Sunday, 28 October 2012

28/10/12 - The Caching Chief of Staffs

Distance - 4.3 Miles
Geocaches - 12 found, 4 DNF and two TBs.
First Cache

The scandinavians celebrate the autumn equinox by turning off their crime thrillers and having a good old knees up.  I will do the same today, and welcome in the cold dark evenings that last from now to March by using the extra hour to go caching.

Then I'm off to the pub.

Look for a local round of caches and am reminded of the trail from Enville.  I have walked here before on the Staffs way and remember it as excellent walking country.  Now is has perhaps the greatest cache trail that I have ever completed.

The caches are varied, all home made and on the fiendish side of difficulty.  This, with the walking, meant a fine morning out.

We park up at the village green.  Leave number 1 till last and walk past the imposing stately home. Sonia's fiddling on the phone reveals that the home was owned by the Earl of Stanford, is now privately owned and occasionally is open for parties.  We will await our invite.

The Earl had moved his clock back an hour
Cache number 2 is the first we look for.  We fail on the way out and spying a dog walker coming up behind, leave it till last.

We get Cache 3 and fail at the old Ice Bunker at Cache 4.   That's 1 out of 3 and not looking too good for decent return.  However, from this point on, we soon get our eyes in and find the majority of the rest.  Some of the execution is superb - we really like the ones that are "visible" yet containing booty.

Cache 5 deserves a mention as it takes us off the track and despite having walked past this before, I was never aware of the old house carved into the sandstone.  Its complete with a proper fire place and tiled floor.  This is what caching is all about.

Previously Hidden from view - revealed by caching
As we walk towards the Compton road we have a big discussion as to whether which is the most mature hobby - caching or mountain biking.  This is a popular route for old men on bikes.

Work our way around White Hill farm - pondering on how the cache owner managed to get all these caches out into the field.  Can only summise that it must have required multiple trips.

A little confused around here as the OS map doesnt show the cache on a right of way, but all is revealed at GZ.  A new path is signposted and means I need to buy a new map.

Keep picking them off as we go through Compton and navigate a well tricky stile for the dog and into a field.  Here, I tell Sonia that there's nothing in the field and she can release the dog from her lead.

How wrong I was.  There is a man with a guitar, sat in a tree at the top of a field, recording a video for his new song.  We should have got closer to ask what it was.  Sonia wanted to sneak up behind and see if we could get in the video.  Instead, we compromised on taking a distance shot.

People think I make this blog up.

We were a touch worried about the cache called Stinky but all is revealed at GZ and there is nothing to fear.

Caching assistants look on, whilst I get Stinky.
Drop around Temple Pool.  Sonia asks me how long is left and has a fit when I tell her we are about Half Way.  Honestly, its like shooting fish in a barrell.  We have only three more to find. 

The one by the pool eludes us, but we do find number two back at the stile.  What a cunning cache.

Sonia takes the keys to sit in the car whilst I have a quick look for number one.  After three minutes, I hear the horn go and call off the hunt. She swears it wasn't her.

A superb round of caches - thanks to Fairview Hunters for providing our entertainment for today.  There's gonna be a number of favourites awarded.

Now I'm off for a Pub Sunday Lunch.  A man of simple pleasures.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

27/10/12 - Your Stiperstone

Distance - 5.0 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk from - Times Xmas Walks 2010
Pubs Visited - Two

The Times on Saturday has to be the finest paper available.  It takes me an hour to read it on a good day and four times a year it has a walking supplement that I cut out and keep.  Searching my database of walks for somewhere to go up the Stiperstones, it revealed this perfectly sized amble that tempted Sonia away from asking strangers questions.

I last came here six years ago.  Where does the time go?  I remember that you could park almost at the summit which made it even more tempting for Sonia who commented as we gained altitude on the drive "that she liked the fact we have nearly driven to the top".

Quick park up and gain the remainder of the height to reach Cranberry Rock.  It's a stunning day - after a week of grim weather, the winds have moved in to leave perfect blues skies.  It is, however, very cold.  I can hear Sonia's teeth chattering as I find the first cache of the day.

Windswept and cold
Unfortunately, all the caches on this walk are on the ridge.  Even though she engages in conversation with a couple of ladies about the dog, I can tell that she is less than pleased that I have crawled into a gap in the rocks to retrieve Cache Number 2.

