Sunday, 27 November 2011

27/11/11 - Easy, like sunday morning

Distance - 4 Miles
Geocaches - 17

Rowney Green

Usual Saturday morning walking has been interrupted by a chance of a new career, having spent yesterday marking football pitches with the little paint machine.  Next stop is the Hawthorns.  Delayed my weekend walk by 24 hours, so I have a nice little geocaching round in the sunshine.  To compare our mild winter, on this day last year, I was doing a snowy round in the Lenches.

The hardest part of this walk is working out how to get there.... there is nominated parking under the M42, somewhere around J2.  Sat Nav wants to take me to J3.  End up having a tour of lanes that wind under and over the motorway to get parked up.

Walk heads west down a bridal lane to Seecham Farm and Equestrian Centre.  Think that I am going to have a problem with an alsatian, who is patrolling the grounds.  He watches us walk through his front garden and then has a token barking session as we look for cache two when we are the other side of the fence.  10/10 for scary looks, 1/10 for effectiveness, if he has to wait for a curly labradoodle to move through before making a fuss.

We are now leaving the noise of the m42 behind and are being rewarded with some excellent scenery.  All farmland, rolling hills and plenty of sunshine.

Bright Lights
Reach Rowney Green Lane and have Cache 4 interrupted by horse riders, cyclists, dog walkers and finally joggers.

Onto another bridal lane, with great views out towards Longbridge and the Lickey Hills.  Left hand turn to head south east and climb up Newbourne Hill.

Newbourne Hill, to be climbed
At the top, with Longbridge behind
This has been the best part of the walk, coming into some woodland at the top of the hill.  They have signs that provide instructions for any cachers that are doing the round on their hands.

Do not feed what.... the trees?
This brings us out into the village of Rowney Green.  An unexpected memorial to 5 members of a candian flight crew who crashed here in 1943.
Turn right, heading down the other side of the hill into more countryside.  Great views.  At the bottom, I find a place to try and clean the dog (she had a bath yesterday).

a bridge that would disappoint any troll.
The caches have all come thick and fast.  At 16, I have to navigate my way through a field of bullocks (plenty of shouting "get out of it") and then their friends provide help in locating the cache.

They know where it is
One more cache heading through the geese and back towards the noise of the motorway.

I went for the caches and was impressed by the countryside.  This would make a great introduction round to any newbies.  Thanks to  TheCheesyPeas for bringing me here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

21/11/11 - Play misty for me

Distance - 6 Miles
Geocaches - 31/34
First Cache


The weekend that keeps giving enters it final day.  Use to find a red round, which denotes more than 30 caches in a trail and the nearest one not completed is over towards Bishops Castle, promising fantastic views over Long Mynd.  Maybe, I should have saved it for spring, as it has been a real pea souper today out on the hills. 

Have the familar drive up towards Church Stretton, going through Cleobury, past Ludlow, actually giving way to a train at Onibury level crossing and turning left at Craven Arms.  Not sure where to park up - cache 1 looks like its next to a pub but this will be suspicious at 9am, so I park in the village.  Room for a couple of cars at the Church on a Monday Morning.  We'll come back through the church later.

Head east along the road to Long Mynd View - not for me it isn't, I can just about find the caches.  There are three along this northbound stretch behind the village (starting at 28 for me).  29 Shows how sneaky they can be... I struggle to find even the clue but eventually find it to be rewarded with FTF like moment (even if I am the 75th finder), as it has a new log. 

Despite the fog, I feel the need for some photo evidence that I am out and about.

Between Cache 29 and 30
Cross the road for another sneaky cache at 31.  Can't believe noone has had a DNF, as it took me a while to find something of this size, hidden so well.  There should have been great views here, as we have a valley to descend and ascend on the other side.

Nothing to see here.

Drop my way down.  There is a new build house here that doesn't show on the OS Map.  Couldn't get number 33 as the man who lives in this house is chasing sheep on his quad bike.  Its hardly one man and his dog.

Think long and hard about stocking up on supplies from the shop, but decide to pass as looking at the map, I haven't actually left Wentnor yet and I seem to have been at it for an hour.  Enter the caravan park and then have the stiff climb up the other side of the valley, taking in 6 caches until I reach the road at the top.  The fog is obviously worse, the higher you get, and I just have eerie sheep and a quarry to look at.  Good job the caches increased in size to ammo box containers!

There are evil stiles along this section - tested the labradoodles ability for some and then my ability to hoik her over on others.  Gets more challenging in the horses fields later on, where they add electric fences to the stiles as well.
I am the quarry
After a loop west and south, taking in 4 more caches, I am heading on a long stretch of road walking.  It doesn't really matter, as there is zero traffic.

Get into Norbury and looking at the map now, I can see that there is the beautiful blue symbol of a pub.  I never noticed it all, must have been because I have my only genuine DNF of the round here, spending a while looking for anything unusual on a traffic sign.  Must have been because it was number 13.  Happy to take a hint of where this one was!

