Thursday, 17 February 2011

Lechlade River Walk - aprox 3 miles (perhaps a little less)

Lechlade River Walk

Lechlade is one of those idyllic little Cotswold towns that is still firmly set in the middle of the 20th Century. It is also a gloriously watery place as its here that the River Coln and Leach join the Thames and where tourists can make river trips on the luxury Thames launch Inglesham throughout the summer season.
The launch takes its name from a nearby hamlet where the 13th century Church of John the Baptist can be found.
I mention this church because by making a short  detour you can incorporate a visit to this remarkable unspoilt building, which I promise is well worth the effort. 

Look at the layers of wall paintings! Aren't they amazing?
 This is the church that William Morris saved from decay, and which is now in the care of the Churches Preservation Trust.
It was the layers of wall paintings that date from the 13th to the 19th century,that intrigued me most - the 17th century box pews and pulpit are pretty impressive too.

We were also  thrilled to discover a Saxon carving of Madonna and child. The fact that this church has remained virtually unaltered since the early 16th century makes for a never to be forgotten experience. Pythius sensed it was a special place that had to be respected too.

But you don't get to the church until you are half way through the walk which begins by taking a path to the right, having walked along Thanes street past the Black Cat Tea rooms and the amazing Christmas Shop that remains open throughout the year. A sign on the left hand side of the road indicates that you have reached a path that will take you to the Round House, River Thames and Canal, all reached by taking this narrow secluded little path that runs alongside a small stream, and into a series of meadows, linked by some of the wackiest wooden stiles I have ever seen.

One of many wacky wooden stiles along the way
Having passed through the meadows we followed a track to the Round House, which as its name suggests is in fact round! By turning left having reached the river and the Round House, we were able to cross a delightful little wooden bridge spanning the Thames.
Unfortunately Pythius did find the exit from this bridge rather difficult. He did eventually  manage it, but only because Uncle John encouraged him to do one of his impressive doggie jumps that have got him out of trouble many times.
This is where we made a detour across the meadow to the right and visited the church, before returning to the river, where Pythius was able to run up and down the bank and dive in and out of the water as we headed back to Lechlade and the Riverside pub where we stopped for lunch. And yes Pythius was allowed to join us for lunch. This pub is very busy during the summer months as you are able to sit outside enjoy all that the River Thames  offers, including swans, ducks and loads of boats.
One of the most memorable things we encountered on this walk were snowdrops.
An abundance of snowdrops decorated the river banks, the church yard and several other places along the way. They filled our hearts with joy as they signified the beginning of Spring. A truly wonderful sight.

The first signs of spring

Pythius says:

Yes, Spring is on its way, I can feel it, smell it even.  This lovely walk enabled me to run free, dart in and out of the water and visit a very impressive old building, without bumping into a single hazard, for there were no sheep, horses or cows in the fields and the river bank offered loads of places where I could jump in without finding myself in deep water.  BUT (Yes, there is always a BUT) during the summer months much of this changes as livestock can be found grazing several of the fields we walked this week.

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