Saturday, 14 July 2012

14/07/12 - Not raining, still soaked

Distance - 8.2 Miles
Geocaches - A whopping one
Walk Inspiration
Rude place name - Joan's Hole

Bliss Gate

Another weekend....  carefully check the weather forecasts, hoping some relief from the constant misery.  It promises that the rain will stop at 9am and they are bang on.  This gives me time to finish the latest Iain Banks book and then head out for a local walk found from the  Never fails to provide inspiration.

I know that the ground is going to be wet, so decide to wear my gaiters today.  I don't like them, as inevitably, they end up falling down and leaving me looking like Nora Batty.  Whilst I am attempting to get the damned things on, the dog very quietly slopes off upstairs and attempts to hide.  She's not getting away with it that easy.

Head out for the short drive.  I knew she would be fine when we got going.  In my rear view mirror, I can see her shaking with excitement.

Park up opposite the pub.  Sadly, another one bites the dust. 

Moves me to tears - but the Divertion sign takes you to the Forresters
Head up the road just past the pub and soon see that I have to pass through fields.  My initial joy at the view is soon tempered by the size of the crops in the field.  Don't know what they are, but lets call them Triffids for now.  Unbelievable - there is no clear path through and you need a sythe to get pass. 

That's the path.... Cheers.
We battle our way through to the steam.  Its not easy and in moments, my application of gaiters is akin to putting a plaster on a severed limb.  I am soaked through to my pants.  The dog isn't fairing much better.

Don't look at me when I am like this
Things don't get much better when we are across the other side of the stream.  There are loads of paths to work our way across.  When the triffids turn to wheat, there isn't even a gap through the crops.  I cannot go through there, so at SO748719 I decide to cross the stream again and try and get to the road.

Plans are thwarted when there is a footpath but no bridge.  Presumably, the stream is normally easy to cross without one.  Not in today's torrent.  I am thinking of what to do and the dog jumps in.  This is not the best idea.  We know she likes a swim but I have a sneaking suspicion that this may have been a suicide attempt.

Decide to follow the steam, not on path, to where it meets the road.  Thankfully, there is a gate, so I can emerge.  Soaked through and not very happy.

I am an angry Nora Batty
The road walking provides plenty of respite.  Soon, I pick up the Worcestershire Way.  This is now fantastic walking and soon my spirits are restored.  Great views on a great path.  And I have not completed this part before.

Worcestershire Way, a proper path
Always like a rude place name on the OS Map, and today's is provided by Joan's Hole.  This is a bridge, where I split away from the Worcestershire Way.  As the path follows the stream bed, I am kind of glad.

Good luck, Worcestershire Wayers
We have a stiff climb up the hill to the Dunley Road.  Nice views behind.

This is why I put myself through this.
Half a mile of road walking before picking up the Worcestershire Way again.  Great paths and well signposted, taking us across the golf course.  The course is flooded, so we have it to ourselves and it makes for some very nice walking after our battles with the Triffids.

We turn into Park End and through Burnt Wood.  This has the Frank Chapman outdoor education centre and I pass several groups of Duke of Edinburgher's who are looking damp and not too happy.  We also have our one and only cache that I haven't previosuly found.  A minor divertion and despite having a hopeless GPS signal, a quick find.

He holds his cache aloft
Emerge at Lye Head and then down on the footpath on the opposite side.  Meet my next group of DoErs who tell me that the conditions are awful and one of them has had her boot pulled off.  Nothing for it, I have to get back to the car.

I see the problem.  The steam has burst its banks and is a torrent, leaving a group of bovines marooned and us with no choice but to plough on through.

Our path to the car
Up to my knees, but had the advantage of cleaning off the dog
Marooned Bovines
On the road and a squelch back to the village along the roads.  Quite an adventure.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

7/7/12 - I am the Malvern Marauder

Distance - 8 Miles
Caches - 5 out of 8 found
Weather - You know the score by now.
Post Walk Refreshment - Bacon Fries and Bathams at the Nag's Head

Colwall to Malvern Link

After last weekends uninspiring walking on a caching round, I wanted to redress the balance.  So off to the Malverns to follow a walk called the "Malvern Marauder" that is in Trail Magazine, Oct 97.  The plan suggests that you can ride it, run it or walk it.  Walk it, it is.

