Sunday, 31 March 2013

31/3/13 - Boing Boing Baggy Point

Distance - 4.83 Miles
Geocaches - 12
Walk Inspiration

Last Night
An evening in Appledore, testing out the Coach and Horses.  It doesn't look much from the outside but there was a great juke box for me to introduce the locals to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  They also had the most amazing meat based menu.  To give you an indication, the only vegetarian option was a burger called the "Tree Hugger".  And they had Korev Cornish Lager, which more than did the job.  The pub was packed with the Appledore FC supporters club noisily coming in for a round before heading off to see Elvis.  We knew they were football fans, as their greyhound had a scarf on.

Today's Walk

Croyde Bay

Well, I planned this as it was local to Appledore.  And it is, as the crow flies.  Unfortunately, if you are in a car you need to go inland to the maze that is Barnstable to get around the coast, taking in 20 miles of driving to get 6 miles from home.

Still it was worth it.  We have the spectacular drive along the coast and park up at the top of Croyde Bay - heading straight onto the beach.  Its almost enough to just stay there and build sandcastles and watch the surfers. 

Start of the Walk

But up on Baggy Point, there are a lot of caches, so we cross the sand and head up the coast road - spotting where we will be having lunch on the way back down.

The path up Baggy Point is superb.  Beautiful blue sea to the left, gorgeous blue skies up above. 

Now thats what I call a path
My favourite Path
A couple of caches before we spot the second sportsmen of the day, the tomb stoners.  They take a while to make the leap, with Sonia shouting encouragement of "Go On Jump" at them.  This is why she failed her suicide negotiation course so spectacularly.

Tomb Stoning
Tomb Stoning

We leave them behind and keep on working our way up and around to the point. 

Baggy Point
Baggy Point - More than we got at West Ham yesterday

From the other side, our views stretch out to Woolacombe before we turn right and head in land.

Bench Time
On the Bench

The farmer is rounding his new born sheep up - and these really are new born.  He needs to coral them onto the back of his 4x4 trailer, which is very amusing.  He can easily grab the newborns but the mommies present far more trouble.  We sit and watch this until it get boring, 1 hour later.

We are dropping down the other side of baggy point - taking in our caches, as the National Trust have organised an Easter Egg Hunt.  This means hundreds of nice middle class muggles are coming in the opposite direction.  We manage to get all the caches we want and all too soon are back at the National Trust CafĂ©.

In Front of the Easter Egg Hunters
Easter Egg Hunt is On

I have a £20 - which is just enough to get a crab sandwich, a ham sandwich and a pot of tea for two.  Still, it did come with Asparagus Tips, which is a nice touch.

Crab Sandwiches
My First Crab Sarnie

There are a couple more caches around the back of the dunes.  Sonia takes some convincing to leave the beach to look for "boxes of tat" but on the promise that we will come out the dunes and back to the sea, she decides to come and help.

A stunning walk to end the mini break.  Now I am just going to have to put up with Sonia browsing travel agents websites looking for a property that boasts similar views to what we have seen today.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

30/3/13 - From our Front Dore

Distance - 5 Miles
Caches - 9
Temperature - Baltic
Walk Inspiration

Last Night's Entertainment
So, when in a strange town we go out to check out the pubs.  The Beaver Inn wins the highest marks on online review sites but was too busy to get a sniff of getting in.  The Royal George has the lowest marks and there was plenty of room.  Who says the Internet doesn't work?

The best places in Appledore are next to each other.  Slyvester's Chippy is next door to the Champ Pub and we took advantage of both of their facilities.  The champ was rather special - sofa's, interesting real ales, packed with people and a blues band setting up.  Our town should take note. 

Today's Walk

Northam Burrows

We can leave from our front door, which is always rather nice - no commuting today - out the kitchen, into the street and off we go. 

Our Street
Sonia's Research suggested loads of parking in our Street
Head upland and get the road walking out of the way first, working our way to Diddywell, where Ken Dodd goes on holiday.  Not much to report from this stretch, but it serves a purpose as it is bringing us out to the coastal path at Northam Burrows Nature Reserve.
Northam Burrows
The Dunes - Look out for Golfers
The land is a strange mixture of a Golf Course and grazing land for various horses and sheep.  Once we reach the coastal path, the caches start to come thick and fast.  Sonia is very brazen on recovery, not worrying about being muggled, as "no one knows her in Devon".

