, 2022-10-29 04:00:09,
In an excerpt from her book Walks For Each Season: 26 great days out in the Countryside near London, Julia Smith leads us on a wintry wander around Cookham, the village that brought us The Wind in the Willows, and Stanley Spencer.
BEST TIME: Throughout winter — December to first week of March
LENGTH & DIFFICULTY: 5.5 miles (9km); easy apart from one steep climb (which can be avoided, as outlined in the directions). No stiles.
APPROXIMATE TIME: 2 hours 45 mins
TRAINS: Paddington to Cookham, change at Maidenhead (hourly; from 44 minutes). Buy a day return to Cookham.
FOOD & DRINK: Lots of places to eat and drink along Cookham High Street.
PICNIC: Bench above the escarpment path and then a few along the Thames.
TOILETS: Cookham station and junction of High Street and Sutton Road.
There are views across the wide floodplain to the Chiltern Hills and almost a third of the walk is along the Thames, the stretch that inspired Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, or so it’s claimed.
At the end of the walk there’s enough day left to nose round Cookham, whose life and residents were immortalised in Stanley Spencer’s biblical paintings. Spencer, who was born and lived here, described Cookham as ‘a village in Heaven’. This walk is very popular at weekends, so if you prefer not to catch snatches of other people’s cheerful chatter or engage with their excitable dogs,…
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