I was heading south for half term. I planned to leave early on Sunday morning and spend the day walking a section of the Thames Path before arriving at a friend’s place in the evening. However, feeling grotty with the remains of a cold meant I didn’t get myself into gear until much later than I’d intended.
By the time I got anywhere near the Thames it was far too late to think about doing a long walk. Particularly as the clocks had just changed and so I’d be losing daylight earlier as well.
It was a beautiful afternoon, perfect for a walk along the river, so I churned ideas over in my mind as I chugged down the motorway. I remembered I still had to walk the couple of miles between Bourne End and Marlow, as when I’d previously walked this section I’d had to cut out this bit due to flooding.
Ideally I would walk from Bourne End to Marlow as I’ve generally been heading west on my walk, but I knew I could park for free in Marlow and it wouldn’t be a problem returning in the dark. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do this at Bourne End.
Train times between the two places meant it made sense to start walking straight away and catch the train back from Bourne End rather than take the train to Bourne End and walk back to Marlow from there. Not a problem. It’s not the only section I’ve walked ‘the wrong way’ and I don’t really mind which direction I go in as long as I eventually walk the whole path.
I parked my car, got my boots on and walked the short distance to the river. A year ago when I was here and walked to Henley it was a hot, sunny day and I couldn’t quite believe it was the beginning of November. People were out in hordes strolling along the riverbank in t-shirts and eating ice-creams. It was a nice day today, though not quite as warm as last year and being later in the day, there weren’t nearly so many people around.
Turning east at the river I walked towards the weir and lock. As I looked back the low sun cast Marlow in a beautiful light.
I soon left the houses behind on my side of the bank and stopped frequently to take photos of the dazzling array of autumnal colour trying to capture the perfect image of red, orange and gold reflected in the silvery river. Although I was quite happy with some of my photos I never quite got that perfect shot.
Across the river, the wooded bank rose steeply and was dotted with mansions, some in colours vivid enough to rival the autumn leaves with their brightness. If you’ve ever hankered after a Barbie pink mansion, this is the place to find one.
The Marlow bypass is the only ‘ugly’ bit of this walk and it’s soon passed by.
Quarry Wood on the opposite bank is thought to have been the inspiration for the ‘wild wood’ in The Wind in Willows.
I kicked my way through the leaves and eventually came to a series of fields, the first of which was home to a herd of very inquisitive cows. A couple of young cows were standing in the river eating from the side of the bank. I wondered how they’d get back up, but as they seemed quite content presumed they knew what they were doing.
As I tried to photograph them one cow in particular was very curious about my camera and kept pushing its face towards the lens. I was worried it make try to take a bite out of it, but I think it was just trying to photo-bomb my pictures.
These were the fields that had been completely under water when I’d tried to walk here a couple of years ago. The fields are bordered by the river on one side and the train line on the other and there’s no way of avoiding them without a long detour along roads away from the river.
There were quite a few boats on the river, some were posh yachts, others were like this tiny boat with two men balanced inside enjoying a bit of fishing.
As the sun started to set and the moon began to rise, lights started to come on in some of the houses opposite and smoke puffed out of chimneys.
Large flocks of geese rose and nosily made their way across the river to their roosts.
I passed the benches I’d photographed from the train last time I was here. Then I could see only the tops of them above the water.
Coming towards Bourne End the path passed through a narrow walkway with wooden houses lining both sides. Exiting this walkway I continued past the marina before turning in to find the main road and the train station.