|Day 12 – May 5||Newbridge to Lechlade|
|Weather: Sun and Cloud||B&B: The Vale Hotel|
|Departed: 9:30 Arrived: 16:00||Distance Today: 18 mi / 29 km|
|Total Distance: 157.9 mi / 254 km||Pint of the Day: Moles Ale|
When I went to bed last night I had pretty much decided to end my aquatic adventure however I awoke to a fine November morning and decided to give it one more go.
I literally had to run to catch my 9am bus to Newbridge (the next wasn’t for another 2 hours) and fortunately I just made it. When I was dropped off I met three walkers going in the opposite direction and they indicated the water levels were dropping but that they were wading though thigh-deep water yesterday. I had no intention of following the Thames Path today but I checked it out nonetheless. As you’ll see in the first photo it was never really on.
My route had me parallel the river but stay away from it as much as possible. I started off with a short section of road and then I followed a bridle path for a couple of miles to the lovely village of Longworth. As I approached the village I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a fox at the edge of road but as I walked closer I realized it was a huge rabbit. A few minutes later I did spot my first boar of the trip, a blue one in fact.
By now the sun was out and it was promising to be one of the best days yet. The views from the ridge were excellent and after a short ramble I passed through the hamlet of Hinton Waldrist and then headed back down towards the river. The farmers were out shooting this morning although I’m not sure what they were taking aim at. The local postman stopped his vehicle and asked if I had seen a Jack Russell, apparently it was frightened by the gunshots and was AWOL (I know a Brent Russell but he’s never off his lead).
I continued along a farm lane and then through a series of meadows. I had circled one spot on my map where I thought I could encounter problems on account of its proximity to the river. It was a stretch with a raised path between an irrigation canal and a small meadow directly next to the Thames. Sure enough a 10-foot section had become a small stream where the Thames now flowed into the canal. A welly-wearing couple walking their dog in the opposite direction told me it was dry ahead and so off came the socks and shoes one more time.
Once on the other side I had a good two mile walk along this raised path until I reached a road that led down to Tadpole Bridge. I chose to go up towards Buckland Marsh and then followed another bridle path for a couple of miles past several farms and cottages. It was then a mile or so along a deserted lane to the main road leading to Radcot. It was there that I stopped in at the Swaw Inn for a pint and to rest my weary feet.
After my break there was another short section on a busy road until I reached Langley Lane and a looooong 4+ mile stretch that paralleled the river all the way to Lechlade. The last 15 minutes were spent walking along a nice footpath but not before I paid a short visit to St. John’s Lock where I snapped a photo of Father Thames. This statue used to sit at Thames Head but was moved to the lock in 1974. St. John’s Lock marks the end/beginning of the navigable Thames.
I couldn’t find a room in Lechlade so I caught a bus to Swindon and then another to Cricklade.
I’ve decided to end my walk in Lechlade as the cost of a cab from Cricklade back to Lechlade is 20-25 GBP (there is no bus service on Sunday) and it hardly seems worthwhile considering the state of the path. Before I made my decision I did test the path and started walking back towards Lechlade. Initially I had to contend with some very waterlogged stiles but I managed to climb around these. Unfortunately 15 minutes out I encountered a flooded section and in the process of trying to get around it I slashed my hand on the ever present barbed wire. I used up the last of my bandages and retreated to Cricklade to lick my wounds and toast the end of my walk with a pint of Butcombe Bitter (at the highly recommended Red Lion Inn).
This is the end of my daily blog updates but I will post from time to time during the remainder of my visit and also provide some closing thoughts on my Thames Path walk.