Kayaking and rowing in Windsor and Eton Dorney
Recapture the spirit of the Games
Get active in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, a historic pocket of south London famous for its royal and maritime connections, and more recently as the venue for the Games equestrian events.
A group kayak tour along the River Thames in Windsor takes in the area’s most distinguished sights, including Eton College, the former school of princes William and Harry, and majestic royal residence Windsor Castle. Pick up the basics from an experienced instructor and then head out for this charming, hour-long watery jaunt. For a dash of river-born romance, couples can opt for a two-hour couple’s kayak tour topped off with a glass of bubbly.
Dorney Lake is cloaked in a blanket of soft green parkland that is perfect for leisurely afternoon picnics with friends. The arboretum here is filled with over 30,000 trees, and the vistas across the park are simply breathtaking – none more so than far-reaching Millennium Avenue, which leads your gaze through a procession of lime trees and out to the stately form of Windsor Castle.
Once the fever of the 2012 Games has subsided, Dorney Lake’s evening rowing classes will begin once more. From October to March, aspiring rowers can hone their skills whatever the weather on Thursday evenings thanks to indoor classes run on top-of-the-range rowing machines in the Gymnasium at The Boathouse. From April to October, find alfresco Sunset Sculling sessions on the lake itself.
runs guided group tours at 2pm and 3.15pm during the week. Call 01753 671000 in advance to check availability.
Henley’s River & Rowing Museum is half an hour’s drive from Dorney Lake, nestled in an enclave of trees and meadows by the banks of the River Thames. Designed by award-winning architect David Chipperfield, the oak and glass building is decked in beautiful art and photography exhibitions exploring the river, the history of the area and the country’s rowing heritage. In the museum’s pretty grounds, scout out Ratty’s Refuge: a garden designed to protect water voles.
Explore the 12th-century market town of Henley-on-Thames, a fifteen minute stroll from the River & Rowing Museum. If the weather isn’t up to much, bundle into upmarket but affordable lunch spot The Olde Bell , which has a good value set lunch menu – think crab mayonnaise on toast, and a warming pork strap with celeriac and apple. For a post lunch amble, hop onto the scenic Thames Path that runs through Henley; the trail up to pretty Hambleden Lock is roughly 2.5 miles.
As the sun sinks behind Windsor’s pastoral landscape, glide up the river for an atmospheric group canoe tour – a fitting finale to a water-born break. On a clear evening, this 90-minute guided tour along the River Thames is nothing short of magical, and finishes with a complimentary glass of bubbly for all.
Top tip: See Henley-on-Thames bursting with world-class music and art at July’s Henley Festival .
More about... Windsor
windsor.gov.uk - the official tourism website.
Things to do
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Lively annual regattas
Marlow Regatta, Wallingford Regatta and, of course, Henley’s late-June Royal Regatta...Henley Royal Regatta