Last weekend we were looking for somewhere new to take the children and the puppy. We ventured a little further afield than normal, yet still only 30 minutes from where we live, and found the delightful Ray Mill Island and Boulter’s Lock, Maidenhead, Berkshire. A pretty place on the Thames with a little cafe, perfect for a picnic and a little boat watching.
Ray Mill Island and Boulter’s Lock
This little island in the Thames is in Maidenhead. The island’s name dates from when the Ray family managed a flour mill there. There is no car park on Ray Mill Island and access is from Ray Mead Road. We found Boulter’s car park 5 minutes away, then walked along the river, passing Boulters Lock.
Crossing over the road bridge (which gives access to the houses and the Boathouse Hotel only) we walked past the hotel and crossed the pedestrian bridge onto the island. It felt like an exciting adventure and we loved watching the boats pass through the lock. Apparently this was once a popular spot the weekend after Royal Ascot.
Ray Mill Island is a lovely spot with plenty of places to walk. At the northern end of the island you will find Boulter’s Weir, one of only 50 remaining on the Thames, managed by the Environment Agency. The weirs maintain water levels so that boats can pass through the adjacent lock, control land drainage and ensure that water is available for public consumption.
As part of the 1979 Thames Salmon Re-habilitation Scheme, the last Salmon ladder to be built on the Thames was opened at Boulter’s Weir in 2000.
There was plenty to keep the children busy with an Aviary and Guinea Pig enclosure and wooden animals dotted around for imaginative play and a small play area (perfect for children aged 3-8 years).
We had a lovely walk by the river and stopped at the cafe too. There were plenty of picnic tables and benches and toilets too (although they weren’t particularly nice to use!).
At the other end of the island was a more modern bridge, giving access to a new development at Taplow Riverside where there is more open space to explore.
It was such a pretty place and easy to maintain a social distance from other people. It’s a lovely spot if you are looking for somewhere new to explore, and perfect for a bit of people watching.