Friday, 28 December 2012

28/12/12 - Walk in the Woods

Distance - 4.5 Miles
Caches - 3
Walk From - Julie Royle's Worcestershire Walks

Worcester Woods Country Park



A special short walk, ear-marked for when I didn't fancy a massive day out in the mud.  The sky planner is not going to clear itself.

It's time for my monthly walk from Julie Royle's Worcestershire Walks - the collection of walks from the Worcester Evening News.  It contains some great ideas but some terrible maps.  This was meant to be 3 miles but somehow, I have added 50% onto it.

Park up at Worcester Woods Country Park.  Try and work out if I need to pay to park - barrier controlled but no machines.  I'll work it out at the end.

Head off for the woods and immediately get stuck between around 30 dog walkers who seem to be on a public pre-arranged met.  Molly and myself get split up - I am at the front and she is nervously hanging around the rear.  I have to double back to pick her up - and we head away from this mass dog walking exercise to look for cache 1.  This involves another slop through the mud to find something the size of your thumbnail under dense tree cover.  Quite pleased to get it.

To show the extremes of geocaching, the next find is a huge old sweet jar.  I can now leave caching behind and am following the route in reverse, coming to a footpath next to the hospital.  Next time I come visiting someone, I will have to bring my boots - the footpath goes right through the grounds.


Visiting Time
This brings us out to the foot of Leopard's Hill.  There are footpaths to the top but my route has us skirting the perimeter and neither quite providing the stunning views over the City to the Malverns which I am sure it can provide.  We drop through a rather pleasant housing estate, before picking up the main road.


Ronkswood Meadows - Leopard Hill
Road leads to Ronkswood Hill meadows - waterlogged - and tromp our way around to Perry Woods.  The only surprise about the young lads drinking beer in the woods is a) It's 11am b) they are asian and c) Special Brew!  A new breed of far eastern hobos in the making.... its a special kind of boozer that does AM tramp juice.

On exiting Perry Woods, we have to go through a slighly shabbier housing estate.  The route directions from Julie are useless, so its a case of trying to work out from the OS map if there is an alley to get back to the visitor centre. 

At the third attempt, I manage to find an exit and have to slosh across the fields to get into the woods.

Cache three is soon found by leaving the main paths behind.  This is OK, as the woodland is far less muddy than the main throughfares which are ankle deep.

Back to the visitors centre and I cannot resist a go at their dog bathing station.  Not quite as good as the jetwash, but it kind of worked.


The Public Baths
A nice quick blast of fresh air, but I have to say, I am looking forward to some frost to firm up the ground a bit. 

And the really good news - the barrier went up on its own on exit.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

27/12/12 - Death by Horse

Distance - 5 Miles
Geocaches - 15 out of 18
Lunch - Turkey Sandwiches and Mince Pies, of course
Conditions - Somme Like

Bordsley Park Loop



This was going to be a walk free day, in preparation for much heralded but decidely complex to organise "Progressive Party".  However, due to increased outbreaks of NoroVirus in the Worcestershire area, this has been postponed.

If you listen very caerfully you will hear my liver crying "Thank the lord for that".  It was either my liver, or the recycling men, who have a hell of a job on when they go back to work.

So, knowing we have a free day, we check out a local cache round and decide on the Bordsely Park Circular - just shy of Redditch.  Next thing to check is the weather.  Curtains open and guess what, it's raining again.  The forecast, which have been deadly accurate, predict it will stop in Worcestershire at Midday.  I'll take the time to read a bit more on Henry VIII then.

We leave and park up at just shy of noon and bang on, it stops raining.  Head up Dagnell End Road and find the first cache at the stile to get us out into the fields.  If you look very closely at the route, you will see how far we got before taking a diversion.  The fields are saturated at the next field boundary there is a newly formed lake and no way through.  A quick retrace of steps gets us past this obstacle, but you cannot help but think there will be more drama on the way.

The caches come close together.  We get to number four and find that the lid has had better days.

Busted Cache
Sonia doesn't come caching often, but gets upset when they are bust
.
We are now at Lower Rowley Green.  We have to cross the field which has a number of paths across, however the lovely owners have criss crossed it with temporary fencing to keep the horses separate.  Not that there are any horses in the field.  I find out that they are electrified when I dangle my testicles on one of them.  Without coming over all Max Mosley, it wasn't that unpleasant an experience.

