Sunday, 29 March 2015

28/03/15 - A River Runs Through It (Part 1)

Distance - 12.5 Miles
Geocaches - 13
Walk Inspiration - Times Out London Walks
Start - Hampton Court
End - Kew Bridge

When I woke at 6am, I didn't necessarily expect to be hiding from joggers having climbed up trees.

But that's Geocaching for you and the stretch from Hampton Court to Kingston has to be the best area for caching in London.

I'm looking for my next "best city in the world" adventure.  With the London Loop and Capital Ring ticked off and part way through the much easier Jubilee Walkway, I take inspiration from a walk in the Time Out London Walks book.  They have a 29 miler that stretches from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier.  Now obviously, this is not going to be done in a day, but there is a chance I will make it to Fuller's Griffin Brewery - a place that's been on my bucket list for a while.

Today's route takes me through some familiar places from the previous Long Distance Paths (Kingston, Richmond, Isleworth) and I am looking foward to seeing Teddington and Kew for the first time.

I head off from Birmingham International to Euston to Waterloo, picking up a South West Train to Hampton Court.  It's a real middle class destination, as the the train is packed with families trying to stop their little angels from playing up.  As one beleaguered father tells off Henry for rolling on the carriage floor, only to have it gently pointed out by his wife that its actually Sander who won't keep still, I thank the lord that I stuck to my maxim of never having more children than hands.

The crowds alight and I allow them to get a head start whilst I get the Sat Nav Signal.  As I have the Thames as a handrail, I only need this to find the caches.

The footpath runs alongside Hampton Court and provides some fine views, that avoid paying the entrance fee.  I can live without battling through the Maze.

Hampton Court
Cardinal Wolsey's Gaff
The caches are close together on this stretch to Kingston.  Very well contrived as well, taking me to the river shore, pulling them down from high trees on ropes and the best  of all, waiting for gap in the joggers to use a pre-placed rope to climb 20ft up.  For once, I am seriously pleased not to be muggled.  This is no way for a 45 year old to behave.

In between caching, there is easy walking and a constant stream of things of interest to look at.  To avoid the danger of the world's longest blog, I will need some serious censorship.

St Raphaels
Pretty Vista of St Raphael's, Kngston
Kingston Bridge
Kingston Bridge Rowers
Cross over the Kingston Bridge and walk on the south side to Teddington lock, where the neighbourhood litter patrol are out in force making sure the river bank is spic and span.

Return to the north side at Teddington Lock on a pretty little suspension bridge.  The first of many, many handsome London Pubs is on the other side and as I have been at it for a couple of hours (and climbed several trees), I decide a reward is in order.

Teddington Lock
Crossing Teddington Lock

The Anglers Teddington
Too interesting to walk on by
The Anglers Teddington
I always take Pride when I am in London
I've got to be careful though, there's a lot of walking to be done today without adding extra wobble steps.

The Thames Path takes on some uninspiring road walking along Strawberry Vale, but this is OK as it brings me to Twickenham, a delightful looking place that will require further exploring.  On the map, I was interested in Eel Pie Island and saw it had a connecting footbridge.  On arrival, it appears to be all boatyards and caravans, so I avoid a detour.

Eel Pie Island
Eel Pie Island - Unworthy of a Detour?
Barmy Arms
Interestingly named but unvisited
Pretty Twickenham Street - I am coming back.

Some stunning buildings on either side of the river on the way into Richmond.  Marble Hill House is the pick of them, built in 1724 for a mistress of King George II.  She must have been good.

Marble Hill House
King George II and his expensive tastes
The next stretch from Richmond shares the same path as the Capital Ring, so I know it well.  Exactly as I remember it - an infuriating micro cache on the lock that remains unfound and the constant noise of overhead planes coming in one a minute into Heathrow.  No way I could live with this noise.

Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge
The highlight of an already fascinating walk is Isleworth.  It was on the Capital Ring but I didn't have time to stop at the London Apprentice pub.  London is just full of pubs like this, with stories going back centuries.  Previous patrons of this have been Henry VIII, Charles I, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell and Dick Turpin.

London Apprentice Isleworth
And now Mappiman is going for a Half
London Apprentice Isleworth
View from the Patio

Like Twickenham, I am coming back for a further explore.

Still on the Capital Ring, I re-walk the grounds of Syon Park.  The planes are getting lower and it's impressive hearing them before they emerge through the low cloud.

