by Julie Musk
Having decided to walk the Thames Path National Trail from the source to the Thames Barrier, I am dropped off by my better half just north of the village of Kemble – the alleged/most popular source of the mighty River Isis. A few fields away there is a stone marker and signpost marking the sacred spot, though no water, and it’s not until you’re a few fields on that a stream materialises. At the first road bridge the water is sparkling clear, and it’s quite exciting to think this is the start of the awesome Thames that flows through London.
After trekking approx. 16 miles, broadly following the course of the river, I reach Castle Eaton, just three miles on from Cricklade, and call it quits. Husband Tim has been out cycling all day and meets me at the village pub, the Red Lion, with its tempting waterside garden. We drive back to YHA Cotswold in Cirencester, which is 4 miles from Kemble. This youth hostel is right in the centre of town, just a few steps from Brewery car park (with conveniently free parking after 3 pm).
The boutique hostel is in an old-looking building called The Barrel Store, linked to the New Brewery Arts Centre. Inside it is very modern and quite minimalist. The kitchen/diner/lounge is all in one with no aspect, but it serves the purpose and we are the only ones using the facility so it is quite relaxed (I guess the temptation of town and local eateries are too much for other guests). The kitchen is well equipped, and the only thing missing is a freezer to refreeze our cool packs.
I am staying in a four-bedded dorm, while Tim somehow manages to end up in his own single room (it’s Easter Sunday and the place is very quiet). I enjoy a lovely hot shower in the en-suite wet room; as the whole bathroom floor takes a while to drain away, my poor tired feet get a prolonged soaking. The following morning, we leave before 8 am (when parking charges kick in). Next stop on the Thames Path is Tadpole Bridge (where we stayed at a nearby campsite – Lincoln Farm Park, Standlake, which has spa facilities), then two nights in YHA Oxford, ideally situated for the next couple of legs.
Images and text: © Julie Musk 2019