Touring the Thames Valley; Part 2 Henley on Thames

As you will have read from our last post, The Thames Path has been on our “to do” list for a while now. We enjoyed a great walk along the River Thames from Chertsey to Shepperton and now it was time to explore a little more of the Thames Path around Henley on Thames.

We were booked onto the Caravan and Motorhome Club site – Henley Four Oaks – which sits just on the outskirts of the beautiful Georgian town of Henley on Thames.

As we’d had a busy day exploring some of the area downstream around Chertsey, we didn’t end up arriving to the Club site until around 4.30pm. As usual we arrived to a cheery welcome, and were given a list of available pitches that we could choose. One thing we particularly like about the Caravan and Motorhome Club over the Camping and Caravan Club, is that you are allowed to pick your own pitch on arrival, you just nip back to reception to let them know which one you are on.

As the site wasn’t full, we were allowed to upgrade to a hardstanding awning (larger) pitch if we so wished, but actually we preferred pitch 34, a lovely private grand pitch that was on the edge of the site overlooking the woodland. The layout of the pitch meant that even with our nose lined up with the pitch marked as per the rules, we were still able to use our sliding side door to full pitch potential which gave us ultimate privacy.

Set up didn’t take long, and after a cuppa and a shower each, we opted for a leg stretch into Henley on Thames for an evening wander and perhaps a swift pint. The walk down to the town was on the pavement of a busy fish road, however only took 20 mins. We admired the beautiful houses and down found a tempting beer garden at the Angel on the Bridge – as the name suggests, its right on the Thames and overlooking the gateway to the town – the Georgian bridge.

I tried the Mr Hobbs Henley gin, whilst Keefy enjoyed a Brakspear Oxford Gold. We managed to resist the temptation of every single takeaway in the town as we walked back to Ruby the VW for a lovely leek and potato soup we’d snuffled from the freezer before we left home.

We had the most wonderfully peaceful nights sleep – whether it was the excitement of the paddle boarding, or just the tranquility of the site, I don’t know, but Tuesday dawned and we were fresh as a daisy, both of us. I made us a bacon butty whilst Keefy prepared our lunch for our walk and by 11am we were putting our best foot forward on our little jaunt back into Henley and onto the Thames Path.

Using Keith’s memory map, which he now uses on his phone, we’d devised a lovely walk along the Thames from Henley north towards Hambleden Lock, which took us right along the Henley Regatta course to the official start – Temple Island. From there we carried on a little further along the river, until we saw signs for The FlowerPot Hotel – an obvious place for a quick pint, before joining the Chiltern Way Berkshire Loop through Remenham Woods and back joining the river at Henley Bridge again.

The walk was 6.5 miles and only took us 2.5 hours – even with a pub stop, so after eating our lunch on the banks of the Thames by the bridge, we decided to carry on the opposite direction of the Thames towards the River and Rowing Museum, past Marsh Meadows to the next locks.

Again, just like our walk on Saturday from Chertsey, it was a stunning walk, and wonderful to see all the river boats, and houses on the banks. It really is a beautiful area – albeit very affluent!

We enjoyed a beer on the banks again at The Angel before a bit of top up shopping and “one for the road” at the The Old Bell – the oldest building in Henley on Thames before walking back to Ruby – a grand total of 9 miles walked today!

Dinner tonight was a first for me – homemade burgers and they were absolutely gorgeous, especially washed down with a pinot noir.

What a wonderful end to a wonderful 5 nights on the Thames. We realise we’ve only scraped the surface of the Thames Path – it runs for 184 miles, as The River Thames is the longest in England. So – keep an eye out here for updates, as we’re already planing to return to walk more of the National Trail.

Until Next Time

Lx

Walking Cambridge’s Roman Road – A One night Britstop Adventure

Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up at Britstop number 217/18 – which is a pub in Cambridgeshire, just off the M11, A11 and A14. We are sharing the carpark with a Dutch family who are on the way to the Harwich ferry.

This one has been on our list since February, when the 2018 book was released and I spent a rainy Sunday flicking through each and every location, adding Post It notes to those which catch my eye. I’m not the only one who does this right?

Despite living only an hour from Cambridge, and having one of our best friends living near enough ON this walk, we had no idea until the Britstop book arrived that there was a Roman Road walk in Cambridge. Those who read regularly will know Keith is a huge history buff, and he particularly loves anything Roman.  We’ve had two failed attempts at this trip – due to weather conditions either being too hot or too rainy. The joys of living in the UK and its unpredictable weather!

The Roman Road is approximately 10 miles in length and runs from about 1 mile away from Cherry Hinton Park and Ride almost to Haverhill, bypassing Wandlebury Country Park, Worstead Lodge, Little Abington, Hildersham, Linton and Horseheath.

We had arranged with the Britstop pub when booking our table for dinner, that we could leave Ruby in their carpark from 10ish that morning. On parking up, we grabbed our two rucksacks packed full with water and snacks, and jumped on the number 13  Stagecoach bus from near enough outside the pub to Wandlebury Country Park at an eye watering £5 each for a single! For any more than two of you, I reckon a taxi may have been cheaper! Shock subsided, we took our seats upstairs for the 20 minute journey to the Country Park, disembarking at “Fort Stop”.

