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Tales of a riverbank

tooltipDiscovering Britain walk

Livelihood, leisure and literature along the Thames at Marlow

greater london greater london

Marlow is a fashionable commuter town that sits on the Thames half way between Oxford and London. This delightful walk explores the riverside from here downstream to Bourne End.

Along the way you will see the characteristics of the Middle Thames – its width and its bends, its floodplains and its sediments, its fish and wildfowl.

Learn how people have earned their livelihoods along the banks of the river, how Marlow was once a poor riverside port and how its trade declined when the railways arrived. Discover how the Victorians found new uses for the river and made it a playground for the upper classes, and see the leisure activities that continue along the riverbank today.


Find out about literature written by authors who were inspired by the beauty of this stretch of the Thames. Hear some unusual tales about wild woods, puppy pie, a cardboard castle and the mysteries of Peterswood.


Walk Info


4 ½ miles

A flat route along the riverside

tooltipA flat route along the riverside

Suitable for:
Plenty along the riverside to interest children

tooltipPlenty along the riverside to interest children

A popular route for dog walkers

tooltipA popular route for dog walkers

A shorter walk around Marlow (Stops 1 to 15) is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs

tooltipA shorter walk around Marlow (Stops 1 to 15) is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs

South East England
Towns & Cities
People in the landscape Shaping the landscape Working landscapes
Marlow Museum
Bourne End railway station
Getting there:

tooltipNearest station Marlow (1km) - served by trains from London Paddington

tooltipEasily accessible from the M40 and M4; parking available at Court Garden Leisure Centre (pay and display)

tooltipServed by local bus services running from High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Henley


The Thames at Marlow
© Mike Jackson


Thames A-Rater at on the water
© Mike Jackson

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Route map

Select pins on the map to find out more about each point of interest on the walk

Walk kit

Choose between an audio or written guide: download and enjoy!


Written guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this PDF file. You can save it to your computer or open it now. The file is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Audio guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this ZIP file of the audio commentary (mp3 files) and accompanying booklet (PDF) which contains maps and directions. You can save the audio files to your computer then add them to your mp3 device. This will vary for each device but you can use any supplied software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player) or drag and drop the files. The PDF is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double click to download this GPX file and load it on to your GPS device.

Photo Gallery

Find out what you might see on the walk - click on an image to view full size

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Find out what other people said about this walk

I have often driven through Marlow, but never stopped there. I thought of it as a picturesque town for pleasure boats, and was interested to discover the history as an important port and river crossing. The script had a mass of information about different aspects of the town and the Thames, including swans live and heraldic, why weirs are angled across the river, conflict between mill owners and boatmen. After exploring the town there was the pleasant walk down to Bourne End, and return home by train.

David Hawgood , London

Tales of a Riverbank is excellent, with a degree of accuracy and attention to detail that enable the user to easily find the way. I greatly appreciated this on the approach to the railway station at Bourne End, which would have been impossible to find otherwise.

Peter Beech,

Send your review


Find out more about the walk story and places of interest along the route

External links open in a new window

The Book of Marlow: An Illustrated Record

A J Cairns

Barracuda Books Ltd, 1976

The Jerome K Jerome Society

Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel: The story behind Jerome's two comic masterpieces

Little Marlow Parish Council

Little Marlow Lakes Countryside Walk

Longridge Activity Centre

Marlow through the Ages

John Evans

The Marlow Society, 2003

Thames Sailing Club

The Rater Association

Upper Thames Sailing Club

Visit Thames

Find out more about the non-tidal River Thames

Wycombe District Council

Higginson Park Management Plan (October 2003)

Wycombe District Council & Buckinghamshire County Council

Little Marlow Gravel Pits: A Vision for Little Marlow Lakes Country Park (March 2002)

Buckinghamshire Bird Club

The Fishing Museum

The Fine Art of Trapping Eels

The Marlow and District Railway Society

Marlow Town Regatta and Festival

The Thames Highway: A History of the Inland Navigation

Fred S Thacker


Thames Path National Trail

Follow the greatest river in England for 184 miles (294 km) from its source in the Cotswolds almost to the sea

Thames Path - National Trail guide from Henley to Marlow

UK Detector Funds Database


University of Exeter

Re-emergence of salmon in the Thames ‘not from restocking’

Westhorpe Water Sports Centre

Wycombe District Council

Marlow Conservation Area Character Survey (2004)

Recommended place to stay - YHA



The RGS-IBG would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing this Discovering Britain walk


Mike Jackson for creating the walk and providing photographs


Gary Gray and Henry the dog for good company on the walk


Jenny Lunn for editing the walk materials


Rory Walsh for assistance compiling the walk resources


Caroline Millar for editing the audio commentary


The Marlow Society and Bucks Free Press for kind permission to use various archive images held in the SWOP (Sharing Old Wycombe’s Photos) collection


Francis Frith for supplying an archive image of Marlow Mills


Pamela Nottingham MBE for kindly supplying an image of traditional lace making tools


David Hawgood for testing the walk and providing helpful feedback

thank you
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