First Sea of 2013
Caches and Coast - we are both happy
The walking is straightforward, although the estuary does mean that Appledore never seems to be getting any closer.  The caches take our mind off the temperature and cover all the size ranges.

Little Cache
From the smallest
Big Cache
To my personal favourite
The low tide path looks a bit mucky, so we have a longer walk around the edges, passing an abandoned life boat station before meeting the new one closer to town. From here, its a case of walking the narrow streets, with the Balamory style cottages, before finding a suitable place for refreshments. I had bought the stuff for a Full English Breakfast but despite the sub zero temperatures - someone is on holiday.

Post Walk Refreshments
If you are wearing a bobble hat, its too cold for ice cream

Friday, 29 March 2013

29/3/13 - Good Dam

Distance - 5.8 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Walk From - Jarrold Exmoor and the Quantocks

Wimbleball Lake

Traffic reports from an 18 year old student suggested that today would be the busiest time on the roads this year.  So we set the alarm, left early and did the 140 miles to Somerset in 2 hours 15 minutes.  Maybe the traffic is bad in Manchester.

This time did not include the stop at Taunton Dean services.  Sonia asks me if there are toilets at the start of this walk.  I know how many miles, geocaches and what the terrain will be, but the toilet situation is beyond  me.  So we stop for a break and it gives me the chance to get a coffee.  Sonia says that the deal for a pastie and any hot drink at £2.95 looks a bargain, so I spend 5 minutes deciding before being met with a "£5.95 please". 

Turns out the offer was for a hot drink and a pastry.  Once I had made up my mind for a BBQ steak one the size of my shoe, a croissant wasn't going to cut it.

We park up at Haddon Hills Picnic Area.  There are toilets.

At the car park
Start at the top
Its also nearly at the top of the hill, which means that the walking to the trig point couldn't be easier.

Haddon Hill
The future of hill walking - park at the top
Molly at the Trig
We pick up four caches that have all been recently maintained and in excellent condition on the way to Haddon Farm and the lane.  This is a stiff descent and it doesn't look like there is any vehicular access for the farm.  I take Sonia's mind off the drop down by leaving her thinking about "how they get the tractors up there". 

She thinks that hard that she slips over, saving her bottom by landing in a crab style all fours.  I rescue her and she says "surprised you didn't take a photo for your bloody blog".  Should have been quicker.

We arrive at Bury that has a lovely ford and old pack horse style bridge and then have a long walk along the wonderfully titled River Haddeo.  This is pleasant walking along the valley floor.

Bury Bridge
Bury Bridge
Bury Bridge
River Haddeo
Other side of the River Haddeo is out of Bounds
At Hartford, we get a little confused which involves a retrace your steps crossing on an old wooden bridge, before we end up having a very steep climb to the dam.  This is having a lot of work done to it and the workers hut provided a great place to share our sandwiches with the dog.

Sarnie Time
The Dam from the workers hut

A simple case of then following the track back to the car park - climbing up hill all the way.  I saved a cache till the end and it turned out to be a monster sized one.

Uphill back to the car
Nearly back at the car
We move on to our ultimate destination, Appledore, where we have rented a fisherman's cottage for the Easter break.  Architecturally, it is rather unusually laid out in a one down, three up configuration.  But on the way up from the car I spied two pubs and a chipper - so it will more than do us.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

24/3/13 - Cabin Fever

Distance - 4.4 Miles
Geocaches - 8 Found, 1 DNF


If you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans.  Yesterday, the dog was booked in for her 10th birthday barnet trim at the dog clippers.  This meant that I could go for a lengthy drive, without having her whining in the back.  If the weather was good, I was going to attempt the mountain walk from Hay on Wye... if the weather wasn't so good, it was going to be a city walk from Bristol.

The weather conspired to be the worst March in 50 years.  Instead of walking, I spent the day looking at the snow storm through the window - getting into the spirit of things by watching the final part in a Scandavian crime triolgy.  Slowly climbing the walls. It got the point where I was going to start writing "Red Rum" on the walls in red paint, when the evening was rescued by a trip to Sainsbury's. 

It was that bad.

