Saturday, 27 July 2013

27/07/13 - Lots of Cots Pots

Distance - 9.9 Miles
Geocaches - 60 found, 3 DNF
First Cache

Cotswolds Great Walk - Central

Out to break my best caching day record today - previously held at 41 and going to be smashed out of the park as I attempt the central ring of the Great Cotswold Walk.  This is a series of 134 Caches, broken down into three rings.  I am going for the Central Ring, starting at Quenington.

I have been looking forward to this all week... loads of caches in my favourite walking part of the country.  It's also a newish area for me... not been to these villages before.  So I get down there, park up next to the pub (always thinking ahead) and get out for cache 1, just past the village green.

Only one problem.  I cannot find the cache.  When loading the sat nav, I noticed that everyone else has found it, so I feel the problem must be me.  After 15 minutes search, I text the support group at home and get told that it wasn't found yesterday.  Feel better about myself and move on.

I will be back for the southern ring, so no great dramas.

At cache 2, I make a find between the dog walking muggles, so at least I have my eye in now.  Just have to wait for them to pass, overhearing the conversation about how a Lord came out and told her off last week as her dog was off the lead.  It's that part of the country.

In other news, Cotswold Outdoors have had a sale on and I am kitted out in my new purchases.  Ellie always says that the reason things are in the sale is that no one wants them.

Man at Cotswold Outdoor
I predict that next week you will all be wearing Burnt Orange and Pumice
Next DNF comes at Number 9, just after the wonderfully named, but sadly not signposted, Cockrup Farm. 

I am then on the Salt Way.  I haven't brought my big camera today, as the space is needed for my raincoat.  The weather predictions were not good, with rain promised from 9am.  I have to wonder when the rain is coming.

Where is the bad weather?
Wall to Wall Sunshine
The walking is easy and the views are expansive.  Plenty of air traffic overhead but not much else to report.  Drop off a couple of TBs.

The path is as straight as an arrow until I turn left at Saltway Barn for my third and final DNF of the day.  This appears to be an old airfield and there are few huts scattered around pointing to the history of the place.

It's another long and straight walk down into Ablington.  An impressive looking manor house is obscured by a high wall, so I cannot get any photos.  One of the caches is in a bus shelter, which makes me reflect on why I love britain. 

There is no village store in Ablington.  I should know, as I have had no breakfast.  Instead, the bus shelter offers newspapers and eggs, where people pay into an honest box.

Unless they are the Orange Bandit.

Eggs and Honesty
Omelette for tea and free cash

Ablinton leads to Arlington.  After 10 years of serious walking, at last, I find the signpost of my dreams.

My kind of Sign
I like to party
The thought of a party gets me thinking of drinks.  The water bottle is running warm and almost dry but I don't need to worry, the Catherine Wheel is just around the corner.

So popular that chairs are scarce
It's a fine example of a British pub. As I go into the bar and convert my egg money into Spanish Lager, there is the male element of a wedding party all dealing with pre-match nerves in the way that the only the British can.  I take my pint outside, to see a coach party of Japanese get dropped off so that they can all take photos.

I am on Human Safari.  But rarely has a pint been so well earned.

Gets demolished in record time
The footpath takes me up the side of the pub.  I am walking towards the church bells.  Our posse of nervous boozers sound like they need to get a wriggle on. 

It may be the post San Miguel joy, but we now move onto the best part of the walk.  First off, I have to walk around the world's most remote cricket pitch.  I wondered what the oval was on the map, but did not expect that.  I then drop down to the River Coln.  The impressive building is simply marked as "Mill" on the OS Map.

Just a Mill
Just a Mill
The walking alongside the shallow river is fine.  A swan and her cygnets glide by and then I see a game of sheepy hide and seek in full flow.

Hiding from the Sun
Coming, ready or not
Far more muggles on this stretch, but it is no surprise.  The River Coln is a fine place to walk and it takes me all the way back to Quenington.  After 5.25 hrs, the village green is a joy to behold.

Back to the Beginning
All cached out
Just need to log the caches.  Thanks to Rooster72 for the setup and maintenance.  I will be back for the next loop in August.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

24/7/2013 - Capital Ring Disaster

Distance - 3.2 Miles
Start - Hackney Wick Station
End - Not Where I Expected
Caches - 8

Capital Ring 14 - Greenway Shut

Phase 14 of the Capital Ring is planned.  There are a disappointing number of caches on route - a grand total of 1.

Slightly more epic than usual train ride on the Jubilee Line and Overground and I am back at the Hackney Wick Badlands and a short stroll to the Olympic Stadium and the canal.  There is a lot of work going on - obviously getting it ready for the Irons new home - so a photo of the stadium would have be obscured by the scaffolding.

Surprisingly pretty down here.

