The Source of the Frome: A November Walk

‘No sun-no moon!

No morn- no noon –

No dawn- no dusk – no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no helpful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member –

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –


Thomas Hood – with happy memories of my mum, who used to recite this each year at this time. Out there in that cold, cold kitchen on a Sunday.

Source to Miserden and back:

I know that geology and hydrology explain springs; I understand that gravity and scientific laws explain why water flows in the direction it does. But, at the same time, isn’t there something magical, alchemical and beyond imagination about it all? The John Keats as well as Isaac Newton trope sort of thing: I’m not invoking a deity – just metaphorically standing jaw-dropped at the is-ness of it all.

For there we have the confluence of two springs, determined by the shape and content of sky and landscape, dropping down to Caudle Green. Here on a delicately balanced watershed, on the finest of lines, gravity’s scales of justice direct some water west via the Frome to the Severn and the Bristol Channel; other droplets drift east via the Churn to Cricklade, then on to the Great Wen and the English Channel. Conjoined droplets of water, slipping apart to opposing cardinal points of the compass, yet still conjoined by history and language: the Celtic ‘fra’, denoting a ‘brisk’ river; the Celtic ‘chwern’, indicating a ‘swift’ flow.

We shall be walking the Frome from its source to its confluence with the Severn in the following stages:

  1. 1. Source to Miserden and back
  2. 2. Miserden to Sapperton
  3. 3. Sapperton to Stroud
  4. 4. Stroud to Eastington
  5. 5. Eastington to Framilode

Stage 2 probably the 2nd Sunday in January.