Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Maidenhead; Bourne End and Marlow

Well, much to the displeasure of most people, days of hot summer sun continue to prove elusive. A cool northerly wind permitted the extension of my periodic walks along the Thames Path between Maidenhead and Marlow. Here is the map of the ten mile walk:

This stretch is rather uninspiring, just views of boats and houses over the River with little variation and rather too few trees. Not much in the way of genuine 'wilderness' due to the pressure of housing and so relatively poor in flora and fauna.
I started from Maidenhead station and made it down to the river with its famous Brunel railway bridge and attractive road bridge (built 1777)


There were remarkably few ducks, swans and waterfowl to be seen. I caught this female mallard taking a doze on the way to Boulters Lock


This stretch is along the busy road with park benches and mature trees.


Only a few flowers along the path this time, fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica) brightened up the walk.

fleabane,Pulicaria dysenterica

Of course lots of boats in all shapes and sizes. Here is one, the first of many, of the view across the river Thames.


Soon we reached Cookham, famous for its association with the artist Stanley Spencer and there is a small gallery dedicated to his work. The village itself has some good vistas but a bit too busy in my view to count as a 'country village'.


It does though have that essential village ingredient - an old church. Cookham church dates back to Saxon times and has many interesting features.

cookham,cookham church

It has an unusual memorial to another local artist Frederick Walker.

cookham,Frederick Walker

The raison d'être for Cookham is the ancient bridge over the Thames (the only road bridge between Marlow and Maidenhead)

cookham bridge

On the east bank of the Thames is the Cliveden estate, famously the home of the Astors (America's richest couple at the time), just to the north is the ruins of Hedsor Priory.

Hedsor priory

And so we came to the outskirts of Bourne End with more fine riverside properties, as you may see these are not as old as they make themselves out to be.

Bourne End,thames

The village of Bourne End is a modern mess, stimulated into existence by a railway station, but Bourne End Marina is a pretty sight when the sun shines.

Bourne End,marina,thames

The path goes right though the marina.

Bourne End,boats,thames

And then on the north side of the river towards Marlow, with more views of the river.

Bourne End,view

Very few butterflies to be seen, I did spot a Common Blue; a Common White and a Holly Blue. Flowers generally 'standard', but I think this is the slightly less common Marsh Hawk's-beard (Crepis Paludosa) with smooth toothed leaves.

Marsh Hawk's-beard,Crepis Paludosa

Approaching Marlow the houses on the Winter Hill (south side of the river) became increasingly grand and eccentric.


Culminating in this strange 'Moroccan castle'.


I think that is enough riverside properties for one walk. We finally reached Marlow with its distinctive spire


The next (and probably last section for me) on the eastward Thames Path, should take me to Eton, Brae and Windsor