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Sonning and the River Thames

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Sonning and the River Thames
Author: Claire, Published: 28 Oct 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1  Sonning and the River Thames Walking Guidestar1  Sonning and the River Thames Walking Guidestar1  Sonning and the River Thames Walking Guidestar1  Sonning and the River Thames Walking Guidestar0  Sonning and the River Thames Walking Guide
Berkshire, Reading
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Sonning and the River Thames
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot  Sonning and the River Thames Walking Guide
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18 °C, Light drizzle, Wind: 4 mph SE
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A 3 mile circular walk from the charming village of Sonning in Berkshire. Sonning was described by Jerome K Jerome in his book, Three Men in a Boat, as the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river. This simple walking route takes you on a permissive track between quiet fields before joining the riverside path following the Thames for the return leg.

The route is almost entirely flat, with little gradient to speak of. Whilst half of the route follows surfaced paths, the stretch of path alongside the river is narrow and can be muddy at times. There are no stiles on route but you will need to negotiate a couple of kissing gates and there are a couple of road crossings that need care. All the paths are fenced away from the fields so you will not be sharing any of the paths with livestock. Allow 1.5 hours.

Sonning village lies on the banks of the River Thames, three miles east of Reading in Berkshire. The main road running through the village is the B478. The walk starts and finishes at the road junction between High Street and Pearson Road. If you are coming by bus, there are bus stops on Pearson Road. If you are coming by car, there is roadside parking on Pearson Road, but please park with respect for the residents. Approximate post code RG4 6UL.

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Walk Sections

Start to Sonning Farm
Start to Sonning Farm

Start point: 51.4727 lat, -0.9115 long
End point: 51.4734 lat, -0.9039 long

The walk starts from the junction of High Street and Pearson Road, directly opposite the large property called The Grove. Standing at this T-junction facing The Grove, turn left along the pavement of Pearson Road. Follow this pavement as it leads you between a range of beautiful properties, dating from many different eras. There are several clues to the industrial heritage of the village including The Old Forge on your right and Weavers Cottage on your left.

You will pass Pearson Hall on your left, home of the Sonning Club and Parish Council. The hall features a beautiful commemorative clock for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. At this point, swap to the right-hand pavement of Pearson Road and continue (passing a bus stop).

Cross over the side road, Pound Lane, and continue for a few metres to reach the mini-roundabout at the junction between Pearson Road and Charvil Lane. Turn right, staying on the right-hand pavement and continue along this until it ends, directly alongside the entrance for Sonning Farm on your right.

Sonning Farm to Milestone Avenue
Sonning Farm to Milestone Avenue

Start point: 51.4734 lat, -0.9039 long
End point: 51.4828 lat, -0.8945 long

At this point, cross over the road (taking great care) to turn left onto the concrete farm track. Pass through the wide gateway (or use the kissing gate alongside). You will see from the signage, that is this is a permissive path (rather than a public right of way) but it is a well-used walking route.

Follow the concrete farm track ahead. As you reach a junction, continue ahead, still following the main track with fields each side. Look out for the beautiful single walnut tree sitting at the edge of the field on your left. This land is part of Sonning Farm, managed by the University of Reading for research and teaching in crops and for rearing dairy stock.

Keep ahead for some distance, the concrete surface becoming gravel with some patches that can be muddy at times. Pass the large farm building on your right, continue ahead for 10 metres further then fork right to join a grass track continuing ahead with a hedgerow running on your right. At the end of this grass track, a kissing gate leads you out to a T-junction with a quiet country lane, Milestone Avenue.

Milestone Avenue to Riverside
Milestone Avenue to Riverside

Start point: 51.4828 lat, -0.8945 long
End point: 51.4859 lat, -0.8997 long

Turn left along this quiet country lane, taking care of any occasional traffic. The lane leads you ahead for about 400 metres and then bends sharp right, heading towards St Patrick’s Bridge. (This bridge spans a small branch of the river). Do NOT cross the bridge, instead turn left immediately beforehand onto the signed public footpath, a grass and tarmac access drive. The river branch, called St Patrick’s Stream, is running on your right.

