Saturday, 14 June 2014

14/06/14 - Dognapper

Walk Inspiration
Distance - 8 Miles
Geocaches - 11 Found, 1 DNF

Monthly time on the Millennium Way.  As it's number 42, it's a lengthy one.  That rules out the Geohound. It's the peak of hay-fever season.  That rules out the Geowife.

I am a man alone on the Millennium Way.

Park up in a dodgy looking, but recommended, free car park.  I have spied my choice of post walk pleasure - as there is the Warwickshire Camra pub of the year on the outskirts of town.  Will hit that later.

Off and running through a housing estate but soon out along the River Arrow towards the church.

River Arrow and Studley Church
Complete with a Church Micro for Cache 1 of the day
Through the cemetery and out into more countryside.  There are five more caches along the way.  I find four of them but struggle with one, even if I do understand the clue.  Oh well, one gap on the map, at least.

On the wildlife stakes, there are deer, squirrels, hares (massive ears) and a black spaniel.

New Best Friend
Who is this?  And why is it here?
Out of the long grass, in an area devoid of civilisation, comes my new friend.  I am genuinely unsure what to do.

I walk on.  My friend follows me at heel.  I call it over to look at the collar and there is a phone number but I have no phone with me.

I carry on and it frolics behind, reminding me what a good dog is like.  It's happy to be out, it's tail doesn't stop wagging and everytime I think it has run off again, it reappears having spooked a pheasant.  Or a duck.

There are a couple of cottages to seek assistance - the first is guarded by two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, who make it very clear they don't want to help.  The next is a run down cottage that the door is wide open, with the keys in the outside lock.  I shout hello and get no reply.  The high number of flies in the porch make me think something terrible has happened and scamp (as I have now christened him) had gone to seek help from the passing geocacher.

Have no choice to keep on walking.  After another mile we (I can use the plural now) come to a cottage.  A nice lady comes to the door, who does not recognise the dog but helps with the phone call.  The drama is captured on my autographer camera.

I'll read out the number
I'll read out the number
Lady Takes Control
Lady takes control
Reunited with Dad
Mr Spaniel comes in his wagon to fetch the errant hound
He has a habit of running away and the family had been out for the last hour looking for him.  A happy end to some unexpected drama/

Apart from for Mappiman.  I had got used to my new companion and had started to harbour sinister thoughts of bringing her home for future adventures.  Farewell Scamp, its back to finding out where the lazy doodle is hiding for me.

So back on the route and the best part of the walk is through Bannam's Woods.

Into the Woods
Into the Woods for two more caches
All of Worcestershire
Fine views of Worcestershire, as we emerge
Some lane walking to Morton Bagor Manor Farm, where I am grateful there is a fence between me an a field of inquisitive bulls.

More good walking and then an unexpected surprise, as I cross the entry road to Studley Castle.  Twenty years ago, I used to come to management training courses here.  In those days, the potential of the countryside meant nothing to me.

Studley Castle
25 Year Old Mappiman - Understanding the wrong sort of Motivation
A little bit of rain, my hayfever kicking in and it must be lunchtime.  I can see the town in the distance and have to pass the church from the way out and then a field with Priory marked on the map.  Nothing left of the priory.  Emerge in the town and make my way to my pub.

But What to Have?
The Usual.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

07/06/14 - Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Distance - 10.6 Miles
Geocaches - Both Of them
Starting Point - Kingston Station
Finish Point - Hatton Cross Tube Station

London Loop Phase 7 at EveryTrail

As with all weekend adventures, half an eye is on the weather.  The day before heading off, it was not looking good.

The Weather
Wall to Wall Thunderstorms
So as well as packing the usual malt loaf, savoury snacks and sarnies, I dig out my goretex trousers, jacket and twin aquapacks.

Don't need an alarm in the morning - the thunder wakes me at 6am.  Drive to the station is through rain of biblical proportions.

By the time I have made my way to Kingston, the rains have stopped but it all looks rather ominous.

Definition of foreboding skies
One of the other blogger's walking the Loop has suggested that this phase is the best.  I have high hopes.

The King's Head pub at the corner of Bushy Park has the phisog of Henry VIII, which is kind of apt, as we are in the gardens of Hampton Court.  It's full of deer and plenty of photos are taken through the murk.

