Official Source – Cricklade
Two of us debouched at Kemble railway station on Sunday 26th July 2020, removed our compulsory Covid-19 masks, shouldered rucsacs and started walking. We began our Thames journey proper at the stone marking the official source, allowing two days to walk to Lechlade, where we would pick up a double kayak to continue.
There is no water to see this close to the source, merely the signs of a watercourse that is dry in midsummer. The first water began to appear in occasional deeper hollows in the riverbed, with more and more pools appearing until by the time we reached the village of Ewen (link?) a continuous brook was visible, though often partially blocked by dense patches of reed.
On show in Ewen was also the first Thameside domestic garden with lawns sloping down to the river, in this case a fairly modest country manor, but providing a flavour of the more spectacular villas to come.
Pleasant walking through shaded woods and copses followed, interspersed with occasional villages such as Ashford Keynes. Butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies were around in abundance as the brook grew in size.
The consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown were in evidence even in these more countrified areas, with closed churches, shops and restaurants. Those pubs possessing generous gardens had just begun to open under the new regulations, however it was interesting that in the smaller villages no-one appeared to bother over-much with face-masks (unlike the larger towns later on where the rules would be more closely observed).
In my first experience of wild camping, we set up our tents in a scrubby corner of a field just short of Cricklade. Also my first experience in a long time of camping with a micro-tent reminded me of why I prefer more substantial structures – you can sit up and kneel without getting a wetting from condensation or rainfall. But hey, it’s an English summer!
© Philip Hunt 2020