Canoe Days Out

Berkshire - River Thames - Wargrave to Hurley

This page was submitted by Keith Day (E-mail this submitter)
How to get there - Wargrave is about 5 or 6 miles north-east of reading on the A321.

For those with SatNav the postcode is RG10 8ET.

Get a map with driving directions to start or end (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)

Suggested Launch Site - At the traffic light junction with School lane and Church Street, turn left (from the south) into Church Street and then right into Ferry Lane. There will be signs saying no vehicular access to river so go as far as you comfortably can and then unload. There is no suitable parking here so it is best to be dropped off or to ferry your car to the pick up point.

An alternative launch point is from the car park of the St George & Dragon pub in the Hight Street.

General Description - This trip is 8 or nine miles downstream passing through 3 locks

I did this trip as a one way (downstream) paddle with overnight camping at Hurley Lock but you can chose to vary this using the many other possible launch/ pick up points detailed at the end of this section.

I chose to do the first mile or so on the Hennerton Backwater which leaves the main channel on the right immediately past the St George and Dragon pub. This quiet stream flows through the gardens of expensive Thameside properties and under several access bridges, one of which requires a limbo. Some of the owners would like to think of this backwater as their own private stream but its not. It amused me to think I was enjoying it for free with their presence adding to my interest while they had paid a fortune for their enjoyment to be lessened by my paddling through their "private" domain.

Half a mile after rejoining the main channel is Marsh Lock and then a mile to Henley Bridge with the course for the Henley Regatta already marked out even though its not for several weeks. There are many rowing fours and pairs practicing for the Regatta. On the next stretch after the bridge my route was shared by several boat loads of what I can only describe inexpertly as Hari Chrishna nuns. They were obviously enjoying their trip singing (with tambourine accompaniment), laughing and splashing each other. I have a dim recollection of the Beatle, George Harrison, endowing some sort of Hari Chrishna temple hereabouts.

Through Hambleden Lock and I am into the last four mile reach to Hurley Lock and overnight camping on one of the islands. If you wish to end your trip here you can recover your canoe under the pedestrian bridge and portage 100 yards to the village car park (postcode SL6 5NB, free for 24 hours) or use the facilities at Hurley Riverside Park for which there will be a charge.

Day two of my trip can be seen here.

Further details of Hurley Lock and the immediate area can be found here.

You can vary the length of this trip by using another of the various launch/recovery points along this part of the river. They are:-

Thames Valley Park (map) (photo) RG6 1PQ

Henley public slipway (map) (photo) RG9 2LJ

Aston (map)(photo) RG9 2LJ

Hambledon (map)(photo)

Medmenham Common (map)(photo)(photo2 SL7 2HB )

Marlow (map)(photo) SL7 1NQ

Sonning (map)(photo) RG4 6TN

Comments on this trip

Barry Pryer
28 May 2008
We are planning a Thames Canoe Camping trip, potentially starting at Henley or thereabouts taking in Hurley Lock, Cookham Lock Laleham before returning.I have read your extremely useful reports thhnk you. Do you know of any where we might be able to leave the car for about 3 or 4 days and indeed launch the canoe.Many thanks

Sheila McColm
04 Aug 2007
I know some of the people who live along Hennerton Backwater, and if it wasn't for their hard work back in 1999 and up to date you wouldn't have been able to navigate this channel at all! They may be rich ( and I wish...) but they are very generous and, had you fallen into the water they would have been there very quickly offering you help, warmth and a toddy. Don't be so quick to judge......

04 Aug 2007
Fair comment Sheila! (See here for details of the work of the Hennerton Backwater Association)


Hennerton Backwater
Henley on Thames
Hurley Lock
Blogg on this trip
Thames Conditions

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The last trip loaded was Great Haywood to Great Haywood (Circular Route) on the River Trent / Trent & Mersey Canal by Peter Robinson