Ever since Michael brought his tent over to the UK from Denmark where it had been resting for a number of years he has been hinting that we should go out of London and camp in the great outdoors. On winning a book about Tiny Campsites, which is all about campsites under an acre in size around the UK, the hinting became more like strong suggestions! We tried to go last year, but when we tried to book at the one we had decided on we were told that it was fully booked for the season. So we deferred the idea to this year…to be precise…this weekend.
Now, though Michael was very keen to go camping, for some reason he got the idea that I am very lukewarm towards the idea (to put it mildly), so he restricted the stay to one night only. The decision, mainly because of time and distance, fell on Cookham Lock.
As the name indicates, the camp site is actually on the site of a working lock at Cookham “that the powerful waters of the Thames meet the Chiltern chalk at Cliveden Cliff”. It takes around 1hr to get there by train from London, so on Saturday, after a good breakfast and finishing with the bag packing, we started on our way to Cookham via Paddington Station and Maidenhead station. Arriving in Cookham we walked down to the lock (around 1 mile away), said hello to the friendly lock keeper who gave us the key to the area (it is locked at 6pm) and looked for a place to pitch up the tent.
Now, there are a couple of places to pitch a tent. However, for the night it was only going to be us and another tent, and we were first there, so we got the choice of the whole area to decide on. Asking the lock keeper for suggestions we settled on what we think was a super location, at the end of the island, beside the lock, overlooking the water, trees and cliffs in front of us. What a sight to wake up to! Pitching up the tent took us less than half an hour (we’re impressed by ourselves, thank you very much – there’s been quite a lot of that lately!). So at around midday we started off on our way to explore the area.
As always, before making our way there I decided to check up on the area to try to find a walk which would be interesting. Our decision fell on walk 24 from ‘Time Out Country Walks near London vol 1 which I had given to Michael as a gift when he moved here. (and haven’t used as yet!). Since that edition the walk has been revised, so we found the updated version on the Saturday Walkers’ Club website.
From the lock we walked west towards Cookham Village, Cookham Rise and Cookham Dean, then made our way to Bisham Woods and on to Winter Hill (possibly the inspiration for the Wild Woods in The Wind in the Willows), finishing on the Thames Path all the way back to Cookham Lock. We were highly impressed by the directions! It would be very difficult to go wrong if you follow them – they were so comprehensive. So well done to whoever works on that. The vistas also changed, from tiny villages, to overgrown woods, to cliffs and the river Thames – great variety which means that it never gets boring.
Besides walking we also stopped at The Bounty on the Thames path for lunch. The pub is worth visiting for the way it looks. Unfortunately the food was uninspiring at best!
Back at the lock we took the time to rest and read a bit. This was probably a good thing, as while inside the tent it started to rain a bit. Luckily this didn’t last too long, so we could get out to explore the village a bit further. We tried to find a place showing the Eurovision Song Contest as we thought it would be interesting to see it with others in a pub. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anywhere showing it, so we settled for some dinner at the Old Swan Uppers (decent food btw!) before making our way back to settle in.
Go on to Part 2.