Pass the property, Milestone Point, on your right and continue on the grass track which soon becomes a narrow path between fences. When the fence on your right ends, you will find yourself on a path running directly alongside the River Thames on your right.

Riverside to Sonning Bridge
Riverside to Sonning Bridge

Start point: 51.4859 lat, -0.8997 long
End point: 51.4756 lat, -0.9135 long

For this stretch, the River Thames forms the boundary between Oxfordshire and Berkshire. You are walking on the Berkshire bank, with Oxfordshire clearly visible opposite. There are paths on both side of the river here. The path you are currently following is a simple public footpath, whilst the Thames Path national trail runs on the opposite bank.

Follow the riverside path for about a mile, eventually passing a handful of properties on your left to reach the beautiful old arched brick river bridge, Sonning Bridge. Do NOT follow the surfaced path which swings left towards the road. Instead keep ahead on the riverside grass verge and join the narrow stone path which leads you under the bridge. NOTE: If the river level is too high this path may be impassable, in which case you will need to take the path to the road, cross over the road with care and then re-join the riverside.

Sonning Bridge to End
Sonning Bridge to End

Start point: 51.4756 lat, -0.9135 long
End point: 51.4727 lat, -0.9115 long

Either way, you should now be on the tarmac continuation of the riverside path, with the river still running on your right. This stretch is part of the Thames Path national trail. After just 150 metres, you will come to a fingerpost on your right, marking a junction. Turn left here (away from the river) to join the signed public footpath between fences. The path leads you to the left of the flint Sarik Room, and into the corner of the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church. The churchyard has a beautiful collection of trees.

Keep straight ahead on the gravel path, passing the church on your left with a tall red brick wall running on your right. Behind this wall is Holme Park. This riverside parkland is the site of a Palace of the Bishops of Salisbury dating to Saxon times. The palace and grounds passed into the hands of the crown in the 1500s and then passed through the hands of a number of private owners up to 1912, with the house being re-built several times. From 1912 the site was run as a preparatory school and in 1947 it became the home of the Reading Blue Coat School. Numerous episodes of Inspector Morse were filmed at the school and the school has a number of famous alumni including TV presenters Matt Allwright and Jeremy Kyle as well as round-the-world yachtsman Mike Golding.

As you draw level with the end of the church on your left, ignore the right turn through the brick arch on your right. Instead, keep ahead for a further 20 paces to reach a small crossroads with a tarmac path. Turn right and follow the tarmac path, with a tall wall running on your right, which leads you out of the churchyard via a lych gate. You will emerge to the corner of Pearson Road, with the beautiful North Lodge entrance for Holme Park on your right. Turn left along the pavement, passing the bus stop, and you will come to the junction between Pearson Road and High Street where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


6 comments for "Sonning and the River Thames"

A nice gentle walk, with a good pub en route

By gripp999 on 10 Nov 2016

Nice walk in the Autum sunshine. Managed to park in the High Street which was next to the Bull PH. The footpath along the river was a little muddy but a good flat gentle walk. Finished off with a drink in the Bull. Thanks

By Daijack on 14 Nov 2016

A pleasant walk for Boxing Day but it didn't really deliver in terms of great views of the Thames

By ibutler on 27 Dec 2016

Pleasant walk and easy to follow. Nice meal at the end. Didn't see George Clooney though.

By gripp999 on 03 Jan 2017

Parked in the recreation ground car park. Nice amble and good directions. Was hoping to have a hot drink in the lock cafe but it only opens in April. Thanks for showing me this circular walk.

By jackiewatt on 11 Mar 2017

A very pleasant quiet walk. Plenty of intere along the way and great variety of birds woodland and waterfowl. Do miss out having a drink or meal at the very welcoming and characterful Bull Inn.

By Topflyer on 30 Apr 2017

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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