Cricklade to Lechlade

After our highly successful Oxford to London expedition it was suggested that we should carry on touring on the Thames and go back up to the Source and paddle down to Oxford. Not one to ignore a good challenge the first leg of this trip saw us paddle approximately 12 miles from Cricklade to Lechlade, because apparently the actual Source of the Thames is pretty much a ditch marked with a monument, and as much as Isis CC members like a challenge I think paddling a ditch on a hot sunny day would have been a bit too much to ask.

An impressive turn out saw 11 people turn up at the Scout Hut to load up boats and kit before setting off to Cricklade to meet Laura, Glynn and Helen at the get in, making our group an impressive 14 in total. Simon and Malcolm drove our main vehicles and after an impressive amount of faff, including stopping on the drive way to pump up the tyres on the trailer, we set off for our rendezvous down a country lane near the get in.

The charity paddlers got a bit lost and went to the get out at Lechlade initially, but after realising their mistake they managed to make it to the get in at Cricklade only to have to drive back up to Lechlade for the shuttle. With all faff and shuttling out of the way we finally made our way into the very shallow water and set off. Kirsty, Bradley, Laura and Kate had chosen touring kayaks, while Rach, me, Simon, Sheena, Malcolm and the three charity paddlers all took to open canoes. Glynn and Helen had brought their own kayaks for some fun.

We set off down the narrow and winding river neatly contained by curtains of reeds and carpeted by blankets of weeds with tiny white flowers. The air was filled with dragon flies and butterflies, the banks hid reed warblers and herons, the river yielded a swan on every corner (most of which were perfectly fine with a big troop of paddlers gliding through their peaceful Sunday) and for most of the trip we didn't see a soul, save a couple of fishermen. It was completely perfect and it almost seemed a shame to spoil the quiet.

Our lunch was on a bank under a tree, and came as a welcome rest. We didn't realise we weren't that far from a pub, but our packed lunch did the trick in any case. Back on the water we had a bit of a play with a rugby ball we found, and some tennis balls and continued to enjoy the peacefulness. Another welcome break in a field in the sun gave a few the chance to stretch tired limbs and sun bathe before we head off for the final leg to Lechlade.

It was only as we came near Lechlade at the end of our trip that we saw signs of civilisation - motor boats started invading the quiet of the river, including the revellers on one of them. Reeds and trees gave way to pillboxes, bridges and town buildings and eventually we came to King's Lock, the first lock on the Thames. We portaged around, stopping to watch Glynn and Helen seal launch on the other side, and then pootled off to find out get out, a little later than planned but completely satisfied with a great paddle.

A really beautiful day, and a good start to our Cricklade to Oxford adventure. The next stage will be Lechlade to Newbridge. This one will definitely end in a pub!

- Jen

Photos by Jen.