The First Stage of the Thames Walk

One of the lovely presents I received this Christmas was a second-hand book from one of my Horsell learners. The book is called Salters’ Guide to the Thames, it is the 57thedition of the book, so it is originally a lot older and includes the updated Thames Fishery Bye-Laws of 1914. The book is over 100 years old!

Although, not primarily a walking guide, ‘it is a boating guide’, the book starts at the source and follows the course of the river on to London. There are a number of lovely black and white photographs and fold out, hand-drawn, maps of the different sections of the river. Every page is a treasure of historical facts and information about the places found along the banks.

Salters’ has this to say on the on the source “The Thames rises in Trewsbury Mead in Gloucestershire at the foot of the Western Cotswolds. Even so short a sentence however, begs two big questions, for both name and source have been disputed.” Salter’s goes on to say that “every old chronicler, from Julius Caesar onwards calls the river the Thames or Thamesis, and far above Oxford it has been known as the Thames in common speech. The fact is that the river has long enjoyed a second name of Isis before it reaches Oxford by scholars. . . and others have suggested the source to be the Seven Springs near Chaltenham.”

For the purpose of our walking we are going to take the stone marker and signpost where

there is a good walking path leading away from the site so we can keep our feet warm and dry.

The path leads us past Kemble to the small hamlet of Ewen, with many winding twists and turns in the route to Somerford Keynes and its first mill. Then onwards through the pretty village of Ashton Keynes. From here along the seven miles to Cricklade which Salter’s says is a “tortuous” course. We can report that the fisherman along the route were inclined to disagree and we do to. We did find that some parts of the route were somewhat tricky with the pasture churned up by cattle and horses, making it uneven and as it is is Janary the mud is water logged and very slippy. It defiantly wiggles a lot around the fishing lakes, Hailstone Hill and the nature reserve, but we found lots to look at and of interest.

What we did find however (and this was a hot topic along the last third of the route) was both the lack of toilets and hot chocolate. It was with much relief we found the free toilets at Cricklade open. Hot chocolates had to wait until we were at the first service station on the motor way home.

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