Monday, 30 April 2012

30/4/12 - Capital Ring Phase 8 - Boring Canals

Distance - 5.3 Miles
Caches - 17, but only found 4 :-)
Pubs - 1, but strategically located at the end
Start - Boston Manor
End - Greenford

Capital Ring Phase 8



Well another day working down in London and weather decent enough that I can walk with my fleece wrapped around my waist.

A bit of a trek to get back to Boston Manor, as I am currently hotelled up in Camden.  I am also on a time limit, as the premiership decider is being played out tonight and I cannot miss this.

I have high hopes for the walk, as once planned and uploaded as a route on www.geocaching.com, 17 caches are revealed on route.  But all is not as it seems as some of them involve climbing trees, and using the underside of bridges as monkey bars.  I'll do anything for the love of caching, but I won't do that.

I come to a conclusion today that although canals provide flat easy walking, usually with plenty of pubs, they are as dull as ditchwater.  A large part of the walk has the grand union canal to my left and the River Brent to my right.  And it just goes on and on.

At least the caches take my mind of things... and I have an ammo box Travel Bug hotel for my first find of the night.  Impressed.

Better than the usual film cannister!
After all the industrial units, Hanwell church is the only impressive building on the walk, peeping out through the trees.  The recent rainfall stops the cache at Hanwell, as its in the roof of the bridge and there is a small problem.

Not in these shoes

The canals turn into the green spaces of Perivale Park.  Next geocache is blocked by a man drinking special brew, with two staffies on a lead, sat at GZ.  Yet another in long list of excuses that I am using today.

Next architectural highlight is the roof of Wembley poking out over the horizon.  I haven't looked at the next leg but hoping it gets close.

Roy's new home - Albion won't make it now.

Then its across the A40 and into Greendford.  Made it with 5 mins to spare and get the last seat in a busy pub.  We're in London, so they are all in Man Utd tops.  I need something to eat amongst my new footie mates so order the chicken wings and ribs combo.  It is delivered on a sizzling skillet, sending plumes of spicy smoke up in front of the TV.  I'm sure the evil looks are simply because they only have crisps with their stella.

Good game and then head back to Amy's borough, having confirmed train times from my support network back at home.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

29/4/12 - Close to the Edge

Distance - 3.4 Miles
Geocaches - 9/9
Weather - Biblical
Walks from Staffordshire Walks - Les Lumsdon

Kinver Caching



No photos today, the weather was that shocking that I didnt want to take another electrical device out with and I am sure that I have enough photos of me and the geohound looking like drowned rats.  What on earth is going on with our weather?  Hosepipe bans, droughts and the wettest April since time began.

As we had a busy and enjoyable day in Birmingham, this weekend's walk had to be delayed till the Sunday.  I knew the weather would be lousy, so goretexed up for a local round of caches in Kinver.

Kinver has some stunning walking and has been visited many times before.  Some new caches have been laid and there is a chance to have a second go at a previous DNF.  Start in the high street, where they have taken traffic calming to a new level and walk up the back of the vicarage and library, past the scout camp and pick up the first cache of the day at the roadside.

Head up Sandy lane and then cut through onto the Edge for stiff uphill climb, taking in two more caches. 

Great thing about storms is that it means there are few muggles around.

It actually stops raining for a time and there are great views in all directions as we walk along the ridge path.  Another one in a tree at the edge of the old fort.

Then I have a second go at Poison Ivy, which I last attempted on 02/08/09.  Nearly three years ago.  Where does the time go.  I remember Sonia getting very bored with my previous attempt where I was looking in completely the wrong location.  Sat Navs must have improved with time, as it was quite straigtforward.

A clamber back onto the Staffordshire way and when I get to the next GZ, there are two fellas hanging around.  Not sure whether they are caching as well, but when i do a loop to get the cache, it has been initialled by AWC today.  Could well be All Weather Cacher and if so, a name has never been more apt.

Two more caches on the way back to the road... both cheeky micros.  I am surprised at the amount of caches found on a short round of previously walked paths.  I get thinking and if I have done my maths correctly, I have unexpectedly hit the 2000 caches marks.....  Now, why didn't I bring my camera!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

22/4/12 - Love of the Commons, People

Distance - 6 Miles
Walk Inspiration
Caches 3

Castlemorton Common


There are still parts of the Malvern Hills that remain undiscovered to me.  Today it is the turn of the lowland Commons, as I wade my way through the sheep of Hollybed and Castlemorton Common.