Today could not afford such a repeat but with the weather still the wrong side of Artic, we headed off to Wombourne, knowing there was a recently laid trail.

We parked up at Bratch Bridge and headed up the canal.  A stop for the first cache of the day, which Sonia found in the darkness.

Icycle Works
Springtime in Wombourne
We head north, saying hello to friendly joggers and not so friendly fellow dog walkers, finding the 2nd nano but failing to find the third of the day.  The clue and co-ords were spot on and we can only assume that it was buried beneath the ice and snow.
Back in the game as we get a find and drop off a TB at Awbridge Bridge.  So good they nearly named it twice. 

Grin.  And bear it.
Short bit of roadwalking and we hope that we can get up to the railway line to head back down to pick up the caches along the way.

Julia Bradbury is right.  Beeching may have decimated public transport but he did leave some nice walks.  And the great news is they are long and straight so you can see the muggles coming.  Two more found without embarassment.

South Staff Railway Walk
We walk the line
As we a up a touch higher, we are more exposed to the beast from the east and Sonia starts dreaming aloud about the prospect of a nice warm cafe for a cup of tea. 

I have been this way before and know what is at  the end of the line.  What I don't know is quite how to get into it.  The cafe is the former railway station but there is no obvious way up from the line itself.

A woman cannot be kept from a bacon sarnie and with the same fortitude she displays when hunting for treasure, we manage to burst our way in.

Cafe Found
Molly checks for where the Bacon Sarnies are
This brings us back to the car.  But we have only walked a couple of miles.  I manage to convince them both to do a bit more and we find the cache of the day at the Bratch Green.  Very ingenious.
The footpath takes us up through a housing estate and into the village proper, where we complete a quick loop around the historic church to grab a couple of micros.
Historic Church
Nearly chucking out time
It's not that easy caching as the church congregation are exiting. We head back the car, praising the lord in our own way for the fresh air and the chance to blow out the cobwebs.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

16/3/13 - It better come with chips

Distance - 6.7 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk From - Cicerone Heart of England Walks

Its been a good week, with many highlights.  We were scared by Johnny Sorrow at the monthly comedy club, tonight is a big night out for my brothers 40th and then there was this fella.

Big Shu - Thursday's Saviour
Thanks to him, there is a big pile of beautiful blue notes hidden around my house... far out of the reach of onesey attired teenagers and wives with unnatural holiday fetishes.

It's amazing how exciting horse racing can get after a bucket of Guinness.

I've checked the weather and it is sunny in Craven Arms - so it was going to be a 10 miler from Stokesy Castle.  As Sonia wanted to come, we looked for something a touch more sedate, so it was Henly in Arden in the rain.

Fine medieval town, with a mile long high street and every building looks like a coaching inn.  Our joy at getting the last free parking space soon dissipates as we head out into the weather.

Bad Weather
Molly considers adoption
We pass the church and have the stiff climb up the old motte and bailey castle of Beaudesert,  There is nothing here apart from one stone and the earth works, but it does give a view across the village.  Sonia looks for the rough council estate, her theory is that all nice places have one tucked around the back.

Beudesert Castle
The Queen of all she surveys
Up and down the ramparts to get the first cache of the day and then some nice walking through the mud and puddles on the Heart of England Way.  Cache two is protected by a moat, but as I am soaked already, there is no option but to wade in.

We are now up on the hill and have the wind howling to go with the driving rain.  It does cross your mind why we are out in this, but time is precious.  And with Fast Pint Arm Bob back for his birthday, I will have a bad head tomorrow.

Some nasty walking down green lanes which are frankly water shoots and across a few fields as we reach Preston Bagot.  The ground is getting beyond a joke - forget gaiters, we need waders.

Its a challenge
There is a cache at Bagot Church, which is the last of the day.  It did contain the promised TB, so that has come with me for future adventures.

Preston Bagot
Preston Bagot - It has a church, a cache and puddles.
Drop downhill to the A4189.  The signs say Henley to the right, but we go left to the canal.  Sonia asks how long is left and I say three miles.  She exclaims the sign said 1.5 miles.  I had to explain to her how she didn't want to be walking along a major trunk road when there is a lovely muddy canal to have a slop along.

