Thames Path 2 – Day 1 Cirencester (source) to Cricklade

I enjoyed walking the Thames path a couple of years ago and decided that I would walk it again this year. The weatherman was promising good weather for Saturday and Helen was away so it seemed like the right day to start. I was not wrong.

Thams path day 1 Cirencester to Cricklade

The Thames Path is a National Trail following the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton, south east London. It is about 184 miles (296 km) long. A path was first proposed in 1948 but it only opened in 1996. The Thames Path’s entire length can be walked, and a few parts can be cycled. Some parts of the Thames Path, particularly west of Oxford, are subject to flooding during the winter. The river is also tidal downstream from Teddington Lock and parts of the path may be under water if there is a particularly high tide, although the Thames Barrier protects London from catastrophic flooding. The Thames Path uses the river towpath between Inglesham and Putney and available path elsewhere. Historically, towpath traffic crossed the river using many ferries. but crossings in these places do not all exist now and some diversion from the towpath is necessary.

The far end of the Thames is 1:40 drive from home, so I managed to get an early night and left the house at 05:45. Unfortunately I just missed the 07:30 bus from Cricklade, where I parked the car, to Cirencester. I then had to wait till 08:12 which was the one I had planned to get. It was cold at the bus stop. Google maps was tellin me that there was a 51a bus at 08:12 but the notice on the bus stop said otherwise. I toyed with Uber but then ended up downloading the StageCoach app, which confirmed the 08:12 was a thing.

The bus sort of followed the route would be walking, it was quite foggy in places but the sun was out and burning it away pretty quickly. I got off the bus at Chesterton Cemetery then walked through the grounds of the Royal Agricultural College where there was lots of jogging going on. There was not much jogging happening when I was at college! I soon left the grounds and into the countryside. There were a few small hills to cross, the only ones of the day, before I got to the source of the Thames. I had been up for 4 and walking for one hours by that time, so I sat on the rock that denotes the source, ate my sandwiches cheese pickle sandwiches and regretted not having a flask of coffee with me.

The monument

A couple arrived and we got talking one of them was doing the last stretch, but in the wrong direction. They kindly took my picture while I stood in front of the stone monument and sign point past the source it self, a pile of rocks. There was no water in sight. I headed off on my way just a tad to fast as it would result in blisters towards the end of the day. It is about a mile or so of walking before you get to a riverbed with water in it, but an friendly old boy walking his dog assured me that a month ago the field around were flooded.

The far end of the river is very clear, in the bright sun I could see the clak gravel bottom of bright green under water plants. I could see a swans head as it reached down in the the depths to graze on the weed. The path is very easy to follow just keep the river on one side and if crossed keep it on the other. For lunch I stopped at the White Hart in Ashton Keynes, where a pint of orange juice and soda water and a fish finger really hit the spot. They kindly refilled my water bottle.

Near the start of the Thames for real

I then entered the stretch that would take me through loads of gravel pits. I guess they are there from building the M40. From a walking point of view they are a bit tedious, I prefer meadows. Quite a few of them are private and some have houses or holiday house clones encircling them. I was not in the best of moods as that point because my quick pace had now resulted in blisters on both feet. I had had a similar thing happen a few times before, you would have thought I had learnt my lesson by now.

The last couple of miles took me back on to meadows again and my spirit rose gain. I stopped and took a timelapse with my new DJI Osmo Pocket camera. Then headed towards Cricklade where I grabbed a coffee and a cake before finding my car and heading home. It got home almost exactly 12 hours after I left a long day, but it was great to be back walking the Thames Path.

Aylesbury Loop – Section 2 – Waddesdon to Little Kimble

Kimble Station

We had a barbecue to go to in the afternoon so I needed a local walk, I chose to do a second section of the Aylesbury Loop from Waddesdon to Little Kimble was about 10 mikes and would leave a short stretch left to fill n another day. Google maps suggested I could get a train from Little Kimble a small single track station, which seemed interesting. I checked out street view and there was only 4 parking spaces so I went with and alternative plan I’d necessary. I was aiming for the 08:56, and as luck would have it I had a choice of four spaces. Strangely the train only stopped at Aylesbury but went via High Wycombe according to the information board..

Big Tractor on the Waddesdon Estate

It turns out the train was from somewhere beyond Wycombe and had stopped there. The journey was quite slow and there were lots of unmanned level crossings in the middle of nowhere mainly for farm tracks. I had bought a permit to travel for £2.50 my estimate for the journey and at Aylesbury I had to wait to bu u a proper ticket. With my Railcard the one way ticket was £2.25 so I got some change back.

At Aylesbury bus station I had a short wait for the 17 bus to Waddesdon, the fare was £3.40, I reckon the train although a shorter journey was better value for  money. I grabbed a coffee and Eccles cake from the station kiosk. The bus was not very busy only three of us on it, and with one picked up on the way and two of us leaving at Waddesdon only 2 continued towards Bicester.

Aylesbury Vale View

The path is relatively well sign posted as you leave the village, and you quickly climb as you head towards the Waddesdon stud at the top of the hill. On the way up good views of the Aylesbury vale can be afforded. There were some very young colts with mares in the filed just next door to the stud, they showed little interest in me until I stood still at the fence, a couple of them enjoyed a nose stroke. The weather was hot and I had taken the precaution of an extra bottle of water.

Lunch at the Seven Stars

The path stays high and heads almost directly south as it descends into the valley with the River Thame in the bottom. On the way down I spotted no less that 20 Red Kites in the sky, I guess there must have been some harvesting going on out of sight as they usually attracts the graceful birds in numbers at the bottom was the grounds of Eythrope Manor, the driveways are very popular with cyclists. You get distant views of the manor from the path but it looks very similar in design Waddesdon manor. In front of the manor house there is a big lake made by controlling the flow of the river.

Combine harvesters were out doing there stuff, making the mopst of the recent dry spell to get the harvest in before the next days of rain. It looked ok for the driver as he was in an air-conditioned cab but the support workers must have suffered a bit out in the heat, as was I.

La Chouette Belguim Restaurant in Dinton

The path climbs again as you head towards Dinton, and I crossed the Thames road at the folly, which I believe a business bought to convert into a holiday let some years ago, little progress has been made. In Dinton I read the map wrong and ended up having to double back to get to the Seven Stars pub in the middle of the village. I had a half of the bitter to accompany my Cheddar and chutney sandwich with skinny chips, which I also washed down with a pint of orange juice and soda water.

As I left the pub I realised how hot it had become and the next part of the walk stated to become a bit of a chore as the heat made it a bit tedious. As I left the village I came across a Belgium restaurant called La Chouette (The Owl) that makes Dinton quite a culinary village with the pub and the Hermit. The path continues crossing fields as it passes through Ford and Kimble Wick. I was glad when I eventually took a left turn with only a few hundred yards to get back to the car. The Aylesbury loop has been completed.