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Trail talk: The Thames Path- Lechlade to Tadpole Bridge

Statue of Old Father Thames. Commissioned for the Crystal Palace in 1854 and subsequently purchased by H. Scott, one of the Thames Conservators. Placed at the source of the Thames in 1854, it remained there until 1974 when, the victim of vandalism, it was moved to St John’s Lock, Lechlade

Lechlade to Tadpole Bridge, 10 miles

With the hope of an early afternoon finish, we rose early so as to be first in for breakfast when the restaurant opened at seven. Ha! Four tables had already placed their order. I was thankful that our meal was already paid for as I slightly more than raised an eyebrow at the prospect of paying one pound fifty for two slices of indifferent toast. That said, the Full English was excellent.

The two of us were away sharpish after eating and were soon walking toward the uppermost lock to be found on the Thames where the statue of Old Father Thames is to be found, languidly gazing down at the boats below him. It was already pretty warm and the sun beat down from a sky occasionally loudly punctuated by military aircraft on some form of manoeuvres. Eventually those, as well as Lechlade were left behind and we saw very few people for the remainder of the days walk as this is a lonely section of trail.

The River Thames had quickly transformed over just a couple of days from shallow stream to a working almost mature river but I still found it slightly astonishing that Lechlade used to be a busy port for London. Various goods- over 3000 tons of cheese annually, salt from Cheshire and golden coloured Taynton stone for buildings such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle, were landed at the upper Thames wharves. All that trade is long gone, at least by river. The water table has dropped considerably over the years but quite a few narrow boats and smaller cruisers are not only making it this far, but were also at residential moorings.

I much preferred today’s walk over yesterday’s. Flower stuffed meadows bordered a river that meandered through tight loops. Our towpath closely followed the bank which increased the mileage and it was only later in the day that paths would cut across some curves. There were a lot of WWII pill boxes along the trail, we explored a couple, but once you have seen the inside of one, they are pretty much the same…

Radcot Bridge. Three-arched bridge built from Taynton (Cotswold) stone in the early 1200s. It has a strong claim to be the oldest bridge on the river. It was almost destroyed during the Battle of Radcot Bridge between the Loyalists and Parliamentarians in 1387, and the War of the Roses between 1455 and 1487

Other than five minute breaks at the five locks passed today, we also broke from the trail at Radcot Bridge to visit the Swan Hotel for mugs of tea, sitting on their veranda and cooling off. It was peaceful, apart from the tractors pulling laden trailers over the two bridges crossing the Thames and its side-channel. Centuries before this was the site of violent skirmishes.

We crossed Tadpole Bridge to The Trout on the far side. This was where we had to wait for our transport to the Lamb Inn in the Oxfordshire village of Buckland. The Trout was a pricey gastropub but excellent and for the hour or so until our driver arrived we sat in the garden rehydrating with pints of OJ and Lemon, and equally refreshing pints of Abingdon Bridge and Gunners Gold from the Loose Cannon brewery.

The Lamb at Buckland

Once at our accommodation, a lazy afternoon beckoned. The days sweat and grime was removed, then resting, napping, reading and journalling sufficed until the evening and the arduous task of reducing a good menu to two choices. Local stream caught Trout for Mission Control and Faggots for me (yes, really), all together rounding off a good day.

Evening meal at The Lamb filled the inner man

The Thames Path
The Thames Path: Kemble to Cricklade
The Thames Path: Cricklade to Lechlade
The Thames Path: Tadpole Bridge to Bablock Hythe
The Thames Path: Bablock Hythe to Osney Bridge, Oxford
A day off in Oxford
The Thames Path: Osney Bridge, Oxford to Abingdon
The Thames Path- Abingdon to Shillingford/Warborough
The Thames Path- Shillingford/Warborough to Goring

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