Decide to park the caching
The ridge walk is superb.  There are stunning views in all directions.  Only pause from now on to break the ice so that the dog can get a drink from the puddles and to setup the timer on the camera.

Only 10 seconds to get across the rocks
We meet an army of goretex glad pensioners at the Devil's Chair and then avoid the cache at Shepherd's rock to make a great westerly descent down to the village of Stiperstone.  Sonia muses about what sort of cake shop they have.  I am forearmed with the knowledge that there is a pub, as I can see it on the OS Map.

The Stiperstone Inn is the focal point of the village.  We know this as there is a wedding party in the back room and the non invited locals are settling down to watch the football.  With real ale and two fires at either end, it makes a fine place to spend a Saturday Lunch. 

Yes, they have semi skimmed milk.  The pint is mine.
We avoid eating anything more than the complemenary biscuit, as we know that what goes down must go back up.  Sure enough, we have a very steep climb once we leave the village.

In all my years walking, something extraordinary happens next.  Now the Japanese have often commented that my hound looks like a sheep, but it seems that she is good enough looking to get a Ram interested in putting on his Barry White CD.  First he came to me for permission and then the wooing commenced.

Love is in the air.  Big Cojones.
Molly fluttered her eyelashes, but we dragged up the hill to avoid whatever mutant offspring would be the production of this union.

Leave Randy the Ram behind
The walk levels out.  We can either lose height and drop down to the Field Centre or take a short cut back to Manstone Rock.  No contest really, there is a cache left at the rock and Sonia wants lunch.

We get back to the car and the Sat Nav takes us on a precarious drive over Long Mynd, with Sonia going quiet as she spies the drops on the left of the car.  No pubs between Church Stretton and Cravan Arms.

We consider fish and chips.  The queue in the first chipper is out the door, but I know of another one around the corner.   We are concerned by the lack of punters and all is revealed when I enter and ask for fish and chips twice...."no fish, only sausage" is the response.  My suggestion to changing his shop name to Sausage and Chips falls on deaf ears, so we head over to the Craven Arms.  For steak and ale pie twice.

So this is two Saturday's running that I have had company.  Place you bets on a hatrick blogfans.... next week I am off to the first battlefied off the English Civil War.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

21/10/12 - Boggy and Foggy

Distance - 7.4 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk From - Walk 13 from The Severn Valley, Peter Kerr

Need a local walk so pick up one of the first books that I bought.  This the eighth time that is provided inspiration but the first time that I have looked at it since 2005.  I didn't blog then.  I'll have to go back and repeat the other 7 walks.

Busy day, so out at 8am.  Decide to look for free parking in Bewdley.  An impossible challenge.  The high street allows parking for 1 hour and the lane I need to go down at the back of the boat club had lots of warnings about clamping.  Oh well, it was only £2.30 at the main car park, although this did eat into my post walking bacon sarnie money to such an extent that I had to make my own on my return. 

Eerie start once I do get going, with a low mist over the river.

Hardly likely to challenge Lindsay Pulley for best photo this year
Over the bridge, through the caravan park and then up steepley over the SVR line.  Pick up country lanes on the way to Grey Green Farm and then have a muddy tramp through a boggy quagmire.

New highlight of the walk is Wassell Wood.  There is a geocache in the middle but no marked paths on the OS Map.  All is revealed when getting to GZ and its a nice, steep uphill walk through the woodland to pick up the bounty.

9 years serious walking and still finding new places within 4 miles
There is a hillfort marked on the map but Peter Kerr assures me that it was built in 1250 to provide a moat for medieval houses.  I'll take his word for it, it now just an earthmound.  On normal days, it would provide decent views but not today.

Pick up lanes around Trimpley which are a touch scary as the cars don't slow down for the fog.  Maybe a black jacket wasn't the cleverist idea at all.  I was going to go through Bite Farm to get a closer look at the horned ones but the stiles were most dog unfriendly.

More unusual animals
This means more roadwalking and I take an extension to pick up cache number 2.  Rewarded with a Travel Bug.

Retrace steps and more excellent walking downhill on a new path through the woods to Trimpley resevoir.  Turn left and follow the river downsteam all the way back to town.

