Saturday, 31 March 2012

31/3/12 - Breaking the Lawley

Distance - 8.25 Miles
Geocaches - I am incrementing in singles only
Walk from Country Walking Magazine - April 2012

The Lawley

Well, you have guessed it.  After a week of driving the length of the country and seeing the beautiful skies through the windscreen, I conserve enough fuel to get out into the hills on the weekend.  And it is raining.

Today's walk comes from Country Walking Magazine.  I try and highlight one from each issue to do and this one is taking me over a new hill near Church Stretton.  I have completed Pole Bank, Ragleth, Hope Bolder and Caer Caradoc... now it is time for the Lawley.

This is another whale backed hill, an extension on from Caer Caradoc and very similar.  Drive for another 10 minutes on from Church Stretton, desperate not to meet any oncoming traffic as the roads are cornwallian in their single laneness.  Arrive at the small carpark in one piece.

We get the climbing part of the walk out the way instantly, climbing up the centre of a perfectly shaped hill.

I fought the Lawley
We can see the pole on the top of the hill and can see the bird outline on top.  I wonder if I can get a photo of it, if I creep up quietly enough.

You're so vane
Sure there would have been spectacular views to be had on any of the previous 5 days this week.  Today, the clouds are getting lower down as the day goes on.  Short sharp descent, where we meet out only other walkers of the day.... a fella with a dog puffing his way uphill.

Down on the ground, we work our way back the way we came, past Penkridge Hall and then out onto a Roman Road.  There are two fords to cross but the drought has rendered one obsolete and the other a mere trickle.  There really is no need to test your brakes on exit.  Friendly, but incredibly smelly cows, between us and the hill.

Smelling was believing here.
Turn right towards Bently Farm.  Should have read the instructions to the walk, as the OS Map does not match what is on the ground.  We should have proceded through the farmyard, rather than trying to find a path that ran alongside.  We then emerge into a field with hundreds of sheep and their newborns.  I love this time of the year.  Clocks gone forward, promising 6 months of midweek outdoor pursuits.

Mother and Toddlers gourp runs next to the pole.
Come out at Frodesley Lodge and have a good walk through the woodland of Lodge Hill.  There is a geocache to be found and I try out a new Garmin Geko that I bought for international caching from ebay.  Interested in how it will perform and it seems pretty good.  Took me to the cache, telling me it had 26ft accuracy.  Drop off a TB and then have a short walk back down the road to the car.

Shame about the weather.  Missed out on some tremendous views.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

24/3/12 - 63 Today

Distance - 7.5 Miles
Geocaches - 1, but it was a boster
Walk from - Julie Royle's Worcestershire Walks

So today, I am a plumber's mate.  Our friend has been updating the master bathroom and I have been given the important jobs of sitting downstairs like an expectant father, listening to all the bangs.   And then taking all the rubbish to the tip.

Get there this morning at opening hours and engage in a conversation with a man.   "Looks like we are doing the same job" he offers as he chucks his khazi into the skip.  I reply with "I've had a bit of trouble with the 3/4" pushfit connectors fitting into a 1/2" pressure release valve".  He looks at me like I am mental, so I dumb it down a bit.  "Out toilet cistern was connected to the hot water supply".  This make him smile a bit and then he says that "those tiles you are throwing away are the ones I am putting up".

If I had known this I would have swapped houses with him.

Cam is doing a great job in the bathroom and is unphaseable.  When the tiles are removed and reveal a rotton plasterboard wall, he merely smiles and says "We'll soon fix that".  I had taken John Jameson into the conservatory to ask his opinion.  Sonia says that shes not bothered about the lack of my DIY talents, but I can read the signs.  He gets offered bacon sarnies with his morning cup of tea.

So my lack of DIY skills frees me up for a beautiful walk in Clent from Julie Royles Worcestershire Walks.  Leave in the fog after the 2nd tip run but by the time I get there, its a toss up on whether a jacket is required.  Wish I had left it at home, along with the dog lead that I managed to forget.

Its all familiar walking as I climb Adams Hill, taking in the four stones, toposcope and great views.  Jacket is off and tied to my waist.  Dog has plenty of brummie caines to play with.