It does mean that we have to alter our route and I leave Sonia behind to head off and find the one nearer Rowley Green.  Liked the sign on the building.

The Cure
Checked to see what they had for Norovirus
 
Get back and Sonia has declared it time for lunch.  Not a bad idea.  We are going traditional this Xmas and eating Turkey everyday.  As I blog, Sonia has headed out for the ingredients for Turkey Pie. 
 

Lunch
Lunch for three
 
We enter the next field and after more electric fences, actually meet with a horse.  Regular blog fans will know my fear of the hooved ones and it's almost as though I have had a premonition.
 
This one comes over and I try and shoo it away from the dog.  It then starts bucking its fore and rear legs and takes a punt at me, missing my head by milimeters.  My life flashes before my eyes.  I'm too young to meet my maker in a muddy field in Worcestershire.  The horse legs it, charging around the field like a lunatic.  We go and get crotch tingle, taking an alternative path through the fences.
 
The French have the right idea.... and when our continental themed culinary nights reaches France - I know what I am ordering.  I am hoping its this one.
 
 

Evil Horse
Answers to the name of Frisky
 
We leave this evil place behind, offering directions to a fag smoking Peugeot driver who cannot find Bordsley Hall.  In the spirit of the season, we inform that "Its Behind You".
 
More fields, no livestock, loads of caches and a bit of road walking down to Beoley Hall.  A tricky field to cross that is both covered in long grass and is completely flooded. 
 

Dodgy Field
Tricky Underfoot
 
 
A couple more caches as we reach the main road at Dagnel End Farm and thankfully the cache instructions show us that we can avoid the road and walk on the opposite golf course.  However, from this point on, we miss out on the last three - two of which I am fairly sure have gone.  Why else would there be stones in a tree if not to hide a cache!
 
Get back to the car just as the heavens open again.  Thanks to dadu 13 for setting up this round and providing an excuse to get some much needed fresh air.
 
I now look forward to my pie and the opportunity to research the finest horse related recipes.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

26/12/12 - A Walk in the Million

Distance - 10.5
Caches - 6
Walk from - Country Walking Magzine

Millions



Yesterdays plan must have worked.  We had the code word "Sparrow" that the family would use when it became clear that I had had too much Xmas day wine.  Sparrow was duly used at just about the right time at 9pm, as I felt as fit as a fiddle for this 10 mile epic from Kinver.  Thanks again to Family Onions for their wonderful hospitality.

I thought the only thing that could stop me was the weather.  Sonia provided me with the forecast that the next tranche of biblical rain was due at midday, so I headed out.  First obstacle to overcome is that the main road into Kniver is blocked, due to a landslide.

Never mind - manage to squeeze the merc up the world's tiniest lane and swing around to park up in the high street.  Head out past the rugby club and meet the second obstacle of the day.

Dont think the cache will have survived
There is a cache over the other side of the field


This presents a small problem, as the route is straight over this.  I attempt to go around the edges and get very close to where the cache is, but no joy - just too deep.  I think its a gonner.  Forced to retrace my steps and go around the road to Hyde Lane, picking up a different footpath.

The walk is a very mixed bag of different environments.  We start with ancient woodland around the Hyde.

Woodland

And move on across fields to the Canal at the Stew Pony. This is a particluarly pleasant part of the Staff-Worcs canal and makes for easy walking. There are four caches along the way, but the first two are missed out because of the high muggle count. Cache three is up a tree. I climb the wrong one. The sight of a 43 year old man clambering up a tree made a labradoodle cry. Cache found up the second tree. Move on and the final cache along this stretch is guarded by very noisy dogs. Thankfully a quick find and the first of two identical containers.

Guarder of the Cache
Glad the water is between us.
 
 
Leave Prestwood bridge behind and have a climb up to the Million.  This is a proper forest and I have walked here before.  There are three caches to find and I get them all - even if they have all been nibbled by creatures.  Nice walking.
 

Million
The Million
 
Attack Enville from the North.  Its just before midday and people are queing to get into the Cat.  A couple of months ago we did the cache trail from this starting point.  I was hoping to get the DNFs from last time, but as it is Boxing Day, its muggle central.  There are scores of families all out in the mud.
 
I do manage one previous DNF - so quite pleaseed about this.  Midday arrives and the heavens open as predicted.  I have to admire the accuracy of today's weathermen.
 
