Tuesday, 27 December 2011

27/12/11 - Shifty caching in Shifnal

Caches - 20
Distance - 4.4 Miles


Last walk of the year and the December geocache numbers are looking very poor indeed.  Look for a local geotrail and I am getting further afield to find the numbers.  Shifnal has only been previously known to me as a traffic avoidance detour when the M6 is at its usual standstill.  I have wondered why there are so many pubs and restaurants and the cache descriptions have explained it's history as a coaching spot on the London to Holyhead road.  That makes sense.

There a number of cache trails from the town and surrounding villages, so I work some into a nice walk around the Manor house, returning to do some urban caches in the town.  All done on a glorious day and back for 11:45 for the last of the turkey.

Park up at the imposing Church, heading west on the A4169 for a couple of hundred yards before turning south down a footpath that runs past the manor house, and less impressively, the sewage works.  The caches are probably as close together as the rules allow and come very thick and fast.

The best part of the walk is under Lodge Hill, where mankind has used their influence on Wesley Brook.

Climb up Lodge Hill for some decent views over Shifnal.

Lodge Hill - Camera on a cache
Nice blue sky - better than yesterday
Once around Lodgehill farm, its a case of going into the town to try and find any remainders.  Bit of urban caching around industrial estates and alongside railway embankments.  From the cache containers, I can tell they have all be laid by the same team.

So that's it for 2011.  88 Blogged walks and 101 trips on Everytrail.  Looking forward to next year's walks already.

Happy new year.

Monday, 26 December 2011

26/12/11 - Xmas in Tintern

Distance - 5.6 Miles
Caches - 2
Refreshments - Tea and Turkey Sandwiches
Walk Inspiration


Every year I visit Tintern at Xmas time.  Part of my OCD.  Up early, when you consider the amount of Port that was consumed at an impromtu cheese party at the Readings last night.  First sign of festive over indulgence is that the belt needs to be loosed ever so slightly on my walking trousers.

1 hr 15 minute drive down the M50 and park up at the Abbey.  Despite checking all the weather reports, there is a miasma of mist which is that really fine rain that soaks you through.  It also spoils the exceptional views that I have promised Sonia from Eagle's Nest.

Tintern Abbey

Cross the road and follow the cobbled lane up hill to the ruined church and cache number 1.  I've never noticed this ruin from the times been here before.

Abandoned Church
Uphill all the way through the lush woods, working our way to Penterry Farm.

Get in the photo, dog.
The higher we get, the further into the clouds we get.  Cross the farmland where Sonia almost loses her footwear.

Trench Foot
Get across this hurdle, with the farmer laughing at us from his tractor and across some greener fields to St Mary's Church, Penterry.  There is a multi cache here, but the rain and mist are down pretty low, so I can't be bothered to work out the complexities.

Instead, we plough on to the top of the hill where the signal masts are.  Nothing to look at all, so drop down via some road walking to Lower Wyndcliff Woods.  This is good walking on the Wye Valley Way, but there are no views to be had from Eagle's nest today.  I brought my big camera and everything.  Not to worry, we will have to come back in the summer and I do get the cache at the top.

Through Black Cliff woods.  Great walking country.  Across a field with problems with drainage and into Limekiln woods along a path that was a stream bed back to Tintern.

Tintern End of Wye Valley Way
The dog has ruined all the good work during her christmas bath, so this limits where we can go for post walk refreshments.  Its mild enough to sit outside the Team Rooms.

Had enough beer yesterday
Whilst purchasing the tea, the dog makes good her escape.  I know that she will do anything to avoid walking, but we felt joy riding a farmer's land rover was taking it too far.

I don't want to go walking tomorrow.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

17/12/11 - Walking in a Kinver Wonderland

Miles - 4.7
Caches - 5/9 (Not the best return from a days caching)
Inspiration From - Les Lumsdon and his simply superb Staffordshire Walks


Christmas is upon us, so walking has to be limited to local locations, as I have the choice of parties and xmas drinks to partake in today.  Look through some local walking books and Les is bigging up Staffordshire.  He has a route from Kinver that does not take you to the Edge, but eastwards out to Gibbet Wood.  There are a number of caches out this way, and as my December total stands at a pathetic 3, it doesn't take me long to pick this one.

