Cricklade to Lechlade
|Upstream: Cricklade to The Source||Back to Main Page||Downstream: Tadpole Bridge to Lechlade|
This walk links the two Cotswold towns of Cricklade to Lechlade-on-Thames and follows the Thames in the opposite direction to the other walks. The Thames is not navigable after a few miles west of Lechlade and so this is the first walk where the path does not follow the banks of the river for much of the time. Despite this it's a pleasant walk through unspoilt countryside to the pretty village of Castle Eaton and on to Lechlade-on-Thames.
Getting to the Start
Cricklade is just off the busy A419 dual carriageway linking junction 15 of the M4 and Cirencester, with Cricklade roughly half-way between the two. Parking in Cricklade is mostly on-street parking, including in the High Street, although there is a small car park at the top end of the high street. If you do travel by car consider parking in Swindon and travelling to Cricklade by bus, as there are no direct buses between Cricklade and Lechlade.
If you're travelling by public transport, Stagecoach in Swindon service 51 operates hourly from Swindon to Cricklade, Cirencester and Cheltenham. This service stops in the High Street in the town centre. If you're travelling from further afield both Swindon and Cheltenham have railway stations. Swindon Bus station is a few minutes walk from the main-line railway station, which has frequent services to Reading, Didcot, London, Bath, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Gloucester. In Cheltenham the station (Cheltenham Spa) is a little further, around a 15 to 20 minute walk, from the bus station. There are frequent trains from Cheltenham Spa to Gloucester, Birmingham, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth. Cricklade is 20 minutes by bus from Swindon and 75 minutes from Cheltenham. Thamesdown Transport services 52 and 53 also operate to Cricklade from Swindon and Ashton Keynes.
Due to (at the time) poor connections with the buses from Cricklade with trains from Swindon I decided to walk this part of the path in reverse starting at Cricklade and walking to Lechlade-on-Thames. Cricklade is an attractive Cotswold town, especially around the High Street.
From Cricklade High Street head down the high street and turn right into Abingdon Court Lane before you get to the bridge. As you come to the end, turn left into Thames Lane and then follow the path across the meadow towards the busy road bridge ahead, with the Thames to your left. Soon you see the sign for the Cricklade Millennium Wood ahead.
Continue under the rather ugly concrete bridge that carries the bypass and the other side there is what appears to be a small concrete bridge, but it in fact carries a pipe over the river.
|The "pipe" bridge|
The path is once more passing through meadows, but after recent high winds a tree had been damaged and a large branch was now dangling into the Thames.
|A wind damaged tree near Cricklade|
Soon you come to a footbridge where the Thames Path crosses to the opposite bank.
|A church in the distance||The wooden footbridge|
The Thames is shallow and full of reeds here making it impossible to navigate in a boat. Note that maps of this area indicate that the Thames Path heads to Water Eaton House then joins the road. However the path has since been improved and continues on the bank for another half mile or so.
|The reed-filled Thames near Water Eaton||A small bridge on the path|
Keep an eye out for signs along this part of the path as it's possible a better route has been found. If not, the path turns off to the right near South Farm, emerging onto the road. Here you follow the road for just over a mile into Castle Eaton. The village makes a welcome break from the road walking and it is a beautiful place. As you come into the village the path turns left following The Street. It's worth walking to the bridge over the Thames here where there is a brief section of "boardwalk" path near the pub.
|Castle Eaton||Castle Eaton|
|The reed-filled river at Castle Eaton||Castle Eaton Church|
From The Street you emerge into Church View and then as the road turns to the right take the road on the left (Blackford Lane). The path then continues on this road all the way to Blackford Farm. Look out for the church at Kempsford visible across the fields to the left.
As you get to the farm the path goes to the left to briefly rejoin the Thames towards Hannington Bridge.
|The Thames near Hannington Bridge|
At Hannington Bridge you again have to join the road, so turn right at the bridge (do not cross the bridge). At the road junction turn left then follow the path from the end of the track. This path passes through open fields, but you do not get view of the Thames which is around a quarter of a mile to the left for much of the time. You pass Sterts Farm to the left but continue straight on. Soon the path turns a little to the right and heads towards the village of Upper Inglesham. Walk through the village and at the main road (Lechlade Road, the A361) turn left. Unfortunately the path now follows this road to the outskirts of Lechlade. It's a busy road and for the most part it doesn't have a pavement so this is perhaps the least pleasant part of the whole walk as you have to keep a constant eye on the traffic. Continue past Lynt Bridge Farm to the right then take the next road on the left, Turn off to the right just before you get to Inglesham where you then rejoin the river as it goes towards the building marked as Round House. Here there is a beautiful scene with the lovely house surrounded by willow trees.
|Round house near Lechlade|
Here the Thames towpath begins and this is the last navigable point on the river. The pleasant grassy path takes you all the way into Lechlade, the end of this walk.
|Ha'penny Bridge, Lechlade||Lechlade|
Stagecoach Swindon services 64 and 74 provide a broadly hourly bus service from Lechlade (Market Square, by the New Inn Hotel) to Swindon (Bus Station), although there isn't a service on Sunday and the last bus leaves quite early. This bus also goes to Fairford in the opposite direction. Swindon Bus station is a short walk to Swindon Railway station for fast and frequent trains to Didcot, Reading, London, Bath, Bristol and South Wales. If you're returning to Cricklade Stagecoach Swindon bus 51 runs from Swindon to Cricklade, again hourly (Monday - Saturday).
Beaumont Travel service 77 also runs from Lechlade to Fairford, and Cirencester.
The following web sites provide information on the area.
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