The source of the River Thames from Sapperton

A Cotswolds walk that is full of interest starting from the village of Sapperton and using sections of six long distance paths to complete the route.

Technical sheet
No. 293224
A Sapperton walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 20/11/20
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h40[?]
Distance Distance : 11.29mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 522ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 535ft
Highest point Highest point : 646ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 351ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Cotswolds
Location Location : Sapperton
Starting point Starting point : N 51.72911° / W 2.07686°
Download : -
The North Tunnel at Sapperton


(D/A) 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.

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) 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).

(5) 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.

(6) 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.

(4) 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(D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 561ft
1 : mi 0.3 - alt. 407ft - Follow the path along the old route of the Thames
2 : mi 1.53 - alt. 518ft - Turn left
3 : mi 2.82 - alt. 558ft - Short right and left
4 : mi 5.81 - alt. 413ft - Turn right
5 : mi 6.8 - alt. 377ft - Go up to the track on the bridge
6 : mi 7.8 - alt. 456ft - Stay on the road
D/A : mi 11.29 - alt. 561ft

Useful Information

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".

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4.78/5
Number of opinions : 3
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 4.33/5
Walk interest : 5/5

on Mon 25 Oct 2021 17:00:52 CEST

Global average : 4.67 / 5

Date of walk : 24/10/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good

From 13th May 2021, the railway crossing near Frampton is closed. This is supposed to end on 13th November 2021 but, as no work has been started, this is likely to be renewed for a further 6 months and perhaps permanently. You can still cross but it is illegal.

A great walk but the instructions for the Hailey Wood section could be clearer. We went on a 1 mile diversion after getting lost - there is very little signage in the wood, so a compass/GPS would be very handy. Otherwise, very enjoyable walk through our industrial heritage and some pleasant countryside. The Thames Head Inn is a short diversion just after the "source of the Thames" and does a hearty lunch.

on Fri 26 Jun 2020 20:27:26 CEST

Global average : 4.67 / 5

Date of walk : 23/06/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good

I only completed half of this walk due accidentally veering off route.I looked at the route again when I arrived and noticed where I went wrong.
Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and true to description it is extremely interesting.
The old canal route has lots of old building works of the canal where the locks would have been and interesting architecture of the north tunnel at the beginning of the walk.
In my way past The Daneway Inn,I decided to treat myself to a ‘haggis’ sausage roll,which was a very tasty energy boost!!
Maintaining social distancing measures,the inn was supplying hot and cold drinks,plus the tasty snacks.
Just by the Daneway Inn,there is a small nature reserve just over the road,where rare butterflies can be spotted.
The walk through Siccaridge wood on the old canal path was stunning and Frampton wood was so peaceful and provided well needed shade from the hot sun...not a soul about.
I will definitely be returning to complete this beautiful walk and this no deviation from the route provided!!!

on Mon 07 Jan 2019 10:08:55 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 06/01/19
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

A delightful walk just constantly surrounded by outstanding natural beauty. Following along the small streams of water make you feel very relaxed and even during winter the moss filled trees and rocks bring an amazing tone of green to it.
Due to the train line, canals and other water sources the hike has an myriad of bridges and is definitely very camera friendly. Be sure to keep alert since there's so much to see, small details like deer running through high grass, very old antiques at the bottom of a now dry river.
The Tunnel Inn is roughly half way through the hike and provides some tables if you want to stop for a snack. It's an absolute gem.
Like mentioned, the source of the Thames is just a commemoration slab and you won't be able to see anything else. The rest of the hike is still very worth it.

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