In need of a mild adventure, I booked a train ticket to Kemble, in the English county of Gloucestershire. At my side was my dog Bounty, in front of me was a 52 mile walk along the Thames, from its source to Oxford.
Day 1: Kemble to Cricklade
My train arrived at 08:39 and we set off straight away for the source of the Thames. 20 minutes later we arrived at the Thames Path, which runs 185.2 miles to the Thames Barrier in London. Our destination was to the right, but we turned left and walked about a mile to the source.
The Thames begins at a remote point beside a forest, and entirely underground. Having reached this point I turned around and retraced my footsteps to the edge of Kemble. All along the way I followed a ditch, I believe that the ditch fills with the Thames during rainier months but when I was there it was empty.
Small pools appeared where the ditch widened. The path was now in a small forest and, when it emerged in a little village, I at last saw the Thames begin to flow. During Day 1 the path passes between a series of lakes and the pretty village of Ashton Keynes. By mid-afternoon I had reached Cricklade.
Day 2: Cricklade to Rushey Lock
Although the forecast rain storms didn’t materialise, today did not begin well. The path downstream from Cricklade was incredibly overgrown and hard to follow. After Castle Eaton, though, things improved considerably.
At Radcot Bridge I stopped at an old pub to re-energise before the final push to Rushey Lock, where I set up camp for the night.
Day 3: Rushey Lock to Farmoor
There are a lot of old stone bridges carrying traffic over this part of the Thames. There are also a lot of attractive footbridges. The path passes through forests, lakes, meadows, and more than a few fields full of cows and sheep. In retrospect, 52 miles in 3 days with 11kg on my back was a bit too much, and I was grateful to hop on a bus to Oxford from Farmoor, and then a train home to London.
My post about the next section of the Thames Path – from Reading to Oxford – can be found here.