The walk was spotted from an iPad in Greece whilst on holiday last year.  Its taken me this long to get on with it, but the good news is that during the wait, someone has laid a few caches.

Park up at the Gullet Pay and Display.  I am there at 9:30am and someone has already left behind an all day ticket under a rock on the machine.  There's a bonus £3 into the afternoon pub kitty.

Weather is excellent - blue skies and not too warm.  Stunning views before I have even left the car park.

Camera placed on Car.
Walk across Hollybed Common, making my way to the start of the Golden Valley.  OK walking, dog is on lead until we reach Mill Pond where the sheep are replaced by ducks. 

Not been to the Golden Valley before and hoping that I can do this between the predicted showers.  Whilst I am looking at the SatNav for the 1st cache of the day, the dog starts chewing on something.  I am concerned that it is a bone, so stop to fish it out of her mouth.  I retrieve what I can only describe as a dangleberry.  Drop it in disgust, so she takes it from me and thinks we are playing a game.  I leave her to it, feeling slightly sick.

Three caches down this stretch and a few walking muggles.  All the caches are in great condition and make this part of the walk even more special.  Stop at the hill at number three at a handily placed bench.

Mappiman and the chomper of clagnuts
All flat to the east of the Malverns
Cross the road and head on down to Birts Street.  After passing a pretty church, we reach the Farmers Arms.  An interesting looking pub in the middle of nowhere.  Turn left to cross fields into a section that becomes an agility test for the hound.

How do I cross this?
After some whimpering, she leaps over the first style, teeters dangerously close to the edge of the bridge and having gained confidence, vaults the final obstacle.  9 years old and she's still got it.

Fields lead to Castlemorton.  We can see the church to aim at over the fields.

Last village
Plenty of nice buildings in this town.  Not as many pubs as in Birts Street.

Its then a simple crossing of Hollybed Common, back to the now packed car park.  I think people had heard there was a free parking ticket going spare.

Another part of the Malverns ticked off.  Next time, we're on the hills.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

21/4/12 - Surveying Villians

Distance - 7.5 Miles (The Book Lied)
Walk from - Heart of England Walks (The Liars)
Geocaches - 8 found, 3 DNF

Lichfield



Strange walking day today.  Sonia has work to do at Villa Park, surveying fans on what has gone wrong this season.  Option include;
  1. Hiring their arch rivals manager who has relegation form
  2. Playing a formation of 5-5-0
  3. Emile Heskey
She had to be there at 11am and we thought parking would be a problem, so I volunteered to drop her off.  But where to walk?  I have always fancied a look at the cathederal town of Lichfield and as it is 16 miles further, it's a perfect opportunity.

Hope the walking SatNav behaves better than TomTom.  At every junction on the way here, the SatNav wants to take be in a different direction to the road signs.  I had already told it I was too tight to pay the toll charge.

25 Minutes later I am parking up at the bus station.  Quick walk through town and I am at the magnificent three spired cathedral.  The only other similar one is in Truro, which we visited last year.  The walk is only supposed to be 4.5 miles, so there should be plenty of time to explore the city centre on my return.

One more Spire than Lincoln's - Their 3rd fell down.
Bit of a detour around the back of the catedral to find cache 1 of the day - took me a while to find the correct path to be on.

Walk gets on in earnest - ominous storm clouds gathering as I pick up the Heart of England Way to get into Pipe Green.  1st DNF and another easy find.

Heart of England Way
Work my way to Grange Lane, where I leave a dual carriageway to hunt for a cache behind some trees, hiding away from the cars.  The trees provide limited cover when we have a hailstorm for 10 minutes.

Some fairly uninspiring walking on a path that runs alongside this main road.  A few more caches.  First human contact with a man dressed in khaki, carrying an air-rifle.  I think he was after squirrels but quite why he had to dress as rambo to do this is anyone's guess. 

Then we pick up a series at Elmhurst nature reserve.  Easy walking and caching, although there is still one that I cannot get.  It has a proper cachers trail around the back of a tree but no treasure.

At Aspley house, I cross the railway line and head to Curborough Hall Farm.  I have been walking for 2.5 hours - and Sonia phones to say she has finished.  Strange, I should be well back in the town deciding whether it is McDonalds or Colonel by now.  It would appear as though the 4.5 miles promised by Roger Noyce is a hopeless fibber.  Check when I get back and its 7.5.  The good news is there is a complex of shops at the Farm and I buy sustenance in the shape of a coke and pastie the size of my shoe.  Didn't resent paying the extra 20% tax for it.

