Saturday, 31 August 2013

31/08/13 - 100% on the Cots Pots Northern Loop

Distance - 6 Miles
Geocaches - 34

Great Cotswold Walk Part 2

As predicted, I am back on the Cotswolds Great Walk at the end of August.  But only just.  As the northern round is only 6 miles, Mrs Mappiman has come with me.  Pots don't excite her but the prospect of a pub lunch does.  The Northern round is short enough that even the dog can come along.

We head down and park up in Coln Rogers.  There's not a lot here but it is off such beauty that you just want to stop and drink it all in.  Chocolate box Cotswolds at its finest.

Coln Rogers
Its a lovely day

Start of the Walk
But we really ought to get going
As usual on these monster cache rounds, cache 1 proves the most difficult to us.  It shouldn't have but cacher's eye takes a while to get going.

We head off to Winson.  3rd cache of the day did not look like it was on a public right of way but it would appear that the nouveau rich who have done a lot of work on the impressive mill house have done a Jeremy Clarkson and got the footpath re-routed.  All is revealed on the ground... just turn left up hill and a footpath sigh takes you where you need to be.

We then have a walk through woods where the clue of "small tree" and dense tree cover gives us our only real challenge of the day before emerging through fields and back over the Coln.  Dog gets an early dunk.

Early Dunk
Jurassic Doodle 
Molly meets Skittles the puppy in the village.  She behaves herself. 

A lot of field walking but it really is glorious.  The wheat has been harvested, so the short golden fields give way to the blues skies with views all around.  Not much to report but you could not hope for better walking conditions.

Fields of Gold
Wouldn't want to be anywhere else
Long straight path back into Ablington.  Cross the Coln again, competing with a couple of cyclists for the best photos.

We are now on the way back.  Ablington Downs over more great views and the only hint of a climb on the walk. 

I look at the map and spy the name of our path. Mrs Mappiman is starting to want her lunch, so diversionary tactics are deployed.  "This path is named after someone who is hungry", I quiz.  After trying "Gluttony Alley" she moves on to "Lick you Lips lane".  She is damn close for a 2nd guess but the answer I am after is "Potlicker's Lane".  Its true - you can look it up on the map.  But despite it being wide enough for a Post Office Van, it has no sign - otherwise I would have shared it with you.

My tactics didn't really work.  She is more hungry than ever.  "How many left?" asks she.  "6" I reply.

She counts them all down until we make it back to the car.  Unusually for me - a 100% round.  Must have been the assistance.

We spied the lunchtime pub on the way in.  Good job, as Coln Rogers is a dry village.

Nice Place for Lunch
Hare and Hounds it is.

Well Earned
Food is on its way.  Glad I bought a brace of twenties.
Another superb cache trail - thanks again  Rooster72 for the setup and maintenance. 

The southern loop will be completed at the end of September.

Monday, 26 August 2013

26/08/13 - Marching in the Welsh Marches

Distance - 4.6 Miles
Geocaches - 1 (in Cleobury)
Walk from - 40 Country Walks in the Welsh Marches
Today was going to be a monster geocaching trip in the Cotswolds.  Then Sonia wanted to come.  So I replanned an 8 miler from Goodrich.  Then Ellie wanted to come.  Reduce the miles with the added stipulation that I should find a "nice walk that ended at shops".

Our annual visit to Ludlow it is then.

As we have walked there so often, there are no new geocaches to find.  Instead, we stop for a drive by in Cleobury.  I noticed one was published yesterday and there is the chance of a FTF.  No chance, someone has been out at 5:53am.  Addicts.

We park up at my favourite FOC parking space at Whitcliffe.  A fine view for the start of any walk.

Head up the road and pick up the forest path on the Mortimer Trail.  There is an extensive network of paths through the forests that you could walk many times without taking the same route.

Mortimer Trail
Mortimer Trail
We are meant to be dropping down to the Mary Knoll Valley floor.  But first we pickup another Labradoodle and a lady who walks with us for a mile.

We found a Labradoodle
Two dogs
We eventually come to the bit where we need to drop to the valley floor.  We say our goodbyes to our new walking companions.  The path is a little indistinct, with some foliage to overcome.  Ellie says "I'm not going down there".  Shame, as the valley looked stunning.

Save Mary Knoll for another day
One Refusenik
Family life is all about compromise, so we take the parallel forest track on high ground for some easy walking.

Reach the bottom and our path meets the one that we should have been on.

End of the Forest
Of course I can take a photo - I did A Level Art
Leaving the forest behind, we have some nice easy walking through farmland.  We admire the row of 6 identical pairs of Y fronts on the line at Starvcrow.  Bank Hols must be Shropshire wash day.

