This short Sunday stroll took in the Thames-side scenery of Cookham, Bisham, Marlow and Bourne End. After passing Sir Stanley Spencer's house in Cookham Rise, we skirted around the north of Cookham Dean. Through the gently sloped Quarry Wood we went, to reach Bisham with its 12th Century Church of "All Saints'" on the banks of the Thames. Another, but much younger, church of almost the same name - "All Saints" without the possessive plural - greeted us we entered Marlow via its iconic suspension bridge. Why iconic? Well the bridge is a sort of scale model of the famous larger relative, the bridge linking Buda and Pesth across the Danube in Hungary.
We enjoy the Thames in high summer near Cookham.
After a refreshment stop at the - hereabouts - reasonably priced "George and Dragon", we took the path along the north bank of the Thames, to reach Bourne End, on the way savouring views of the "Wind in the Willows" country on the opposite bank. After Bourne End, sailing boats and mansions nestling in the verdant ebullience of summer, accompanied us on part of our last leg to Cookham Station. After liquid refreshments at the nearby tea shop we caught our train home. At 8½ miles and a total ascent of about 116 metres, our walk probably had more the characteristics of a gentle Sunday stroll, but was, nonetheless, very pleasant.
On this page you will see the successive stages of our Sunday Walk.
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On our way to Marlow we passed the erstwhile home of the artist Sir Stanley Spencer before heading out on to National Trust land north of Cookham Dean. We then enjoyed the relaxing coolness of the nature reserve Quarry Wood, which slopes steeply down towards Bisham. After crossing the busy A404, we reached the venerable 12th Century church of "All Saints'" on the banks of the River Thames. We admired the well kept display of roses in the churchyard. After the strange, but traditional, road sign telling us it was 39 miles to Hatfield but only one mile to Marlow, we finally reached the very gateway to Marlow itself.
Cookham's well kept Prospect Cottage has been here since 1856.
Further along, in similar red brick style, is the semi, which was Sir Stanley Spencer's home until his death in 1959.
Another nice house greets us as we head to the National Trust ground north of Cookham Dean.
We have made it to Bisham with its 12th Century church of "All Saints'". The "s" apostrophe - the possessive plural - duely indicates a plurality of saints who sort of own the church.
Some nice summer roses stand guard over the church porch, but the church doors are unfortunately locked, so there is no chance to see the apparently very interesting monuments within.
The Norman church tower looks out on to the Thames, as it has done for many a century.
Here is another view of the well kept flower beds which greet the Sunday worshippers as they enter by the church porch.
And here is the curious road sign on the Marlow Road. Even more intriguing, perhaps, is how many travellers actually notice the sign. I mean,"Why Hatfield of all places"? Perhaps some dear reader of this web page can enlighten me!
The gateway to Marlow? Yes, the iconic suspension bridge - a prototype for the larger one linking the twin hungarian cities of Buda and Pesth on opposite banks of the Danube. For a Sunday, Marlow is very busy indeed. We head past the Victorian Church - this time called "All Saints" and built and rebuilt between 1832 and 1899 - for other considerations spiritual in the shape of the "George and Dragon". Suitably refreshed we then head out of town along the northern river bank of the Thames to Bourne End.
Only two of William Tierney Clark's suspension bridges remain. This one in Marlow, was designed by him in 1832, and was a prototype for the much larger "Széchenyi Chain Bridge" across the River Danube in Budapest
The twining and bridging of Marlow with places on the European continent is proundly explained on this plaque mounted on one of the bridge supports.
Here is "All Saints" seen from, and on the north side of, the bridge
And this is the up-market "Compleat Angler" Hotel seen from, and on the south side of, the bridge. Izaak Walton's famous book was, apparently, inspired by the fishy goings-on on the Thames.
All Saints, in all its Victorian glory, looks more like a cathedral, both without ...
... and within - a symbol of local Victorian wealth and pride.
Apart from all the cars, downtown Marlow looks very quiet, but it was anything but! The George and Dragon is on the right, its outside chairs and tables suggesting to visitors that it's time for their sunday refreshment.
Inside the George and Dragon a number of prints and pictures grace the walls and give the guests a sprinkling of local history. The railway from Maidenhead originally went on to High Wycombe and thence to Aylesbury, long before the line from London through Beaconsfield was constructed. Indeed, at one time, Aylesbury was only connected to the Paddington and Euston lines. In Victorian times, railways provided a vital link for rural communities, such as Marlow, to the outside world.
Marlow still has a sort of village green, on to which the George and Dragon faces.
Having savoured the culinary delights of the George and Dragon ...
... it's now time to do the river part of our walk, so we head eastwards out of Marlow.
We now head eastwards out of Marlow along the northern bank of the Thames. Our next destination is Bourne End and on the way we can look across to Winter Hill and Wind in the Willows country. Mansions of affluence hang upon the wooded slopes above the southern river bank. One can almost imagine that Mole, Ratty and Toad are at large.
This is is still on the flat just east of Marlow, near the weir.
However, as we come into Wind in the Willows country, we see that these mansions ...
... are certainly not on the flat but have found hiding places in the woods.
As we approach Bourne End, the landscape flattens out again.
A late Victorian sailing club greets us ...
... and then it's time to cross the Thames, alongside the railway bridge which takes the line south to Cookham and north to Bourne End. We are looking north, having just crossed the Thames.
We enjoy some more of the Thames - sailing boats, mansions and summer greenery - before returning to Cookham Station, via the nearby tea shop. It has been a pleasant Sunday stroll, and the weather also played its part.
Nice houses line the Thames ...
... and bask in the summer sunshine.
There are more affluent looking houses ...
... and then, as if with a final flourish, we see the sailing boats catching the summer breeze. Cookham Station is not too far away.
This was a gentle Sunday stroll of about 8½ miles or 14 kilometres. The gentleness of our stroll was emphasised by the maximum ascent which weighed in at a modest 381 feet (116 metres). Overall, a nice, not unduly taxing, sunday outing.
Our Sunday exercise was a clockwise circular walk, based on Cookham Station. The outline map follows the time-honoured convention - north coincides with the top of the map.
The map grid scales translate to 0.69 Km per 0.01° longitude and 1.11 Km per 0.01° latitude,
when using 6371.0 Km as the volumetric mean radius of the earth!
That our walk was perhaps more of a Sunday stroll is borne out by the heights we scaled. The horizontal (x-axis) is in kilometres, and the vertical (y-axis) in metres. Our "climbing for the day" was over before we reached Bisham on the outskirts of Marlow. The riverside part of our walk is about 30 metres above mean sea level, for we are still quite a few locks upstream from "Tide End Town" or "Teddington" as that erstwhile village is now better known.
The variables in this table have greater import for mountain walks, but I have included them here for the sake of interest. Start and end points are at the same elevation, as would be expected. Total ascent and total descent should be the same, but the difference is likely to be due to rounding errors in the otherwise excellent on-line plotting facility that I use. Invariably, of course, the "Total Ascent" will exceed the "Maximum Elevation Reached".
And here, for the numerical fun of it, are the gradients we overcame on our walk. Each gradient is
averaged over the distance given, with level stretches having rises less than ± ½ metre. By comparison, Hertfordshire County Council recommends that its roads should not have longitudinal gradients of more than 5% and one of the steepest adhesion railways in the world, in Austria, has a maximum gradient of 11.6%.
Many Thanks to Sheila for devising this walk, and having devised it, boldly leading it without undue hesitation, deviation or repetition! Of course, also thanks to all for your company. Despite some train delays in the morning, all was happily resolved in the end!