Nice and Pretty
Not too Shabby for a canalside walk
Move on and get to the Greenway, which is a long strecth of my anticipated walk.  There is a gate.  The gate is locked.  There is a sign.  Oh Bugger.

No More Capital Ring
It had to be today, didnit it.
Don't worry, I am an explorer.  But what to do now then?  Scaling the fence is not an option.  I look at the Map - looks like I will be getting more than 1 cache after all.  I can follow the Lee Navigation and pick up quite a few on route to Canning Town.

So its all canal/river side walking today.  The caches come quick and fast and in the main are easy to find.

I only have one problem - a cache hidden in the wall that is guarded by muggle fishermen.  I try and discreetly put my head in the foilage but I cannot have a good look.  Looks like I will have to leave this one - even if it does put a nasty unsmiley in the middle of trail on the Geocaching Map.

Architecturally, Three Mills is the highlight of the walk.  This is the largest tidal mil in the UK.  Geocaching is educational.

Wanna See the Biggest Tidal Mill in the UK?  You Got It.
Next up on interesting places is Bow Locks, with a nice view over Canary Wharf, but its here that the river and the canal part ways.  And the towpath is not taking me to Canning Town after all.

Bow Locks
River or Canal - The choice is nealy mine.  Except the River has no path
Check the map and I can head into the heart of EastEnders country and pick up the DLR back into town.

One last cache and then, as there so frequently is, an end of walk hostelry to quench my thirst.  This is the sort of thing that I love.  When I get back home a couple of days later - a book that I ordered called the "strangest pubs in britain" arrives.  On the cover is this very pub - all because the woman that used to own the building lost a son in the navy.  She baked a hot cross bun for his return and when he never came back, continued to do this every easter.  After it was turned into a pub, a tradition developed where a sailor would arrive at easter with a bun - which is added to the pile in a net suspended from the roof.

I had no idea whilst in there.

Post Walk Refreshment - Eastenders Style
Oddly Named Pub
Looks like I will be back in Hackney Wick to have another crack at Stage 14.

Monday, 22 July 2013

21/07/13 - Danny's Dash

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 0

Danny\'s Dash

Something a little unusual for the walking weekend today.... its a charity run in honour of everybody's friend Danny Horton.

We are here for Danny
Now there wasn't much chance of me being able to do a 7 mile run out over undulating terrain, as I have a slightly bad toe (not gout).  So I get togged up with with the number 103 and get a good 45 minute head start before the runners set off.... otherwise it could have been a wait for them to pack up.

Alex had warned me that last year there were ropes to help you along.  That was probably as much to do with the wet summer, although at times I felt that I could have used them today. 

I also don't need my usual GPS, as the course has been well marked out and at several points, there is a nice friendly Army Cadet to provide instructions.  There's also some even nicer people dishing out water and jelly babies.

First point of reference is the old site of the Woodman Inn, now converted into holiday chalets.  This is quickly followed by Ribbesford Church.  Onto the Worcestershire Way and I am still in the lead, although this doesn't last for much longer as a sweaty fit fella blasts past me at full pelt.  He must be an elite, as there is no-one else following.

The loop is completed and a bit of walking back on the same paths as before when I bump into the Junior Event runners.

Hannah and Alex - People 2 and 3 that I see on the route
Unless its a particularly slow field today, something has gone wrong.  These pair usually spend most of their time chucking water at each other, so where have all the other runners gone?

All is revealed when I see a very ashen faced cadet who reveals that "I think I have sent them all the wrong way".  A low grade military equivalent of friendly fire. 

So for all the runners who went 1m, 2m, 5m..... here's what the halfway marker looks like.

Really, you were only cheating yourselves....
This story is confirmed as I get an update from Mr Packwood on his bike and spy a large trail of empty water bottles.  Technically however, I am still coming second.

The route takes me through some wonderful unchartered paths around the back of Stagborough, where another runner overtakes me before Danny's dad shows terrific dexterity by blasting past me on a very steep downward slope from the summit.

I hit the finish line with a posse of kids - only slightly disappointed to be out of the medals in fourth place.  Still, I do get a can of San Miguel and a kit-kat.

A short while later, Hannah and Alex return triumphantly and I get a rare chance to bond after shared physical exertion.

My boy and me.... it's on Facebook, but I am not allowed to tag him
Shower and out to the pub to replace lost body fluids with fine continental lager.... a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends, remembering a very special one.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

13/7/13 - Palindrome Day

Distance - 7.5 Miles
Geocaches - 1 (100% and had a TB)
Temperature - 30 Degrees

So I missed my promise of first weekend of the month on the Millennium Trail.  Last week was pre-ordained by going to Manchester.

I like the look of today's leg - the OS map has a big blue cup of joy at the starting point.  That's perfect for post hot weather refreshment but as with so many things in life, initial optimism is met with a great big kick in the nuts.  My country inn has been replaced by a restaurant.  Not a normal restaurant, but one that has fusion in the name.  In my experience, any eatery with a fusion monika is an excuse to add the prices of the two things that are fused together.  Who will forget Bewdley's £80 a couple Indian Fusion restaurant.

