The source of the Thames, an overgrown canal, quiet tracks, a pretty village, and the Thames path
|Length||16km (10 miles)|
|Toughness||2/10. Virtually flat|
|OS Map||Explorer 168 and 169 for Kemble and Cirencester. Landranger 173|
The main feature of this tranquil walk is a visit to the source of the Thames (the Thames head) which is in a field just 3 km from Kemble station
Beyond the source the route continues along a section of the disused Severn and Thames canal which is not a typical towpath walk but more like a trail through dense woodland as the canal is completely overgrown and has become an important wildlife corridor, particularly for butterflies. You reach Sapperton Tunnel and the aptly named Tunnel pub for your lunch. Leaving the pub you go over fields to the village of Coates and then on rarely walked tracks along field edges to pick up the Monarch's Way and then cross the busy Fosse Way (Roman Road). From here you head south on quiet tracks and lanes to the lovely village of Ewen where you can have a refreshing drink before walking through the village and picking up the meandering Thames path for the final stretch back into Kemble. Adjacent to Kemble station there is another pub for any final refreshments while you wait for your train.
This is a summer walk best done between June and September. In winter the source of the Thames and surrounding fields often flood and other sections of the walk will be very muddy.
Kemble is served by First Great Western Trains out of London Paddington station. It is on the main line for Swindon, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham and stations in South Wales. Direct trains to Kemble take around 75mins. You can take a train to Swindon and change there for a train to Kemble. This makes the journey about 1hr 30mins.
Cost of train tickets (August 2015)
Unfortunately this is an expensive day out!. Kemble is outside the Network South East Railcard area. For those with a senior railcard and an older persons London Boroughs Freedom Pass a day return ticket will cost you just under £30.
For those under pension age you can use your SE Network Rail Card to get a 1/3 off a return ticket to Reading plus a return ticket from Reading to Kemble. You can buy both tickets at London Paddington . Cost: London to Reading £18 minus 1/3 (£6) = £12. Reading to Kemble Super Off Peak return = £25.70 Total cost of two tickets £37.70.
If you book in advance or travel as a group you may well be able to get reductions on these prices. The Saturday Walkers website section on train travel is a very helpful guide here.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk