Sunday, 25 November 2012

25/11/12 - Floodlands

Distance - 5 Miles
Geocaches - 5 Found, 2 not so found
Walk Inspiration - Walk 24 - Discovery Walks in Birmingham

Stafford Castle



The great thing about my hobby is that it doesn't matter which part of the country I am in, I can always find entertainment.  Sonia is taking her mother to Manchester to see Ellie and having checked out the rail transport system, decided it would be easier if I can drop them off in Stafford. 

But what does that offer the walker? 

A quick check in one of my few guidebooks reveals a norman castle.  A quick check on Geocaching.com reveals 7 caches.  I just need the sun to be shining after yesterday's storms.

We head off early.  Sonia likes to be punctual and I hope that British Rail appreciate that she is there 45 minutes early.  I drop them off at the station and then go and find somewhere to park in Castletown.  If Warwickshire is the home of the bard, Staffordshire has a more functional outlook on descriptions.

Slow start through a housing estate but soon pick up a decent path splitting a golf course.  No golfers are out today, so it allows me to hunt for the first three for quite a while, even if I only have success with one.  I have to take a detour to the Castle Church (said they were good with names around here)to get it back to 2-2 on caches.

The highlight of the walk is easily the castle, even if it is a modern rebuild of the Norman stronghold.  It's still played its part in British History, having been sacked in the Civil War and has some excellent views from its lofty elevation.

First Glimpse
Our first glimpse between the trees
There is a vistor centre here and a good path to traipse around the castle grounds and find another cache.  I can see the M6 from here and next time I drive up north, I'll check out and see if I can see the castle.  Never noticed it before. 
I have a scramble over the ramparts to get closer to the castle.


Castle
A proper castle.

Castle Views
Molly ignoring the views
After a tour of the castle, which seems to be very popular with dog walkers, we head pick up a couple more caches as we head to our next destination.... doxey marshes.
Moly checks out the castle
Molly has a last look at the castle at cache GZ
Now heading to marshland after yesterday's rain was always going to be a brave choice.  We head through some industrial land and rows of two up-two downs and reach a cycle track that takes me into the heart of the wetlands.  I was meant to reach the stream and head into town.
God had other ideas.

Walk is curtailed
That's enough of that then.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

17/11/12 - Nailed it

Distance - 9 Miles
Walk from - Country Walking Magazine - November 2009
Caches - 5

Nailsworth



Got a new geowagon and it needed a test run.  Review of old CW magazines and off the Cotswolds it is.

Never been to Nailsworth before.  Its better than Tetbury.  Park up in a free car park in the town centre and pick up cache 1 of the day, which I assume is located in the garden of the cache owner.  Soon have nice paths, working my way to Avening and passing the old mills that put this place on the map.

Stiff climb up Hazel Wood but the paths are glorious.


Time for a breather
Even Molly was appreciating the paths, taking the opportunity to nick Pippa the labrador's stick and chomp it to bits.  Three more caches along this stretch.  They belong to a series, which I could have devitated from my walk for.  Today, I think I'll go for the walk, rather than the tupperware chasing.


Where's Pippa?
Hazel wood opens out to fields and this comes the theme for most of the rest of the walk.  The recent rain has left it a bit of a mudfest, although not as bad as last week in Peak District.


Farmland all the way from now on.
I skirt around the outside of Avening, as there is a cache at the church that I can take in.  Will this be a town that I ever see?  Pick up the Macmillan Way south out of the village.  Its all fields and interesting cotswolds stiles.

Skirt the edges of Chavenage House.  Do you remember the Susan Boyle posh Tetbury based lookalike from John Bishop's Britain?  This is her gaff.  I prefer the links with Cromwell (there is a lake called Cromwell's bath marked on the map) and the English Civil War.

More fields and then Ledgemore Bottom and Longlength Lane.  You can always rely on the Cotswolds for vaguely rude sounding place names.


The Bottom before the Longlength
Longlength Lane is a quagmire.  Slop my way through it and have a chat with the farmer at Upper Barton End.  Turn the corner to take a track and am confronted by one of these for the first time in my walking career.



Impressive - but how do you get their feathers up?
I waited for a time to see if I could get a photo of it in all its glory.  I think they only do this when they are trying to pull lady peacocks and I wasn't sure on how it could be seduced.  However, it soon got the fear and flapped off.

This just leaves Tetbury Lane before reaching the town.  This is my favourite bit of any walk.  How should I reward my 9 miles of effort?  A pub, a pie?  I hit market street and smell the chipper.  First, I have to tie Molly up and I leave her with some new friends.

