Make the historic Olde Bell Inn your base for riverside strolls along the Thames Path.
Fortify yourself for the day with one of the Olde Bell’s hearty breakfasts then step out down Hurley High Street. Within a few hundred metres you’ll be at the river.
We’re lucky to be on a particularly interesting stretch of the Thames – on our doorstep lies an expansive riverscape where gentle waters meander between leafy islands and cascade over Hurley Weir.
Take a look at this lovely aerial view – see how close the Olde Bell is to the river (and the vast expanse of riverside greenery that awaits you).
The Olde Bell is perfectly placed between Henley and Marlow – a walk of 8.7 miles. We’re a very dog-friendly hotel (and your four-legged friends will also be welcome on the Thames Path).
Follow the river west and you’ll encounter a splendid weir at Hambleden.
The lock here has been used as a film location for movies such as a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sleepy Hollow and The Avengers remake.
Then it’s on to Temple Island with its stunning domed folly…
This beautiful island serves as the starting point for the races at Henley Royal Regatta. The Etruscan-style temple dates back to 1771. It was originally a fishing lodge for the historic house Fawley Court.
The temple was designed by the architect James Wyatt whose works also included the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford and Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire.
From there you’ll pass the Temple Meadows, the Upper Thames Rowing Club and the Remenham Club before reaching Henley and seeing the famous Leander Club.
As soon as you reach the river you’ll immediately cross on to one of the islands found in this stretch of the Thames. Head east pass various moorings then cross back again to the south bank.
On the north bank opposite you’ll see Thames Steamers and a marina before you arrive at a large footbridge over the river.
Cross the river to the north bank, turn right and pass another small island with a weir.
Follow the riverside path east. On your right (on the south bank) you’ll see Bisham Abbey – now a National Sports Centre but once home to Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
Continue along the riverside and you’ll reach Higginson Park (which features a brick-in-grass maze created by maze maestro Adrian Fisher to commemorate the millennium) and then the Grade I listed Marlow Bridge, which was designed between 1829 and 1832.
There’s no shortage of water birds on the River Thames. Expect to see plenty of swans, ducks and other waterfowl.
There are raptors too. Keep an eye out for the magnificent Red Kites that soar above the countryside. They’re plentiful around Henley. (You can recognise a Red Kite by its distinctive forked tail.)
You may also see Muntjac. These cute little chaps are Britain’s smallest species of deer.
They’re a comparative newcomer to UK shores, introduced from China to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the early 20th century. They soon decided they liked the place, breeding and spreading rapidly across the countryside.
But you won’t see huge herds leaping across the fields – they tend to be either solitary or in pairs so keep your eyes peeled for these shy little creatures.
For more information about walking breaks along the Thames Path, contact The Olde Bell Inn.