Monday, 25 March 2013

A THAMES WALK: DO SHEEP BITE?



I fall a sleep in my beer
Well set off from the car on this Monday morning, walking across a field towards the Head of the Thames. We were about bout 6 miles south of Cirencester in Gloucestershire. This is the point were the tiny spring breaks through the ground and 187 miles later becomes the river that pours through the Thames Barrier.

Mike, Dave and I have set out to walk, cycle or by boat get down to the Thames Barrier downstream of central London.

A cold March morning, sun breaking through the cloud. Across fields we tramp to locate a block of stone some five feet high and the signpost that marks the Thames Footpath.




Onward we go, across fields, a main road, and then into another water meadow and as if from nowhere there is water. We are about a mile into our 12-mile mission for the day. This will now take us along the bank of the stream, which soon becomes a credible river.

Past farms in honey coloured Cotswold stone, under tiny footbridges and along side meadows and trees and the occasional stand of electricity pylons that disappear into the distance.

Past farms in honey coloured Cotswold stone and under tiny footbridges
We'd set off at 10:40, touched the start point at 11:00 and by 14:00 were in the village of Ashton Keynes. The pub, which was much contemplated by us, was closed so the local village shop provided the place for a Cornish pasty, a bottle of beer and some Hob Nob biscuits for later.

The river appears to disappear into a vast expanse of the Cotswold Water Park. A desolate collection of lakes and ponds that appear to serve some recreational purpose on days that is not as cold as today.  The path is easy to follow but the Thames is somewhere else.

We arrive in Cricklade town at 17:35 and make our way to The Red Lion for the evening. The delight of removing our boots for the day - we are quite tired and my leg is playing up.  Hot baths all round, the delicious beer, made on the premises and sausage and mash for supper.

A successful day; the pub is packed with people enjoying themselves as we are.
At 21:00 I fall a sleep in my beer and the lads suggest we all retire to bed. We agree on a time for breakfast before we head up to our rooms.