Walk 156: Marlow & Hurley Lock Circular Walk

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5.94 miles (9.56km)

Time to walk: We did this at a very leisurely pace, stopping to sit by the river, & also exploring the grounds of Bisham Abbey. It took us just short of 3 hours, but could obviously be done much quicker

Difficulty: Flat, easy walking & a mixture of hard surfaces & riverside walking

Parking: Public car parks in Marlow

Public toilets: Pubs, cafes etc in Marlow

Map of the route:

We did this walk whilst staying in wonderful Marlow on a warm, summer’s evening. You could easily combine it with my look at the Marlow town walk

Setting out from the town itself, this walk explores some beautiful riverside locations & the grounds of Bisham Abbey. Finally arriving at Hurley Lock, it then crosses the river & follows the magnificent Thames Path all the way back

Marlow is simply beautiful & well worth an overnight stop to explore & eat at some of its fine restaurants. The name originally means “Land remaining after the draining of a pool”

The current town dates back to Georgian days & its most famous landmark is the suspension bridge which spans the Thames, joining the counties of Buckinghamshire & Berkshire. Famous residents of the town have included T.S. Eliot & Mary Shelley who finished ‘Frankenstein’ while living in the town. Marlow is also home to a top rowing club whose most famous member is Sir Steve Redgrave

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts next to the Charles Frohman statue, which was erected in 1924, close to the church & Marlow’s famous bridge…

Frohman was an American theatre manager & producer, who discovered & promoted many stars of the American stage. Notably, he produced Peter Pan, both in London & the US

He often visited the town & said it was “better than any place in the world”. The statue depicts a nymph which symbolises the spirit of youth as portrayed in Frohman’s most famous production. 

At the height of his fame, Frohman died in the 1915 sinking of the RMS Lusitania

2. Walk towards the bridge, passing All Saints Church. Building of the current church began just after the opening of the suspension bridge in 1831…

Continue carefully out onto the suspension bridge. There’s been a bridge here since the days of Edward III  & was originally made of timber, though an earlier crossing to the Knights Templar of Bisham may date from 1309. In 1642 this bridge was partly destroyed by a Parliamentarian army. In 1789 a new timber bridge was built by public subscription & the one you see today was built between 1829 & 1832

It was restored in 1965 & has a 3 ton weight restriction. On 24 September 2016, a 37 ton Lithuanian haulage lorry attempted to pass over the bridge, requiring it to be closed for two months to allow a series of stress tests on the hangers & pins, together with ultrasound & magnetic particle tests. No significant damage to the bridge was found, & it was reopened on Friday 25 November

3. The views from the bridge are quite magnificent, including back towards the church…

On the other side of the river’s one of Marlow’s most famous hotels, The Compleat Angler, which sits close to the much photographed weir. The hotel is named after Isaak Walton’s book of the same name

4. Continue across the bridge & past the entrance to the hotel. Atul Kochhar‘s Sindhu restaurant comes highly recommended by us

Carefully cross the road. The next stretch of this walk follows the road for a short while, but there’s a couple of gems to visit along it

5. Presently you’ll arrive at the gates to the exclusive Stoney Ware Estate…

Although there are cameras everywhere, it’s perfectly in order to wander around, but I’d suggest you don’t take pictures! There are however some properties that it’s not possible to access & these can be seen from the river, later in this walk. Google tells us the average property price here in 2015 was £2.1 million

6. Come back out of the estate & continue in the same direction to the left hand bend…

At the bend turn right down the small lane to arrive at All Saints Bisham…

7. This is a wonderful graveyard with some very old gravestones. The church tower dates back to the 12th century, but the rest dates back to the 15th century…

…but the real treat is when you walk around the corner & realise that the church sits right on the banks of the River Thames. When you see it on your return walk, you’ll realise just how stunning a setting this is. Why not have a seat of one of the graveyard benches & watch the world go by for a time

8. Come back out of the churchyard & lane & continue along the main road once more, passing through the small, but lovely, village of Bisham…

The village is best known for its Abbey & grounds which are home to the National Sports Centre. The entrance is slightly further on & yes, you can walk around it too

9. Walk through the grounds & explore. The facilities here, as you would imagine are top class. It’s also worth looking at the Abbey itself, once the home of Anne of Cleeves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII

The Abbey incorporates parts of Bisham Priory, which was founded by the Knights Templar in 1338

Again it’s possible to wander across the lawns to the river. Both the Abbey & the Church are mentioned in Jerome K Jerome’s, ‘Three Men in a Boat’