The walking is on grasslands as I make my way past the leg of mutton lake and then onto Heron Lake.

And guess what lands next to me?

Heron at Heron Lake
I live here
But all thoughts of looking at the wildlife and scenery disappear as the thunder claps and then heavens open.

I get my goretex suit on but the rain hammering down on my head takes my mind off any pleasantness of location.  I march on over Chestnut Avenue, through the woodlands and into the streets of Teddington.

Chesnut Avenue
A tree lined avenue to a proposed extension to the court.  Most of the Chestnuts are Limes
One upside of the rain, is that it allows me to get very close to the aforementioned deer, who have a better idea than a 44 year brummie trying to make headway through the elements.

Same Idea as Me
Should have taken their lead
Exit the park and admire the houses down Burton Road.  By the time I reach the practice area of Twickenham Golf course, the rains have stopped.  And that's it for the day - 45 minutes out of the 4 hours walking.  But I am drenched, so take the time to de-gortex, strap the damp out garments to my rucksack and being as the rucksack is off, make a start on my lunch.

More road walking to Crane Park, which offers walking alongside the River that gives it its name.  At last there are some caches - 2 in total, and I make reasonably quick finds.  Pick up a TB for my trouble.

Shot Tower
The "Shot Tower" is the architectural highlight of Crane Park
The tower is part of the former gunpowder workings that hint at the former industrial use of the waterways.

I leave the park and head down a main road.  The sun (which is out) is past the Yard Arm.

Next Company Car
My next company car gives me inspiration...
... for what is required at 12:02pm
Suitably refreshed, I head off for the final 2 miles.  Pass Hounslow Cemetery, some flats and onto the heath.  What a desolate place for central London.

Houndslow Heath
Home of the Highwaymen
Navigation is relatively straightforward, as I know that Hatton Cross tube is at the end of Heathrow airport runways.  As long as I aim to where the planes are descending, I should be OK.

The guidebook suggests that this leg ends at Donkey Wood.  There was no reference to it on the OS map, but when I get there, it is well signed.

Ah - That's Donkey Wood
Donkey Wood - Where the Signs disappear

Looks like alabama
More like Alabama than Middlesex
The walking is alongside the River Crane again.  Duckboards offer escape from the flooded landscape, which is appreciated.

The signposting on the Loop so far, and the Capital Ring, have been superb... apart from here.  There are none at all.

And for the first time - I, like scores of other London Loop Bloggers, run into problems just before arriving at Great Southwestern Road.  Just before reaching it, you pass under the A312.  Contrary to the map and the guidebook (although the leaflets on the website are correct), the Loop is actually on the otherside of the Crane.  The correct course of action is to go over the bridge and drop down the other side.

I don't do this - and follow a faint path, that disappears completely.  My nicely dried our clothes are re-soaked by the vegetation and by the time I have fought my way to the Great Southwestern Road, I am covered in bits of twigs with insects dropping down the back of my shirt.

I looked pretty good on the tube back into London but none of the recent Heathrow arrivals would sit next to me.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

05/06/14 - Perfect Evening

Distance - 3.25 Miles
Geocaches - 6

Broadway to Buckland at EveryTrail

I have had my eye on the weather all week.  Looks like a washout for this weekend's London Loop.  Oh well, too late, the rail tickets have been bought.

Saturday might be thunderstorms but Thursday has been showing as glorious.

It can only be time to knock off another of the Top 10 County pubs - this time, the furthest away from us.

Will the 40 minute drive for a pint, a bimble and some caches be worth it?

It could be our day, as we get one of the remaining spaces in the small car park at the front.  That makes us a couple of quid up on the day already.

Head off for familiar paths on the Cotswold Way.  How I love this path.  Obviously haven't been on this section for sometime as there are a number of caches to collect.  Cache 1 evades us on the way out.  To make matters worse, I very nearly fall into the stream, as the bank gives way.  Sonia was poised with camera ready and disappointed in my recovery.

Continue on the Cotswold Way and huff and puff up a small hill to be rewarded with views.

Anywhere finer than the Cotswolds on a nice day?
At least we start to find the caches as we continue on the route.

The only Way
Following the Cotswold Way
Unusually, I am not following a prepared route.  I just know that I want to follow the caches and circle around to Buckland.  This proved to be a great idea, as I find previously unexplored paths a little of the beaten track.