Follow the north worcestershire path onto Walton Hill.  The drop down to Calcot Farm is my favorite walking in this area - although if you walk it, you may have your own favourite.

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Stiff drop down to Shut Mill Lane.  Dog is puffing hard, as she still has her winter coat on.  She soons finds refreshment.

Nine today, and I'll drink as much as I want
We then have a serious amount of road walking, the first part on a very steep incline.  I always hate being overtaken on hills, but I pretended to stop for refreshments.  Speedy Gonzales commented on the hill being a killer.  And then left me in his dust.

Come around Newtown and find my only cache of the day.  It really is a stunner - the amount of effort that someone has gone to set it up.  Both of my blog readers ask me why I geocache - I hope this video explains all.

Then its familar walking along paths that offer a fair challenge to Walton Hill's prize of loveliest path in worcestershire. 

Spring has Sprung
Back to the car, passing the Duke of Edinburgh challengers who are carrying more their body weight in back packs.  When I get back to the car, a fella is just about to start his walk and I offer advice that he wont need his coat. He says that he knows that.  I then drive off and see him walking up the hill. 

With his coat on.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

17/03/12 - Personal Best in Ullenhall

Caches - 40 out of 40
Distance - 9.3 Miles
It was only going to be a matter of time before I attempted this marathon circuit of caches.  Kept an eye on the weather reports last night and it didn't look too good.  But what do they know?  Took their advice and dressed suitably for a drenching.

My long term caching partner had been worn out on the ladies 5 hour sherry walk over Clent yesterday.  Quite how you make a 5 mile walk last 5 hours, I don't know.  I could tell the geohound wasn't up for it when I got downstairs at 7am to put the kettle on.  In a new display of cunning, she waited for the crumpets to pop before sloping off to hide.

40 Caches, 9 miles, jog on Billy no mates
So, its just me then.

Head on up to Ullenhall.  Look at the first suggested parking and it looks like the sort of place that I would struggle to get out off, so move on and park up at number 15 where there is a nice layby.  Will I meet anyone on the way around?

The route is made up of a number of loops but there is very little repitition on the round.  The countryside is all similar so no one section stands out.  Just lots of nice houses, fields with horses, country lanes, a railway line and lots of unusual and handcrafted caches with not a magentic micro amongst them.
Near Cache 16 - my second of the day.
Cache 25 - And sound advice for Cachers
Last time a weather report was so wrong - 15/10/87
Cache 10 - I thought I was at Cheltenham on Thursday
Some of the highlights of today...
  • Persevering with 3 tricky caches - in a post, in a bracket and in a strange hole in the ground
  • Seeing a car at Parking for cache 1 and seeing Shortmat is out from cache 40 to 4
    • But then the logs just stopped.  Where did he go :-)
  • Getting muggled by a lone dog in the middle of nowhere. 
  • Having a horse nudge my water bottle looking for food whilst I was reading a clue
See a few bike riding muggles and then right at the end, a woman with two dogs on a lead.  I could see the cache I wanted at number 13, but the dogs refused to walk past me.  I then moved on and the woman just looked at me a bit strangely.
It wasn't until I got back to the car, that I realised my bedraggled look was only emphasised by a geoinjury picked up somewhere along the way by stuffing my head into a prickly bush.
Suffering for my art
So, unusually for me I get 100% on a round and beat my previous best caching day by 6.  Thanks to Butttercup & Stormystorm for a great round.

PS.  Liked the dynamite.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

11/03/12 - Caching on the Way Back

Distance -
Caches - 13 found, 3 DNF

Bythorn Caching

Big question for this morning is if we should pay the discounted breakfast rate of £11.95 at the Cambridge Crowne Plaza.  There is a wetherspoons around the corner that offers the same fayre for £3.10.  JD all the way.

We then get our lacky to fetch the wheels and realise that we can escape the city, even if the marathon is running.  We just have to make a detour, as the westbound A14 is closed.

