Today’s leg of the journey was a leisurely 11 miles from Cricklade to Lechlade, where the river is fortified by several other tributaries – The Churn, The Key and The Ray, and becomes deep enough to be navigable. Great breakfast in the Red Lion – vegetarian full English, cereals, fruit juice, fruit, yogurt and coffee. They made me a packed lunch, dealt with my bag – which was already in my room at Lechlade when I arrived at 14:30.
Set off at 9:30. From Cricklade, the first four miles follows the Thames past Eysey, and Water Eaton until you reach Castle Eaton. There is some beautiful scenery here and I got the feeling the river was striving to make itself recognised. At this point, it was still nothing spectacular, just a stream winding it’s way through the countryside.
Castle Eaton is a sleepy village with a church and a pub, the Red Lion which has been closed for some time. Though now it is under new management (Rhiannon and Mark) and is being refurbished.
From Castle Eaton the path diverges away from the river for four miles and it is only in sight briefly at Blackford Farm. These four miles take you through farmland with corn “as high as an elephants eye”.
At 2o miles From source, just before Upper Inglesham, the path has been rerouted away from the A361, and now follows the Thames into Lechlade. At Upper Inglesham, the first boat appears, and by Lechlade the river has widened to become Navigable.
At Lechlade, we have a river worthy of the name. Wide, deep, freely flowing string of boats pepper the north bank up to the Ha’penny Bridge.
I chose to stay in The Old Swan Inn which has very comfortable rooms, but the Riverside is much better positioned actually on the river.