Saturday, 29 September 2012

29/09/12 - Roman Roaming

Distance - 5.5 Miles
Inspiration - Sky Atlantic - the British and on-line route
Geocaches - 4
Post Walk Refreshments - Cup of tea and a teacake

I am getting my walking inspiration from increasingly bizarre reference points.  Last week, I caught up with a new series on Sky about the history of the British and thought - there you go, how about a Roman inspired walk.  A quick google and I was reminded of the history of the Droitwich, where the Roman's mined for Salt from an undergound lake.  So this walk had a Roman hillfort, salt workings, Fosse Way roman road and a villa at Bays Meadow.

The greatest part of the walk was the weather.  Stunning blue skies and not a cloud in the sky.

The route suggested parking at the Robin Hood.  As I am up at 7am because of Ellie's first return from University and her mother's agitation that she is going to mess up her three train journey home, I decide its a bit too early to park at a pub.  Instead, I park up near St Augustine Church near the town centre.

Head up to the church, taking in cache one of the day which is a little off the path. Emerge from the bush with 10 seconds to spare before an embarassing muggling.

Around the church, under the A38 and a couple of dodgy fields.  Field 1 is full of horses, cows and one bull.  The horses hassle us, the bull is lay down admiring his heifers.  Field 2 has been recently ploughed and it one of those leg sapping walks across an earthy mud pit.  Relief is found at a golf course next to the Fosse Way.

A couple of caches along the next few fields.  I also have to navigate a shoulder high field of my new favourite foodstuff, Sweetcorn.  The path is good, but the high amount of morning dew on the leaves means that I am thoroughly soaked on my exit.

The caches dry up but I did notice a "worldwide challenge" of having your photo taken on a footbridge.  To be fair, that's not much of a challenge is it?

Easy Peasey.
Past the farm shop at Walkmills Farm and out onto the A38.  The Robin Hood shows evidence of the time of year.

86 Shopping Days left
Up to Rashwood Farm.  Give way to a grumpy fag smoking tractor driver.  Maybe he doesn't appreciate roman explorers on his land.  Then around the back of the Chateau Impney Hotel, completed in 1875 by the latest King of Salt.

A nice bit of walking along the River Salwarpe and then canals to bring me out in the Town Centre.  If you look carefully, there are a lot of monuments to the Salt Industy and former salt workings in the town centre. 

Mappiman on the right
I was going to recreate the pose on the plinth but a couple of OAPs feeding the ducks were looking at me.

Across in the towncentre for a handily positioned cafe.  Get my mug of tea, just a scooter bound pensioners messes up her reverse to the next table and sends all the tables flying.  Her harried husband shouted "Mavis" at her in an angry tone.

I have my teacake and consider whether I found any roman inspiration on my walk.  I did find a sandal in the aforementioned ploughed field.  But it was made of plastic.

Lets see what inspiration the next episode brings.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

23/09/12 - Edvin Loach is not a Victorian

Distance - 10.6 Miles
Geocaches - 1
Walk from - Julie Royle's Walks in Worcestershire

Bringsty Common

A bit of a dull walk today.  Weather is dull, walking is dull.  Lacking in Geocaching.  Oh well, after a good Friday night out and a fine day at the albion yesterday, I don't suppose that you can have a completely successful weekend.

At least I got home half an hour before the predicted rain started at 12:30.  Just got to go out in it to watch the boy play football today.

Park up at the Live and Let Live.  The high number of pubs on the route make me think that it would be a good bike ride out here.  14.5 miles and around 6 really good pubs.  Would need a support team to bring me back.  I have tried riding a bike drunk before.  I fell off.

There is a polish man in a polish van who is living in the parking area before the pub.  I know this, as when I get back, he is still in his van with his sleeping bag airing out of the windows.

There are also some killer sheep.

Nasty Pointy Teeth
Cross the road and head out across the Bromyard Downs to Bond's Dingle and Home House.  Walking is OK - not marked on the map really but common land so you just have to find your way on the ground.

