Friday, 15 July 2011

Hambleden, Hurley and Marlow

Sunny spells with a brisk northerly breeze made it cooler than you'd expect for mid July. One of the long distance paths I am left with to tackle is the Thames Path. Here is the map of the 14.5 mile walk.

View Hambleden to Marlow in a larger map

The aim was to extend this to Marlow and so complete over thirty five miles in all. There is a lot more of it though, perhaps Oxford to Windsor will be a sensible limit. I started in the picturesque village of Hambleden, this had the bonus of linking into the network of previous walks. As usual it was full of parked cars somewhat marring the view to the church.

Hambleden village

The walk down to the Thames was through fields along the dried up bed of a ‘stream’ which judging by appearance is rarely ‘moist’ let alone flowing.


At Mill End you can walk across the Thames over weirs to Hambleden lock. [Unfortunately whenever I hear Hambleden lock I immediately am reminded of the song about it, or was it somewhere else?: "Oh! Hambleden Lock, Ah wish ye were whisky! Hambleden Lock, Och Aye! Hambleden Lock, I wish ye were whisky! Ah wid drink ye dry."


There was a delay crossing the lock as a flotilla of 'vintage' steam powered vessels was making their way to a rally at Henley.


On the south of the River and back into Berkshire from Buckinghamshire I revisited Culham Court with its deer park. It also has a fine wildflower meadow down the slopes to the river. Here were many species including Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

Great Mullein,Verbascum thapsus

Also scabious with an iridescently long horn moth.


Much of the following stretch of the Thames became a little monotonous, some glimpses of the river. Mainly fields, on the margins were a few patches of wild flowers, which attracted a range of butterflies. Patience rewarded me with this resplendent peacock butterfly (Inachis io) must be one of the first of this year's brood, I am so used to seeing the ragged specimens that have over-wintered. It let me get close enough to use the 'super' macro lens setting. Definitely one of my more successful butterfly pictures.

peacock butterfly,Inachis io

I also saw Comma; Marbled White; Red Admiral; Common white; Common blue; Brimstone; Silver-washed Fritillary; Small Skipper; Speckled Wood; Meadow Brown; Small tortoiseshell and... here a Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - not bad for one day

Ringlet butterfly,Aphantopus hyperantus

Towards Hurley and a whole forest of ‘mobile homes’ that are set down close to the river. One had installed a pleasing set of metal ducks.

metal ducks

This pair of Egyptian geese was enjoying their view of the Thames. The poor creatures are now designated a pest having spread widely since introduction in the 18th century.

egyptian geese

Hurley is an old village, even the pub the 'Old Bell' claims to be 12th century. The small church has Norman features and an attractive late 14th century font. The village has another ancient feature a large, fine gingko tree - one of our oldest species of tree.

hurley old bell pub
hurley church font

Back to the Thames and inevitably at least one shot of boats - the marina at Hurley lock taken from a very convenient footbridge over the Thames.


And another flotilla, this time a second brood of pochard(?) ducklings


The Thames Path continues remorselessly, eventually coming to Bisham Abbey, 'the national sports centre'. Not much else to see on this side of the river.

thames,bisham abbey

And so to Marlow itself, the main church of All Saints and Bisham bridge being prominent landmarks.


The walk back to Hambleden was through woods and fields. In mid July there is not that much to see, Enchanter's Nightshade was widespread and I did spot a couple of Pyramidal orchids.


The chief excitement was the SSSI at Homefield Wood where there was a lovely, long bank of mixed wildflowers and some large dragon flies.

homerfield woods

Bellflowers were quite common.


Burdock (Arctium lappa) was out in bloom here and there.

burdock,Arctium lappa

The fields at Rotten Row, at the top of steep valleys, give good views south to Bowsey Hill.

marlow,bowsey hill

Just before returning back to Hambleden I saw an isolated patch of Valerian covered with Common White butterflies

valerian,white butterfly

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