Catchment area 1,089 ha, length 6.6km. Not designated artificial or heavily modified.


Waterbody description

From Waterhay the river flows in a north easterly direction passing the edge of Cleveland Lakes Nature Reserve and Hailstone Hill before turning sharply and continuing in a south easterly direction under the Wilts & Berk Canal past North Meadow National Nature Reserve (Speical Area of Conservation). It then skirts past the northern edge of Cricklade before passing under the A419 road.

The landowners and tenants next to the river include quarry operators, Natural England, farmers, a livery yard, private residents, the Town Council and Thames Water. Other interested groups include the Upper Thames Protections Society and the Cricklade Court Leet.

North Meadow is a part of the North Meadow and Clattinger Farm Special Area of Conservation and is designated for its very important lowland haymeadow plant community (including the nationally important population of Snakeshead Fritillary. The River Churn (Baunton to Cricklade waterbody) runs down the northern edge and this waterbody along the southern edge and the plant community is very dependent on both the hydrological regime between the rivers and the long-term management of hay cutting and autumn/winter grazing. The bank is damaged in places by cattle accessing the river and where fenced there is little buffer. Poaching is a major source of sediment pollution in the river.

Around Cricklade the public who also have access to the watercourse and this has caused some damage to banks in places (a lesser cause of sediment pollution).

There is a relatively high risk of flooding due to the low level of the land and natural floodplain, but the town of Cricklade itself is at low risk.



The river has the common flora assemblage (see below) with no species of major significance noted.

Species included Branched Bur-reed, Bulrush, Fools water-cress, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet Grass, Water-starwort, Common Club-rush (Bulrush), Water Plantain, Branched Bur-reed, Tufted Hair Grass, Water forget-me-not, Water mint and Meadow sweet.


The Thames is known to have a reasonable fish species range of largely coarse fish including Chub, Dace, Perch, Roach, Minnow, Bullhead and Pike and occasional Trout particularly downstream of Ashton Keynes. Common coarse fish were present around Cricklade but it is likely that brown trout would find the river too sluggish and silty most of the year. Signal crayfish are known to be present.

In a September 2014 survey in the Leigh parish (1) Otter signs were present along quieter areas and water vole signs were also noted, including very high densities at Waterhay Farm. The River Thames was surveyed for Water Vole by the Cotswold Water Park Trust in October 2015 and there were signs and observations between North Meadow and Cricklade.

Bird species more typical of hedgerows and woodland were noted and Little Egret and Kingfisher (Amber listed species) and Song Thrush (red listed species) in the Leigh parish.


Main conclusions of the WILD parish report

Overall the rivers through Cricklade parish are of significant ecological value but the water quality and river habitat has been degraded due to bank damage and sediment inflows.

The river and the surrounding land would need significant works to improve both water quality and habitat of the river and bring it up to good ecological status.

  1. WILD Project, Rivers Management Plan, Cricklade Parish (October 2015), Leigh Parish (March 2016)

From 2009 to 2013 (Cycle 1) this waterbody was classified as poor under Water Framework Directive for ecology as the fish abundance and species range was found to be poor. The reasons for this failure were known or suspected to be over-predation by signal crayfish, natural low flows, land drainage and physical modification. It achieved Good status in under Cycle 2 in 2013 and 2015.

Water Framework Directive 2016 (cycle 2) overall status Moderate (for macrophytes and phytobenthos and dissolved oxygen)


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