Middle Thames Branch

Mapledurham to Old Windsor

 

The Middle Thames branch covers the stretch from Mapledurham to Old Windsor.

Leaving Mapledurham with its old and beautiful mill, one passes through a stretch of open country before entering Reading. Jerome K Jerome in Three Men in a Boat disliked Reading and its "ugly face on the river" but he would surely be delighted these days to see the thoughtful rejuvenation of many of the town's historic and beautiful riverside areas.  Leaving the urban sprawl one then travels through mostly rural surroundings for the remainder of the journey.

After the Oracle-sponsored Thames Valley Park, one enters Sonning Lock, situated in the most beautiful and complete Thames side village. Admire the "French Horn" and "Great House" and pass downstream past Shiplake College to Shiplake Lock where the Loddon enters the Thames.

Beyond the lock, with Shiplake on port and Wargrave on starboard you are in the world of the large river side estate culminating in the riverside gardens and summerhouse of "Park Place" on starboard just above Marsh Lock.

From here we are in the heart of rowing and pass through Henley on Thames. Just above Henley bridge is the headquarters of the Henley Royal Regatta and below the bridge Leander Club, the most famous and successful rowing club in the world.

At the end of the Regatta course is Temple Island with its folly and beyond this, Hambleden Lock with its carefully restored mill and boatyard.

From here the river winds down to Hurley and below the lock is the yard of Peter Freebody, famed builder and restorer of traditional craft. The course downstream passes Bisham Abbey and parish church and Bondig Bank entering Marlow under the famous suspension bridge (copied in Budapest), past the "Compleat Angler" and an impressive weir, and enters Marlow lock, one of the deepest on the river.

The next reach leads to Cookham with bridge and village made famous by Stanley Spencer, whose gallery is in the village.

A turn to starboard after the lock leads to the Cliveden Reach, probably the most impressive on the river. Cliveden House is to port and also the infamous summerhouses of Profumo fame.

The next lock, Boulter's, is famed for its picture of Ascot week when the whole Edwardian river came alive. Below Boulters, you are in Maidenhead, in its day the "Queen of the Thames" with such social highspots as Skindles Hotel, Thames Riviera Hotel, the Guards' Club and Gaiety Row.

At the south end of Maidenhead is the "sounding arch", Brunel's bridge across the Thames for the Great Western Railway.

On starboard is Bray, once famed for its Vicar and now famed for its wealthy inhabitants and Michelin starred restaurants.

Through Bray Lock, with its beautiful gardens and you are then looking to port at the old Bray Film Studios - home of "Hammer Horrors" amongst other films.

A gentle curving stretch past Windsor racecourse leads to Windsor itself. This is a very impressive riverside townscape with Windsor and its castle to starboard and Eton with the college to port. Passage is through the low arched bridge and leads to the long and narrow cut of Romney Lock.

Below Romney the river passes through an area of increasingly built up housing and comes to Old Windsor Lock.

The RTS Middle Thames Branch is active both socially and environmentally through the entire reach. The major problem we have to contend with is the continuous desire to develop every possible stretch of river bank.

The Branch supports traditional river activities, such as the Traditional Boat Rally and Henley Royal Regatta.

 

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BRANCH OFFICERS

Chairman: John Skuse
  016284 624025
  john-skuse@hotmail.com

 

Hon. Secretary: Emma Abbott
   zitzeeb@gmail.com
   

 MTB branch walk

Middle Thames branch members relax after a walk inthe Cliveden area, November 2013 (photo:  Ian Rutter)

 

MTB AGM 2013

Middle Thames Branch Chairman, John Skuse, presents Maidenhead Sea Rangers with funding donated via RTS by the Horace Moore Charitable Trust, at the Branch AGM, March 2013.  (photo:  Ann Acres)

 

Henley on Thames

Marlow at Sunrise

Canoeists