Paddington Line Stations
Taking a train from Paddington station into the Thames Valley offers another option for walking in the Chilterns. The trains are expensive (about £20 for a day return), slow, not very frequent (usually once per hour) and often requiring a change. Personally I usually find walking along rivers a little dull, but there are a number of walks from these stations that are great if you like walking along the Thames. Some walks, like that from Pangbourne, do a good job of mixing hills and river sections.
Several circular walks from Marlow are available, with a mixture of walking along the Thames and surrounding countryside. A couple of these walks can be converted into linear routes to Henley or Bourne End:
A 21.3km route from Saturday Walkers Club is well worth the effort, although the instructions give various alternatives for shortening the walk, notably by diverting to Henley (15.2km).
This 9.6km walk from Buckinghamshire County Council isn’t the best described (the leaflet doesn’t say how long the walk is and the directions are perfunctory), but it looks like a nice route, combining walking along the river and up into nearby hills. The instructions don’t start from the station, and indeed aren’t very clear where the walk actually does begin, but it appears to be Marlow Suspension Bridge at the bottom of the High Street. This is only a short walk down Station Road from the station.
This site gives two options, a 9km circular or a 5.6km walk to Bourne End (the next station down the line into London), as well as many other walks in the Reading area.
If you just want to walk along the Thames, this site describes the 7.2km route from Marlow to Bourne End.
Henley is an accredited as a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town and the town’s website has an extensive session on walking, giving a range of walking options. Notable amongst those are this leaflet which gives a range of walking options, including an 8km circular, with the choice of adding another 4km via Hambledon.
In fact, there are a whole range of circular walks from Henley, including three from the Saturday Walkers Club (which always come with excellent, detailed descriptions):
A 22.2km Henley circular via Stonor which is an excellent walk;
This 16.1km circular via Great Wood which begins along the river and then heads into the hills, before returning to Henley;
There is also this 14.9km Henley via Hambleden walk, which offers an alternative ending in Marlow (16.1km);
There is also this 9.8km walk via Hambleden. Unfortunately, being the National Trust, it doesn’t occur to them that you might be using public transport and the instructions assume that you will want to start the walk in an isolated car park. Nevertheless the walk goes right into the town, so shouldn’t be too difficult to follow if you actually want to steward the natural environment!
Finally there is a 19.2km walk from Henley to Pangbourne station.
Pangbourne is a pleasant riverside village on the Thames, where Kenneth Grahame, author of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ used to live. Basildon Park, a wonderful National Trust house is nearby. Pangbourne has a station on the Great Western Main line - although it is only served by one train per hour. Nevertheless, I can strongly recommend this 13.6km circular walk.