Cookham Circular
Our Walk To Marlow Marlow Bourne End Return Thank You Maps Please Read Me

Cookham Circular via Marlow
3rd August 2014

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.

This walk was part of the August 2014 Schedule of walks for the London Inter-Varsity Club (IVC)
and capably devised and led by Sheila, a stalwart member of the club!

On this page you will see the successive stages of our Sunday Walk.

Outward to Marlow

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 - duly 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!

Marlow Town

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 - to experience other considerations spiritual in the shape of the "George and Dragon". Marlow is already in Buckinghamshire; we crossed the border from Berkshire on our way from Cookham. Suitably refreshed in Marlow, 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 proudly explained on this plaque mounted on one of the bridge supports.
It looks as if Marlow, the name "Marly" and the Latin "MALO"
might not be mere coincidence!

On the plaque you see
Marlow's colourful crest.
I strive for the best".

Marly le Roi, Marlow's twin town, also has a colourful crest!
What appear to be eight bells are actually eight birds of prey.
Marly once had a royal residence.
Hence, the eight birds might suggest a royal interest in hunting.

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.

Along the Thames to Bourne End

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 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.

Return to Cookham

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.

Thank You!

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!

London IVC. Thank you to "London IVC" for putting this walk on the monthly schedule!

Section headers. The "four leaf" decoration above each section header on the main page is derived from Clip Art supplied with earlier versions of Microsoft® Office®.

For Next Time!

The Cookham-Marlow stretch of the Thames abounds in interesting scenery and history. Indeed, had we added but a mere mile to our walk we could have perhaps also seen something of the following places.

  1. Bisham Abbey - granted to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII.
  2. "Dial Close" - home of Kenneth Grahame ("Wind in the Willows", 1908).
  3. Cookham's Holy Trinity Church - dating back to 1140.
  4. Stanley Spencer Art Gallery - Cookham High Street.
However, there is always another time!