Head down the well known route.  As I swing off the motorway, expecting the jaw dropping views of the hills, something is wrong.  They are not there..... buried beneath the clouds.

Seriously - how long is this going to go on for?  Should I build an ark, instead of looking for tupperware?

This walk is linear and involves parking at Colwall - following 2/3rds of the Malvern Ridge and then getting the train back from Malvern Link.  I know the paths well and there are some new caches, especially around Colwall, to find.

Over the railway bridge and find the first cache easily enough.  Head across the woodland and fields and fail on the next two.  Think I need a refresher course in the british trees.  Start looking for number 4 - which is in a hazel tree.  It goes completely black.  It starts raining, monsoon style and I can hear a muggle grunting heavily, cajooling an animal with cries of "we need to get out of this bloody rain".  I was expecting a dog walker..... I got a farmer trying to chase a sheep up the hill.  Turns out the sheep has pneumonia.  I cannot say I am surprised.  If we find a ram to along with it, it can come in my ark.

Record a 3 DNF in a row.... I am not sure this has happened to me before.  I call of the search when I fall over.

Could be mistaken for having fun.
The fifth cache of the day has a really easy clue.  If I don't find this one, I am retiring and putting all my walking books back on ebay, from whence they came.  Find it.  Oh well, I'll be back out next week.
Pick up the Malverns proper at the Hotel opposite British Camp car park.  Should have gone to the tea shack.  Head North on the well known paths.  I'm in the clouds, the rain is hurting my head and there is nothing at all to see.  Get an easy cache near Wyche cutting, but this involves going through knee high grass.  So I have very wet feet to add to the list of grumbles now.

Cross the road - next cache cannot be found because there are two random muggles staring at it.  In the pouring rain.  I wait to see if they will move... they don't.  Oh well, I'll head up into the ominous black clouds.

The next cache is at a Hawthorn tree.  I am in the bowels of the tree looking and I hear a runner pull up and stop.  I look around and scare him.  He's only have a jack nash up the other side of the tree.

Just when you think things couldn't get more grim.  He can't stop.  And neither can I, I haven't found it yet.

Soon do - he runs off, no doubt muttering pervert to himself.

Then its a climb up the beacon.  A minor break in the clouds and I ask a fellow walker what that golden ball in the sky is.  She didn't know either.

All I need is a Tornado
I'm so playing golf next weekend
Then its a case of dropping down around North Hill and Sugarloaf to get back to civilisation.

My post walk refreshment is the excellent Nags head.  I burst through the door, only to see a large group of 9 ordering food in any combination except what is on the menu.  10 minutes pass.  When the barman serves a regular who has come to the bar after me, I test out their no swearing policy with a cry of "Jesus Christ".  Not in the mood for bad service.  Still, the Bathams was as good as any pint I have ever had.

Quick cache on the common before getting to the station.  The trains are every hour at 42mins past the hour.  Its an unmanned station, so I have to work out how to buy a ticket from a machine, when the price isn't detailed (Turns out that you pay something and then settle the difference "at the earliest opportunity").  I have 10 minutes to entertain myself by looking at what the youth of Malvern are wearing.... lets start at the bottom.

  • Espadrilles
  • No Socks
  • Jeans halfway down his arse, with elasticated cuffs at the bottom, halfway up his leg
  • Tiger print Pants (I know people think I make this stuff up, really, I don't)
  • A decent Adidas top
  • ... ruined by an american flag drapped around himself, like an old ladies scarf.
I contemplate which bits of this ensamble will work on me, when the train comes.

3.5 hours to get here and dropped off at the car in 9 minutes.

So, am I going to let monsoons, 3 DNF on the bounce, wet feet, bad service and sartorial inelegance get me down? 

Hell yes, I is well vexed.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

04/07/12 - Capital Ring Phase 9 - A walk of two halves

Distance 5.5 Miles
Geocaches - 2 out of 4 - muggles with fishing rods and canoes prevented others
Start - Greenford
End - South Kenton

Capital Ring Phase 9

Last time I was on the Capital Ring, it was the Manchester Derby at the end of April.  Seems like an age ago.

Journey to Greenford was hard work.  You cannot transport cattle in the conditions that I experienced on the Circle Line to Paddington.  There was an announcement to say it was all our fault, as someone had left a suspicious package earlier in the day resulting overcrowding.  Pick up the overline on an equally crowded train and arrive 30 minutes later.  Just as it starts raining.

