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Cotswolds Walk
The source of the River Thames from Sapperton

Region - Cotswolds

County/Area - Gloucestershire

Author - Andy Chaplin

Length - 11.3 miles / 18.4 km

Ascent - 850 feet / 258 metres

Time - 6 hours 30 minutes

Grade - moderate

Start - OS grid reference SO948034
Lat 51.72929 // Long -2.076691
Postcode GL7 6LG (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - The source of the River Thames from Sapperton
Photo from the walk - The source of the River Thames from Sapperton
Photo from the walk - The source of the River Thames from Sapperton
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Items of interest on this walk include canal and rail tunnels, two rivers (the Frome and the Thames) and six long distance or national trails - the Monarch's, Macmillan, Wysis, Thames & Severn and Palladian Ways and the Thames Path. An ideal walk for "spotters" or "tickers".

There is plenty of on road parking in Sapperton just opposite the church at grid ref. SO948034 where visitors are invited to park on one side of the road. From here walk back to Main Street then take the first path off on the right which is part of the Wysis Way. This leads over Church Lane and down to the northern end of the Sapperton Canal tunnel.

Follow the path along the old route of the Thames & Severn canal, past the Daneway Inn and, after crossing on a footbridge, the path continues between the old canal and the river Frome. Just before the end of Siccaridge Wood take the track over the river bridge and continue on the path up through Frampton Wood. This is marked as a part of the Bathurst Estate and the path goes steeply uphill across the railway and up to the road.

Turn left here and take the first track on the right, through a gate and follow the path on a route that is above the rail tunnel. You pass two ventilation towers, cross a minor road then come out on the A419 just after the railway makes a brief appearance in a cutting to your right.

A short right and left on the main road puts you on a permissive track heading south until you pick up the Macmillan Way at Tarlton Down. Go left through the wood then across fields to Tarlton. The paths are easy to spot across the grassland and when they go across cultivated fields in many cases there are grass margins that have been left un-ploughed.

The Macmillan Way goes all the way to the Tunnel House Inn where you turn right, admire the southern tunnel entrance as you pass, then follow the canal path south and eastwards (now the Monarch's Way and Wysis Way).

Just before the canal turns southwards go up to the track on the bridge above the canal and take the Wysis Way south to the source of the Thames (and the start of the Thames Path). There is a commemorative stone marking the site of a spring - but no sign of the Thames. Go back northwards to the bridge over the canal and keep going to the road into Coates.

Stay on the road into Coates and follow the signed path to the church where there is a seat to rest for a while. Go out of the north end of the churchyard, turn left around Church Farm and pick up the path that is part of the Palladian Way and leads back to the Tunnel House Inn.

Follow the Wysis Way north through Hailey Wood, across the A419 and take the minor road back into Sapperton (still signed as the Wysis Way). It is a relatively quiet road and there are open views down to the south. Just before you reach Sapperton you cross one of the east-west rides of the Cirencester House estate. As you come into Sapperton head straight on towards the school then go right towards the church and parking.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers.

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Ordnance Survey Explorer OL45Sheet Map1:25kBUY
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The Cotswold Way Map Booklet

The Cotswold Way Map BookletMap of the 102 mile (163km) Cotswold Way National Trail, between Chipping Camden and Bath. This booklet is included with the Cicerone guidebook to the trail, and shows the full route on OS 1:25,000 maps. The trail typically takes two weeks to walk, and is suitable for walkers at all levels of experience.
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The Thames Path Map Booklet

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