Some new fishing pools have been built so that the bored men of Staffordshire can sit in the rain looking at nothing.  I pass them and head back into town at Nether Stowe - working my way through housing estates with the cathedral in full view to guide my way.

Pass down the right hand side of Stowe Pool.  Having such a sized fishing pool in the heart of the city shows just how seriously they take their fishing.  The heavens open again for a proper downpour.

Too late and too wet to explore the town, so head back to the car to pick Sonia back up.  Get to Villa Park at 3:10 and its amazing how many fans are still making their way to the game.....  they obviously knew they weren't in for much entertainment today.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

18/4/12 - Capital Ring Stage 7 - Water, Water, Everywhere

Distance - 5 Miles
Caches - 5 Found, 4 Not Found
Pubs - All along the way
Start - Richmond
Finish - Osterley Lock

Capital Ring Phase 7 at EveryTrail


Nice easy walk to start off 2012's continuation of the Capital Ring.  I am completing this when I am down in London with work, having to go out whatever the weather.  Today, we had a monsoon, which required some sheltering under bridges during the worst of it.

Down to Richmond.  I have complained about the lack of pubs on previous stages of this walk.  They are all hiding in this section.  I cannot stop in Richmond, but there is a particularly pretty one after you cross the green and reach the river.

Too Early for the White Swan
Press on, but in hindsight, I should have gone in as I end up hiding under the bridge for 15 mins, along with a couple of hoodies, during the worst of the rain.  Entertained by a man commuting on a unicycle.  Only in London.

Cross the Lock.  There is a cache here, but too many places for it to be hiding.  Don't spend too long, as I look like a potential suicide.

DNF - Hardly surprising.  Avoid bridge caches.
Turn right and follow the river up to the ancient hamlet of Isleworth.  There are several more pubs on the way, the pick being the London Apprentice - dating from Tudor times.  Alas, I press on, taking in a cache on a Plague Pit in the church's boneyard.  Every one has a story.

I am accompanied by the roar of the planes coming down into Heathrow.  As pretty as this place is, there is no way I could live here.  It would send you mad.  No more apparent than when crossing Syon Park.  You can see them all stacked up in a row, ready to drop down.

Nice house, shame about the noise pollution
Pick up the canal at Brentwood.  This is where all the caches live in two series - one is based on the alphabet and the other is based on "Water to Follow" theme.  The alphabet ones are very hard.  To give you an idea, I think you need a canoe to get one of them.  Struggle with about a 50% success rate.

OK stretch of walking, taking in boat sheds, weirs and complex canal navigations before emerging at Boston Manor.  As per the end of stage 1, there is a loveley harverster awaiting me.  If only they had the Chelsea Barca game on.

Quinoa salad was disappointly unavailable

Monday, 16 April 2012

16/4/12 - Thanks to TED

Distance - 14 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Walk from - Trail Magazine, Sept 2004

Dove Dale and Manifold Valley



Alex has decided that he needs an adrenalin rush.  He is also savvy enough to know that hanging around and queuing for 2 hours for each ride is not going to provide said rush, so waits until he spies a quiet day.  As if 16 weeks holiday a year holiday is not enough for his Teachers, they also declare Teacher Education Days.  Suspicously enough, these are always tagged onto the end of national holidays and sure enough, there's one this Easter.

So we are off to Alton Towers.

We have been as a family a couple of times in the last five years, so having a nearly 18 year old daughter, we agree that I will take a day of work to be a taxi service, providing I can go walking.

Works out perfectly. 

Even more perfect, Alton Towers is 10 miles from the Peak District, so I hit my Trail back issues to find something suitable.  14 miles down Dove Dale hits the spot.

The drive from Alton Towers is jaw dropping on its own.  Stop the car to take a photo of Thorpes Cloud, in all its glory.

I'll have a bit of that
Park up at Alstonefield in an honesty car park.  Good job it is an honesty car park, as Alex has done a particularly poor job of hiding his iPod and headphones.  Boots on and out through a very pretty village, complete with a nice looking pub that I take a note of for later.

Across a couple of fields, inlcuding a rollercoaster style drop and down into Milldale.  I have walked this section down to Dovedale once before and it is a British Classic.