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Burst through the door, extract my emergency twenty from its special place and spend 5 minutes looking at the menu before settling on Fish and Chips.  Mouth watering, I wait for the little man to finsish battering his fillets to take my order.  He tells me to hang on 5 minutes and leaves me drooling.  He works with the urgency of a man who knows he has a captive audience and owns the only chipper in town.

Another couple come in.  I clock the fella's disappointment as his missus suggests that she'll "just share your chips".  Eventually I get served and take them over the road into the little garden.

They were superb..... and should set me up nicely before my bish celebration based ruby tonight.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

11/11/12 – Betty’s Hotpot


Distance – 4 Miles
Geocaches – 3
Mud – Sommelike
Walk from – AA 1001 Walks.

Coombs Reservoir



Perfect day yesterday.  After the walk, we had a tour of Buxton and then got back to Whaley Bridge to watch the scores come in.  Another Albion Win.  Then allow two hours for Ellie to ready herself and we hit the high spots of the town.

The meal was in the superb Cock pub.  Very posh inside and we make it just in time to see the winning goal go in for Utd against the Vile.  Makes albion’s win sweeter.  A quick look a the menu and we see that this is the pub that Betty Turpin used to be the landlady for.  After failing to hypnotise a student into not ordering starters, there is only one thing for main….. Betty’s Hot Pot.
That, two more pubs (Shepherds Arms cause its in the Good Pub Guide and White Hart cause they have broadband) meant that today’s 8.5 miles marathon was a touch ambitious.  Instead, I have an emergency 4 miler around Coomb’s reservoir.

We only failed to take into account the mud.  The first half of the walk was a chore and I learned some new words from Sonia as it threatened to remove her boots.

Should have been nice and pleasant as we made our way to cache one.

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Tricky underfoot

Find the shoddiest bridge known to man… but at least it gets us out of the mud.

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Walking the plank
Which is much worse when we make our way under the railway line.

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Dirty Boots

Never been so glad to hit tarmac before, as we make our way down lanes to Coombs.  Nice village with a great looking pub in the centre. We turn left at Rye Flatt Farm and find the second cache, and see the steep climb we have ahead.

But what views we are rewarded with…. all over Chapel-en-le-Frith and the surrounding hills.

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All worth it now
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Tough Sheep
The highlight of the walk is the ridge section, overlooking the railway line.  We see a sign saying dogs on leads or they will be shot, but the sheep are already suicidal – all grazing on the track.  The train comes and has to give way.

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Wrong type of sheep on the line

Drop down under the railway and some mudflats to make our way back to the reservoir.  The mud turns into a golf course, where a stray ball rattles the trees next to us. 

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Golf Course

Get back to the car and I attempt to clean the dog off in the overflow.  The water comes to her ankles, if indeed dogs have ankles.  Nothing else for it, we have to take her back to the river from yesterday for a good old dunking.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

10/11/12 – Peak Practice


Distance – 4.5 Miles
Geocaches – 6
Why we are here – Student Visiting

A great idea…  Lets book a cottage in the Peak District so that Ellie can catch a train and meet us from Manchester.  Whaley Bridge was chosen for its proximity to Manchester and a suitable cottage was found.  This was about two months ago.  As things would turn out, we have seen Ellie every weekend anyway.  No problems with this as university life is putting her in a good mood, where she is likely to break into spontaneous laughter at anytime.
 
However, as the first Mapp in university, you would hope that she didn’t say things like “is that Hadrian’s Wall?” when she looks out the car window on the way to Buxton.

We have the joys of a Friday night on the M6 but spirits are lifted when I get a visit to the offie down the road for wine and get to start a proper man fire.

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Our Cottage - Saturday Afternoon Sunshine
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Twisted Firestarter
Up early on the Saturday.  The plan was a family geocaching walk, followed by a walk around Buxton.  Somehow, this got lost in translation and Sonia thought the kids were only coming to Buxton.  They have no walking gear suitable for the Goyt Valley.

Ever get the feeling that you’ve been had?

Goyt Geocaching



So we leave the teenagers to the Jeremy Kyle show, so that they can learn all about life and Sonia and myself park up around 0.75 miles away from our cottage.  We should really have walked.

The walk is stunning.  Nothing planned, just the cache trail, but we are rewarded with some great paths and stunning scenery. 
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Which Way?

First part of the walk is along Shallcross woods.  I clamber up a bank to get cache 1, just as three sheepdogs come and round up Molly. 

Their owner soon catches us up and overtakes us.

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Not a sheep

Next Cache is at a nice footbridge, where we cross the River Goyt.  Bit of Mankneery is called for, while the dog auditions as a statue on a plinth.