Get first views of the day on the way to Badley Wood Common.

Get in the photo, hound.
Badley Wood Common is a nightmare.  Julie's book has the worst sort of hand drawn maps, and again with it being a common, there is no real marked footpaths on the map.  We climb on a faint trail that get increasing dense with ferns and notice the path over a high stile into racing horses fields.  I hoike the dog over the fence but the horses come running at us and the dog refuses to go any further.  Don't blame her.  I really dislike horses.  Back the way we came and a mental clamber through ferns to pick up the road to Tedstone Delamare.  Added a mile onto the route and road walking but at least I did take the route of a previously more successful walk.

After about 2 miles of road, I pick up the church at Edvin Loach.  It says on the map that it is the "reamins off" but to be fair, from a distance, it looks in really good nick.  The route doesn't take me close enough to look properly.

Down past New House Farm.  What a smell of slurry.  I have no idea how farmers can live with that stencth.  It was enough to make you hurl.

The walk picks up as we cross over into Bromyard downs.  Lots of people out with dogs and once you get to Shepherds Pool, there are stunning views in all directions.  Just needed a clearer day.

Remind me not to stand in front of trees.

Pass an unexpected cafe that provides a place to rest and take in the views, if only it wasn't out of commission.

Me on Friday Night
They have cake
Drop down into the grounds of Brockhampton Estate.  Again, planning this part of the walk was impossible but there are organised way marked routes when you get there.  I needed to skirt past Lawn Pool to pick up the only cache of the round, a nice large one for a TB hidded by the National Trust.

A bit more common walking and back at the car. 

My polish friend is having a cup of tea.  How will he entertain himself living in a van on a layby?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

16/09/12 - Waterworks

Distance - 6 Miles
Geocaches - 5 and 1 TB
Walk Inspiration - Spring 12 Country Walking Magazine

Today's blog is not titled after the emotions of dropping your first born off at University but from where we started today's walk from.  But we can't move on until we discuss yesterday and the wily wicked ways of womanhood.

So after a Friday night of jawdropping musical prowess courtesy of Wet Desert, Ellie decided to embark on Student Life with a four glass of rose inspired hangover.  She slept in the back of the car that was loaded to rafters, whilst Sonia and myself played iSpy on the M6 for all the other students migrating north.

After getting into her flat and arranging the soft furnishings, we had a short walk into Manchester for a slap up dinner at my favourtite Manchester Eatery.  On the way home, I was asked again to dip into my pocket to do the weekly shop of all the essentials that we hadn't packed.

Finally, on getting back to the flat, Sonia asked for another tenner for those things additional things that were still outstanding.  Bank of dad coughed up whilst watching the albion score get steadily worse.  Within 2 minutes of popping to the loo, Sonia announced that she had lost this tenner.  I didn't react and let them hunt for 20 minutes to be eventually told that it had re-appeared in her back pocket.  After the 3rd round of shopping and introductions to Ellie's new flat mates we left them to it and made our way home.

The evening phone call catch up prompted wails of hilarity.  I had been misled about the errant tenner.  Turns out once we had gone, the money had floated back up into the toilet bowl, and like any good student, Ellie was drying it out with a hair dryer to take with her to freshers night.

The ever more ingenious ways that these women fleece me.

Today's walk, although local, represented new walking areas for us.  We parked up at the cafe by the pump house in the Barbourne area of Worcester - more of which later.

First part of the walk is straightforward and we head north along the eastern side of the River Severn.  First cache of the day is found and Sonia larks around on a rickety bridge.

We can see a pub but are cruely separated by the river.  Not sure which one it was, but I think it was the Camp Inn.

Camp Inn?  Lurking in the Bushes

All very pleasant walking.  Highlight is when we get to the Bevere Island and Weir.  This is a nice spot, with evidence of impromptu barbecues and beer drinking.

Bevere Weir

We enter a field of thirsty bulls.  These are very docile but I did suggest that Sonia skirts around the edges.

Just add Cowboys.  And Indians.