Milldale Bridge
Proof that I was here
The landmarks come thick and fast - Dove Holes, Tissington Spires, the Arch (known only as Natural Arch) and all too soon, I am down at the stepping stones under Thorpe Cloud.

Dove Holes - Great home for a Bond Villain


Thorpe Cloud and Stepping Stones
The Cloud is everywhere

I have the choice of an unecessary climb up and back down the same way of the Cloud.  Or I can go Geocaching on the other side of the water.  Cache wins, and it has a travel bug.

Cache 2 is soon found, on the way to Isaak Newton hotel and Cache 3 is a little nano in Ilam.  This one is retrieved right under the noses of three men digging a hole.  It was OK, I just pretended to admire the views and in this location, no one will ever question that.

There are a couple of very nice cottages in Ilam and then a couple that look like they have come off a council estate, strangely out of kilter with the grandeur of the place.  I head around and into the grounds of Ilam Park for Cache 4.  Its in a great location.

View from a cache
Out and across some fields before picking up Musden Woods for the lushest valley that I have ever been in.  The place is full of what I assume from the smell to be wild garlic.  There is an old fella in front of me picking them and when I get level with him to say hello, I swear it is George, offa George and Mildred.

Cast Photo
70s sitcom to stealer of Wild Garlic.
This part of the walk is really the land that time forgot.  I would not have been surprised to see pterodactyls flying overhead.  I emerge at Calton for a steep decline to pick up the Manifold Valley.

Time for lunch, overlooking a quarry.  More picturesque than it sounds.

Time for lunch - Ham baps and a gourmet Sausage Roll
If Dovedale was beautiful walking, the Manifold valley is a chore.  Its runs on tarmac on the bed of an old light railway.  There is a cycle hire shop at one end and the tranquility is often broken by OAPs doing nohanders at 30 miles an hour.

On the OS Map, the River Hamps is shown as quite a body of water.  On the drive in, there were frequent news updates on Radio 6 about the Midlands officially entering a drought.  I think the reporter had completed this walk on the weekend.

Mappiman recommends stockpiling Evian
Manifold boredom is broken up by the gypsy caravan park, which has a motorhome with a sign saying "Shift Worker" on the side.  I walk past quietly.  And then there is the final Geocache of the day.

At Thor's Cave, I need to head uphill.  This is a hell of a geological wonder - a great big hole in the top of a rather large hill.  Lots of legends here and I can tell that it is occupied today, as someone is playing Echo games.  I have a choice, I can go into the cave or investigate the big blue pint sign in Wetton up the hill.

Thank god for Google.
I'll look at Thors house on line.
Wetton is a nice little place.  Walk up the main road and cannot find the pub.  Walk through the grounds of the church and there it is, the Royal Oak.  I'm 12.5 miles in and dryer than Gandhi's flip flop and debate what delights they will have.  Black Sheep, Timothy Taylor Landlord?  Or maybe an ice cold Stella is in order.

Guess it will be another slurp on the rubbery Camlebak
Not to worry, there's only a couple of fields to go until I am back in Alstonefield.  Then the phone goes.... its 3pm and they have done Air Twice (including front row), nemesis, 13, oblivion et al and they want to have a big sleep on the way home.....

Smorgasbord of geological wonders.  No lager.
 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

15/4/12 - Quick round in Quatford

Distance - 5.2 Miles
Geocaches - 13 found, 1 DNF

Bridgnorth Geocaching



There seems to have been an increase in Geocaches in the Bridgnorth Area.  Having nothing really planned, I decide to head out to see how many I can find, with no particular route in mind.  What ensues is a real nice walk and an unexpected castle in Quatford that I didn't know was there.

Park up at the Danery, having seen the Black Widows assembling at the nearby cafe.  Cache number one is in the Church yard.  Stop for a photo and can hear the choir practicing for Sunday Service.

Tempted to join in the harmonising
We then have a bit of a road walk, where the remaining hells angels from wolverhampton are blasting down for their sausage sandwiches.  The must be thinking they will go cold, judging by the speeds they were going.  Take my life in my own hands to get a clever cache on the opposite side of the road, but it was worth it.

Then we drop down onto the Severn Way for some very pleasant walking upstream along the river.  Six caches are along the stretch to the bypass.  None have clues and range in dificulty but manage to get them all. 