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Troubled Water

It’s a climb up to Madscar Farm, stopping for a cache in the ridge.  Molly is ambushed by another dog, who leaps over the wall and follows us for quite a way, until is owner manages to get it to go back.

Nice path along to the reservoir, with the first nano of the day at a gate.

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All Resevoirs look the same
Then its a case of walking back on the high ground, with the valley below.  At times, the fields turn into a quagmire.  I can only imagine the moaning that the kids would have given me, so quite glad they are back home.  I also get the added bonus in that they can let me know if he really did spend the kids xmas money on cocaine.

We get one more cache, then a couple of DNFs.  We probably could have got them, but our stomachs are rumbling and there is only so much appeal in tupperware that doesn’t contain sandwiches.

Arrive at the pretty little church at Taxal and more importantly, when we reach the Goyt, there is ample opportunity for the dog to get clean.

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Home for bacon sarnies and then a trip to Buxton.  Fine old town….. just thought it would be bigger.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

3/11/12 - Roundhead, or Cavalier?

Distance - 7.2 Miles
Geocaches - 7 found, 1xDNF, 1 GeoCoin
Walk From - 100 Hill Walks around Birmingham
Inspiration

Edgehill



23rd October 1642, the Parliamentary and Royalist forces bumped into each other in a vale under the shadow of Edgehill, Warwickshire.  The skirmish was the first of the English Civil War and by nightfall, a thousand were left dead and the battle petered out to a draw.

On 3rd November 2012, I was awoken at 2am by a nightclubbing student returning home and then at 4am by a heeby-geeby suffering adolescent shouting "GET OFF THE SOFA" at the top of his voice. 

I then got up properly at 7am to hear the sound of rain on the conservatory roof and headed off to Warwickshire to the moans of "Where's my bloody toast" being shouted from upstairs.

Tine to get things in perspective....  it could be worse, I could be on a countrywide tour of all the UKs universities and polytechnics. 

The weather is not a problem.... it gives me the chance to test my latest ebay bargain.  A Montane Atomic jacket sniped for 1/5th of its retail price.  It's selling point is that it rolls up to the size of an apple.  I showed Sonia.  She grumbled, "Bloody big apple".

I can only assume the moon is entering the wrong phase.

This walk soon sets my spirits right.  I park up in the village of Radway, where the royalist forces were positioned.  Nice looking village, thatched buildings and very quiet.

Head up the hill, discovering where the shop keeper from "League of Gentlemen" has been buried.

Local Grave, for Local People
Enter fields and I can see that I have the climb early in the walk.

Big Apple Jacket - Edge Hill Behind
Pull myself up to the top and can see that they have put a warning sign up for any antipodeans thinking of entering the field.

Country Folk, Country Ways
Over the above stile and into the woods, turning left onto a ridge path.  This is the centenary way and a damn fine path, leading to Camp Hill.  It was from here that Charles 1 was said to have watched the battle.  Good spot for it..... the killing was 1/2 mile away.

A little road walking and a detour to get the first cache of the day.  Retrace my steps and then have to cross ploughed fields to get reach Ratley.  Bad underfoot, but decent views and caches along the way.

Ratley is even better than Radway.  It has a pub.  The pub was built in the 11th Century.  1000 years of British Boozing.

Brings a patriotic tear to your eye.
Head out of the village at Manor Farm.  Some uninspiring road walking to Upton House, where I follow an extended family of cachers as they make their way to the booty.  The sight of all the kids excitedly looking for the treasure makes me think of my two.  One is playing his xBox in his pants and the other is drinking cups of tea in the bath.

A very short, but incredibly dangerous bit of roadwalking on A422 at Sun Rising hill is a shame but this is made up for when we pick up the ridge walk and Centenary way at the opposite end.  This is stunning walking... the sun has come out and the vale below is swathed in sunlight.

Kings Eye View of the Battlefield
Drop down and I can see an obelisk and investigate, thinking its to do with the Civil War.

Nope - Waterloo based memorial
There is a cache here, but its not been found for a while, last person recorded a DNF and I couldn't find it either.  Head back to the path and look behind me.  The castle, is a pub.

I'd go in, if my boot weren't covered in mud and cow pats
Instead, I make do with the views and thoughts of the battle.

Lovely
Get back to the car and head out past Kineton MOD to find the memorial to the battle.  It's on the side of the road and I am surprised.  Not so much by the flowers, but the strength of the sentiment.

Memorial
Bet they have Charles and Di Tea Towells
The walk has exceeded my expectations.  Great walking with a bit of history thrown in.  Love it.