‘Just before you come to the abbey, and right on the river’s bank, is Bisham Church, and, perhaps, if any tombs are worth inspecting, they are the tombs and monuments in Bisham Church. It was while floating in his boat under the Bisham beeches that Shelley, who was then living at Marlow (you can see his house now, in West street), composed The Revolt of Islam’

10. Return to the main road again & continue to the junction, turning right down Temple Lane…

The statue of a crucified Christ on the junction is actually Bisham’s war memorial

11. Temple Lane’s fairly quiet, but cars will move fast so exercise caution. The lane first bends right & then left at some rather nice houses, before following a straight stretch past Marlow Sailing Club

12. Eventually Temple Lane arrives at the small hamlet of Temple itself. The name “Temple” comes from Temple Mill Island which was owned by the Knights Templar & the site of a mill, which was used to create copper sheets used in the construction of ships for the Royal Navy. The mill had a large water wheel to drive the milling machinery

Walk straight ahead to the end of the road where you’ll find the gates of Temple Weir House. Immediately to the left is the footpath to take

13. The narrow path passes through a small tunnel & then emerges onto a lane one more. Continue in the same direction, noting how well kept this area is…

The lane passes the gates of some more ‘desirable’ properties, before turning into a narrower & non surfaced track

14. Pass through the metal gate…

… where on the left you’ll find a beautiful property called ‘The Old Dairy’ (note the sculpture outside the gates)

15. The path you’ve been following now opens up into a wider one passing through some fields…

Look for the two ‘manhole covers’ on the left…

…&, if you dare, have a look at what’s written on the top of each of them!

16. Moving swiftly on, when reaching the hedge look for a footpath sign on the right showing a gate to pass through

This is a very upmarket (no children) mobile home park. The path through it is dead straight ahead

17. Eventually ahead you’ll see the main gate & exit from the park

Turn right onto the lane & follow it down & then left & right as it passes the boat club to arrive at a house. The path now continues through the gap on the right

18. The narrow path leads down to the lock passing the small marina…

This is Hurley Lock & it’s here the Thames splits into several channels. The first wooden lock was built here in 1773, but it’s thought there was one here in Saxon times around 450AD 

19. Cross the lock & turn right, following the path between the channels…

Walk up & over the wooden bridge

The view from the bridge shows a couple of the channels the Thames splits into. This really is a beautiful area

20. Once over the bridge continue along the riverside path. What a glorious summer’s evening this was…

Remember walking through Temple? Ahead you can just begin to see Temple footbridge coming into view. The evening light reflecting on the trees & the birdsong here were amazing…

21. Temple footbridge is a fabulous structure – I could have spent hours on it watching the herons & passing boats

The footbridge connects the Buckinghamshire & Berkshire banks & was built in 1989 specifically for walkers on the Thames Path. Previously walkers on the Thames Path had been required to take a detour away from the river bank along the main road we previously walked along. Formerly there was a ferry at this point which took the towpath across the river when it was used for towing barges

In May 2019 the bridge was declared unsafe & closed to pedestrians. It was repaired & reopened in June of the same year

It’s a haunched girder bridge with a wooden deck. At 150 feet, it’s the longest hardwood bridge in Britain

22. After crossing the bridge continue straight ahead to Temple Lock, the first of which was built in 1773

Across to the right’s the weir

23. We’re now going to stay on this side of the Thames all the way back into Marlow, so it’s nice easy walking

Look out for a large stone beside the path which is a memorial to a local couple associated with the Marlow Regatta who died in a tragic motoring accident

24. If you can try & do this walk when the evening light is soft as it’s so beautiful. The boat houses along this stretch are just stunning

Don’t forget to keep looking across the marshes on your left too. We were lucky to see a barn owl hunting for its dinner

25. It’s now that you begin to see the true glory of the buildings you’ve visited on the outward stretch of this walk. First up’s Bisham Abbey & what a place for royalty to live…

…& shortly afterwards comes All Saints Church where we sat on the bench

26. Now remember when you walked around the Stoney Ware Estate we said there were some houses that you couldn’t access? Well here’s the first of them & we think that this is / was Rod Stewart’s

27. The path now starts to approach Marlow once more & you can see the suspension bridge in the distance…

Ans still the stunning properties come

28. As you near the bridge, climb the narrow riverside path…

It really is beautiful

29. Earlier we mentioned that Marlow was famous for its rowing club & Sir Steve Redgrave. The Club is across the river, just before the bridge & was founded in 1871

To end this stroll, walk up the steps to the side of the tower to reach the start point once more

So that’s it & what a wonderful evening stroll that was. Beautiful buildings, houses, fields & of course, the stunning River Thames

Why not combine it with my stroll around the town of Marlow. It’s a fabulous place to visit so…

Go Walk!