We read the sign about this being the old Leominster to Ludlow coach road.  History on our doorstep.  The notice board also gives us good directions on which way to head.

Which way Ludlow?
Which way to the shops?
Meet the road at Overton and have an easy walk back into town.  Admire the narrow gatehouse that cars can just squeeze through.  As sat nav takes us back this way, I know it is big enough for an E-Class Merc - but only after setting off both parking sensors.

We look for a suitable place for our picnic.  And where could be better than Dinham Bridge, in the shadow of the castle.  Its all setup for a bank holiday extravaganza - geese, ferrets, punch and judy.

A quick dunk
Swim before sarnies

Dinham Bridge
Post Sarnie Photo Opp
We need to look at the town and take the path around the castle to bring us out in Market Square.  Timeless walking.

Around the castle
Henry VIII's brother died here, you know.
There is a large market in full flow but despite my protestations, Sonia insists we go for a pint.

She Dragged me in
Come on in, Mappiman
It is a bank holiday
It is Bank Holiday
A super walk. Next time I am in Ludlow, I am either going to do the walk proper or maybe stop for a night and explore the place properly.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

25/08/13 - Bomber

Distance - 6.9 Miles
Geocaches - 6
Walk From - Trail Magazine June 2013

Bleaklow Head

A promise was made to help a student avoid a long train journey after work.  I don't mind... I have the chance for further exploration of the Peak District.  I have had my eye on this walk for a while - a new mountain summit with the added frisson of an air crash site.  And a drive up the Snake Pass.

One of the exciting things about planning a walk is getting the stuff together for lunch.  Yesterday, I headed down to the co-op and bought a large cob.  I took it to the deli and asked for enough chicken to fill her up.  I got home and whilst preparing for a shopping trip, Sonia kindly made me a bacon sandwich on crusty bread.  I then saw the crusty loaf and used it for evening beans on toast.  Even later in the evening, Sonia asked me where my walking loaf had gone and I said that I hadn't bought a loaf, just a large bap.  It took here about 20 minutes for her to stop laughing as "I had eaten my own lunch".  Turns out there is a fine line between a small loaf and a large bap.

The other thing to consider is what to wear.  Having checked the forecasts, it promises Glossop based sunshine.  On parking up on Snake Pass, I can only say I am glad I have thrown my micro fleece into the car.  The wind and cloud are a bit of a surprise.  Also leads to disappointing views at the start of the walk.

Murky Start
Nothing to see really
The start of the walk is on the well marked, and sometimes paved, Pennine Way.  Have to hold onto my hat in the wind and there is next to nothing to see.  Occasionally, I overtake some other walkers - including Milly the Labradoodle. 

The ascent is as gentle as it gets.  In fact, you only know that you have reached the top of Bleaklow when you reach a pile of stones with a pole in it.

Bleaklow Head
I have arrived
There is an earth cache and a physical cache to show and also directions to be given to the Wain Stones.

I am off there myself.

Wain Stones
From an angle, they look like two faces kissing.  Mountain romantics.
I am then heading off-piste to take in the Hern Stones and a micro cache.  The going is tough - all peat hags - but surprisingly I am on terra firma and there are none of those horrible moments when you think the peat is trying to steal your boots.  Even I am impressed that I can use technology to find something the size of your finger in the middle of a peat bog in the first place that you look.

I am not on real paths but every so often, you see a boot print that gives you the confidence that you are heading in the right direction.

I have marked on the map the exact location of the crash site.  This was a B29 Superfortress - named the overexposed - that came down in 1948, with a loss of 13 lives.  The wreckage is spread over a wide field and instantly, the engines and wheels are recognisable.  Its in quite amazing condition - I am staggered that the peat hasn't sucked into the bowels of the earth.  In the fog, with overhead aircraft coming into or out of Manchester Airport, its all rather eerie.

Crash Site
I sit on a rock to put my camera away. My sandwiches aren't up to my usual standard but Milly the labradoodle comes charging around the corner and sticks her snout straight in my bag. I thought my labradoodle was bad, but at least she waits until you offer.  Glad that I wrapped them in tin foil.

Move on from the wreckage to the next high point - the Higher Shelf Stones.  And as if by magic, the clouds start to lift and the sun comes out.  My god, what a vitsa I would have missed.

First I admire the chiseled graffiti - the oldest I spot is 1871.

Ancient Grafiiti
Kids today just draw knobs
I then have a hunt around for a cache - which is found and decide to take in another thats over at the Lower Shelf Stones. 

Lower Shelf Stones
Another Cache in the Bag
With the sun out and Milly nowhere to be seen, I decide to risk lunch.