The path alternates between a lane and the river edge.  As I pass a house I can here a tremedous row from inside.  I stay for a while to make sure no-one is being murdered.  Its a right humdinger between a teenage girl and her mom.

How pleased I am that we didn't bring up a tantrumer.  Ours is known for a footstomp when hairstyles don't go to plan for we don't get that level of abuse.

Soon back in town, wet footed with a lack of photos.  Cache 3 is a drive by at the SVR station.

The fog does lift for this afternoons football games where we get to see Alex's trademark "dink down the wing pass" in all its glory.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

20/10/12 - Storming Norman

Distance - 3.5 Miles
Lunch - Robert Raikes House
Geocaches - 4
Walk Inspiration - BBC History

I blame Sky Atlantic.  Their new show about the British had me looking out for Roman inspiration a few weeks ago and the second episode was about the Normans.  Couldn't afford the diesel to get to Hastings, so I looked locally and determined that Gloucester was a major Norman City, once rivalling London.  And its only 45 minutes away.

After Severn Trent Water had blocked the roads by laying new poo pipes, we eventually managed to park up at the Kings Walk.  This sounded regal enough, but in reality was an old 70's car park designed for tiny little cars.

Rather than take the shops, we took our lives in our hands and went back down the ramp to pick up London Road.  The first photo opportunity had nothing to do with the Normans and plenty to do with dead catholics, at St Peter's Church.

London Road was a largely uneventful walk, with strange looking locals passing the finest pub in Gloucester. It was, of course, far too early but we took a look.

Glorious England
A short walk took us to the first stop on the tour.... an old leper hospital at Hill Field Gardens.  Sonia may have plenty of reason to complain about me but excitement at the weekend can not be one of them.  I even allowed her to find the first geocache of the day, whilst I sparked up the camera.

How to show a lady a good time
By posing in a pagoda
We look for an exit from these nice gardens and fail, having to go all the way around to pick up Denmark Street.  Sonia is moaning about the lack of Norman Architecture and then I manage to spectacularly top trump her by finding a proper archaeological at Kingsholme - which was only the site of the Doomsday book.  How much more Norman can you get?

Civilisation can be determined by an old sandal.
Not much evidence of the Normans as we walk south through a housing estate that has more than its fair share of wailing children.  We do pass Gloucester Rugby Club and a pub that is perhaps a little too close.

Howzat?  Wrong sport.

We then come across the priory and into the old town in all its historical glory.  Quite impressed, lots of old streets, dominated by the cathedral.

Why we are here.
Sadly the town centre has been decimated by a high number of poundland shops.  Lunch provides monumental respite as we tentatively enter Robert Raikes House.  He was a 16th Century Merchant and now his house has been turned into a very posh looking pub that does meals cheap enough that not to have a pudding would be rude.

You can only imaging how impressive this would be to vistors away from these shores.  A proper slice of history where you can have sticky toffee pudding for three quid.

Get home for the pub where I hope the paupers from West Brom will hold their own against the multi millionairres from a City good enough for precious princesses on an International Marketing Degree. 

We get very, very close to making back page headlines.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

13/10/12 - Kempsey Caching

Distance - 3.4 Miles
Geocaches - 14
First Cache

With climbing peaks and investigating the romans, geocaching has been sadly ignored for the last couple of weekends.  This changed today by taking on a relatively new round on Kempsey Common, surprisingly, an area that I haven't walked before.

Busy week at work, Ellie coming home for the weekend and needing to pack for a business trip means that I head off in not a totally relaxed frame of mind.  Something is bothering me and on the round, I realise what it is. 

I need to go shopping for Smart Casual clothes.  I can do Smart (in a Boris Johnstone style) and I can definately do casual, but what the hell is this middle ground.  Two good pieces of news, a fashion marketing guru is back from Uni for the weekend to assist and house of frazer have a sale on.

Head off into the mist and park up near the Green Street sign for the first cache.  I was going to get a photo of this on the way back, but it was guarded by a man with a stick, so thought best not to.

Head down the lanes, picking up the next one and meeting the gateway to the common.