Still, they may have Perroni
Just before we pick up the Millennium way, I pass a couple of houses.  When picking a house name, I think its key to choose something personal and has specific importance to you.  After all, you are going to live here for the rest of your life and you want people to know what you care about in life.

When you know its going to be a good day
Pick up a gymkhana in the farmer's fields.  It wasn't fair to bring the dog with me in this heat for this distance, but it doesn't take long for me to make new friends from the animal kingdom.

Not the first time that I have been mistaken for a bear

I head south through farmland and thankfully pick up the shade of Great Blaythorn Woods, before heading west into Wadborough.  It might be small, but is has a nice looking pub and the only not previously found cache on route.  It's 9:45am, so I only manage to bag one of them.  It's not nice to be taunted by their tasty fayre.

Middle of nowhere, and still going strong.
Feeling really good about life now, you cruel barsteward
Its all fine walking, as I skirt through the shade of Croome Perry Wood and head to Chevington Farm.  The paths and views are both excellent, with the Malverns and Bredon Hill the usual suspects parading themselves in this part of the world.

Why I am here
Blue Skies, Yellow Fields, The Malverns
Skirt the edge of Drake's Broughton. They are having a Classic Car show and I see a few pull in. Then it's just north to Stoulton and back to the car. Probably a bit too hot for walking today, but glad to have ticked off the next stage of the Millennium way, which is turning into a joy.

If anyone wants me, I will be replacing lost body fluids with strong continental lager.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

07/07/13 - Hot, Hot, Hot

Distance - 6.55 miles (but it felt a lot more)
Geocaches - 6
Pubs - 3
Walk from - AA 1001 Walks - Walk 723


We are up in the northwest to deliver a consignment of kitchen utensils to a student who has moved from University accommodation to a house that knocks the spots of the Young Ones Student house.  It may be missing a few pots and pans, but it has broadband, Sky TV and a dishwasher.  Things do improve.

So we have a Saturday in Manchester - staying at one of Lennie Henry's many purple themed gaffs.  We take in the usual sights - the canals, the town hall and a bar that is in a converted subterranean men's toilet.  I know how to show a girl a good time.

As the weather is going to be wall to wall scorchio - we need to be up relatively early and get the most of the walking done before the mid day heat.  We have forgotten to pay Lenny for breakfast, so we head off with Sonia trying to get me to pull in any of the golden arches that we pass.

I have better ideas and outside Glossop, we hit Jen's hot food van.

Not a bad spot for Breakfast
A fine place to breakfast
We are 15 miles outside Manchester - proving again why it may be the best city to live for the walker.

After this bacon sandwich from the gods, we park up at The Sett Valley Trail car park.  Early part of the walk is straight forward, along an old railway track.  Cache one involves Sonia diving into the undergrowth just as horse riding muggles go past, reassuring their charges that "nothing to worry about - just a lady in the bushes."

Sonia does the same at cache 2 and not to be outdone, I have a go at number 3.  And fail.

We make up for this by dropping down to the reservoir for a bonus cache that also provides a great photo opportunity.

One of the better views of the day
We pick up the Pennine Bridle Way.  This is ominous, as no doubt its going to involve height gain and in this heat, that's one thing that we can do with out.  It's a gentle climb to Lantern Pike, but we feel every footstep.

Pennine Way
Sunglasses definitely needed today
Lantern Pike for a DNF
There's a cache around these parts - but we cannot find it.
We have the height but now the heat (and hay-fever) is relentless.  We are not the only one suffering, as we pass a dry stone wall and see these two panting.

Shelter from the Sun
Too hot for Sheep
Turn right at Matleymoor farm, leaving behind the PBW.  We pick up the Glossop main road and join a group of elderly ladies who are on the same route. 

It is really getting intolerable now.  The flaps come down on my Summer walking cap, but thankfully, I don't have a photo of this piece of sartorial elegance.  We arrive at Tom Hey's Farm, where it is obvious that a) the Path is going back uphill and b) its going onto the moorland, away from the road and our salvation in town.

This side of Kinder
That Path is uphill - and away from the pub.  There is always another day....
It doesn't us long to come to the decision that we will take our lives in our own hands and head down on the main road - footpathless but all downhill.

Stop at the Lantern Pike Pub for the best pint of lemonade of all time.  Then it's a short drop back to Hayfield.  Lunch at the George Hotel and then head to the Kinder Lodge - where they have the promise of an outdoor TV and Strawberries and cream for the tennis.

Pub in Time for Tennis
Alas, it was too hot to even sit outside
Watched the first set and then listened to the rest after picking up Ellie and hitting the M6.

Not a bad weekend for Mappiman and Great Britain.