Boat Hire

Henley and return from Aldermaston Wharf - 3-4 Nights

Cruising Time Per Day 6-7hrs • Total Locks 30


Aldermaston to Henley – past Theale through Reading and along the Thames to Henley and back – 3-4 nights – total locks 30 (15 x 2)

A relaxing short cruise with oodles to explore, from a bird-spotter's paradise to the grim cells of a Victorian prison, the rage of suffragettes and a royal pastime – with boats, boats and more boats!


Before setting off from the base and visitor centre at Aldermaston Wharf, the pretty village of Aldermaston is worth exploring if you have time. The village is a mile and a half south of the base, and to the south of the canal, now-flooded former gravel pits offer the perfect opportunity for a little wildlife-spotting.

The railway and busy A4 run almost parallel and the River Kennet meanders in and out of the canal as you head east along the Kennet & Avon Canal. After passing through Tyle Mill Lock and swing bridge, then Sulhamstead Lock, there are more flooded gravel pits abundant which are a wildlife enthusiast's dream. Depending on the time of year you pass through here, keep your eyes peeled for possible sightings of waterfowl, gulls, warblers, passerines including Wagtails and Swifts, and wading birds including Dunlin and Oystercatchers.

Garston Lock is a scheduled ancient monument and is one of only two remaining turf-sided locks in the country (the other is Monkey Marsh Lock at Thatcham, to the west of Aldermaston). The M4 interrupts the peace as it now crosses the canal by the gravel pits, but soon disappears again as the canal passes through the attractive Grade II-listed stone Burghfield Bridge, then swings northwards after Fobney Lock to begin its approach into Reading.

The canal passes a low weir at County Lock, so crew should take care, then passes under several bridges before reaching the busy centre. The canal is controlled by traffic lights through Reading, so do ensure that you don't proceed until the green light is displayed. Reading is a busy vibrant town and as you pass right through the centre, it offers a perfect opportunity for some shopping, eating and sightseeing. The former prison (only decommissioned in 2013) is now in the care of the National Trust and was the infamous setting for Oscar Wilde's famously grim 'Ballad of Reading Gaol' written along with the poignant 'De Profundis' while he served two years from 1895-97.

After Blake's Lock, you reach the junction with the River Thames where you turn right to cruise downstream. A Thames Licence is required on the river but is included in the cost of all boats from our Aldermaston Wharf base. Shortly beyond the willow-lined Sonning Lock, Sonning Bridge marks the pretty village of Sonning then the river meanders its way past several islands towards Shiplake Lock and the village of Wargrave on the east bank. The inns and taverns of Wargrave's central street would have been busy with coaches travelling between Henley and Reading, and a window in the George & Dragon is mentioned in Jerome K. Jerome's 'Three men in a boat', while the Bull is reputedly haunted by a former landlady! Suffragettes allegedly burnt down the local church in 1914 in protest to the Church of England's use of the word 'obey' in marriage vows.

The river now heads north and under the many-arched Henley Bridge of the 12th-century market town of Henley on Thames. This pretty town is renowned for rowing and for its annual Royal Regatta which is held at the beginning of July (it gets incredibly busy here then so may be a time to avoid!). The Regatta has enjoyed the honour of royal patronage since 1851 when Prince Albert became its first Royal Patron. Henley's award-winning River & Rowing Museum has a fascinating collection of over 20,000 items charting the international sport of rowing, Henley's history, the River Thames and the children’s book Wind in the Willows.

After taking time to explore Henley and revel in its beautiful position on the banks of the river, it's time to turn round and retrace your tranquil route back to Aldermaston Wharf.


The following are examples of the boats that you can hire from ABC Boat Hire at Aldermaston Wharf:


Alvechurch Weaver - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Bunting - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 47ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Bunting - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 47ft, Cruiser Stern

Reading Ufton - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 62ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Dove - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 60ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (6 berth) - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Thrush - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (7 berth) - For a maximum of 7 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Woodpecker - For a maximum of 8 people, 4+4Berth, Length 60ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Woodpecker - For a maximum of 8 people, 4+4Berth, Length 60ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Warbler - For a maximum of 8 people, 6 + 2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-Traditional Stern

Alvechurch Owl - For a maximum of 10 people, 6+4 Berth, Length 70ft, Crusier Stern

Alvechurch Swan - For a maximum of 12 people, 8+4 Berth, Length 70ft, Crusier Stern



Return to Aldermaston Wharf page

Check Availability and Book












Feefo average score:
4.6 out of 5.

Read our reviews here


uk boating maps

  >

Website Designed and develped by Nexus Creative