We met our friends for a picnic lunch in the park (you need to bring your own as we didn’t see any cafe’s or anything) before waving bye to them and hunting down the Roman Road – actually its very well sign posted, as is the Bus Stop if you decide to do this walk the other way round.

We were joining the Roman Road about a mile or so from it’s starting point, just off Wort’s Causeway. As with any well-preserved Roman Road, the path was visible for as far as the eye could see. We put our best foot forward, and with the Memory Map app on Keith’s phone tracking us, we were pretty impressed with our pace considering it was quite a warm day and we’re a little out of shape.

The path varied in how well it had been preserved – some bits were really excellent and some less so. The walk took in the rolling hills of the Cambridgeshire countryside, but the Roman engineering never made us feel like we were climbing huge gradients. Well, to be fair, they weren’t huge gradients but there were definitely some gradual inclines!

Along the way we saw loads and loads of butterflies and wild flowers and parts of the path are SSSI.  The heat of the day gave it a Mediterranean feel throughout so it was very atmospheric. We stopped for water every mile and got through a bag of haribo and a box of angel slices! Despite passing several villages equipped with pubs, cafes and shops, there wasnt any signs to these villages off the Roman Road – so you need to bring your own food and drink.

Before we knew it we had reached the end of the road, literally! We were both genuinely shocked that it only took us 3 hours to walk- time flies when you’re having fun but surprisingly considering our lack of long walks recently, physically we felt fine and like we could have carried on! Happily our parking spot in the pub was just off the Roman Road so by 4pm we’d found ourselves a table in their beer garden and enjoyed a few cold drinks – my first pint of Aspall did not touch the sides!

Our meal later on was absolutely sensational. We had scallops and tempura prawns to start, followed by homemade burger and chips for Keith and lamb kebab, flatbread greek salad etc for me. The bar was dog friendly and they served local gin from Bury St Edmunds, so we settled in there for the evening, feeling thoroughly satisfied that we’d managed to walk the walk!

The Britstop did well out of our stay – our bill came to £106! So far more expensive than a campsite, however the food, drinks and service was exceptional – far higher standard than the standard pub grub – and therefore a real treat for us to enjoy together without having to wash up. We also had probably £50 worth of drinks! And Jazz got a handful of dog treats too. More importantly the location was perfect for this walk.

It’s worth me pointing out that most people wouldn’t have to spend the amount we did- mains were between £10-£19- we chose the most expensive starters at £12 for the scallops but they were amazing and we fancied a blow out meal.

After quite a warm night, we woke up early and set off around 7.30am for Wandlebury Country Park again – where we started yesterday. Parking from 8am was £3 all day – we wanted to walk the small northern section that precedes the Country Park before going home. I’m really glad we did too as it was by far the best preserved section – the high banks which had been dug by the Romans are still visible and in use today to make the Road stand higher.

At the bottom of this section there is a free car park – so you could park here and walk the entire length then get the bus back to the Park and return to your car if you didn’t want to stay at the Britstop – your loss though there!

We feel privileged to enjoy this walk – we’ve spoken to loads of people since getting home from it and noone seems to have heard about it. Neither had we – so a big thanks to Britstops for once again opening up a new area/walk for us. We will absolutely deinitely return – next time we will treat ourselves to the Chaetaeubriand that lurked on the menu!

Until Next Time

Lx

Some Helpful Planning tools for this walk:

The Walk information leaflet

About the Roman Road

Getting to the Roman Road

Stagecoach Bus 13 Timetable 

Wandlebury Country Park Access Info

Join Britstops 

A wander around Thetford Warren

We are so lucky to live in the area that we do. We’ve had so much to do this weekend that we were unable to get away; however after blitzing the to do list yesterday we decided to go for a nice walk and a cuppa tea somewhere local today, for a change of scenery.

Just 10 miles down the road lies Britain’s largest lowland pine forest, Thetford Forest.

We headed to Thetford Warren, a (free) English Heritage site that is a rare example of a rabbit Warrener’s lodge, a now lost local industry.

After a quick look at the building remains, we put our best foot forward and set off on the well signposted 4.5 mile Beech Trail. The trail takes you through woodland glades, along grass and sandy tracks, past tall pines, and Rhododendron Bushes (sadly we’ve missed their peak now). Occasionally the track is overlapped by another trail, some of which are bike trails

Nearby is High Lodge which is a hive of activity, with numerous walking and cycling trails along with a Go Ape. You can also get refreshments from the cafe there. Our trail, the Beech trail didn’t go as far as High Lodge but at one point we were very close to the car park (payable)

Parking at Thetford Warren is free though and far enough off the main road to enjoy a peaceful cuppa and cake in Ruby after our walk.

We really enjoyed our walk and will definitely return for a similar day sometime soon. Isn’t it amazing how a walk and a cuppa in the Campervan makes you feel like you’ve had a mini break, even if you’re only 15 mins from home!

If you’re not local enough to enjoy Thetford Forest as a day trip, we’ve heard the following campsites are really good and very local:

Puddledock Farm 9 miles/ 15 mins

Dower House 11 miles/ 18 mins (this is on the outskirts of our village!)

Other things to do in the area:

National Trust Oxborough Hall

Lyndford Stag Walks

Knettishall Heath Walks

English Whiskey Distillery Tours

Where do you like popping to for a local walk/change of scenery? We’d love to hear so comment below.

Also if you find yourself in this neck of the woods, let us know

Until next time

Lx