Walk completed August 16, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014 -- Day 11, Thames Head to Burton

Some readers may think that my arrival at the Thames source completes this walk. Actually, there’s a lot more to come over the next 50 days. From here, I plan to work my way south to the Kennet & Avon canal which I’ll follow east for three days, then proceed south along the Test Way following the River Test almost to Winchester. From Winchester, I plan to follow the South Downs Way to Eastbourne, the 1066 Way tracing William the Conqueror’s route to Rye, the Royal Military Canal to Folkstone, and the Saxon Shore Way to Dover and Sandwich. The River Stour empties into the sea at Sandwich, and I propose to follow it through Canterbury and Ashford, to its source near Maidstone. From Maidstone, I’m planning to follow the River Medway to Tunbridge and Edenbridge, and then continue on to Sevenoaks and follow the Darent River to Dartford. Then I’ll end the walk by re-joining the Thames at the barrier near Greenwich, and following it back to Staines.

My arrival at the source yesterday completed only the first leg. Or maybe not. Did I really arrive at the source of the Thames? Certainly, I arrived at the place where the river named Thames starts, but was that the place farthest from the mouth of the river (generally regarded as a source)? Some people think not.

High in the Cotswold Hills, approximately 11 miles north of the “source” I saw yesterday, lies a place named Seven Springs, near the intersection of roads A435 and A436. Those springs form a pond whose exit waters flow as the River Churn. The River Churn flows through Cirencester, eventually emptying into the Thames at Cricklade. There is no question that Seven Springs is farther from Cricklade then Thames Head. Some people think Seven Springs is the real source of the Thames.

Seven Springs Pond

Sapperton Tunnel
I believe Richard is one of them. This morning, he picked me up at my hotel to drive me to Seven Springs. First, he took me to the now-defunct Thames & Severn Canal, which was constructed in the 1780’s to join the two great rivers. At Sapperton, the canal tunneled through the Cotswold Hills. We visited both ends of the tunnel, the Coates Portal and the Daneway Portal. This canal  impassable, and is not likely to be restored like so many other British canals, primarily because it is cut through porous limestone, and cannot hold water.


The Seven Springs were much more impressive than the dry spring at Thames Head. If they were considered the source of the Thames, then the portion of the Thames I followed yesterday would be a tributary. That would make the Thames a tributary to itself. For that reason alone, I doubt that the official designation will change.

St. John Baptist Church
Later, Richard’s wife, Teresa, fixed a nice lunch for us at their home. Then, after a quick tour of the St. John Baptist Chuch in Cirencester, they drove me to tonight’s destination, Burton, because it was far too late for me to commence my planned 14 mile walk. My knees, shoulders and feet enjoyed the day off

Richard and Teresa


Richard and Teresa, thank you very much for all your hospitality. You’ve provided me with memories that I will treasure forever.

© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. Well, that was fast and interesting to see the pond, source of the big river which now is about the size of the Virgin river! Sort of.....Nice to see that you are giving your knees a day of, yeah! Have fun and keep on walking!

  2. Keep it up Ken! Enjoy. Terry