There are loads and loads of geocache trails in this part of the country - most of laid by the legend that is Poshrule.  He is spoken about in hushed tones by the West Midlands Geocaching Society as he owns 757 caches.  Thats a lot of maintenance.

I pick a small trail from Bythorn.  It has 16 caches, last four miles and should leave us with enough time to get home and watch the boy at football.

Bythorn is a pretty little village just in the cambridgeshire border.  Two days ago my finds in Cambs were a big fat zero.

Park up at the tarmaced end of Warren Lane.  The caches come thick and fast and are of a similar type.

Today really is the start of the spring and we are rewarded with some big blue skies and expansive views over very flat land.

The terrian is mainly like this
We have a DNF at number 2 (but so did the last fella) and then at number 5, we find two cache containers.  Failing at number 6, we wonder if someone has carried one off by mistake and put it somewhere else!  Still, signed two logs but I guess it only counts for 1 find.

At number 7 we meet the first of two dog muggles.  Bide our time by dicking around with the camera instead of hunting.

Muggles are coming
The walk is straightforward.  Only variety in the scenary is when we reach RAF Molesworth.  It might be disused but the septics don't half take security seriously.

Stalag Moleworth
After leaving the death camp, we then head down the paths, meeting Dave and Ted.  Dave is a little pug and Ted is a Rottie.  Dave likes to sleep on Ted's back but Ted finds it annoying.  Amazing what people will tell you after a cheerful "good morning". 

We can see the Church in the distance now and the promise of a luke warm can of diet pepsi encourages Sonia to get a wriggle on.

Walking away for pop.
Get back to the car.  I sit in the boot changing footwear.  I hear a fizzing frothing noise and some language that would have made our American Airmen blush.  Pop must have got shook up on the way from Cambs.

We made it back for the boys footy!

Thanks for the trail, poshrule.

10/3/12 - A City Tour of Cambridge

Distance - 4.54 Miles
Caches - 4
Ice Creams - 1
Food Type - Turkish
Pubs - Many
Walk Inspiration

Everyone likes to get something for nothing and this weekend's first visit to Cambridge has been funded by Holiday Inn's loyalty points.  Taken me three years to get enough, so maybe I haven't been quite loyal enough.

Leave the warring children at 9:30am on a Saturday and head off for the 2 hour drive.  A14 looks like its closed on the war back and then my old trusty Tom Tom tries to take me down a road that would have had the car impaled on one of Cambridge's rising bollard if I had followed the instructions.  A quick reprogram on the inbuilt sat nav had us pulling up in front of the hotel for valet parking.  Nice.

Only concern is how much of the City will be closed off for the marathon on Sunday.  Still, worse places to be stuck.

Check out the room and the afternoon's entertainment is going to be a walk to familiarise ourseleves with the City.  Once again, Walking World provides a great way to get to know a town on foot.  Of course, any opportunity to ferret around looking for tupperware will also be explored.

Once I get a signal, we realise that we are in the exact place to start the walk and that there is a cache directly over the road.  Nice use of a very powerful magnet.

We head North up the busy St Andrews Street.  It becomes apparent that if I spend too long looking at the Sat Nav, then I am going to get knocked over by a Student on a bike.  Not the way I want to go.

First place of Interest is Jesus College.  Its possible to walk into the colleges free of charge and have a mooch around.  This takes a bit of getting used to and you feel that you are trespassing.

Just walk on in
There is a cache in the grounds.  Its pretty hard to find the cache, but even harder to find how to get to GZ.  By looking like we are meant to be there, Sonia strikes gold after I have long given up.  Reward her with lunch at the Mitre.

Only Sonia knows where the cache is.

Retrace our steps, getting to the Round Church in the centre.  St Johns Street is the architectural highlight of the walk, as we pass Trinity College and St Johns College.  Pass some fine eateries, but our enquiries are all met with a "tables are free at 6pm or 9:30pm response".  Sonia said we should have booked.

After the photo opps, we head down Silver Street to cross the Cam for the first time.  We could have hired a punt from here, but our views from foot are just as good, so I avoid a nautical adventure.

