Saturday, 10 January 2009

Dorney Common

Wakehams, Dorney

A bitterly cold morning. The walk begins at the car park at the corner of Dorney Common nearest the Thames. The first stage of the walk is along the road across the common towards Dorney village. Wakehams, above, is the first of many splendid half timbered houses in the village itself and on its outskirts. So much so, that even the village car repair shop is half timbered:

You then swing left past the gates of Dorney Court, a fine Tudor manor house which has been in the hands of the Palmer family for over 450 years. Unfortunately, you can't see anything of it from the road, but we managed this glimpse from the side road which leads to the parish church:

The carved barge boards are especially attractive. The church of St James the Less is opposite and dates from the twelfth century. The impressive brick tower is early sixteenth century. The pretty porch apparently commemorates the birth of Lady Anne Palmer in 1661.

Shortly after the church, the route swings left and follows the drive which leads to Eton College's rowing facilities towards the Thames. On reaching the Thames you turn left and follow the Thames Path for about a mile and half.

A lot of the other (Berkshire) bank is quite developed. The Oakley Court hotel is the highlight.

After passing the Eton boat house, you turn left to return to the car park, first passing the delightful Chapel of St Mary Magdalen, which dates from the twelfth century, with fifteenth century windows.

From: 50 walks in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire (AA publishing).

Map: Explorer 160 (Windsor, Weybridge and Bracknell).

Rating: three and a half stars.


Any walk along the Thames or the Kennet involves a reasonable chance of spotting a cormorant - I used to think they were sea birds. Today I saw what at first seemed like a large moorhen swimming down the river, however then I saw the long orange beak and realised that it was a cormorant making itself thoroughly at home in the river. Looking up, I noticed no less than nine friends - is this cormorant central?

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