Tamesis Fluvius
The Thames Path from
the Source to the Thames Barrier

Cricklade to Lechlade

Sunday 9 April 2017

Day Two may have been shorter than Day One, but there were times when it did not feel that way as it turned out to be the warmest day of the entire trip. This made regular breaks wherever there was some shade to be found extremely important. The eleven mile route for the second day can be divided up into two very distinct sections, as the map illustrates. For the first part of the day, the Thames Path clings tightly to the banks of the river, but from the village of Castle Eaton onwards glimpses of the Thames are sadly few and far between. The path diverts away from the river for much of the route, including perhaps the least enjoyable part of the path for us, although since our journey this has been replaced with a new riverside section. When we walked the path, we were forced to follow a busy A-road for more than a mile towards the end of the day, although new rights of way have now removed the need for this.

Update: Walking the new section two years later.


Our second day of walking started early in the morning, setting out from our accommodation in Cricklade shortly after 7.30 am in order to try to cover plenty of ground before it got too hot. The day started out pleasantly cool as we headed away from the town, quickly picking up the river as the path gives an excellent view back towards Cricklade, the tower of St Sampson's Church dominating the town. Very soon the path took us under a major road for the first time, the A419 linking Cricklade with Swindon. Our first river crossing of the day was a somewhat smaller bridge though, an arched footbridge taking us from the southern bank to the north. The fields here were a colourful sight, more yellow rapeseed flowers as well as trees covered in white blossoms. After less than a mile on the northern bank, another footbridge took us back to the south of the river where we would remain for the rest of the day.

Thankfully it wasn't yet too hot, as by the time we were due for a first rest stop there was very little in the way of shade as we passed through very open fields. At this stage there was little sign of much in the way of civilisation either; it was a very peaceful area with few other walkers around and just the occasional farmhouse in sight. Although the river here is not navigable for boats of any significant size, it is possible to see the occasional small rowing boat in this area but none came along while we were heading through. Shortly after passing opposite a campsite on the northern bank however, the path brings you to Castle Eaton and it was at that point that most of the riverside walking was already over for the day. The path runs right through the centre of the village, which gave us an opportunity for another rest stop on a bench opposite a charming row of houses.


Following the road out of Castle Eaton, the Thames Path soon heads down a long track towards Blackford Farm, which offers a very nice view across the fields towards St Mary's church in the village of Kempsford. After passing by the farmhouse itself, we returned all too briefly to the river itself, which at this point forms the boundary between Gloucestershire to the north and Wiltshire to the south. The riverside stretch lasts for less than a quarter of a mile before the path heads back into fields, many of them populated by sheep and lambs. Reaching a minor road, the path comes close to the river again near to Hannington Bridge, only to head off in the opposite direction and down another track to a cottage.

It was on that track that we found a shaded spot to stop for lunch. While we were there, we were passed by two other walkers and began a pattern of meetings whereby we would overtake each other every time either they or we stopped for a rest. It had turned into a very warm afternoon, meaning that such breaks were becoming more frequent. After making our way through yet more fields of bright yellow rapeseed flowers, we emerged at the village of Upper Inglesham. Following another short rest, we reached the busy A361 which was carrying a considerable number of visitors on their way either to or from a Sunday afternoon out in Lechlade.


Some Thames Path guidebooks advised against walking alongside the A361, which can get very busy at times, suggesting instead that people take a taxi for the stretch of little over a mile that the route follows the road. We found that as long as you take care in crossing the road there is a grass verge on the right-hand side heading towards Lechlade, which is at least as wide as the average pavement. That meant this stretch of road walking feel much safer to me than our journey from Kemble station to the Source on Day One, although we would much rather have been able to follow the new riverside route. Most of the road section that we followed is uphill, but thankfully not too steep and just after the road begins to head downhill again towards Lechlade, the path heads off towards Inglesham, home to a 13th century church and the way back to the river.

After what seemed like far too long a time away from the Thames, a short walk through a field of cows took us back to the river near to the point at which a round house marked the end of the Thames and Severn Canal. From this point onwards, the Thames becomes navigable for small boats and it was not long before the first of them passed us. It was not just boats that joined us on the route here, as on possibly the first hot and sunny weekend of the year, the final half-mile was shared with by far the largest number of people we had seen so far. Eventually Lechlade came into view on the Gloucestershire side of the river, although we would be staying on the Wiltshire side. Having reach Halfpenny Bridge, which is named after the toll which used to be charged to cross, we headed a short distance away from the town to the Bridge House campsite which was our accommodation for the night.

Monday 22 April 2019

On Easter Monday 2019, coincidentally two years to the day since we completed the path, we headed to Upper Inglesham to walk the new section of riverside path that had been opened.

Parking by the side of the road in the village, we walked down the bridleway that had formerly been part of the Thames Path to pick up the route where it diverted onto the new path. After a short walk alongside a narrow stream, the path picked up the Thames and followed it closely along the edge of several fields, with new footbridges carrying us across more small streams. Although we could hear the traffic on the main road it was well hidden from us and the only vehicles we encountered this time were a tractor in one of the fields and a small boat on the river. Eventually we emerged opposite the 13th century church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, which the old route didn't quite take us past. After stopping to explore the church for a while, we picked up the route we followed in 2017 to carry on to Lechlade for lunch before returning to our car by the same route.