A pictorial guide to the River Thames
The source of the River Thames

Thames Head

Height above sea level: 108.5 metres (356 feet)
Click to see a map of this area.
Use the aerial photograph option on the map page.

Pooh began his journey in a field called Trewsbury Mead, three miles (4.8 km) south-west of Cirencester in the county of Gloucestershire. He was looking for the beginning of the River Thames, the SOURCE.

The source of the Thames is a spring called Thameshead. The spring is supplied by water deep under the ground. It is marked by an ancient ash tree and a stone engraved with the words:

'The conservation of the River Thames 1857-1974.
This stone was placed here to mark the source of the River Thames.

Ash Tree and stone marking the source
Stone marking the source of the Thames

Usually springs come rushing out of hillsides and a river begins, but it doesn't always happen like that.

Looking from the top of the stone

From the top of the stone, Pooh could see the circle of stones where the first sign of the Thames, in very wet seasons, can be seen.

After heavy rain, this is where the Thameshead spring starts to flow down the sloping meadow on its journey to the North Sea.

If you're lucky the stones are submerged in clear water. If you look closer you can see sporadic bursts of tiny bubbles making their way to the surface; gently so that, if you did not know, you might think they were raindrops.

Pooh, was not so lucky, he found no sign of water at the source of the River Thames. The ground was dry. The water deep underground was not enough to bubble up to the surface.

Pooh had to push his boat until he found water to sail it on.

Click here to see what the source looked like in 1793.

Did you know?......

Some people believe that the true source of the Thames is at Seven Springs, some eleven miles further north. Officially this is the source of the river Churn, a tributary of the Thames that joins at Cricklade. The Environment Agency, the Ordnance Survey and most authorities now accept that Thames Head is the source.

Start of Voyage down the Thames Contents Page Introduction
Facts about the Thames Flooding Thames Basin
Pollution Erosion Tributaries


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©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.