The Source to Cricklade – May 31st 2021
May 2021 was a pretty grotty and very wet month. It was May 17th before hotels and B&Bs could reopen in England following lockdown but ever watchful of weather forecasts, I waited until the end of the month to book a couple of nights that would enable me to do the big 3 walks from the source to Newbridge. This time I decided to stay in Swindon at the Premier Inn due to both its railway station and its bus connections.
I drove down the night before my walk to give myself an early start. After demolishing the famous Premier Inn breakfast, I drove to Swindon station, parked my car and caught the train to Kemble. It was disappointingly overcast but I was assured the sun would soon break through. Sure enough, as I walked the couple of miles from Kemble station to the source, the sun did come out. The fields were a riot of colour, mainly of what must have been millions of buttercups. Nature is truly amazing!
Having arrived at the stones marking the source of the Thames, I took the mandatory photos to show I was there. It was sad to note that the finger post saying “Thames Barrier London 184 miles 294 km” was no longer there. I’m guessing a souvenir hunter had stolen it, which is very selfish if it is the case. I understand the sign will be replaced in 2022. After taking some photos of a family who’d driven to the source out of curiosity, I was on my way towards Cricklade.
When I did this walk in reverse last July, there was no water between Ewen and the source. However, after all the rain we’d had in May, I wasn’t surprised that after only about half a mile from the source I detected the first trickle of water that slowly but surely soon became a stream. As I continued, the path I was on became waterlogged and try as I may, I couldn’t avoid walking through some water that was a little deeper than my walking shoes! As a consequence, I spent the rest of my walk with soaking feet. I had brought a spare pair of walking shoes with me but they were in the back of my car – never mind.
The rest of the walk through Ewen, Somerford Keynes, Ashton Keynes and the water parks was drama-free and extremely pleasant. Ashton Keynes in particular looked amazing; what a lovely place to live. Eventually I reached the bridge carrying the disused railway line to Cricklade. This is where the path leaves the old line and continues into North Meadow Nature Reserve. I was really keen to see all the spring flowers in North Meadow because when I did the walk the previous July, there wasn’t much to see. Imagine my disappointment when a fellow walker coming towards me advised me the path ahead was impassable and instead, I would have to walk into Cricklade along the old railway line.
So, eventually I arrived in Cricklade at the top end of the High Street rather than the bottom end where the Thames flows. I was very close to the bus stop and a bus back to Swindon was due. I therefore decided I’d catch that bus and that before I started my walk to Lechlade tomorrow, I’d do a quick wander to North Meadow to see the spring flowers.