After passing the home of the sizzling skillet, I pick up the path along the Paddington Canal.  After that journey, I cannot believe how little distance I have travelled.

How did 8 miles take 30 mins?
The WTF caches are back in evidence.  First one is missed, as there is a fisherman on the other side of the canal.  2nd one found.  3rd one ruined by a couple gassing at GZ.  Honestly, have these people got nothing better to do?

Then I have a stiff climb up Horsenden Hill.  Its only 84m but offers decent views over Heathrow and more limited views over the City.

Beginning to realise I am a silver fox
Drop down for some very uninsipiring walking around Sudbury.  This really is Little Poland.  We have Polish Grocers, restaurants and gangs of poles hanging around drinking out of polish lager cans on street corners.

A minor detour to pick up a cache at Sudbury Hill station and then continue through this depressing inner city ramble in rain, questioning why I am bothering.

The answer is revealed as I arrive at Harrow on the Hill.  What a delight.  Lovely architecture and stunning views over London.  Dominated by the schools, shops selling school related produce and two impressive churches.  All it needed to make it complete was a decent looking pub.  Alas, only restaurants.

There were good views of the City in the gap in the trees.
Spirits lifted, I drop down through the Harrow school playing fields, to skirt a hospital and golf complex, with Wembley coming into view.

Grass Roots Football
Arrive at South Kenton tube.  Disappointed that there doesn't appear to be anywhere for refreshment.  But on the other side of the tunnel, I find a pub that I have seen many times on the Birmingham - London approach.

Full of drunk Irish Builders
You have to stick with the London Ring - sometimes it's underwelming and often, it reveals some treasures.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

01/07/12 - Three things to do in the woods

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - Found 15, embarassingly DNF 6.
Walk inspiration

Ashorne Geocaching

So, I like to start the month off by getting some geocaches in early.  Use to find a local round, but I am having to go further and further to find an undiscovered trail.  45 miles to Warwickshire today, for a round based on Honda motorcycles.  Dog must know its a long way away, as she hides whilst I am making the pre-caching cup of tea.

Park up outside the pub in Ashorne.  Two steaks and a bottle of wine for £28.95.  Head off down the road to get the first three, before taking a footpath into fields.  The fields are very overgrown, but do open out slightly when I find a boat parked in a field in Warwickshire.

Lots of rain lately, but Noah has peaked too early
Loose the path as I approach the M40 and have to double back to avoid my first DNF.
So far, overgrown fields and the sound of the motorway but spirits are lifted when I disturb a deer and see its heading bobbing through the wheat like a kangeroo, making good his escape.

First DNF of the day at the motorway bridge, but to be fair, I just want to get away from the drone.

More fields as I move my way to Bishops Tachbrook, but at least this time there is a clear cutting through the fields of wheat. 

At least I know the way
The walk now moves through a housing estate.  Not much to see in Bishops Tachbrook and after finding the footpath between the houses, I cross a sheep field to meet the Banbury road.  From a walking perspective, things get even worse, as I now have half a mile of dodgy road walking.  As the cars speed past, I am kind of glad that I have left the geohound at home.

The walk does pick up when I enter Oakley woods.  After the fields, houses and roads, this is great walking.  I can tell this by the amount of dog walkers here.  I meet a lady that has two labradoodles with her and comment that I have one at home, but she's too lazy to come.  She looks around and asks what I am walking, looking disturbed when I say "nothing".  Alan Partridge reckons there is only three things to do in woods, and I think it's crossed her mind that I might be up to one of the other two things, suicide or dogging.

Realise that time is getting on and text home to say that I won't make my 12pm curfew.  Sonia comments that's fine, as I am not needed until 1pm and she deliberately knocked an hour off to make sure I won't be late.  The words of George W Bush come to mind....

"Fool me once, shame on you.... Fool me twice... err.... won't get fooled again".

Best cache of the day is close to the wonderfully named Wiggerland Wood.  Struggle to find the path that takes me past Ashorne Hill College, an impressive building and good walking through the park.

Soon back at the village.... back at the car with no time for the steak.

Geovehicle and Pub
Good series of caches, so thanks MARROW BONE for the setup and maintenance.