Down by the river
Through the caravan park.... looking at the people who have come to sit in a tin box to watch TV.  Always makes me smile... it must be a better experience than watching TV on your sofa.  Turn right at the bypass and clamber up the bank to get to the road.  A couple more caches on the stretch to the Stourbridge Road.  I think one of the caches is on an Island here and with the dog, decide to leave it.

Then down a quiet lane.  Some more familar containers in trees and I can see that I am not the only cacher out today - a couple of caches have been signed by AllWeatherCacher.... was that the fella walking alone along the path?  Turns out it wasn't, as he described the backpack he was carrying in one of his logs, but I do know what car he drives :-)

I have a choice, I can continue back up the Nurburgring or I can take a detour up a bridlepath to go around the back of Quatford Castle.  I had no idea this was here.  Turns out to be a great decision, as the paths here are excellent.  The building is impressive as well.

Great Paths around the castle.
Then I am around the back of Quatford Wood house for a couple of outlier caches.  Get my only DNF of the day but enjoyed the walk, the caches and the sunshine.

43, 10 Second timer but I can still get up trees.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

14/4/12 - The Red Ring of Death

Distance - 3.1 Miles
Caches - 6
Real Ale Pubs - The Wellington
Walk from - Discovery walks in Birmingham and the Black Country

Second City Caching



Todays blog is not the result of ordering a Chicken Thal from Namaste but something that has ruined a 13 year olds world.

The RROD is an affliction that affects overworked XBOXs.  When it is 2pm in the afternoon and you are still in your pants, talking to "friends" on headsets, looking at video calls on an ipod touch and checking out facebook on an iPad (just in case any real humans are meeting at the park), you can boil the insides of an XBOX.

Once it had broken, it was quite amusing watching the boy's inability to entertain himself.  However, it also meant that I lost control of the Sky Planner.  Somenthing had to give, so on a Saturday, I find myself in a City, rather than the countryside.

For the second time in three days, I park at the Hawthorns (can't resist the bargain of free parking) and head into the second city.  The repair shop turns out to be a flat opposite the town hall, but Chris has enough open carcass consoles all over his lounge to give me confidence that he knows what he is doing.  Leave it with him and head out for some caching.

This is why I have the best hobby in the world.  Two nights ago, I was traisping through snow on the Pennine way - today, I am in a city centre.  Armed with the same device, doing the same thing.

Start off by walking past the scene of my second to last dancing experience at the Yardbird and into Broad Street for a cache down by the canal at Gas Street.  Urban location, so we will forgive the pile of sick and can of Super Lager that is at GZ.  Nice views and a couple of good looking pubs that I need to investigate.

Pocket Camera has no controls.  Pub will be visited.
Then head up around the Sea Life Centre for a Virtual Cache and a real cache at an old ticket office before coming back up to the roads at Newell Street. 

You can see me now.  Dont take photos into the Sun.
A large Jamacian with the biggest bottom I have ever seen gives me a cheery hello at street level.  Find the cache at the Assay Office - a fine old building with some history that I learn from the cache description.

Then its a tour of the Jewellery Quarter.  I have the caches in this area from a mid week visit last year but its really nice to walk around the deserted streets.  It reminds me of the East End of London here.  Pass a Paul Calf lookalike drinking a can of Carling.  Its 10am and I have no problem with him doing this, but if you love your lager, you should at least drink Stella.

I am not the only one taking the sights - pass two tours of OAPs who are having a run down on Birmingham history.  I hang around listening to the stories whilst getting the cache at St Pauls and half think of following them for the rest of the tour.

St Pauls and BT Tower.
One cache at the site of Birmingham Eye Hospital and a final one at Bennets Hill.  Haven't had the nod that the repair is done, and need the correct change, so I pop into a real ale pub called the Wellington.  Its a real find.  Load of different real ales and full of Albion fans.  Quick pint of sunchaser and the call comes in.... all fixed.

I pass the Floozy in the Jacuzzi in Victoria Square and am just about to take a photo, when the fairy jumps in to retrieve the gold from the wishing well.

Wishing Well

Train back to the Hawthorns with my new drinking friends and then the drive back home.  Really should have brought a ticket for the game, but I have a 13 year old pacing the living room like an expectant father. 

Get it home and he disappears to set it up.  30 mins later, he is down commenting that "He doesn't know if something has gone wrong with his XBOX, but Tottenham are bottom of league in Manager Mode".  I point out that Harry has had his mind on the England Job for the last 3 months, so he shouldn't be that surprised.