Don't mind the fact that these are recent paths for me... the Staffordshire way offers fine walking.  Eventually, I am brought out onto the back of a housing estate in Kinver. 
Staff Way
Staffs Way on my Brain
 
Home for 1pm.  Not allowed to shower just yet, as Ellie is sleeping off her 6am start for work.  Gives me just enough time to blog before the next family gathering.  I have vowed that the code word will not need to be used tonight.
 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

23/12/12 - Warwick, Without the Castle

Distance - 6.7 Miles
Caches - 4
Walk from - Jarrold - Shakespeare Country and the Walk of Evesham - Walk 24

Warwick


Not even I was going to venture out in the rain that we had yesterday.  So sunday 23/12/12 becomes the first of my xmas planned walks.  Consult a virginal Jarrold walking book, that promises 27 other day outs and settle on this walk from Warwick - which strangely doesn't take in the castle.

No worries, I have taken the dustbins there before when they were studying Tudor history.  Or when Sonia chucked us all out on a Saturday morning in the pre-dog days.

The map promises parking at a picnic area which I fail to find when arriving.  Instead, park up on a road and find the canal for the outbound part of the walk.  The towpath soon runs out and a barge dweller points me in the correct direction.

This is the Grand Union Canal, which runs from London to Birmingham, taking in 137 miles.  Love to know what the navvies said when they came up with the idea of digging that out.

Cache 1 of the day is on the other side of the canal, early in the walk.  The lock looks a bit dangerous for a Labradoodle, so she gets tied up for a moment whilst I go hunting.

P1020099
Stop whining, I'll soon be back.

Then it's straightforward walk along the canal to the Hatton Flights - 21 locks in quick sucession. Only drama is avoiding the mountain bikers.  Quick diversion to find a zombie themed cache, looking over the water treatment works.

P1020102
Flight of Fancy
 
The Hatton Arms promises everything that Xmas has to offer, but its a bit early to stop off yet.  Besides, I have had the text to find out what time I am home.  Believe it or not, Ellie has to go to work today.  It's worth her moans that "her Xmas is ruined for the sake of £50".  You never know, she might even by me a drink tonight.
 

P1020107
Country Code insists that you follow sign instructions.

Not a bad idea We cut in land now, passing Home Farm on some good bridlepaths, liking the signs that cannot be ignored.

P1020110
Frindly Farmer shows the way.

Rather festively, we pass Turkey Farm and then grab a couple of caches along this path. There are some good views over Warwick, with the church tower dominating the view.

Log book in one is too wet to sign.  The ground is also showing signs of the recent rains and becomes a bit of a sludgefest to get through.

P1020119
Evidence

The walk back to town meanders downhill on a tarmaced road, passing a rifle range - marked as Danger Area on the map.  The only danger that I am faced with is White Van Man hurtling up the lane. 

Worse than mountain bikers.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

15/12/12 - Double Dose of Dodgy Tourism

Distance - 8.05 Miles
Caches - 5
Walk from - Jan 2003 Country Walking Magazine

Boscobel House and White Ladies Priory



The beast from the east has shuffled away and it's a grey 7.5 degree day and a late start.  After a highly exciting week of travel to London, Chippenham and Manchester, I needed to recuperate with a big lie in for the lads. 

It's 10:30 when I park up at the impressive Church at Tong.  The heavens open and there is a multi stage cache in the church yard.  As I am goretexing up and know I have a dog who needs to use the facilities, I do consider giving it a miss.  However, there is a story attached to the church and it would be very rude not to investigate.

Charles Dicken's grandmother used to live in Tong and work at the castle.  There were rumours he based the location of the "Old Curisoty Shop" on the village and that Little Nell was buried here.  In 1910, the clergy faked burial records, which resulted in an international tourist trade being developed.

White Ladies
This from a man of the Cloth

I have to gather the co-ordinates from dates on graves and the welcome sign and plot the final location. It's on my route, but right at the end.  I leave the churchyard with the vague feeling of being conned.  What I don't know is this walk contains more tourist related dodginess.

Start of the walk is uninspiring, heading down alongside the M54 on a decent footpath.  The roar of the traffic keeps me company.

White Ladies
An early highlight, passing under the M54
 
I am then walking alongside Cosworth Airfield, with constant flyovers from the gliders as they come in to land.  I then pick up Shackerly Lane, which I have to follow for about 3 miles, crossing back over the M54.  Dull walking.

