Thames Towns

Cricklade and the Upper Thames

The Source of the River

The River Thames is 215 miles long from its source in the Cotswold Hills to the west of Oxford, right down to its meeting with the North Sea near Southend. 

Although the River Thames emerges as a spring at a place called "Thames Head" only a short walk north of Kemble in Gloucestershire flowing past little villages such as Ashton Keynes and Cricklade, it is not until the tiny river reaches the town of Lechlade that it actually becomes navigable by anything other than most craft.


The Thames Head Stone marking the source of the River Thames -photo by Jim Batty and reproduced by kind permission

The infant Thames in the village of Ashton Keynes - Photo by Colin Smith and reproduced by kind permission

Canoeists can and do reach higher up the river of course, and the right of navigation begins and ends upstream at Cricklade.  The Thames Path  National Trail - a long distance footpath - follows the general course of the river (but not always along the bank of the river) from its source. 

Ashton Keynes has a decent pub the White Hart, and the visitor attraction of the Cotswold Water Park close by. Cricklade is a pretty little Thames town with lots to see and do.  Famous for being the location of North Meadow in which blooms the rare Snakes Head Fritillary in April. People visit from miles around every spring just to see this amazing sight.( Nice pub The Old Bear.) The lovely tower of St Sampson's Church can be seen for miles around. It also has some unusual shops like Country Pursuits that stock country clothing and equipment for all the usual pursuits like fishing, riding and shooting.  Cricklade was the Romans' favoured crossing point over the River Thames - Ermine Street traverses the river at this point.

Castle Eaton Church - photo by Sheila Russell and reproduced by kind permission

Beyond here following the path of the River Thames, you reach the village of Castle Eaton with a pub and church, then after a long stretch of open countryside, you see the Round House at the junction of the river with the former Thames and Severn Canal, on the outskirts of Lechlade.

The Thames and Severn Canal once connected this upper reach of the Thames with the Severn River at Sharpness at Inglesham, just west of Lechlade. It has fallen into disrepair, but there are enthusiastic plans afoot to restore this waterway once again, so bigger boats will be seen further upriver than Lechlade. The Round House sits at the junction of the canal with the Thames - it is the former lock-keeper's accommodation - and boat trips are arranged in the summer.  

Written by Jeannette Briggs

Here are a list of Pubs, shops and attractions in the Cricklade area - not a scientific selection, just a list of some of our favourites and local recommendations:-


Cricklade- The Old Bear

Kelmscott - The Plough Inn
Castle Eaton - The Red Lion

Shops in Cricklade

Framing and Beyond
Madam Blunt Gallery
Cricklade Crafts
Country Pursuits - Country Clothing and Sporting Equipment

Other Attractions

Cricklade Museum

For Boat Charter hire, please see full details

Back To Thames Towns