Meander through the crazy traffic calming that is Kinver high street and park up for free in the Shopper's car park.  Walk back through town and go for the first cache, at a pub with a unique proposition.  Can't imagine they have too many laughs in there.
Molly won't look at the Well of Misery
Down the lane for the cache, over the canal and then along a track called "Gibraltar".  Gain some height and have some nice views over the canal and to the Church that overlooks the village.

At Dunsley house, we have a number of fields to cross, all with their dog friendly stiles that make it easy for Molly to navigate.  No hoiking her over unceremonously today.  You can develop pancreatic cancer by doing that.

Fields, just outside of Kinver
Cross the A449 and work out that Severn Trent Water have moved all the footpaths to make a poo farm.  This goes someway of explaining why the route and caches didn't match the OS map.

A couple of caches up alongside the woods.  These are part of a Battlestar Galactica themed trail, but I am only picking up a couple on my route.

Not long before leaving the foods, taking a new path alongside STW's farm and working my way back to the A449 at the Whittington pub.  The footpath is throught the pub carpark and leads to one of those little hamlets that are off the beaten path and splendid for their isolation.

We've all lived there.
Meet the canal, for an easy return to Kinver.  This is a nice stretch of walking, although I have no joy with any of the caches along here.  Too many people, too vague a clue for me.

Nicest lock keepers cottage in Staffs
Come back into Kinver.  The pub near the car park has a group of 6 men drinking on the table out front, and my temptation to join is stopped in its tracks by the fact that they haven't yet opened.  These hardy fellows are drinking out of carrier bags.  It's that time of year.

I get back home and like Santa, arrive with Potatoe based delights for all the family that mean any indescretions from my afternoon in the pub should instantly be forgiven.

Monday, 12 December 2011

12/12/11 - Ramble from Mamble

Distance - 5.7 Miles
Inspiration - Peter Kerr's "Worcestershire Walks"


All the self help advice books say that the key to a happy life is to set yourself goals.  Today, I have ticked off two from my bucket list, going to Bayton and watching "It's a wonderful life".

I feel that I may have overdid it on the "don't make them too strecthing" advice.

After a 315 mile, 5hr 20 minute drive back from Scotland yesterday, today had to be somewhere close.  This means no caches are available, as I have the majority in the vicinity.  Instead, I gain inspiration from one of the first walking books that I bought. 

Park up at a picnic area opposite the Sun and Slipper pub, disturbing two workers having a gypsies up the hedge.  Cross over the road and pick up the footpath between houses.

Instantly two things are apparent - we will be rewarded with stunning views of the Clee hills and the weather is perfect for walking - beautiful blues skies.  Some nice scenery pictures on the Everytrail site.

After heading north and crossing a couple of fields, we briefly touch Wissett's wood before heading east to Cross the River Rea.

Bridge on the River Rea
Pick up the road for a short stretch before turning onto fields.  We are rewarded with our first views of Bayton Church and a stiff climb up a muddy field, where our boots end up with a mudcakes the size of  dinner plates.

Not going on your stupid blog
Molly attacks a plastic drum
Walking alongside the church, we are rewarded with the best views of the day.

Panoramic Clee Hill
With People (and dog) in
Extend the walk from the guide to include a circuit of Bayton.  I was kind of interested in what was there.  We found evidence of it being a dry village (no pub) but a highly effecient neighbourhood watch system.

Who's got George?
We have a long road stretch west, past Mayberries Farm and when the road turns to a track, Shakenhurst House comes into view.  Last year, it was sold for the first time in its 1000 year history.  You may have to wait a long time for it to come on the market again, but at least it will give you plenty of time to save the required £12m.

My house x48

Drop south into Wissett's woods, which is all a bit overgrown but makes a nice change from the stunning views and stately homes.

Not the blair witch
After emerging into fields, we head east towards Westwood Farm.  Manage to get past the first two guardians, as there is a thin wire fence between us and having to do soft shelled Matador impressions.

