In part one of Walking the Thames Path we walked from Lechlade to Oxford. Now for part two we decided to walk from the source of the Thames in Gloucestershire (the official start) to Lechlade where part one began (it was a matter of personal choice and transport which decided the order of the walk).
We spent a rainy night camping at Kemble at the rear of the delightful little pub called The Tavern next to Kemble Railway Station where they were very helpful and accommodating. The next day, our walk began from Kemble Station walking to the source, crossing the Fosse Way:
THE SOURCE TO CRICKLADE
The stone that marks the source of the Thames
Stone and way marker
You now have to walk back the way you came crossing the Fosse Way
Lyd Well - the first spring on the Thames
Stunning trails of Cow Parsley
The infant Thames
Near the village of Ewen we hade to wade through flooded meadows near the electric pylons!
Path between Upper Mill Farm and
Old Mill Farm
Onwards over footbridge!
We stopped for lunch in the delightful village of Ashton Keynes and then continued the walk towards Cricklade. The walk ended after approximately thirteen miles with a pot of tea at The Old Bear pub in Cricklade before making our way back to camp at Kemble arriving around 10.00 p.m.
CRICKLADE TO CASTLE EATON
The next day was dry and sunny and after taking the train to Swindon and the bus to Cricklade we spent some time investigating the impressive St Sampson's Church
St Sampson's Church, Cricklade
Nave to the High Altar
The North Aisle
A wonderful day!
The walk was extremely beautiful and the air was thick with damselflies and mayfly's and the wistful calls of cuckoos. Unfortunately, just before Castle Eaton we entered a meadow with some far off distant cows. Suddenly those cows weren't distant anymore and in moments they were thumping towards us, around thirty to forty cows led by a bull with horns. We had nowhere to go as there was a barbed wire fence to our left on the bank of the Thames. The herd came upon us, the bull stamped and snorted and went into charging mode and we did our best to look passive and non-threatening, moving away from them. Those damn cows, filled with the bull's blood lust 'escorted' us out of the field through a gate and footbridge and they were still trying to get at us by crossing the water and jumping the gate, which they were fortunately unable to do. Whoever told you that cows were non-aggressive has not had a stand off with a bull and his charging maidens! After giving the bull what for from the seemingly safe position of the footbridge we were shook-up enough to call it a day and having only walked about five miles with full rucksacks we decided to find somewhere to camp near Castle Eaton!
Following a footpath we came upon a campsite which I shall not name and were suitably met by a rude old lady who apparently was in charge. After setting up camp and pitching the tent and cooking a delicious chicken curry on the old faithful camp stove to the sound of bell-ringing from the church, we headed off to the local pub, The Red Lion where there was a warmer welcome for us for tea and a pint! Just before closing time we marched back to camp, dodged the searchlights and machine gun sentry posts and got to the tent quicker than Gestapo Granny could say 'zer vil be no mobile charging of phones on zis camp site if you please or you vil be shot!' It was a very chilly night indeed!
CASTLE EATON TO LECHLADE
Our last day's walk started dry and cloudy but it soon got quite sunny. After packing up camp and setting off we began with a look in the lovely 12th Century parish church of St Mary's.
St Mary's Church, Castle Eaton
The Bell Tower and the Font
The simple altar of St Mary's
There was a terrible section of the walk which takes in the delightful atmosphere and choking fumes of the A361 which we had to walk beside for about a mile but there was a wonderful gem of a church at the end of it: St John the Baptist, at Inglesham.
St John the Baptist, Inglesham, Wiltshire
Anglo-Saxon Mother and Child
Box pews and wall paintings
After the lovely experience of seeing this beautiful church we had to cross another meadow towards Roundhouse farm, a meadow filled with cows! Our path went distinctly through the herd who were lying down and not paying too much attention to us so we decided to run the gauntlet! But there's always one brave, gung-ho cow who wants to challenge and defend the field of honour! And sure enough one cow did step forward and hoofed the ground at us as if to charge, but we were now old hands and had taken on 'Blood-Horn' the rambler-killing bull and his evil cohorts so this slip of a thing was easily brushed aside!
We reached Lechlade with an infernal thirst for tea which we quenched and so ended the day's walking after approximately 6.7 miles which felt twice as much as I was constantly feeling under the weather and could have quite easily rolled into a ditch and died!