Common Land Lies behind
Open the gate and we have great views over the Malverns and Worcester, where the cathedral is an impressive land mark.  Meet the only two dog walkers of the day immediately and they are impressed by Molly's squirrel hunting prowess.

The walking is excellent, following the perimter of the common around picking up the caches and a couple of outliers that are not connected to the trail.  A lot of thought has gone into the variety of containers and a couple do make me laugh/admire the ingenuity.

Recent rains have left some impressive puddles, which Molly likes to blast through at full pelt.

Early Bath for Molly
Malverns behind
More Malvern views
Despite having sartorial issues on my mind, I do get 100% on the round, which is unusual for me when I am alone.  Thanks Chickowee for a nice little round, perfect for my needs and bringing a new location to my attention.

Off shopping now.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

06/10/12 - All Praise High Raise

Distance - 10.3 miles
Geocaches - 1
Pubs - Three
Bed for the Night
Wainwrights Climbed - 2 (Sergeant Man and High Raise)

High Raise

Our bi-annual, boys only walking weekend in the Lakes comes around again.  This was booked 6 weeks ago, with immense trouble finding a hotel that offered accommodation for one night only in the lakes.  Three of us looked and eventually, I found something in the next village along from Ambleside (scene of the last trip out) that probably was a little out of budget at £131 for a twin room. 

Still, the breakfast was nice.

And so was the weather.  What a stroke of luck to have been rewarded with such gorgeous walking weather.  Sunday may have provided the first frost of autumn but the perfect clear skies more than made up for it.  But this was Sunday.... we did the walking on a Saturday.

Bad news earlier in the week (get well soon Moria) meant that the four became three.  You may have missed the hills Gav, but I guarantee you won't have missed my post pint snorefest.

Alarm goes at 5:50am and we are away and up the M6, arriving in the hotel carpark 3 hrs 15 minutes later, having been robbed at the Costa Coffee at Lancaster services.  Boot up and head down towards the town, picking up a path next to the river Rothay and then up the Easedale Road before picking up the wilds. 

Waterfall, first photo opp.
I am following Rocket up the hill, noticing that something is pouring out the bottom of his rucksack.  It's either his giant bottle of lucozade (how middle class, he's not even ill), his water supply or even more worrying, his hipflask. 

Its OK, the Whisky is safe.
At Easedale Tarn, we pick up a solo half polish-half grimsby lady walker who asks me "if we are there yet".  That rather depends on where you are going and she genuinely has no idea or no map.  She does have nice sandwiches which she is prepared to share, so not all bad.  However, she can't keep up with us.  With no destination in mind, I am sure she had a fine day out.

Easdale Tarn.  Geocache on other side of water.
Ewan correctly identifies that the hard work is about to start and he is right.  Bit of hands on rock is required as we climb up past Belles Knott - The Matterhorn of the Lakes. 

Hard work begins
Matterhorn Mobot

First peak is Sergeant Man.  Rocky climb and we meet a middle aged ladies rambling club.  This provides opportunities for camera sharing, with Rocket taking conrtol of an iPhone and me handing over my camera. She did half a decent job.

Sergeant Man - Good First Attempt

But take your finger off the button when handing it back
High Raise requires no extra climbing and from Sgt. Man looks uninspiring, with just the shelter of stones to pick it up.  Once arriving there, we are rewarded with stunning views that make it a great place for lunch and my one and only geocache of the day.  

I hadn't realised how boring geocaching is to non cachers.
Having a) soaked in the views and b) waited for Rocket to moan about the cold, we head off to Greenup edge, where we turn right for a long, long walk down the valley back to the pub.  Ewan waits until he is right next to an elderly couple eating lunch before he completes the day's most spectacular fall, leaving his creamy trousers decidely more mud splattered.

All the way back

Nearing the end of the walk, I look behind me to be reminded of just how lucky we have been with the weather.

Never gets better than this
So back to the hotel, a couple of pints to confirm Albion's best start to a season since 1911 (when we won the title) and shower, change to see what Grasmere offers for entertainment.

Two pubs in town, with the pick being Tweedies Bar.  This had a bit of everything - 5 real ales, a wedding, decent food and a band that came on at 9:30pm.  We could only stay awake for their opening two songs and a walk back home to look at the stars and attempt to stay up for match of the day.  I caught it on Sunday morning.