They may be a little more overgrown than the main Cotswold Way but they did provide some great views.

Horse Reflections
Horse Reflections
The best of the views were when we turned right to Buckland and had a descent through long grass with superb views over the vale of Evesham.  Buckland Church, hidden in the trees, chimed its bells to announce our arrival.

Doodle Photo Bomb
Photobombed by a happy Labradoodle
Views into the west
We skirt our way around Broadway Coppice and find a cache that has its very own Zip wire.  In the interests of Internet Based amusement, Sonia insists I have a go.  Fortunately for me, I was too generously proportioned to make it go.  Twice she had the potential for Jeremy Beadle style amusement and twice I let her down.

The Coppice is a mudpit, which is a shame as we had kept clean all the way around.  Not long before we are through a field of hard sheep who want to get a closer look at the dog and repeating the short stretch back towards Broadway.
On our Way Back
On the Way Back
The dog cleans off in the stream and I have another look for the elusive cache 1 and grab a find.  Great not to leave one on the map unfound.

All that remains is the reason why we are here.

Crown and Trumpet
Crown and Trumpet
I have noticed this pub on several previous walks but never made it in.  It looks the perfect English Boozer. Thursday night is live music night and we have Jazz tonight, with a band setting up as we arrive.

Worth staying the night in the village and making a night of it.

They have at least five real ales on.  I have to ask for descriptions and go for the Old Codger.  A fine choice.

Pint of Codger
Old Codger.  Not Shakie - the Beer
A perfect end to a perfect evening.  Totally worth the effort.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

01/06/14 - I am the God of Hellfire

Distance - 4.5 Miles
Geocaches - 1 Found, 2 Not Found
Walk From - Pub Walks in Buckinghamshire

West Wycombe at EveryTrail

There are going to be a lot more walks blogged from Buckinghamshire.  Today was the day that we moved Ellie down into Wycombe, in readiness for the start of her first day at work.  Fair play to her, she has taken it all in her stride in a way that can only impress her parents.  Good luck Ellie!

Moving her in was a two car job.  Her new landlady thought there might be more than one person now living with her, as we unloaded three suitcases and more boxes than I could count.  I was given the choice of helping unpack and going to the supermarket or to keep out of the way and go walking.

I thought long and hard about where I would add most value.

This is not the first time I have walked from West Wycombe.  In the first ever copy of Country Walking Magazine, there was a route that took in the Hellfire Caves that piqued my interest.  In 2006, I took a visit to the caves carved into the hill for carnal pleasures of 18th Century Nobility.

Today, I only have time for the walking.  Head into the village and park up in the high street.  Get out of car and see the handwritten sign saying that 45 minute parking is 7 days a week.  Even worse, the last line says "And Wardens have been spotted".

A little further along and there is free parking at the NT car park.  I am out, getting my bearings.

All the Village has to Offer
Where to go?
Onto the Hill
Flower Spotting on West Wycombe Hill

Pick up a nice path through the woods and find my first and only Geocache of the day.  Celebrate by dropping off a TB found in the Cotswolds yesterday.

There are two more on my route in these woods, but I have come to the conclusion that my sat nav does not like tree cover.  2x10 minutes of aimlessly going around in circles makes me concentrate on the walking.

And I am rewarded with views as I emerge from the woods at Nobles Farm.

Emerging out the Woods
Rather Spendid
I make my way down through the fields down to the hamlet of Bradenham.  The first thing I see is the pub, where the drinkers in the beer garden burst into a round of applause.  Alas, its not for me, but the cyclists who are racing around these lanes.

Red Lion - Not Patriotic Enough?
Hoping for a more patriotic pub today
Walk on by the pub and admire the church, village green and manor house.  Quintessential England.

Bradenham Manor
Cricket and Religion
More woods follow.  Some very tall trees, several with the tops blown off by the 1987 Hurricane.  Emerge at the railway line and head over the road towards the Mausoleum that dominates the view from the top of the hill.

Then its back into town and to take my pick of which of three pubs will benefit from my custom.

More Patriotic
This looks plenty Patriotic Enough
Sonia has called to say the unpacking has been done.  Ellie makes the most of her new TomTom and drops her off before heading back to prepare for the grind of 9-5 life.

We toast her success.

The only way to end a walk