Marlow combines natural beauty with contemporary chic. Georgian buildings and a picturesque lock set the scene for shops and restaurants.
What to see
The Thames made Marlow what it is today. It grew up as a river crossing and its greatest landmark is still the 19th century suspension bridge designed by William Tierney Clark, who used the same design for his bridge linking Buda and Pest in Hungary.
Other landmarks include Marlow Lock, particularly popular with photographers looking to capture the weir and bridge; the house where Mary Shelley completed Frankenstein; and Court Garden House in Higginson Park, designed by nerve specialist, Dr Battie – he forgot to include a staircase, hence the expression ‘batty’.
While in Higginson Park, look out for Marlow Museum, which showcases local history. Marlow’s oldest and most picturesque street, St Peter Street, runs down to the water’s edge and includes the 19th century St Peter’s Church, designed by Augustus Pugin, renowned Gothic architect.
Shopping is a delight in Marlow. Explore the High Street, West Street and Spittal Street, before putting tastebuds to work in one of Marlow’s excellent eateries.
With its Swiss heritage, Burgers Artisan Bakery down by the bridge is surely the tops for tea and cake. While Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers is the ultimate connoisseurs’ choice, with two Michelin Stars and four AA Rosettes.
Afternoon tea at Burgers Artisan Bakery
Visit the town in June to enjoy the Marlow Town Regatta and Festival with two days of rowing, music, food and dragon boating. In July, witness the ancient ceremony of Royal Swan Upping. Traditionally, the reigning King or Queen may claim ownership of any unmarked mute swans in open water, a custom first noted as early as the 1100s. Today, the Queen’s Swan Marker and Swan Uppers travel by rowing skiff to complete the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames. By tradition, the colourful crew break for refreshment at Marlow’s The Two Brewers in St Peter Street.
Firmly rooted in the 12th century, the quirky tradition of Swan Upping is necessary for the conservation of mute swans today and acts as a gentle reminder of just who owns them!
The Thames Path National Trail runs through Marlow, offering easy, level walking in both directions. The 5.5-mile scenic walk to the pretty village of Cookham is a popular choice. To start, pick up signage for The Thames Path in the churchyard of All Saints Church beside the suspension bridge. The Path leads through St Peter Street to Marlow Lock and Bourne End, then via meadows to Cookham and the Stanley Spencer Gallery, dedicated to the life and work of the highly acclaimed artist, Sir Stanley Spencer RA, who lived in this picturesque village. Stop for a bite to eat in the The Ferry, The Kings Arms or the Bel & The Dragon, one of the oldest coaching inns in England. The train journey back from Cookham to Marlow takes 16 minutes, or go by river with Salter’s Steamers.
The 6-mile [Marlow Circular Walk] starts from Marlow station and follows the Thames before heading off into the Chiltern Hills. Pass through mixed woodland of beech, holly and cherry, and alongside ancient sites, such as Saxon earthworks.
Less than 10 minutes’ drive from Marlow lies the peaceful and secluded Homefield Wood Nature Reserve, managed by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. Rare orchids are the treasures of this small pocket of paradise, and it’s also a haven for birds, butterflies and moths.
Splendid National Trust gardens and riverside walks can be found at Cliveden, in the grounds of a mansion that was once home to Nancy Astor, Britain’s first female MP. There is an impressive maze with 500 metres of paths, and seasonal trails and events to enjoy.
[Turville]. Home of The Vicar of Dibley, the windmill featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and an exciting chase in Killing Eve, Turville certainly has big connections for a little village! Take the footpath between the church and the green to get to Cobstone Windmill and refresh yourself afterwards at The Bull & Butcher pub.
Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery – 7 miles away
Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery. With vineyards, Luxters Brewery, liqueur-making facilities and a cellar shop, this is a one-stop shop for local produce. Buy online or pop up along to browse, enjoy tours and tastings, and even stay in the farmhouse B&B.
Bray – 8 miles away
Known as ‘the culinary village’ for its exceptionally fine dining, Bray plays host to the culinary alchemy of Heston Blumenthal’s three restaurants: The Fat Duck with its three Michelin stars; The Crown, a 16th century inn with low beams and open fires; and The Hinds Head, a Tudor building that retains its relaxing pub atmosphere, yet still boasts a Michelin Star. The Roux brothers’ also own the Waterside Inn here too; with three Michelin stars, it is a French restaurant par excellence.
Getting here by train
Great Western Railway run services from London Paddington to Marlow, changing at Maidenhead. Journey time is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
A selection of some of the best walks in the Chilterns, from short easy strolls to all day walks, and all through beautiful scenery. The best way to shake off the cobwebs, enjoy tranquil surroundings and burn a few calories!
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