To be fair, the Stratford Canal is as good as they get.  No half submerged shopping trolleys here, just swans and reeds.

Hats Off - It must have stopped raining
We pick up the River Alne, just north of Wooton Pool.  It is incredibly fast flowing but as we want to go to a pub, we look to see if there is an opportunity to get the dog clean.  We come along a stream that feeds the main river and chuck in her recently found bottle.  Molly leaps in but the water is a bit deeper than any of us expected and she spadooshes right under, Tom Dailey style.  We raise scorecards of 8.5 and 9 respectively, once she bobs back to the surface.

A bit of confusion at Blackford Mill Farm.  After admiring the incredible weir, we lose the footpath and end up walking up the farmers drive.  I am surprised he didn't tell us off, as we met him half way along.

Then its just the main road back to town and to find somewhere that does semi skimmed milk, cake and quality real ale.  We like to challenge our town visits.

Henley in Arden
Returning Heros with a culinary challenge
To be fair, we are far too dirty to sit inside but the sun has come out and we get settled in the beer garden at the Swan.  Gaiters off and I head in.  They have Black Sheep.  They have semi skimmed milk.  Sonia has changed her order from cake to a steak sandwich and they have Steak on Ciabatta, with caramelised onions.  I order and am met with the rebuke that they are not doing food this lunch time as they are so busy we pre-booked orders.  Not even for a sandwich I protest?


I say hello to the Chef, perched on a step smoking a fag, as I return to break the bad news.

So we head off in search of other options.  It was meant to be as we come across the West Midlands Food pub of the Year -The Bluebell.

Blue Skies at the Bluebell
Its a Find
We settle into the Garden and I head in and ask if they do sandwiches.  Met in the positive.  So 2xHam and Mustard and a couple of drinks and £1.50 change out of one of Big Shu's bounty.

Explained that I hadn't ordered a side of chips as I was out of finances and Sonia says for £6.50, it better come with bloody chips.

Oh Yes
Even the dog is hopeful
It didn't.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

09/03/13 - On the trail

Caches - 21 Found, 2 DNF
Distance - 4.3 Miles
First Cache

Sneachill Caching

The only good thing to say about the weather is that it is better than yesterday.  It is still not good enough to knock off one of my walks on the list.  There is no point in doing a walk from "Britain's best views" when we have low cloud and drizzle.

So what shall I do.  How about a relatively local cache trail?

This will be my first of the year..... but if I want to maintain my status as the 743rd best cacher in the UK, I am going to have to go out and get the numbers from somewhere.  I notice that Dr Solly has just logged his 30,000th.  OCD in action.

To be fair, my heart is not really in it.  Sonia is up for coming, but one look at my miserable face as I lace up my gaiters nearly talks her out of it.  She comes anyway.  I need access to her womanly hunting skills, honed after many years of finding Alex's shin pads and my work shoes.

We park up at the suggested layby and am pleased that there are no other cars here.  It's one thing hunting for tupperware, its another doing it with strangers.

We head up the road and turn right opposite the pub (nice food, been before) and head out into the fields.  The caches come thick and fast and you need to remember to look for the bonus letters in the lids and top of notebooks to grab a bonus.

We walk past the Ballast Hole (at least that is what it is called on the map) and get to number 4 which is an unusual multi stage puzzle cache.  Sonia asking if they are going to provide a baking tray, so I can lay all the bits on it.  We work out what we have to do and then find the biggest of the day to drop off a TB.

Crossing the Tracks
Frankly, Gaiters look ridiculous
Then across the railway line.... a great place to appreciate how fast cross country trains go.  The driver gave us a friendly toot, even though he was along way away.

Look behind you
We cross this twice
Turn left onto a very muddy path - finding a cache whislt the water laps up to the top of my gaiters.  Sonia asks if it is lucky to put your hand in bird poo.  It probably isn't.

Work our way through the slop to the aptly named Old House Farm.  It is rather ramshackle.  I wonder if they know what is stuffed in a hole in a tree in their grounds?

Double back on ourselves through the grounds of Spetchley Park, before reaching the great house.  This is the historical and architectual highlight of the walk.

