The village of Tarlton, in Gloucestershire, lies on the south-east side of the Cotswolds, near the head of a valley. A valley with no water in it. Not far from Tarlton, there is a less distinct valley, but clearly labelled on the map it says “source of the River Thames”.
And here it is.
Not a drop of water in sight!
The marker stone shows that we were definitely in the right place.
This happens to also be the start of the Thames Path, a 184 mile waymarked route that basically follows the river from source to sea. So we set off to find the river.
About a mile down the path, we came across the first bridge over the river, built to keep vehicles high and dry on the A429.
Two tunnels allow for a sizeable volume of water.
The dry river bed would have made an even better path than the path, had it not been for the branches lying across it.
It wasn’t even boggy at this point.
Eventually a few puddles appeared.
These got bigger and the in-between bits got boggier…
…until eventually we got to a weir with a trickle of water actually flowing.
We were now nearly 2 miles from the official source, near the village of Ewen. Between these points, the wide, dry channel and substantial bridge clearly indicate that the Thames has been flowing here in the past. In the next 3 posts in this series, I’m going to look at what has happened to the source of the Thames and why. Join me for the first of these next week.