Tamesis Fluvius
The Thames Path from
the Source to the Thames Barrier

Marlow to Windsor

Monday 17 April 2017

At just over fourteen miles, our tenth day on the path was actually the last one with a 'longer than average' distance to be covered, meaning that in theory at least, once we were through this section everything was going to get easier. It was a day when the signs of London approaching were becoming ever more noticeable, with the large commuter town of Maidenhead lying part way along the route and the finishing point in Windsor bringing us to the flight paths in and out of Heathrow Airport.

We were keen to make an early start so we would not be too late getting to Windsor, especially as we had to find our way through the town centre to our accommodation once we arrived. We also wanted to try to get a significant distance along the path before it got too full of people out for the Easter Monday bank holiday, another incentive to get away early. Thankfully, we had missed the heavy rain which had passed over Marlow during the night so although the ground was wet when we left our hotel, it was at least another dry day.


The opening stretch of Day Ten takes a little while to reach the banks of the Thames, starting off by heading through the churchyard of All Saints in Marlow, almost right next door to the Premier Inn where we had stayed. After walking through a couple of alleys and down some residential streets, the path finally moves into Pergola Field, where it joins the river and heads away from the town, passing under the A404 on the way. Here, the northern bank is flat but there is a steep bank on the opposite side, from where some very impressive houses look down on the Thames. We made our way through a number of fields and eventually came to the village of Bourne End, where a footbridge was added on to the outside of the railway bridge in the early 1990s to carry the Thames Path over to the southern bank and back into Berkshire.

By this stage the southern bank is also flat so we had more fields to pass through, before arriving at the next village on the river, Cookham. Here the day's only stretch away from the Thames began, as the path took us past Holy Trinity Church and along the main road through the village before heading towards one of the various channels which the river has split into at this point. Although the water is quite close by here, it remains hidden from view and the path continues past a number of private residences, before returning to the river just after the channels have all come back together. The path here is surrounded by trees on both sides and again looks across to a steep bank on the other side, as it takes you southwards towards Maidenhead.


On reaching Maidenhead, the Thames Path emerges from behind residential properties to follow the pavement alongside the A4094, the same road which we had encountered earlier in Cookham and which was now heading south towards the town centre. We continued alongside the road past Boulter's Lock and towards Maidenhead Bridge, which carries the A4 into the town, upon which the path got a little confusing. Two different routes were signposted through a park alongside the bridge, while having crossed the bridge back into Buckinghamshire we found the originally signed route altered, seemingly due to a riverside development. We had to follow the road behind the boathouses and returned to the river bank just before passing under the railway bridge.

Having found our way around a tree trunk which seemed at first to be blocking the path, we headed away from Maidenhead with the affluent southern suburbs still in evidence on the opposite bank. The houses continue on the other side of the river as Maidenhead gives way to the adjoining village of Bray. The path soon brought us to Bray Lock, where we stopped for lunch having bought some sandwiches as we passed through Maidenhead. Accompanying our lunch was the unmistakable rumble of traffic and a view towards the bridge which carries the M4 over the Thames, which we passed under almost as soon as we headed off again for the final stage of the day's journey.


After passing the entrance to Bray Marina on the opposite bank, we began the long stretch of the path which passes Dorney Lake, the rowing lake which belongs to Eton College and which was used for the rowing events at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. For much of the more than two kilometre length of the lake it is hidden from view along another tree-lined section of path, but near to the south-eastern end of the course it does become visible through the trees. Turning sharply around to the left, we passed by the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, with the Royal Windsor Racecourse visible across the river. At the other end of the racecourse, a footbridge carried us across onto Cuckoo Weir Island by which time Windsor itself was clearly visible to the south of the river. The path loops around the edge of the island, with the option of a short cut straight across the field which we chose not to take.

We were now accompanied by a number of boats carrying visitors on river trips as well as hired rowing boats, with Windsor's tourist appeal clearly in evidence. Passing under the bridges carrying both the A332 road and the railway line which links Windsor with Slough, we arrived in the Brocas field which gave us a perfect view across to Windsor Castle looking down on us from the south. From the other end of that field, the path joins the High Street in Eton before turning right and crossing Windsor Town Bridge. There we left the Thames Path behind for the day, eventually reaching our accommodation at the Travelodge after something of a struggle to find our way through the pedestrianised areas around the railway station. Even after arriving at the hotel, we could not rest just yet as we were forced to change rooms twice before finally being able to relax for the evening.