After 2 miles, I have a choice - shortcut to White Ladies Priory or plod on for an out and back trip to a piece of British History. 

White Ladies
Is the Royal Oak going to be worth it?

Seems a shame to have come so close without seeing where Charles I hid in a tree to escape the roundheads after defeat at the battle of Worcester. I plod on and am quite pleased that we have open access land, encouraging the history based rambler to take the field edges. When I set off on the walk, I was unsure whether I would have to pay £6 for the joy of seeing a tree, but the access land confirms I am on a freebie day out.
 
 
White Ladies
First Views of Boscobel House and the Tree
 
The Royal Oak is marked on the OS map.  To say that its underwhelming is an understatement. Just how big was Charles I?  How poor were the Roundheads at tracking him down?  I think the owners of National Trust are related to the clergy at Tong.
 

White Ladies
Look out, the King's About!
 
To be fair, this tree is not the original - which was destroyed by visitors taking cuttings in the 18th and 19th Century.  This tree is a cutting from the original and has been hit by lightening and battered by gales to such an extent that the National Truft have erected a fence for our own safety.
 
As I am on foot, we can sneak into the grounds of Boscobel House, where Charles went for his tea once the dozy rounheads had shuffled past.  There is a shed on a grassy knoll and some crazy paving.
 

White Ladies
Molly Considers Sneaking in
White Ladies
Whilst her owner dicks around in a shed on a knoll
 
When I get down from the shed, I can see all the paying tourists are gawping at me through the windows of Boscobel House.  I leg it before a man in a cap comes and charges me six notes.
 
Retrace my steps, but the views over the Wrekin are exceptional.  I meet the path to White Ladies Priory again and the geocaches come into play, with three down this waterlogged track.  White Ladies Priory is just my sort of place to look around.  Charles also came here on his escape.
 
All that is left are the ruins of a 12th Century Church and we have a good look around.
 
White Ladies
Sonia would have just googled it.
 
Having taken plenty of photos, we continue on the Monarch's way, looping around Meashill Farm.  If it wasn't for the water logged paths, this would have been fine walking.  Four caches in total, all found.
 
We are soon back to Tong and it's time to tell if I have programmed the co-ords correctly.  Looks promising as it is on a lane and sure enough, there is the final booty of the day.
 
So, a surpising amount of history, relatively close to my doorstep.  But how much of it was true?


Saturday, 8 December 2012

08/12/12 - The Pope's Hole

Distance - 6.6 Miles
Caches - 2
Walk From - Village Walks in Worcestershire

Ombersley



Sometimes you cannot help but be in a good mood.  Today, I haven't travelled far, I haven't found many caches and although I found a new pub, it was too early to determine why its in the good pub guide.  But when you find a fantastic and previously undiscovered walk and the sun is shining, you cannot help but smile.

This is all of an 8 minute drive away.

Park up outside the world class butcher (they accept credit cards) and pick up the Wychavon Way, walking east into the low sun.  Cross the A449 and then have great paths, with stunning views to the Malverns and Abberley.

Views
Good to be out.

We are on a mission to find the Pope's Hole. Its only just down from his home.  We cross the A4133, and have a little bit of road walking.  I know how dangerous this road is, but have checked on Google Maps that there is a path so that I can do this in safety.

We cross over and take a lane adorned with black and white cottages, which soon turns into a track.... and there at the bottom is Pope's Hole Farm.  You can imagine it.... built 100s of years ago, taking time and effort and when they finish it, they have to come up with a moniker.  "I've got it" says the Farmer, "I've always admired the papal ring and I'll name it after that".

We have some squidgy fields to cross, but again, the views are stunning.  We are close to Westwood House - an impressive 17th Century hunting lodge that has now been converted to flats.  You could own a bit of this, if you fancy.

Who lives in a house like this - loads of people
I have a decision to make.  The route from the book does not take me past any caches but there is one in Nunnery Wood.  Can I go a whole weekend without finding tupperware?

Cache Finder
That'll be a no then.

I don't fancy retracing my steps thought he mud and water, so I head into the woods. Not wholly sure whether this a right of way or not, but the cache owner has detailed that the shooting is next weekend, so I feel safe in doing so. Emerge out the otherside back on the planned path and there is a sign warning horse riders of potential shooting (noise, not for trespassing), so feel that no laws were broken in my attempt to keep the smileys up.