Who's that in the distance?
I was distracting them by getting closer to take one of the Daddy.

Ray Winstone Bull

Up through the lanes of Bevere and over the roads into Claines.  Talk Sonia out of scrumping runner beans.  I knew about Claines Church, but there is a surprising hidden gem of a pub that lurks behind.  I had no idea this was there but will be popping in next time we come back from Worcester.

Religion and Beer
Cache 2 of the day is behind the pub.  A walk across fields towards Perdiswell.  There are a number of caches between the football pitches and golf course.  We can't find number there as there is a game on.  A fat Marilyn Manson lookalike goalie fumbles a cross for a poor goal, just as we reach GZ.  Find a couple more on the route back into Northwick.  I'll come back for the rest when the areas are not so busy.

A walk down the streets, seeing the old Kays Building where I worked and haven't been to for 20 years and back to the Cafe.  Is there a better place to end a walk that an eco cafe with cheap sandwiches and a teapot that holds four cups worth?

Happy Sonia

Sunday, 9 September 2012

09/09/12 - Character Building

Distance - 7.5 Miles
Geocaches - 14, 1xDNF, 2xTrackables
Walk Inspiration

Cheltenham Racecourse and Cleeve Hill

I am usually down this way for the Festival, a traditional boys day out day in the calendar every March.  Whilst the other men kill time in the bar by playing the sport of kings that is "chase the ace", I take my Guinness and look longingly over the hills that surround the course.

The first year I was invited, in 2009,  was probably our most successfull day.  With strict instructions not to spend more than £30 on gambling from Sonia, I quickly determined I was going to be betting in a syndicate that had a £10 minimum stake for each race.  There are 7 races.

Each person took it in turns to pick a horse and the £70 pot was put on an eachway bet.  We had a placement in every race apart from the one where we allowed Paul "Unlucky Alf" Reading to have a go.  By the time we got to the last race, a novice hurdle, we had quite a sizeable pot built up.  Now it may have been the Guinness or the recklessness that comes from building kitchens for a living, but there was a suggestion from one of the party that we put the entire winnings pot on a horse to win. 

Like the cautious brummies on Bullseye, I claimed that "we had a smashing day" and convinced everyone that we should continue in the same vein.  The horse chosen was  "Character Building" and the £35 each way bet was applied.

It romped home at 16-1.

Now we should have been grateful that we came back each with a sizeable pot (one that I stuggled to explain how I developed from a £30 stake) but it could have been so much more.  As I attempted to eat my Chicken and Mushroom at the local Indian, all I could mutter was "Character Building". 


The walk today allowed me to get up into those hills and to remember the many subsequent great days we have had and no doubt continue to have now that it is tradition.  Roll on March. once again provided the inspiration.  Park up at the Bank in Prestbury and head down quiet lanes to the race course.  Spy a decent looking pub for post walk refreshments opposite the Church.  The first cache of the day is found - part of a loop of 100 that appeared around three months ago.  No doubt I will be back.

Across a field and I reach the perimter of the racecourse.  Another cache in a tree and I drop off a TB.  Work my way around in a clock wise manner, following the signs for the "Jog with your Dog" event that is taking place.

Think we have our first "Refusal" of the day

A couple more caches along the path besides the side of the road.  Get my only DNF along here but there a lot of car boot muggles in the area. 

On the OS map it says that there is a dismantled railway line but it looks to be in good working order to me.  Must have been quite nice to turn up at the races by railway.

Certainly seems to be no dismantled.
I think there is a cache down near the track but it turns out that the path is up the top.  I walk down the railway line to the end and realise my mistake.  Can't be bothered to go back the way that I came, so I climb over the fence at the end.  Didn't notice the man in his tower and he expressed his disapproval by dinging his bell at me.

Molly gets the first chance to cool off, whilst I retrieve another cache.

Hot day for a doodle
This stretch provides the best views of both the race course and the hills that we are about to climb.

Coming around to the home straight
At Shaw Green we head North towards Southam passing an impressive house with a horse statue in the front of the grounds.