Our walk around the Backs provides fine views of the Colleges and the Chapels.  The route ensures that every nook and crannie of the City is explored and we do some criss crossing of the Cam to take in the bridges and views.  Here an alarming number of bangs from the punts running into each other and indeed, see one soaked student who has taken a dunk.

Bloody Students
The walk is a little naughty now, as it takes us the back way into St Johns College.  Some stunning views to be had as you walk through another Courtyard.

Brideshead revisted
The walk has been clever, because as we emerge out of the front, we see that we maybe should have paid.

Technically, we are residents.  £8 towards the Turkish.
The walk then takes in a diversion to look at the Castle.  When I say castle, its more of a big green mound but it does provide the second refreshment stop of the day at the pub.  Cunningly called the castle.  I leave Sonia to her pear cider and climb to the top for some views.  Sonia prefers to google ancient monuments.

Back down and to the River.  A quick blast along, though parkland.  A cache lives under a bridge and head off alone to find it.  Recieve a text asking "is that you looking shifty under the bridge".

Final walk through "Christ's Piece", finding a very clever cache.  This drops us back at the shops.  One of us goes looking for a new coat and the other goes after a place for evening sustenance.  Both meet up disappointed.

After a short rest, we are out in the evening following a different guide book.  My Camra Pub Crawls never fails to find the hotspots of a new city.  Lets just say all the run down ones have been gentrified and all the nice ones have been run down but it was still an experience.  We even found somewhere to eat at a reasonable time and I can add Turkish Shepherds Roast Meats to my top 10 favourite dinners.

A fine city.  Watch out for the bikes.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

4/3/12 - Hallow be thy name

Caches - 6
Distance - 3 Miles
First Cache

No caching yesterday, as we had a extra long day trip via Chiltern Railways (great if you have 6 hours to spare) to London.  Day was framed in drama as we were nearly run over by Jeremy Clarkson parking his porsche on Portobello Road in the morning and then having to pull to the emergency cable on the train, as the passenger behind had an epileptic fit. 

There is one lie in the above paragraph.  I found a cache in Convent Garden.

Knew the weather was going to be a shocker today, but didn't expect sleet.  I was going to head off to Enville but the new round has been quickly disabled, so decided to make a trail out of the 8 caches in Hallow.  Two are mystery caches, and with the monsoon I wasn't going to spend an age trying to work out clues and reduced the round to six.

Goretexed up, park at the back of the Parish hall and head west to do a short loop to get to the first cache and then are soon on the main road to Worcester, taking a path around the back of the impressive church.

Work my way eastwards towards the river, taking in an easy cache and then a much harder cache on a downward hill to the river.  Nice walking.  The river allows me a time to question why I am out in such conditions.  I guess its a novelty, as we are officially in a drought.

I know why I am here - the doodle is confused.
I then have a decent stretch of non caching river walking.  Two different types of idiot are out today.  The miserable fishermen continue to reflect on life, whilst dangling a maggot on the end of a string into the water.  Then we see some of these...

Never change plans because of the weather... just wear a good hat
The stiles on the path along the river are kind of dog friendly.  We come across two that have a forged metalled trident that you lift up to allow your mutt to squeeze underneath.

One slip and we have skewered labradoodle
Reaching the Camp Pub means it is time to turn back towards Hallow.  We live in sad times, when pubs are closing down at an alarming rate.  I notice that the Royal Oak in Hallow is now closed but the Camp does make you wonder how a ramshackle pub at the end of a muddy lane with no houses near it keeps going?  I have fond memories of the place from when I was a child and it still has its menagerie of animals in the grounds.

Still going after all these years.
Heading south west back towards the car.  Come across the best maintained footpath in the world.

Crazy, Paving
I have a ponder on who would go to the expense of implemting such a solution on a public bridleway.  My suspicions are aroused by the following sign in the caravan park.

Do you think it was him?
Two more caches to find in fields before returning to the car.  One damp cacher and an even damper dog.  The car park is full of Sunday morning footballers arguing among themselves.

Get home, log on and the good news keeps rolling in.  Ernie has sent me good news via a secure message.  Premium bond win, but how much? 

Unfortunately, £25 is not enough to become a full time geocacher.