead for some distance - a prime example of this is at Shiplake Lock and another is part of the The Thames Path from Goring to Caversham. Although a tow path has long existed along The Thames, towpaths do change from side to side - not a problem in olden days because there were plenty of small ferries crossing the river but these have all but disappeared now. The route of the Thames Path is still evolving as Natural England and local councils get agreements from landowners to allow access on their land - or as ownership and useage of Thames side properties change hands and are developed and rights of way are established as part of the planning process.

About Walking The Caversham to Hambleden section of The Thames Path.

Walking along this stretch of the Thames Path has the advantage of a frequent bus service at both points so it's easy to do a one way walk rather than have to go there and back.The very old brickSonning Bbridge going over The River Thames, England.Sonning Lock Buses run several times an hour from High Wycombe via Mill End (Hambleden) to Reading and back during weekdays and nearly as often on weekends - there are two services namely 800 and 850 and if starting off from the High Wycombe end the best bus is the hourly no.800 and get off at Caversham Bridge - just a few hundred yards from The Thames (ring the stop bell as the bus goes over The Thames).
You cannot park on the Hambleden Lock side of the road (A4155) but there is a free car park a few 100 yards up Skirmett Road from Hambleden's bus stop at Mill End. From the bus stop at Caversham walk back towards the bridge and onto The Thames Path - turn right along the towpath heading towards Reading Bridge. Soon after going under the bridge the path goes past Caversham Lock to soon reach Junction Bridge which is where The beautiful Kennet and Avon Canal starts it's long journey across England to Bristol.

The Thames Path continues along through quite open flower meadows and eventually meanders it's way to Sonning Lock. A little further along the path from Sonning Lock you reach the present version of Sonning Bridge which was constructed in 1775 and is made of brick - the centre of this beautiful bridge marks the borders of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. There has been a bridge at Sonning for many 100s of years with mention of a timber bridge at the location in the 1530s and the possibility a bridge existed there as early as 1125 in Saxon times. Just over the bridge there used to be a large Mill but this is now a theatre and there is not much "mill" to look at. If you walk into Sonning go and take a look at the lovely little church of St. Andrews, parts of the church date back to the 13th and 14th centuries.

The pretty little Thames Lock at Hambleden Lock, England.Back on the Thames Path and now in very open countryside with fields either side the Thames does some interesting bends on it's way to Shiplake Lock. A little way before this lock there is a quite large grass area and a narrow tarmac road goes off from here which would take you up to take a look at the excellent buildings which comprise Shiplake College - "would take" because the road is marked as private although nobody complained when we went up there for a look. If you take a marked track which also leaves from the same place and goes between a small boat yard it will take you steeply up to the lovely little 13th century church of St. Peters and St. Pauls - well worth doing. On reaching Shiplake Lock the Thames Path diverts from the river and now there is quite a long section which goes across fields and via roads before re-joining the Thames at what used to be Bolney Ferry Crossing - this route is well marked. From here continue alongside the river to reach the next lock which is Marsh Lock and Weirs located on the outskirts of Henley - the lock is reached by crossing the Thames on a quite long and fairly wide wooden walkway - then after the lock another wooden walkway takes you back across the river again to the towpath.

The area as you get further into Henley is dotted with trees and has lots of seating - it gets very busy especially on sunny weekends. Hambleden Weir in England  controlling The River Thames - excellent to walk across on The Thames Path. Just as you get to Henley's Bridge there are several boatyards where you can get trips on the river, hire a small boat and there is also a passenger service which runs too and fro to Reading. A pub blocks the last few yards to Henley Bridge so you have to go round it via the pavement. To continue walking the Thames Path cross over the bridge as the towpath now switches sides. This is Henley Regatta Boat Race territory and if you are here in late June / early July the towpath is inundated with tents and spectator stands and so on and the river itself is laced with loads of metallic bits and pieces, buoys and so on. This all continues for some distance but eventually the towpath gets back into more peaceful territory as The Thames passes by Remenham and then Temple Island before making a huge loop as it goes to Hambleden Lock. If finished walking and parked at Mill End then leave the Thames Path by crossing the lock bridge and then walking across the really excellent huge Hambleden Weir - follow the signs past the Mill and houses to reach the original bus stop.

Please also see our Thames Path walk from Hambleden to Maidenhead which continues following The Thames.

Related items about The Thames Path:
Our The Thames Path towpath Walks in England Home Page lists all our topics about walking along the Thames Path from Lechlade through to the end of the Path at the Thames Barrage. .
Via our Site Resources find links to more items about England - canals include The Oxford Canal, The Grand Union Canal, The Kennet and Avon Canal, The Regents Canal, the River Lee Navigation and The River Stort and The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Also items on British Wild Flowers and English Churches.
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