24th july 2014
Phew! What a scorcher!!
I start the day in a field! Not any old field, mind you. This field is called Trewsbury Mead and is the birthplace of the River Thames. A simple stone carved by the Thames Conservators (it's very hard to read now) and a pile of stones, underneath an ancient ash tree, marks the spring at the start of the River Thames. There's no sign of water today so the spring must be deep beneath my feet.
Just as I begin to contemplate today's walk five people turn up at the source having completed their walk for the day. I thought this field was in the middle of nowhere! One person had set off from Lechlade at 5:30 this morning and was in training for a non stop walk/run of the Thames Path in August which he is expecting to complete in about 55 hours.
After taking photos for some of the people completing their walk, I leave the crowded source of the Thames and head towards Kemble. I cross the busy Fosse Way otherwise known as the A433 and walk across more fields to reach the outskirts of Kemble.
I join a minor road at Parker's Bridge and wander along a small path between the road and the now flowing river and then pass cottages on the outskirts of the village of Ewen. I wander in to the village to visit the Wild Duck Inn which looks rather posh to me.
It seems that even the Cotswolds has a litter problem as I find several empty cans of Strongbow on the grass outside the pub.
I head back out of the village to regain the path and find the Thames again on the outskirts of the village where I find some cows enjoying the cooling water. I also see a kingfisher fly past me.
I amble along the Thames passing my first weir and then enter open meadows where I pass under some crackling power lines. I pass a family of swans feeding amongst the watercress.
I walk across a long wooden bridge to enter Neigh Bridge Country Park where I find a lake. Here I get lost as the signs are suddenly useless and I'm not alone as other walkers are wandering around trying to find any sign of the Thames Path.
Eventually I find some signage out on the main road so head down this road before turning down a gravel path and I start to walk through Cotswold Water Park (although it's not entirely clear where the park starts) which has not got WATER in its name for nothing. Suddenly there's water everywhere! There are water filled gravel pits either side of me (about 150 in total) and I pass many of them as I amble through the park and I cross the River Thames many times. The trouble is that the path is heavily vegetated so you only get fleeting glimpses of the lakes.
I pass through Flood Hatches Copse (apparently!) and enter the village of Ashton Keynes. Here I enjoy the charms of the Cotswold stone village. I then detour to visit the White Hart Inn which can be found just past one of the four preaching crosses in the village.
I walk along Back Street and then pass some houses on the outskirts of the village before entering a sports field and cross Ashton Keynes Millennium Green (which just seems to be a field!) and walk along a causeway between two more lakes.
There's some quicksand here which I manage to avoid and then I pass more lakes including a whopper of a lake, Manorbrook Lake, where I stop to watch a waterskier.
I leave Manorbrook through a gate and wander around Cleveland Lake to rejoin the Thames. The paths around here are full of butterflies and dragonflies but they prove to be elusive to photograph. Eventually I manage to photograph a small tortoiseshell.
Even though we haven't had any significant rain the paths around here are a bit muddy in places and I come across what seems to be a hawk moth caterpillar, although I'm not sure which one and it appears to be the worse for wear.
I pass Elmlea Meadow and the paths around here are looking lovely.
Here I manage to photograph my first brimstone butterfly of the season and it proves to be very obliging.
I walk along a track on the converted bed of the old railway and then reach a bridge on the line of the North Wiltshire Canal where some sheep are making an awful lot of noise.
A gate and steps lead down to North Meadow Nature Reserve, an old hay meadow and now a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. The meadow is a magical place in Spring when millions of snakes head fritillaries are in flower. I haven't visited the meadow for a while but I've included some photos from my last visit below.
The meadow still looks lovely on this beautiful summer's day and the tractors are out in force cutting the meadow for silage.
I follow the river bank and enter the village of Cricklade.
I pass though another meadow and my hay fever is playing up big time now! At the other side of the meadow a gate leads to Cricklade High Street.
There are plenty of pubs here including the Red Lion Inn (@theredlioncrick), the White Hart, and the Old Bear Inn. It's rather nice around here so I settle for some refreshments at the Red Lion Inn which I come to on the High Street straight away. They have an amazing selection of beer and I settle for a pint of Camden Hells Lager to cool me down and which is lovely, if expensive!
FLORA AND FAUNA
Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-
- house martins
- a kingfisher
- peacock butterflies
- small tortoiseshell butterflies
- brimstone butterflies
- a hawk moth caterpillar
MARKS OUT OF TEN?
It has been an absolute scorcher of a day today but I've been accompanied by a nice breeze for much of the day and I've had some shade. According to my phone I've walked 14 miles today which amounts to 30220 steps. It feels a bit weird not walking by the sea but even so the walking has been great even if it has been easy. 8 out of 10.
View source of the thames to cricklade in a larger map