Thursday, 19 September 2019

Riverside amphitheatre where there’s plenty to see in and out of water

Riverside amphitheatre where there’s plenty to see in and out of water

ONCE in while something jogs the memory and provides a reason to revisit an old haunt.

Which is why I decide to stroll along the Berkshire bank of the River Thames near Henley on a greyish December day.

I am accompanied by my friend Allan Tyrrell and his dog Fonzie as we head towards the imposing lock at Mill End to cross the water at Hambleden and smell the sweet scent of the river.

From Henley Bridge (completed in 1786) we head downstream and pass Leander Club (created in 1818) as the towpath leads towards Mill End and beyond.

The Henley Reach seems endless, more than a mile of it, and what a remarkable and straight stretch of water it is. Remenham is small but has a lovely old church dedicated to St Nicholas and seems so detached from the modern world.

Rooks, magpies and the ever noisy jays are all about. The diminutive dunnock pops about in the hedgerows. It is all too easy to forget that such vistas as this exist. It’s one of nature’s stunning riverside amphitheatres.

The views on either side are wonderful and gazing down into the water from the river’s edge you’ll see much more to wonder at. Tiny minnows dart about below the bank, watchful of the heron’s beak.

There are Canada geese, mallard duck and the great crested grebe as well as the mute swan with its unabashed and upending grace on the smoothness of the flow.

Cormorants skim the surface of the water looking like a band of undertakers and black-headed gulls dart about on the lookout for a morsel.

The river bank between Remenham and Aston is populated with alder trees. They are not only striking and elegant but help maintain the bank against natural erosion by the water.

Aston is graced with a pub, the Flowerpot Inn, on the corner of Ferry Lane. It has a fascinating collection of stuffed fish — not on the menu mind.

I have never been separated from our town or river. They will always remain in my heart.

Vincent Ruane

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