Head back eastbound on the road, aiming towards Whitcot.  Not a lot here but a mill and I do manage to fall off a small bridge at cache 22.  Its OK, noone could see apart from Molly the dog and she's increasingly used to me getting in odd positions retrieving caches.

North East up hill (seems to have been a lot of up hills on this round) until returning into the grounds of the Church at Wentnor.  The caches point out an upside down face in the corner of the Church and a tomb inside to a family killed by a hurricane in 1772.  And we think we get freaky weather now.  Find the face, but don't enter for the tomb.

Face is on the Right Hand Corner
Third Stone Up.
And there's the car, all safe and sound.  In normal weather, I am sure this would have provided some amazing views.  Today, I will have to thank the shropshire seekers  for a well maintained round and the clue about the bonus, which if I would have checked mail on the round, I could have found.

Friday, 18 November 2011

18/11/11 - Walk like a Victorian

Distance - 3.5 Miles
Geocaches - 2
Walk from - Pub Walks in Malvern
Post Walk Faggot Emporium - The Nags Head

North Malvern

The end of year joys of having some leave that needs to be taken.  A long weekend is in order, so that I get some relaxation before hitting the high spots of Nottingham.

Country Walking Magazine has an article on the best walkers pubs in the country and the Nags Head is featured.  Rocket has also been there and keeps banging on about why hasn't Stourport got an equally good pub.  There is only one way for me to find out if it deserves this reputation.

After waving the kids off to school (how do they like those apples?) we head off and park outside the pub.   A quick walk to Tank Quarry for one of the 2 geocaches on route and after a false start trying to find another, we have a very energetic climb up behind the clock tower.  Pain before Pleasure.  Sonia chunters on about how she hopes no old people have been fooled into thinking this short walk from a pub guide is an easy walk.

Breathing Point
We continue our way up, dissecting End Hills and North Hill.  Don't actually need to actually bag any of these hills, as the paths skirt the outside of the tops once the climb is made.  Having had great views to the East, we soon have great views to the west.

You can see Wales from here.
Having come near full circle around Table Hill, we pick up the gentle Lady Howard De Walden Drive.  Nice path - named after one of the Victorians who used to enthuse about the heath benefits of the Malverns.  We are in agreement now that we are gently zig zaging our way down the hills on this path, thinking ourselves lucky that we don't have to climb to the Beacon.

Avoiding the high spot today.

Far too quickly, we are back at the pub.  Its 11:50 and our slight concerns about having to queue up like tramps outside a wetherspoons are soon dispelled, as we see it opens ay 11am.

Banished to the tent, as Molly would have attacked the house dog.

And it is a good pub, frequented by posh people drinking whiskies at midday.  Well, if you have the money and the time.  First decision is which of the 10 or so real ales to have.  Bathams all the way.  Sonia has some Swedish Pear Cider that is a great way for getting your kids into the joys of alcohol.  Its tastes more like pop than pop and is highly recommended for early weaning. 

Food is great and to go with my black country pint, we have black country's only addition to cuisine, faggots.  Its far too early for the working classes to start on their selection of interesting whiskies.

Back home for blogging, logging and some French Cinema.  When I retire, all days will be like this.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

12/11/12 - The Venice of the Cotswolds

Distance - 10.7 Miles
Geocaches - Found 9 of 9
Villages Visited - Bourton on the Water, The Slaughters, Naunton
Walk Inspiration

Bourton on the Water

The web site where I found this walk from claim that it is the greatest walk in the Cotswolds.  This is high praise indeed but is it enough to convince the Labradoodle?

Regular blog fans will know that when I appear on a weekend in my soft shell suit, she makes a run for it upstairs whilst I am fetching my boots.  Well today, she met Sonia on the stairs and was shoo'ed back down and attempted another approach to getting out of the walk - pretending to be asleep.  One lazy but clever dog - you have to admire her front.

Next week, I'll play dead
Boot her up the backside and we get in the car and head out to Bourton on the Water.  I remember this place from visits to Birdland.  Due to the river running down the centre, it is known as the Cotswolds Venice.  An undeniably pretty place, that gets a lot of visitors and means that the council can try and charge a fiver for parking.  I need this money for my post walk refreshments, so find plenty of street parking along the Roman Way.

Start of the walk is back through the town and over the A429 to pick up the first of the three long distance paths that make up this walk, the Heart of England Way.  Head North west towards Lower Slaughter, picking up the first two caches of the day.  Learn that Slaughter is from the old saxon word meaning "muddy".  The paths are more paved in gold than London, due to the colour of the Cotswold stone and at this point are fine.

Lower Slaughter - Winner of Prettiest Cotswolds Village
Path continues around the back of the mill and museum along a stream in the same direction towards Upper Slaughter.  The residents will have to try a bit harder this year, if they want to wrestle the prize from the Lowers.

