Walk completed August 16, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014 -- Day 9, Lechlade to Cricklade, 11 miles

Narrowing Thames
Officially, the source of the River Thames is at a spring near Kemble, and I’ll be there tomorrow. One could argue that the source of the Thames is near Lechlade, because that is where four rivers converge to make the Thames navigable. Those four rivers are the Leach from the north, the Cole from the south, the Thames from the southwest, and the Coln from the northwest. It seemed to me that each of them carried about the same amount of water, although I suppose that there are hydrological studies available on the internet.

Upstream from Lechlade, it appeared to me that none of the four is navigable by anything other than a canoe or inflatable raft. It is the convergence of all of them at Lechlade which provides sufficient water for navigation.

According to Colin Fletcher (who walked the Colorado River from the source to the sea) mapmakers (and perhaps geologists) have agreed that the source of a river is to be defined as the point the farthest distance (by river) from the mouth. They could just as easily agreed that the source is the head of the tributary that carries the most water – but since water flow is seasonal, that might open up a whole new discussion.

In any event, I’m not yet at the official source, although the Thames has diminished markedly as I continue upstream past each tributary. Indeed, most of today’s walk wasn’t even along the river, itself. Because the river is not navigable, the public never claimed it, and ownership of the river simply passed to the adjacent landowners. The government is still trying to obtain easement rights for walkers, but until then the Thames Path follows roads and other historical rights of way not related to the river.

From Lechlade, the Thames Path initially follows the River Coln (how ironic is that), then follows a canal, crosses over the infant Thames, and exits onto a very busy A road (speed limit 60 mph). Warning signs suggest avoiding the A road altogether by taking a taxi, but since the distance on the A road is only a mile, most walkers just continue walking.

Orange Backpack Cover
There is a 3 feet wide verge on one side of the A road; no verge on the other. Walkers heading upstream (i.e., me) walk with the traffic coming from behind. Walkers and cyclists in the U.K. customarily where day-glow vests when on roads. I did better than that – I covered my backpack with an orange rain cover. Since I was highly visible, most vehicles swung wide as the passed.

Most, but not all. Two vehicles (oddly enough, both were Minis with modified exhaust to make them sound more than the wimpy cars they are) sped by as close to the curb (kerb) as they could, not more than two feet away. I presume they were driven by teenagers who were pretending to be Formula 1 racers. You know the type of kids I’m writing about: the ones who have always been, and always will be losers in life, who can’t afford a real car, and modify the exhaust to demonstrate to themselves how important they are. Then the take to the road and play “Let’s scare the pedestrian.”

Well, I have news for them. I’m old. My reaction time is very slow. They were well past me before I even had a chance to get scared, let alone flip them off.  I was annoyed by the loud exhaust, however. That may not count because those cars would have been noisy even if they had swung wide to pass. Old people don’t like noisy cars no matter how far away they are.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on the kids, and should cut them some slack. Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just didn’t even see me because they were busy texting.

Henry and Marica on road to Castle Eaton
After the A road, the remainder of the walk was a pleasant stroll all the way to Cricklade. Shortly before Castle Eaton, I met Henry and Marica, from London, who started at the source yesterday. They were the only walkers I met all day, but when I stopped at the pub for lunch, I met Alex and Trixie in the garden. They have some ties to Tyneside, where Dr. George and Lady Ann live, so I’ll explore for a possible connection.


Tomorrow’s walk follows whatever river is left. I’ve been told not to expect much, because apparently it runs dry several miles before its official source. Maybe I should hope for rain.

Home in Cricklade





© 2014 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. loving all the greens and lovely flowers, I can almost smell the fresh clean air. Closing in on the source, can't wait for the pics. Have fun and stay away from the minis with the wild drivers.