Having to abandon my Shiplake ramble, where I was told by a local that the river path was under 6 inches of water, and seeing a whole school playing field submerged, I found an old favourite walk in the area which I could take “off the peg”. As I set out on the day it was quite cool and overcast, but after a first mile of travel a hazy sun gradually appeared. At Paddington station I was greeted in dribs and drabs by 11 other Polyramblers, and we all boarded the 0942 train for Twyford. This is one of the wizzy new electric stopping services to Reading, which accelerated very swiftly and quietly out of the station. What a revelation at long last, I thought!!
At Henley, we were duly greeted by Stuart and Yvonne D, having travelled by car making the numbers up to 14 in all. By now there was plenty of blue sky and sun which had been hidden since the last week. It got warm. We set off initially by the river, then through the town climbing up to Pack and Prime Lane. This led us westward through a valley of green fields via Lower Hernes Farm. Of course, with recent weather conditions, mud there was plenty, which is why I wore my wellies as chosen footwear for the day. A short ascent through Parsons Wood took us up to Rotherfield Greys where there was a church and the Maltsers Arms PH, our chosen lunchspot.
After lunch it was quite warm, and so I stuffed my overjacket into my rucksack and continued the ramble lesser clad, first time this year! We continued along the lane to Greys Green, turned right onto a path taking us down and up the sides of a steep sided valley, then reached the grounds of Greys Court, former home of Sir Felix and Lady Brunner, and now donated to the National Trust. Next, a path through Lambridge Wood with waymark arrows painted on the trees. It then descended down the side of another valley beside a cemetry. Along this valley bottom runs the A4130 main road into Henley. At this point 2 of us decided to take a shorter flatter route back to Henley along this part of the road known as Fairmile. The remaining 12 followed me across the road into Lower Assendon, where we turned right and climbed up a very gooey, boggy track for 3/4 mile until we reached Henley Park. Here, Hilary had to go back a little way to retrieve her stick. Once rejoining us, we took a right turn at the top into a lovely open green field with plenty of sheep, lambs and fine views to the left, right and ahead. This was the Oxfordshire Way, a very straight path. It eventually descended through a wood, and back into Henley.
On reaching the town centre, half the party made their way straight to the station, but the remaining 7 in the party followed me towards the river, and into the Chocolate Tea Shop, where we partook of tea and the most yummiest, scrummiest choccy cakes you could imagine. A good day had by all. And a thanks from me the leader to all those attending.
GEOFFREY (Photos by Rochelle)