Path out of Upper Slaughter
Continue to Swiss Farm House and then a short amount of road walking before turning right onto the Wardens Way.  First off, we have two waves of migrating geese honking on overhead.  Its that time of the year

Fly By
I get to Cache number 4, which is next to a gate.  In the distance, I can see a hunting party approaching on horse back and they all think I have bowed down to a state of serfdom, as I hold the gate open for them, tugging my forelock.  I have never been met with a posher, or cheerier set of thankyous and hellos in my life.  Is there a more quintessentially English sight than a horseback hunting party? 

Close the gate and attempt my search, only for a straggler to be coming along in the distance.  Go through the whole process again, only this time to met with a doffed cap to along with "how kind" messages.  Feel that everything in the universe is alright.

Truth is, I need you to jog on so that I could find the cache
The Wardens Way takes me westbound to a nice pretty village of Naunton.  Looks like there is an absolutely cracking pub there, but its too early.

Can you guess where I am?
This is the turning point of the walk and we head south to pick up the Windrush Path - which is also the Gustav Holst Way and at times, the Donnington Ale Way.  It is a good path but worthy of three names?

This follows the River Windrush East back to Bourton.  The dog is getting into a bit of a state, so it gives her a couple of opportunities to get clean.  Notice how much water is gained from where we pick up the river first, to when we get to the end - a distance of around 3 miles.

A Shallow Dribble
A raging torrent
This is all very pleasant and carries me back to the hoardes of tourists milling around the village.  With the money that I have saved from the carpark, I can have a blow out at the Windrush Gardens Cafe.  It seems to be a homing place for several other walkers around.

No doubt a great walk but its a bold claim to say the best in the Cotswolds.  My money is on Belas Knapp and Cleeve Cloud.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

5/11/11 - The Shooting Party

Distance 9.91 Miles
Inspiration - Julie Royals Worcestershire Walks
Geocaches - There are none.

Clifton Upon Teme

The week started with a 6am leave for Hatfield on Monday and ended with an 8pm return from Bradford on Friday.  To say I look forward to the weekend is an understatement.  But where to walk?

As it is the first weekend of the month, it is a walk from Julie Royals Worcestershire Walks - 50 of which I am working through in order.  Not that I have OCD.

Plot the walk into the map and it looks like its more interesting to the East, where there is a castle, the river Teme 0.5 miles away (stop bigging yourself up Clifton) and some good looking woodland.  However, this walk heads West.  Still looks like there are some things of interest to investigate.

Park up in Clifton and find my bearings.  The dog plays with a huge chocolate labrador, who is also on a lead and ends up going between my legs.  This turns into an event from the generation game as the larador owner and myself try and untangle ourselves.  She says that she hasn't seen me in the village before.  I say that if I had known that the pub is also the chip shop, there would have been a good chance she would have.  I wonder if they do loyalty cards.

Next encounter with a local is when I have tied the dog to a tree whilst I tidy up after her.  An octogenerian bike rider thinks that Molly has been abandoned and comes to her rescue, starting to untie her.  I am not sure whether she is an old age chav or someone with a concern for dogs in bondage.

The walk gets going.  We are heading west and I can see its going to be stunning views and high stiles all the way.  Its getting to be an obstacle course for the dog and makes me wonder how much longer she can leap 5ft or crawl under.

Mud and Rural Vistas
We are heading our way down to Lower Sapey.  My map shows that there is an abandoned church and I have high hopes of being able to regail you with spooky tales.  On arrival, its in really good condition and there is a sign that says "although this church is no longer for worship, it is maintained for future generations".  On investigation, its been here since the 12th Century.

Not Scary
Continue directly west through more fields, styles and a distinct lack of humans.  The walk writer wants us to continue west for some stunning views at the turning point, which stretch out to some distant mountains - presumably the brecons.

In Goal.
Walk down to the lake and turn back, heading more north to the medieval village of Wolferlow.  Another Norman Church and not a lot else.

The headstone belongs to John Knill d.1799
And thats the oldest one.  There are older ones that are unreadable.  I did take a photo for the details and this is where the battery ran out in the camera.  If anything had happened to me on the walk, then a blair witch style investigation from the evidence on the memory card would have ensued.

Heading back East now and all the way around I have been able to hear shooting but have not seen anyone since the old age dognapper from 2 hours ago.  As I approach Barton Court, I meet my first human of the day and engage in conversation.  There's plenty to talk about.  For a start, she is wearing a body warmer made entirely of dead partridges.  Her dog comes running out of the bushes with another one, and she calmly clips its carcass to her bodice.

Country folk with their country ways.

When I get around the corner, I meet the rest of the party - around twenty of them.  I can see them eying me up to work out how my head would look mounted above their fireplace.

From this point on, its uphill through muddy fields.  Spy a farmer who would never make it onto one man and his dog, as he is rounding up his sheep with a tractor.

Not long before we are back at the road into Clifton.  Unfortunately, its too early for beer and chips, so I head off home via Martley.