Three cheers for whoever it was at the Environment Agency who thought it would be a good idea to use land at certain Thames locks for camping. This site, at picturesque Cookham, is typical in its unfussy appearance and pleasingly unsophisticated facilities. There are two areas in which to pitch tents, a sheltered one near the lock-keeper’s house, and a more scenic one on Sashes Island, wedged between the Thames and Hedsor Water. Birdlife abounds: visitors include kingfishers, red kites, parakeets, geese of all kinds and even the occasional hobby.
Toilets are in an eye-catching hexagonal wooden building, and there is a water tap at the back of the shower hut. Otherwise facilities are decidedly minimal and the field is, in all, just that: a patch of grass where you can pop your tent in peace.
To get to the lock, cross the bridge at the bottom of Odney Lane, take the wide path to the weir and then follow the signs. It should be stressed that, as with all Thames lock sites, Cookham is not accessible by car. Furthermore, campers have to book in advance and must arrive an hour before the weir gate is locked (April 5:00pm; May and June 6:00pm; July and August 6:30pm – arrive an hour before). There’s a £10 deposit for the key.
Cookham village, though small, boasts one Chinese and three Indian restaurants, a smattering of pubs, and the unmissable Stanley Spencer Gallery. It's an easy half-mile stroll from the lock.
Please note: This campsite is not accessible by car.
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