Who Lives Here?  Answers on a postcard please
We then have the anticipated climbing up the hill.  Still, it is in beautifully shaded woods and we see some exotic animals, that start with a gorgeous red deer, move to three llamas and end with some pedestrian sheep.

Wasn't quick enough with the camera for the deer.
We walk under the cliff edge, watching the abseilers and smug people who have made it to the top.  This is exceptional walking, with views across to the Malverns, which seem to get better as every foot of ascent is gained.

Shepherd's Views
Walking is seldom better than this
More caches around Thrift Woods and then we climb to the very top of the cliff edge and walk alongside the golf players back the way we came.

Breather Needed
I had a go at a cache up here a couple of years ago and failed.  I recognise GZ and have another attempt but nearly have to call of the hunt. As I am hidden by the foliage a couple come along the path and start snogging.  To avoid the police helicopter being scrambled, I stay very still and quiet until they move off.  Its amazing how long people can kiss for.  When they have gone, I find the cache and even after 2300 finds, you can sometimes find one that is unique.  Fantastic effort for this.

Then its a case of dropping back down the hill and into Prestbury.  I promised myself a pint at the Plough and it was well needed with my other form of hydration having run out a good hour ago.

Two forms of hydration - but which is the best?
Just knock the top off my pint when she of don't waste more than £30 on the horses sends me a text.

"Can I mow the lawns when I get back?"

And in case I forget, the mower is out and ready when I pull up at home.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

01/09/12 - My Name is Earl's Common

Distance - 6.2 Miles
Caches - 21 - 19 Found, 1 Not Found, 1 Avoided due to Stampede
First Cache
What I fancy for Tea

Need to get out of the house this morning but need to be back before the social event of Stourport's year closes the roads to allow the locals to chuck coins at people on the back of lorries.

This local round of 21 caches looks just the job.  I have been in this area caching at Himbleton before so now what terrain to expect - although I don't remember the stiles being as challenging.

Park up near to cache number 1 and track back to find.  A little bit of road walking through Earl's Common.  The houses all look very nice.

Gap in the hedge and we are out into the countryside.  All the wheat fields have been cut, making the walking simple and providing a golden glow to the walk.

Caches come quickly.  Arrive at Ward's farm.  The stiles are getting harder for the dog and there is an exceptionally stupid one at Cache Number 9, which involves a leap over a 5FTer to balance on a beam and then another of a similar height.

I can enter the dog into next years BGT.

We have our first enounter with horses, but these have been blindfolded, allowing us through as long as we are very quiet.

At Number 10 we have a warning of more imminent animal danger.

Dog 4.5 Stone.  Bull 3300lbs.  Which one needs a lead?
At this point, the field is clear but at the top of the hill there are 100s of cows, at least one big bull and many smaller bulls and cows.  Enter with care and they start stampeding - not running at me, but running into the other fields.  Decide not to hunt for this particular one.

Drop down to Shell Brook farm.  Another stupid walk the blank, leap a massive stile and we are into a field with four of five ponies.  I get the dog on the lead and these decide to charge at us.  I hate horses more than cows and one of them is particularly frisky and keeps running around us and poking the dog up the bum with her nose.  The people from the farm come out and start shouting at them, but this seems to just spur them on.  I am getting seriously disgruntly and if I had a walking pole, they would be feeling the wrath of it.  Thanfully, we only have a short walk through before we are in wheat fields again.

Bull Stampede, Goosed by Horse, Dragged over Stiles.  Can we go home now?

Nice walking again now, free from farm animals.  We are on the Wychavon way, which takes us through woods.  Cache number 18 is the only one without a meaningful clue.  Its also the only one that I didn't find.  How long can a man go around a water trough!  Thought about putting my hand in, but this would have been stupid.

A bit of overgrown grass and a divertion around a very large fallen tree and we are back at the car.

And back in Stourport with half an hour to spare before the roads are closed.

Thanks to  unowho67 for the smileys!