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Thames Path 2

Tacos – geocaching – small woodland – no river – still no river – boats! – the Thames is tamed – Kelmscott

We resumed our sojourn along the Thames at the point where we’d left it, with an excellent breakfast at the Cricklade Club. I’d never seen cauliflower tacos on a breakfast menu before so had to have it and it was delicious – I’m calling it, tacos are now a breakfast food.

Dan’s hot chocolate was described as having “all the bells and whistles”. That mug is approximately two-thirds full of whipped cream and marshmallows.

Dan joined us for the first part of the walk so naturally we began our day with a quick geocache find in a backstreet of Cricklade.

Can you really describe a street as a backstreet in a place with only about 5 streets?

Dan walked with us for a short way along the river. Robin seemed to like having someone else for company, however briefly, so I guess I’m taking requests if anyone wants to join us for any of the future legs.

Despite Robin’s best efforts to convince him to stay, Dan still opted to turn back.

On our first day‘s walking along the Thames Path, Robin and I had trouble finding any evidence of water for some time. On our second day, we did not have this problem.

After weeks of sustained rain, the fields we walked over as we left Cricklade behind were extremely soggy. On our way out of town we passed Cricklade Millennium Wood, I took a picture for the purpose of mocking it for being very small but later discovered it’s too small to appear on Google Maps and became oddly defensive of it – it’s trying, damn it, we should at least acknowledge its existence.

Aww, bless

We had a pleasant if damp walk along the riverbank while the weather steadily worsened, the tranquility of the empty countryside marred only slightly by the traffic noise from the A419 which took a surprisingly long time to fade away.

After a couple of hours of walking we reached Castle Eaton, where the path left the river and headed down a narrow tree-lined lane. It was pleasant enough, but after walking along it for a mile or so, crossing a field and finding ourselves on another lane very similar to the first with no sign of the river, we would have felt a bit lost were it not for the helpful Thames Path signs. Around this time we started to hear thunder, and discovered that things were looking a bit ominous behind us.

With a storm visibly rolling in from the West, we ducked into a small thicket to eat our sandwiches and see if the rain slackened off. Some 5 minutes later the rain turned to hail which easily penetrated the thin October leaf cover so we packed away our lunch and carried on instead.

Some two hours after we last saw it in Castle Eaton, we finally rejoined the river somewhere near Inglesham.

If Robin seems unimpressed in this picture it’s probably because more water has fallen on us than is in the river by this point.

Shortly after this we spotted our first “first” of day 2 – boats!

Inglesham proved to be a charming hamlet, where we sat and finished our sandwiches and had tea from my new flask on a handy bench next to the Round House, a curiously shaped lock-keepers cottage marking the junction between the Thames and the now-defunct Thames and Severn Canal. The limit of navigation is now downstream of this point, but once upon a time this empty little field would have been a busy junction.

Just as we were wearily approaching the bench on the right of this picture for a well earned rest a bastard jogger came in along the bank and sat on it before we could. I’m not bitter.

Soon after this we started to approach Lechlade and everything got a lot more Thamesy.

That’s the river I’m used to.

St John’s Lock in Lechlade marks the official upper limit of navigation on the Thames (although we saw plenty of boats upstream of the lock), there’s a statue of Father Thames to mark the spot which apparently used to be at the “source” in Trewsbury Mead before they relocated it because no one bothers to go there.

After a stretch of tame, tourist-friendly river around Lechlade, we soon found ourselves walking beside the wild waterway we’d grown used to again for our last few looping miles of the day. The path between Lechlade and Kelmscott never left the river, and as the daylight faded we enjoyed the uninterrupted peace of probably the most tranquil stretch of river so far.

Our stopping point for the day was the tiny village of Kelmscott, home to William Morris’ country home of Kelmscott Manor (under heavy scaffolding while we were there so we didn’t particularly see it). We sat on a rock in the village “square” (more of a triangle and very small) and drank the last of our tea while we waited for a pickup from Dan. The tea was still warm. Flasks are great.

Next time…
LocationsCricklade -> Kelmscott
Time7 hours
Distance14.5 miles
Cumulative Distance26.7 miles

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