With no crusty bap, hovis had to suffice.
I retrace my steps again to go through the crash site and then head east to try and pick up the Pennine way again.  Its tough going - what looks like flat land often hides 10 foot mud gorges that have to be traversed.  Still, I get through  it and head back on the path I came up on.  Only this time in the sunshine, admiring the views that were cruelly denied earlier.

There is one cache left at Urchin Clough.  I have 2.5 hours before Ellie needs to be picked up.  I go for it.

This was one of my better choices.  The views are superb.

Urchin Clough
Having a cloudy start makes you appreciate the views even more when they come
With this final cache in the bag, I retrace my steps to reach the car.  Its a lot different to when I got here.

Gloom Lifts on the return
Back at the beginning
Still got an hour and half to kill before Boots chuck out the good people of Didsbury.  But what shall I do?  I know.....

Royal Oak - Glossop
Warning sign against bad 1980's albums

Friday, 23 August 2013

21/08/13 - Capital Ring Phase 14 - All along the Poo Pipe

Distance - 5 Miles
Geocaches - 0
Start - Hackney Wick
Finish - Prince Albert DLR

Capital Ring Phase 14

I am back on the Capital Ring.  Almost a month ago to the day, I was thwarted in my attempts to complete this leg by the Greenway being closed for maintenance.  I am back today, following the same familiar streets (hello garage, hello bagel bakery, hello canal) and do the half mile to the start of the Greenway again.

My heart sinks, as at first, I think it is shut again.  Its not, its just very difficult to get into.

Hurrah - Its open
The hardest Path to follow
But just what is this enigmatic Greenway that has been put between me and success?  Once on top, it offers fine views of the Olympic Stadium and its a long, straight concrete path reminding me of a disused railway line. 

A look on the OS map reveals why there is an odd odour in the air.  It is the Northern Outfall Sewer.  Most of London's sewage goes along this 6 mile pipe to where it is treated before emptying into the Thames.  And trust me - a times, the smell leaves you in no doubt.

After 13 stages of this Capital Ring, I have a horrible suspicion that this is going to peter out to unnecessary misery.

At least there is an unobstructed view of the Olympic Stadium.

Olympic Stadium
West Ham Sign should point at it
Few mad cyclists tear-arsing along at break neck speed.  Not much to look at but we do hit confusion at a place where you can "View the Tube".  ViewTube, if you will.

Marketing at its best
The sign is a lie.  Just more tarmac and whiffs
It all gets a bit confusing here.  The Greenway is now shut again but only for a short while.  What starts off as a signposted diversion ends with walking through a complex building site.  I come out at Stratford High Street and cross the four lanes of the a dual carriageway, back on Turd Tarmac. 

I'm afraid its all plod city from now on.  There are minor distractions of views of Canary Wharf - and behind me to the city but the only architectural delight is a pumping station.

Ees are Good
My Favourite "E" T-Shirt

Pumping Station
Used as an Asylum in one of the Batman movies
This goes on and on, through Plaistow and I leave the Pong Path at Beckton Park.  I attempt a cache at the City Zoo - but at 8pm, its all been locked up for several hours.

The train back is from Royal Albert Dock.  No place for refreshment but views over the City Airport. 

When I get back, I check out the final stage and find that its only 4 miles.

I probably should have tagged it on to this.  I have a feeling the final furlong it will smell sweeter but be equally uninspiring.  A sad end to what has so far been a superb adventure  

Saturday, 17 August 2013

17/08/13 - Cockshot to Cradley

Distance - 5.61 Miles
Geocaches - 6
Walk Inspiration

One of those weekends where everything is setup nicely.  All the family friends kids got their required A level results.  Friday night took in both a visit to the Hive library and the new Alan Partridge film.  When I get back from the walk, the premiership kicks off.  And we have a fancy dress party to attend.  Photos on Facebook, not on the blog.

Mind, its not all celebrations.  I am now the only person in house who doesn't own an iPhone - Windows Mobile will rise again.  And its a miserable overcast day, with the promise of 12pm rain.

But where to walk?  Top 10 county pub walks have been sadly neglected since April, so check my list and I can combine a walk with the promise of a fine drink in a superb walking part of the Country - The Malverns.

Head off at 8:45am - needing to get in the pub before the rain.  Park up at West Malvern, with the pub at the start of the walk.

Works outing for Bish
Come on Bish - we can have a work's outing here
As well as making my top 10 county pubs list, this fine drinkery is also the winner of Pub with View competition 2005.  I wonder what happened to that particular prize?  And how do you lose it in 2006?  Does a pub get built in a nicer location?

Finest Pub View - 2005
What's around the Corner - Well you should have been here in 2005
The footpath drops down steeply away from the Malvern Hills and soon meets the Worcestershire Way.  I meet a pointless stile in the middle of a field.

