Follow the Thames Path and immerse yourself in Pangbourne’s links with the idyllic world of The Wind in the Willows.
What to see
Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat ended their epic journey at The Swan at Pangbourne. You can still arrive by boat, on foot along the Thames Path, or by trains which will drop you off close to the pub and weir. The countryside beckons, but take time to mooch round the village shops or perhaps picnic by the riverside at Pangbourne Meadows, managed by the National Trust.
When looking to cross the river, you can’t miss the Toll Bridge of wrought iron lattice work, which links the two villages of Pangbourne and Whitchurch-on-Thames.
Pangbourne’s links with the idyllic world of The Wind in the Willows are easy to see. Its writer, Kenneth Grahame, lived in the village, while the waterways inspired E.H. Shepard’s much-loved illustrations of Ratty, Mole and friends. It is here that the River Pang meets the Thames and where it is still possible to enjoy watery wildlife and relaxed riverside strolls.
Look upstream to the lock and admire the views of the church, mill and cottages of Whitchurch on the far side of the millpond. Once in Whitchurch, visit The Modern Artists’ Gallery and enjoy fine art from professional and emerging talent.
Pangbourne Mill pond area
Messing about in boats
To find out more about Ratty and friends, visit the exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames, about 12 miles from Pangbourne.
Head into the Goring Gap on the Thames Path National Trail, walking through waterside meadows to Goring and Streatley. Along the way, look out for some very desirable residences, such as the landmark white house perched on the far bank of the river. Built in the 18th century by Viscount Fane of Basildon Park, this was once a riverside retreat for his wife, Mary, a Maid of Honour to Queen Anne. You can take the train back to Pangbourne from Goring and Streatley; the return journey takes just 5 minutes.
Just off the Thames Path, about 2 miles from Pangbourne, lies the fantastic Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s Hartslock Nature Reserve. With a wealth of orchids and clouds of butterflies in summer, this fabulous spot provides spectacular views of the Goring gap and the iconic brick railway bridge that spans it (designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel during the 1830s).
Basildon Park. Familiar to many from the BBC’s popular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Basildon Park is the very model of a dignified Georgian mansion in expansive parkland. Restored in the mid-1950s, it houses fine paintings, fabrics and furniture.
Mapledurham is a small, picturesque village and country estate. The Elizabethan house has been handed down through the Eyston family and is thought to have inspired illustrations of Toad Hall. The 15th-century watermill is the only mill on the Thames that is still producing high-quality, stone-ground flour.
Goring and Streatley – 5 miles away
Goring Lock. Image Andy Quinn
Goring and Streatley. Catch the Thames at its most dramatic as it carves its way between the Chiltern Hills and North Wessex Downs. The two attractive little towns of Goring and Streatley face each other across the river, linked by a bridge and a pretty lock.
Wallingford – 10 miles away
Wallingford grew up in the 9th century on a wide stretch of the River Thames. Its layout has changed little since then and it still boasts the remains of an 11th-century castle. The old Corn Exchange, antique shops and heritage trainline give it an unhurried air.
Wallingford Museum – 10 miles away
Wallingford Museum features The Wallingford Story, which takes a walk along Wallingford’s timeline from the Romans and Saxons to the Civil War. There is also a miniature recreation of Wallingford’s huge royal castle.
Getting here by train
Great Western Railway provides services from London Paddington to Pangbourne. Direct takes just over an hour, although the fastest journey time is about 40 mins, changing at Reading. The Train Line has all the rail options.
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