Yesterday (22nd Jan) we decided to walk into Henley, same old, same old you might say, but yesterday it was different. Friend Karin had told us on Friday evening over drinks on SR that it was a good walk into Henley staying on the marina side of the Thames rather than crossing the river by the weir path which is what we usually do.
By the time we'd got the OS map out, figured out the route and got ready to go (George reminding me when he saw me putting my shoes on that it had been raining heavily non-stop the day before and the fields would still be wet and I'd probably be better off wearing my wellies and me telling him that I was a grown up now and I'd be ok thanks) it was nearly half past ten.
We set off heading for Hambleden village but turned left opposite Rotten Row and encountered the first field ...
... lovely views
... all around us
... and it was a bit squishy underfoot, but I was managing ok.
He hasn't noticed that I've stopped to take pictures!
All was well until we crossed the main road and headed towards the river to find the footpath ...
As you can see ...
... and mud!
While George tries to figure out the driest way of getting
us me over the worst of the wet ground I took some more photos
We first saw Dunkirk Little Ship Llanthony in August from the river as we were cruising past here where it's moored off the grounds of Henley Business School (part of Reading University)
Ah, ready to go now, problem solved ... George gives me a piggy-back over the too wet for my shoes ground
My hero! He piggy-backed me several more times over the next mile or so.
A different view of Henley's temple island looking into the now bright sunshine
We crossed lots of these little bridges over River Thames tributaries
Admiring the watery view
So now were know that we've walked across Temple Island Meadows SSI which, as the notice explains 'These wet meadows next to the River Thames are subject to seasonal flooding'.
Well, we can vouch for that!
This little group of dwellings looks even better from this side of the river
... is to the left of the bridge
... and provides outstanding views over the river from Fawley Court, the design and construction being attributed to Sir Christopher Wren and Capability Brown.
Fawley Court on the left and the group of houses on the right of the Thames, you may just be able to make out the little bridge that I stood on whilst taking the pictures.
Crossing Fawley Court's boundary
... and my hero waiting to help off the plank bridge to dryer ground
On the home stretch now with Henley visible in the distance - we've moored a couple of times just here on the left. We thought that the worst was now behind us
Overcoming a locked gate ... easy peasy!
Passing Henley Rugby Football club
... and spying Fawley Court again way over there
We've turned to our right by the Regatta finish line and continue on our way past the rugby pitches and the path is practically impossible, even by piggy-back! We had to cling hold of the fencing as we put our feet down as close to the edge as we could.
Arrived in Henley just after midday, an hour and a half after setting out. (Our usual route takes about 40 minutes)
We stopped by these lovely buildings to wipe most of the mud of our jeans and footwear, I was quite surprised that my feet were still dry!
As it was lunch time ... we decided we'd stop for lunch at the Catherine Wheel and then walk home again. As we left the pub and started to walk towards the river we saw that the doors were open to St Mary's Church so decided to go inside ... but that's another blog post to look forward to.
Just before 2 o'clock we were crossing Henley bridge to our usual route along the Thames Path which runs close to the river's edge on the right as we look upstream
... where we can see a
bit lot of fresh coming down
Looking upstream over the bridge in the bright sunshine
About a third of the Thames Path between Henley and Mill End (where Hambleden Marina is) is tarmac, the rest being a grassy track albeit muddy today. It was on a stretch of tarmac that had seen better days and was now full of dips and therefore full of water that I was 'undone'! Whilst hanging onto a(nother) fence tip-toeing on the edge my left foot didn't go where I wanted it to and I stepped nearly ankle deep into the puddle! No bother, we're nearly home!
Information Board on the Thames Path click to enlarge
Greenlands over the river purchased in 1868 by William Henry Smith (of WH Smith fame). This is also now part of Henley Business School.
Hambleden Lock and the reason we saw a lot of water coming down the Thames on the way home ...
... the Hambleden and Hurley Reaches (stretches of river between two locks) which are above and below the marina have been on stream decreasing (orange) boards (navigate with care) since Christmas and now after yesterday's deluges it's back on red boards and closed to traffic.
And even if you could navigate you wouldn't get past Hurley Lock!
... and the downstream lock landing is once again under water.
When we arrived back at Still Rockin' at about 3pm the pontoon to which we're moored had risen about 15" above normal level causing us to step up about 12" rather than stepping down a couple of inches onto the stern deck.
A wonderful day and 7 hours of adventure ... brilliant!