Monday, 9 April 2012

9/4/12 - Two rivers run through it

Distance - 7.5 Miles
Geocaches - 7
Weather - Next up from grim.  Lets call it filthy.

Tewkesbury



The weather reports left me feeling slighty less impressed than a Man City fan, but I decided to goretex up and get out at 7:15am for a walk that has been on the list for a while.

Tewkesbury is a medieval town.  Dominated by its Abbey and gets in the papers every few years for its flooding.  I have walked here twice before - the last time on the hottest day since 1976.  How I yearned for this sort of weather today.

Where to park?  Fortunately the high street allows parking on a Sunday and a Bank Holiday.  First result of the day.  Head up over King John's Bridge and across into the meadows alongside the avon.  There is a sign saying that the footpath is closed temporarily because of the old railway bridge is in a state of decay.  I haven't come all this way not to do the chosen route, so we just scuttle under.  Quickly.

Not much happens on the next stretch.  Fields and fields of sheep.  Increasing rain.  No People.  There are three geocaches in one field, providing much needed distraction.

Cache 3 - Takes your mind off the rain.
Keep moving north east to Twyning.  Remember this from past walks.  Nice place, with two pubs.  I only saw one and Molly resisted chasing the ducks off the little green at the front of the Fleet Inn. 

Going to start leaving later.  Its not beer o clock yet.
Skirt around Twning to take in three more caches on the way to Church End.  Huge church with big clocks tell me its 9am. 

Along the lane and get hassled at the end as I am crossing the A38 by a trampy looking fella in a crappy Peugeot.  I am waiting to cross in the middle of the lane and he revs his engine at me angrily.  The dog learns some new words and he gets the finger.  If he wanted to make any more of it, my wet feet were putting me in the sort of mood where I was prepared to kick off.

Cheer up when I cross the grounds of Puckrup Hall, laughing at the golfers in their stupid clothes and thinking of alternative names.  Surprising number of people out in this weather.  Must be the Masters encouraging them to get out.  Wind my way down to Bow Bridge for the last cache of the day.

I am afraid its all rather dull walking through calf high grass that soaks my trousers through.  Rain is coming at me sideways.  Only have a couple of fishermen to laugh at as I skirt between the Severn and the lake.  Geocaching is one thing, but looking at a worm on the end of a stick from under an umbrella is something else.

Walk gets interesting as we pass under Mythe Bridge.  Have something to look at, at least.  The last time I came here was just after the flood of 2007 and this part of the walk past the water plant was redirected.  They have built new flood defences here and at one point, you are walking on water, on an elevated metal section.

Gimme Sheter
Just need to complete a perfect U around where the Severn meets the Avon. Nice views of the Abbey.

Neary back at the car
Head back to the car, passing the black bear pub.  Built in 1308.  And this is now the 3rd time I have walked past without visiting.  Its still not beer o'clock.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

7/4/12 - Another day, another castle

Geocaches - 14
First Cache
Info on Elmley Castle
Distance - 5.5 Miles
Weather - Grim

Elmley Castle




I was expecting rain from tomorrow, so rather foolhardily headed off for a new round in Elmley Castle.  I've been here a number of times, usually for Bredon Hill.  Lovely place, as good as anything in the Cotswolds.  The first time I came, the pub was closed and had a sign proclaiming how long the village had been dry for.  The next time, the pub had re-opened.  Proof indeed that things can get better.

Park up alongside the stream and pub and head to the diverted footpaths around Manor Farm.  Cache 1 is a cheeky little number that I thankfully find quickly, as I have set the farm dog off.  Cache 2 along a similar vein, but even better.

Its all fields of sheep at this stage.  There is a beast loose in Worcestershire, as I find the dismembered remains of two lambs.  The first one is missing its head and rear leg but the rest of the carcass is fine.  What sort of animal is lurking these hills and living of the heads of sheep?  I would have taken a photo but it was a bit X-Rated.

Cache three involves tying the geohound up, whilst I take a look.  The co-ords are spot on, so I really was barking up the wrong tree to start with.  It just looked like a good place for a cache.

But what if the beast of Elmley comes?
The light drizzle turns into a proper downpour.  I must admit, this makes the stretch into Great Comberton a bit of a chore and doesn't put me in the best of moods as I get progressively more wet.  The dog develops a centre parting in her bouffant, strangely reminiscent of a 1930s dandy.

