Saturday, 25 September 2021
WALKING away from Henley town centre, there is a diagonal path from the river across the hills to Binfield Heath.
From Vicarage Road, by the post box, the ancient line cuts across the post-railway housing and emerges from between the board fences on to the magnificent view from Drawback Hill.
The descent into Harpsden Bottom brings you to the edge of the Henley Golf Club course and the path proceeds round the side of a tee to the left of the steep road up the other side.
Here you must walk quietly or stand still if the tee or the green on the other side of the bushes are in use.
Look carefully to the right before emerging on to the fairway.
The footpath was here first but we owe courtesy to the golfers who have not attempted to close or divert the path and usually give a good-natured greeting.
The hill above the golf course is the site of a Roman villa and the track to it is lined with chalk- loving plants.
But we soon come to more tees and fairways and need to observe which way play is proceeding, where the balls are lying and whether a stroke is about to be played that may injure us!
There is another stunning view back towards Henley which we hope will be protected from development.
Stiles have been replaced by gates to bring us to High Wood, often muddy, which also conceals the remains of a villa.
Then it’s across the fields to Binfield Heath, turn right and right again when you reach the houses, down Kiln Lane and the minor road for the re-opened Bottle and Glass.
From here the return is past the pub car park and down the hill to the right for Harpsden Bottom again and left up the drive after the barns of Hunts Farm to bring you back up to Gillotts Corner.
The hedgerows are full of berries and we may take a few sprigs for autumn decoration.
If you return from the pub by the road to the left, you soon reach High Wood again and Mays Green, where there is a damson-lined tunnel to the golf course and a more hazardous crossing of three fairways — keep your wits about you and stand still by a tree trunk if balls are being struck.
These steep, slippery paths were not pack routes but for men striding to work and are now for us and the golfers to enjoy.
18 September 2017
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