Work my way past Young's farm and some old mills and the can see another cache on the map, which can easily be detoured for.  As I get to Dean's Wood Pools, I stumble across a farmer who has stuck his tractor in mud.  He has called his mate, who has got his land rover stuck in mud.  His mate has roped his winch to a tree and is attempting to pull both of them out.

I would have took a photo, but they already looked angry enough.  It was quite funny hearing Darren being scolded in a Worcestershre country accent.

Pass this scene of rural bliss and head around to the pools.  Water is still, skies are blue - photo opp.

Dean's Wood Pool
Very Nice
 
 
I find the cache and drop off a TB and then pick up my planned route, which takes me to the Laurels (no resting) near Oldfield and then over the dual carriageway to the Reindeer pub.
 
The road down here is single track and a fair amount of traffic.  What was surprising is there is another pub just down here called the Fruiterer's Arms.  I never knew that and I wonder how they can possibly be in business, as they are so far off the beaten track.  All is revealed, when we discover the landlord has built a caravan park in the grounds.  A captive audience of thirsty black country folk.
 
Just a case now of swinging south and walking towards the steeple if the church.
 
I love it when I find walks like this on my doorstep. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

01/01/12 - Chipper

Distance - 10.2 Miles
Geocaches - 12
Walk Inspiration

Chipping Campden



It was going to be a walk down river from Worcester today.  However, the river is a bit broader than usual, so I don't think the paths will be passable.  Instead, I seek out the high ground, thinking first of Bredon Hill, but then working out that I haven't been to Chipping Campden for a long time.

Its the start of the Cotswold way and this route from www.walkingworld.com is a perfect introduction, providing a superb circular walk for the first stretch to Broadway.

Woken early by the eerie glow of Sonia playing scrabble on her phone and check on the weather through the bedroom window.  It's a winter wonderland, so its fleece lined trousers and micro fleece shirt under the soft shell.  Come downstairs to rouse the dog and I am the poster boy for Craghoppers - a candidate for "Mr Winter" in their new calendar.  Get in the car and its -0.5C.  I may have slighly  overreacted to the frost.

Familar drive and park up in the street.  It seems too good to be true that there is free parking in this town.  Walk down to the market hall for cache number one.

Town Centre
Chipping Campden Town Centre
We leave the town behind, spying where the post walk pint will be had, and take the Cotswold path up to Drovers Hill.  Looks like there are some spooky goings on in town.

Freaky Stuff
Campden - Twinned with Summer Isle
Climb up to Dover's Hill.  Get the first glimpse of Broadway Tower in the distance - this is where we are off to.  Its either very small, or very far away.
  

Views
Broadway Tower - Far Away
Dover Hill has some great views to the North and I have it to myself this morning.

Broadway
Dover Hill

This soon leads into Mile Drive. One cache on the way and three along the path. I've always liked Mile Drive but not sure why. Its a broad green path that turns into muddy fields with not too much to see along it. I think I like it because its a drive and its a mile. I do see my first walkers of the day when fetching a cache - an old fella who looks like he is carrying all is worldly goods in a steel framed rucksack. In conversation, I determine he is walking the same route as me from the Broadway end. It's still to be determined why he is carrying so much stuff.

Mile Drive
Molly at the start of Mile Drive

Cross over the top of Fish Hill and then see the first views of Broadway Tower.  Fine walking and fine views.

First Climpse of the Tower Broadway Tower
My favourite Walking Place
Its all downhill to Broadway and the walkers are all out in force, puffing their way uphill whilst we bound down, taking in the views. We only skirt the town, quickly heading north east and uphill, taking in a few more caches. This is fine, fine walking - taking a ridge path alongside a golf course and the first time I have been along here.

P1020063
Nice Views
It all up and down on the stretch back to Chipping Campden.  Having gained the height, we lose it down Buckle Street, where I find my first Travel Bug Hotel under the nose of a 4x4er taking in the views.  We then have to climb again past Knapp Farm house for a couple of micros. 

The last strecth is a repeat of the outward stretch, taking in Dover's Hill before hitting the town.  I have an emergency fiver, which will not stretch to produce from the butty shop, but will buy me liquid gold.

Well Earned Pint
Joy Unbound