The caches at this point are straigtforward but little opportunities for photos.  The camera is in a tesco bag in my Soft Shell.  It does come out to record that some bargains are just not worth it.

Maybe not.
A quick turn around in Great Comberton and we are back on tracks running parallel with the one coming in.  A long hunt at number 8, but at least the rain stops.

Then we have the highlight of the walk.  The walk up to Even Hill is special and new paths for me.  Some great views and it shows how hill walking can improve the soul.  I am positively chipper by the time I get to the top.

I'll be happy when I get up there
Enjoy the walk through the woods and take extra notice not to lose the paths, looking for caches. 

A bit extreme - I'm only hunting tupperware
Fairly steep and when you reach the top there is a surpisingly large patch of grass that would make an ace picnic area.  For the second day running, I see a group of deer.  Always a special sight.

Liked Cache 13.  One for the views, and two for the fact its a multi.  Paper retrieved from the Mappiman patented geocaching utility belt to work out the clues.

A bit special up at Jumbo's bench.
Simple drop down to the village.  First humans of the day are walking / cycling / restraining Barny the hound (who obviously has a bit of previous).  Find the Offset cache and number 14 before returning to the car.

A bit damp, but happy after 100% and a new location found, with some great views.  Thanks to hampton hunter for setting up a great little series.

And the castle?  Its on Private land below Even Hill.  But there is no need to worry, the locals half inched all the bricks to make Pershore Bridge in the 15th Century.  Before they tried to trash it in the English Civil War.  And the Daily Mail is up in arms about HS2.

Friday, 6 April 2012

6/4/12 - The Mapman sent us

Distance - 8.5 Miles
Walk from - Cicerone Heart of England Walks
Geocaches - Just the one

Ludlow



Nicholas Crane is the Map Man.  This would have been my Geocaching handle, if only it hadnt already have gone.  Last year, he had a new series on the development of towns, which I sky plussed and this led to much child related derision.  They claimed the umbrella carrying cartographer was my all time favorite hero and I wanted to be him.  They weren't far wrong and visiting the subject of one of the episodes has been on my to do list for some time.

Awoken at 8am by a cheery Sonia and we head off and park up at Whitecliffe Road, where there are fantastic views over the town.

Great place to start
We do the walk in reverse order, to save the town (and best bit) to last.  This is a good choice.  A stiff climb up on the Mortimer Trail into the forest sets the theme for the early part of the walk.

We soon arrive at Mary Knolls house.  She has the whole valley named after her and I would love to tell you why she is so famous, but info is sketchy.

Coming down into Mary's house
The dog is tiring herself out by chasing squirrels and we let go her blatant thievery,

She thought she got away with it.
All the height has been gained, and we have a steep drop down through farmland.  Some great views - snow on top of Long Mynd and the Clee hills, all the lambs out.  We have quite a discussion about whether three of them are triplets.  I claim that they must be, as they are identical.

Snow.  In April.
Walk through the grounds of Hilton Hill and Lady Hilton Farms before walkng through parkland on the tree lined avenues to Bromfield.  Here is the only cache of the day and its a whopper.

We have our first break of the day at the Ludlow Food Centre where I buy provisions.  Sonia checks in on face book and tells the world that I have purchased a pork pie that is the size of my head.  She is not far wrong and Country Walking magazine should test jackets to see if you can get a 1lb pie inside.  My trusty Rab soft shell passes the test, but it is touch and go whether the vine tomatoes are going to make it back in one piece.

Ages to set up the camera and oldie just comes marching out the cafe
Bit of walking alongside the A46.  Noisy, but we do see a herd of deer.  Well, at last I do.  Sonia is too busy checking her FB status to see if she has any ROFLs about my head sized savoury delight.  Soon on the Shropshire Way, with the town in view.  We know that real refreshements are soon to be had.  The castle reminds me of Monty Python's holy grail.

Ludlow is a silly place.
Across Burway Bridge and a climb into the town proper.  Where shall we lunch?  How about the Castle Buttery?  No real ale but tables outside and a decent pasta bake.

Two stop walk
A walk around the castle and then down to to Dinham Bridge.  Lovely down here, some great views, which I try and preserve through photography, missing a swimming labrador getting dive bombed by a swan.

Walking through the ages
Great walk... had a little bit of everything.