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10 reasons to visit Henley-on-Thames this spring


Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire is one of the most beautiful towns in Britain, recently voted by The Times as one of the best places to live in the English countryside and a regular winner of RHS Britain in Bloom medals.

Henley’s superb riverside location, surrounded by a Chiltern landscape of wooded hills and green fields, ensures it’s a hotspot for visitors from all over the globe.

Here are ten reasons to visit Henley-on-Thames this spring:

1. Henley on Food – The first ‘Henley on Food’ festival takes place at the end of April, from the same people behind the ‘Henley Literary Festival’. With talks and demos from John Torode, Ben Tish, José Pizarro and Madeleine Shaw, and a very cool supper club on Saturday night, we think this is worth a trip alone.

2. Treat yourself to a gourmet meal that’s feel good too – Orwells at Shiplake is a 10-minute drive from Henley and is the ultimate in feel good food. Run by two Michelin starred chefs, it’s properly fancy, with a side of ‘let’s save the planet’. They grow more than 75% of the restaurant’s fruit, vegetables and herbs themselves, only use local meat and sustainable fish, keep bees for honey which is used in cocktails and desserts, use sustainable water and refuse to work with suppliers who use polystyrene. Do something nice for yourself and the environment by supporting these pioneers.

 Henley Royal Regatta
A race taking place at the Henley Royal Regatta

3. Tough Mudder – Feeling brave? Tough Mudder, the international assault course designed by the Special Forces comes to Henley on the 1st of May. Obstacles include crawling under razor wire, scaling inverted fences, and getting a buzz out of Electroshock Therapy. Gather a group of friends and push yourselves to your fitness limits.

4. Visit the Charter Market – Stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh bread and pastries at this weekly Thursday market that’s been trading in Henley since the 13th century. A charter market is one that was granted a royal warrant and has to take place each week, or else!

5. Take to the water – Book a boat trip or hire your own to explore this beautiful area by river.

6. Henley Arts Trail – Now in its 10th year, the Henley Arts Trail is expecting over 10,000 visitors when it sets up shop at the end of April. Twenty-five venues will host 150 artists and their work, from the award-winning to the up and coming. A must do for culture-lovers.

7. Take a river walk – Start in picturesque Henley and follow the river to Mill Meadows and March Lock. If you’re feeling up to it, you could do the full 2.5 miles to the lovely little village of Lower Shiplake and reward yourself with lunch at Orwells. This route offers gentle walking for all abilities, with wonderful views of the river winding its way through green meadows.

Orwells at Shiplake is a 10-minute drive from Henley and is the ultimate in feel good food
Orwells at Shiplake is a 10-minute drive from Henley and is the ultimate in feel good food

8. Try some local beer – Do the ‘Henley Ale Trail’, set up by local brewers Brakspear. Download a map, visit all 10 of their pubs and get a stamp, and you’ll get a free pint and a t-shirt in the last one. Luckily there’s no end date for this challenge so you can do it over a few weeks or months (or for the hard core you can attempt it in one day, but we don’t recommend it!)

9. Stroll along the Henley Regatta Course – Enjoy the beautiful views free from the crowds that descend on the town in June. Watch out for Olympians training.

10. Explore the Henley trail – Discover a relic from the last ice age, see where Dusty Springfield’s ashes are scattered, and peer in at the 120 room mansion where former Beatle George Harrison lived.