Pointless Stile
But of course - observe the countryside code
This is an unusual walk in that I am waling down hill - past farms and through woodland and arrive at Cockshot Hill.  Stunning views from here - they really should have built a pub.

Cockshot Hill
Great Views
But not great conditions for Timer operated Photos
Drop down to Netherley Farm.  I have pre-determined that I can add a geocache round to the planned walk by circling the small village of Cradley.  This is a great choice - as the caches are good and the village is quite pretty - with a nice church and war memorial.

Cache 1 requires me to get down to business and remove my caching utility bag.  Cache soon found.

Spot the Geocache
Spot Cache 1 of the day
Muggled at cache 2, as I am signing the log.   A jolly dog walker, jauntily carrying a bag of poo, creeps up behind me and says hello.  I must have lept out of my skin as she apologises for scaring me.  Cache 3 has the largest amount of treasure I have seen for some time (well done CO) and a TB. 

Come to the church and take a few photos as I wait for scary poo bag swinger to pass me for the 2nd time.  She goes and I find cache 4, containing another TB.

Cradley Church
The Pretty Church at Cradley
Cradley Church
Mappiman at Cache 4 Ground Zero
The circuit around the village takes in a couple of small caches before I meet back with the route proper at the base of Cockshot Hill.

That was a well worthy diversion.

I continue on a great bridleway towards Mathon Court - which now appears to be called the Priory.  Not sure this is the one for sex/drug/alcohol addicted celebs.  It appears to be an orphanage. 

As I spent the start of the walk going downhill, I know that I have all my uphill walking at the end.  Its not too bad and of course, the prize awaits me.

Black Pear
Dog's at the hairdressers today, so I am allowed inside
It's 11:55am.  There is one punter in there before me.  The pint of Malvern Hills Black Pear is well received.  The other bloke thinks I am weird taking photos of myself inside his local.  There's a touch of an atmos.  Doesn't matter - I want to check out the Fag's Folly.

Fag's Folly
Luxury - It's got heaters
And one thing that has improved over my lifetime - weather reports.  12:00pm and the rain starts.

Not to worry, the Fag's Folly is watertight. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

11/08/13 - All Super Bocked Out

Distance - 6.1 Miles
Walk Inspiration - Stage 3 of the Millennium Way
Geocaches - Some on route, all previously found

A week of adventuring in Portugal.  Fortunately, this did include some Geocache finds, as there are none on my return to UK based walking.  Had a fine time in Lisbon, Cascais, Mafra and Ericeria with nice company and excellent food but there is only so much Super Bock a man can drink before he yearns for some beautiful British ale.

I have high hopes for this walk - continuing on the Millennium Way.  It starts, and ends, at a pub.

I cannot big up this section of the Millennium Way too much.  On top of the aforementioned lack of treasure, there is not too much to get excited about.  However, the views over Bredon Hill and the Malverns mean that it deserves an understated summary of "Nice".

Park up at the Berkley Arms and head out across fields to the farm at Upper Wolverton.  This seems to be concentrating on restoring classic cars more than agriculture, as its the home of Worcester Classic Cars.  It's also a typical farmyard dump with plenty of building detritus lying around.  Why take old doors to the tip when you can just fling them in the hedge?

On exit, the walking improves as I head through first an orchard and then one of those classic paths cutting through fields of rapeseed.

Cider's Journey begins here
After crossing the railway line, I am back at Stoulton Church for the 3rd time in 2013.  The vicar will soon be luring me in, the amount of times that I have been past the front door.

We've been here before
Even Molly knows we have been here before
Its a quick loop around Stoulton, back under the railway line and then the tree lined approach to Wolverton Hall.  The rat drawn union jack on the roof points to its level of shabby chic.

Tree lined approach to Wolverton Hall
Tree lined approach
They also have a nice line in locked gates, dodgy stiles and a walk through a Pheasant enclosure.  All obstacles in the way of the on foot adventurer.

Emerge the other side and meet our first people of the day.  A family of four with a dog called Sky who failed dismally to get Molly engaged in a game and then three lady horse riders of various girth.

We head up to Aston Hall farm and White Ladies Aston.  Take in a small detour to see St John the Baptist Church.  11am on a Sunday and no service going on - the sign seems to indicate they have moved to Peopleton.

White Ladies Aston
Congregationless Church
Loop back around and just have a field of sheep and then some evil horses to cross to get back to the pub.

Danger - Horses
Heinous members of the animal kingdom, stopping me getting my pint
Having convinced them to move out of the way and let me and my labradoodle across, we arrive at the pub at 11:50, queuing patiently like a man that has had a week's worth of Euro Fizz.  What delights do they have in store? Only the nation's finest.

Proper Pint
Portugal - you have 35 degree sunshine but you have no Timothy Taylor Landlord.  Unlucky you.