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Thames Path Walk

by Mike Oliver

It was supposed to be a pleasant long walk. It was definitely pleasant with (apart from one day) excellent weather and the best of company.

But at first there was no river and often no bank. The Thames, as natives of Cricklade insisted, does not begin at its source.

We had set off from a stone by a dry ditch in a field near Kemble in
Gloucestershire. It bore an inscription to the effect of 'here beginneth the Thames'.

There was no water in the ditch for many miles. We marched on through fields, gravel pits taking care to avoid quicks and, large dogs and blisters. We survived encounters with some very strange country folk, a drunken farmer insisting he had a big tractor to show us and a very upset cow charging full speed at us along a narrow path.

That dry ditch grew first into a navigable channel and then became a torrent hundreds of yards wide controlled by locks and weirs. Anne braved injury to make the distance and many joined for a day or several days — providing much needed support and ensuring our team completed the trek to Tower Bridge on schedule. It was an
unforgettable experience —

I lost over half a stone and will never forget sitting at a lock in pouring rain (no shelter anywhere) eating lunch, watched by a dry lockkeeper in his hut smugly sipping hot tea.

Thanks to all who took part or helped in anyway. Special thanks to Sue Ingram, Colin Wells, Jill Oliver and Mark without whom we would never have finished.

Mike Oliver

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Page last updated: 19 February, 2015