Specthley Hall
Played a part in the English Civil War and the 2nd World War
We have our first do not find shortly before the house.  It proves that I cannot cache unless there is a clue.  All we know is that is somewhere on, or under, a bridge.  After nearly slipping in the drink, I ponder taking up a more suitable hobby.  Trainspotting comes up as an idea after we cross the railway line for the 2nd time and fail to find the second cache of the day.
Spirits low, we are faced with a terrible looking field to cross and decide to walk around.
Can't go over it
Not going to bother with that
As if the cache owner can read my mood, we are then faced with a box full of decoys.  It had to be the last tweezer based extraction before I found the real log.

Then around the sewage works and back to the road.

Ellie phones Sonia for a lunch time chat and I work out how many of the letters we have for the bonus.  We have A, C, D, E and F.  No bloody B.

I plot the co-ords into the sat nav and use a bit of logic.  The bonus is soon found, to end on a high.

As we are caked in mud, there is no chance of a post walk pint in the Nightingale.  We could sit outside, but it has started raining.

We head home.

Unfortunately, my caching biorhythms are at a low ebb today.  The caches on this trail are well put together and some are unique.  Thanks to the Thejenks7 for putting it together.

Maybe I am not cut out for cache trails.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

02/03/13 - Easily Led

Distance - 8.8 Miles
Geocaches - 7
Walk Inspiration


Oh Joy - March is here.  This means we can stop living like scandinavians, the boys annual trip to Cheltenham races is booked and importantly, the clocks go back.  Soon, we will be able to do things in the evening again.

I had high hopes for the walk and there is more unexpected joy, I accidently stumbled on a top 10 county pub for Herefordshire.

Ledbury is a decent looking place - famous for its black and white buildings.  I have walked here once - arriving here after a 6 hour traverse of the Malverns from Malvern Link.  The train back took 8 minutes.

Black and White Town
Built in 1617 - Now selling flowers and carpets
The route takes us up the side of the Market building and into Church Street.  Its here that I find an interesting pub and vow to return, thinking that the number 2 camra pub in Herefordshire must be on my list.

Unexpected Joy
Walk on By - No Thanks
Nice walk through the Church grounds and we work our way up Dog Hill.  There are a couple of caches to collect in between the muggle dog walkers.  Straight away, I can tell this walk will be a classic.  The paths are excellent and the views are expansive.

Dog Hill.  Apt.
Dog Hill - Why does mine look so shifty?
Next Cache is a at Kilbury Camp - another Iron Age hillfort, where we can see the Malverns in all their glory.  This view from the South West is a new one for me.

Drop down and cross the road to have a good couple of miles on excellent paths to meet the bottom end of the Malverns.  Not a soul around.

Nice Paths all the way
Enjoying the Peace

We cross the Ridgeway and drop down to Netherton Farm.  Could their be a more picturesque farmhouse?  There are a couple of dogs guarding it which make Molly a bit shifty, but I have to leave her to make friends, as for the first time this year - we see the lambs.

Come on Spring
We are sheep, not numbers
We leave this scene of domestic joy and continue to Peacock Villa at the foot of the Malverns.  Soon at the obelisk, which has undergone some tarting up since the last time I was here.  You can read the inscriptions.  Dedicated To a certain Mr Cocks and in no way phallic.

The Sun comes out and Blue Skies at the Obelisk
Next highligh of the walk soon arrives - Eastnor Park and the castle, which you can see in the distance.  Make my way down to the lakes.  Last time I was here, there was a herd of deer, but no sign today.

Eastnor - Lovely
Warming Up

On new territory as we head west to pick up the road.  A mercifully short bit of dodgy roadwalking before we turn right and head up past a Eastnor Church.

The paths are excellent - matching the views behind.  Its been a while since we had a geocache on the route and next one is at Dead Woman's Thorn.  I found the tupperware and thankfully, no cadavers.

The next one involves advanced geocaching.  Its OK - I had my phone with me in case I got stuck.

Too old for this
Thing I do for caching... I was rewarded with Travel Bugs.

More excellent paths lead me back to the town and a couple more caches to finish things off.  You know what comes next.

Post Walk Joy

Very nice pint of Otter, with the Tuna Sandwich being delivered moment later.  Have an impressive walk up the high street.  After last nights walk in Kidderminster, it was a joy to see independent shops without a single boarded up premises.

A superb walk, a super pub and months of good weather ahead.