We can take two on
However, when we get to the next fence, there are six of the beasts - including one with a nose ring and possible tattoos, who is guarding the entrance to the field.  Its frustrating, as we are within 150 yards of the car but decide not to risk it and have a 3/4 mile extension to the walk, taking in some of the outgoing paths.

Penultimate question of the day is where to go for refreshments - we are quite muddy, but not too bad, so decide to go and sit outside the cafe in Bewdley.  On arrival, and seeing the Mug House's roaring fire and remembering that they have stone floors - we take lunch there.  Timothy Taylor over tea all day.

View from a pub
Get home and spend the afternoon with James Stewart.  Most enjoyable, but left me with the question "Was Bedford Falls better with or without George Bailey?".  I have to say, it looked a fun night out in the "without" scene.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

03/12/11 - Beat the clock

Distance - 10.1 Miles
Geocaches - 0
Walk Familiaity - High


First weekend of a special month.... there is the patter of tiny 17 year old feet in the rush to open the advent calendar, no car journey is complete without the sound of Micheal Bubbles christmas album and family Mapp have had many healthy debates on why £200 Dr Dre headphones are vital for seasonal cheer.

Its also time for me to review Julie Royals Worcestershire walks for inspiration.  Give Upton a miss, as I have already done this walk this year and find myself on the old familiar.  Hope the miles will make up for the lack of caches.

Park up by the river and decide whether to go for three hours for £2.10 or longer for £4.30.  No way I am paying the latter (I have headphones to save up for), so I am up against the clock on this ten miler.  There's also a rather nice cafe and two fine pubs that could have been of interest.

Head north along the river, past Dowles Brook, where the pillars are all that is left of the old railway line.

Dowles Brook
Fine walking, with the river to the right and grazing land to the left, bordered by the edge of the forest.

Onwards Molly
When we turn the corner at Folley's point we head into the forest at Seckley's wood for the first time.  There are myriad paths to choose from but we need to head west, looking for Pound Green and the common.  This is an odd place, a small hamlet with a smattering of smallholdings and cottages.

This leads to Buttonoak.  If I hadn't let the promise of a full english breakfast and/or Timothy Taylor Landlord cloud my judgement, I could have parked here for nothing.

Cross the road and head into the woods, starting up the firebreak path before heading south down Longdon Orchard.

Fire Break
This brings us down to Dowles Brook, where we are starting our return eastwards to civilisation.

Which Way?
Todays Times (oh the joys of Saturdays) has an article on our topsey turvey weather in 2011.  It has been the driest year in the Midlands since records began.  Nowhere is this more evident than at Dowles Brook.  In 2006, this bridge was washed away in floods.  It has since been rebuilt and I have been here many times, where the doodle takes time to play in the water.

Dowles Brook - Knee high to a doodle
That ruins her fun for now, but rest assured, water based exitement is to follow.

Contiinue down well known paths and then drama..... the path is closed with a sign saying "due to erosion, the path is closed".  There is no alternative to get home and remember that I am on mission - beer, sausages and a ticket from the nasty parking man could either happen or not happen.  I decide to assess the risk and plough on regardless.

Erosion?  More like the end of "A Bridge too far"
I get across by balancing on the struts.  Molly takes a more direct route.

After this minor diversion, we have a sprint back to the finish, meeting the river severn at Dowles brook and the short walk back to town.  The dog is black, so I look for a suitable spot to get her to have a dunk in the river.

Now, I think that I have misjudged the current.  I throw a stick in the river and she leaps in to retrieve.  She then tries to swim back upstream but the current is that strong, that she is just remaining in the same spot - all four legs going like the clappers.  Its a real heart in the mouth moment.  Not so worried about the dog, just having my photo taken and appearing in the Daily Mail, like the woman accused of hoiking her dogs into the sea this week.

She eventually gets out after an heroic battle.... as clean as a whistle.

Dog based water adventures and closed bridges have all taken there toll on the time.  I had to forsake the refreshments, but got my moneys worth out of the ticket.

Who says I am tight?
Home for blogging to the sounds of ladies arguing about the tree decorations and "santa is coming to town" on the iPod.  Think I will go and listen to the Albion on the radio.