Syon House
I have an identical picture from 3 years ago

Leave the Capital Ring behind and get confused in the grim industrialisation of the River Brent.  The signage for the Thames Path is a little vague and its rather a circuitous route to get back on track along to Kew Station.

Brentford Thames Path
Grim Brentford
Museum of Water and Steam
Museum of Water and Steam Tower acts as my guide

Time has rapidly expired and I have a pre-booked train to catch from Euston.  I head down to the water for a last couple of shots and will have to save the Chiswick Brewery till next time.

Kew Bridge - West
The Way I came
Kew Bridge - East
Chiswick Brewery is that way

Saturday, 21 March 2015

21/03/15 - Cotswolds Caching in Winchcombe

Distance - 9 Miles
Geocaches - 25 Found, 2xDNF
First Cache

I've been looking forward to this new lengthy caching circuit in my favourite part of the world, Winchcombe, the town that welcomes walkers.

It was going to take more than a fuel spillage causing the closure of the M5 to stop me getting there. A reroute through Evesham brings me to the parking area high above the village.

The route looks superb, taking in parts of the Winchcombe and Cotswold Way.  There is information to collect around the route for a bonus and unusually for me, I am prepared to gather them - setting off with pen and paper at hand.

Too many caches to discuss but they are in great locations, with some unusual ones.  Make you wonder how many trips were required to lay the trail, as there are a few monster boxes.

Heading into sheep fields, I am instantly rewarded with great Cotswolds views.

Classic Cotswolds Views
Where its feeding time for the Sheep

Work my way downhill to Little Farmcote church to pick up a lane called the Saltway.  There is a cache every time a route decision needs to be made and I turn right to be rewarded with fine views of Cleeve Common.

Cleeve Common Ahead

Cache 5 includes the first travel bug that I have picked up for some time.

Solo Caching
Continue downhill, passing a field of very happy pigs and then Winchcombe comes into view for the first time.

Over the Stile and into my favourite town

A final sheep field to be navigated
Decision time coming up.  Its 11:30 and this is the closest I will get to civilisation today.  Should I stop now and visit the Plaisterers Arms for Lunch?  It's a tough call, but with only 4 miles walked and a big uphill coming up, I feel that I should press on.  If I find the bonus, I'll reward myself with a drive down.

A previously unwalked path takes me along the edge of town to Puck Pitt Lane.  The ascent starts in earnest.

Cache 15 is a multi and becomes my first DNF.  I am sure that i understood the clue but I just couldnt find a cache.  I spent a while until I was muggled by a group of lost ramblers who came barrelling down the hill.  Moved on with my tail between my legs.

The terrain increases in steepness as I make my way through the Orchard Trees.

Can only assume its been Harvested

Farmcote is a pretty collection of a view farm houses and a little church, with superb views over the valley.

Farmcote Church
If he was a big man, did they call him Huge Hugh Hughes?
Final clues for the multi are captured on the walk across the fields.  I sit on a stile to plot them in the GPS and it looks promising, as its on a path.

I can go to the pub now!
A short drive back into town and luckily find a parking spot in Vineyard Street.  Has to be one of the prettiest streets in England and there is a house for sale.  That's something to check out later.

As well as being a lovely looking street, it's just around the corner from the Plaisterer's Arms - the result of what happens if you cross an Irish and Cotswold Boozer.

Annual Pilgrimage
Bonus Cache Reward

As always, thanks to HKMHill for a superb round and the excuse to come back to Winchcombe.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

15/03/15 - Resort

Distance - 6 Miles
Geocaches - 4
Walk Inspiration - Jarrold 11 - Dorset, Walk 3

For our second Dorset walk, we head to the holiday resort of Lyme Regis. As I've not followed in Meryl's French Lieutenant womanly steps, I want to experience the Cobb. Yet it appears that I have been here before. I am reminded by Sonia that we came in 2006, drank in the Volunteer Arms and ate fish and chips at the quayside. This information fails to resonate with me.

If only I kept a blog.

It's also Mother's Day. And I am looking for a table at a dog friendly pub that does a Sunday lunch. We bite the Cobb Arm's hand off when they can squeeze us in at midday, even if it means an early start to the walk.

 Short drive to Lyme Regis and park at a huge car park on the outskirts of town. It is right on the South West Coast Path and on our route, so straight away we are climbing uphill through the mud for the inevitable views.

Lyme Regis
The Cobb through the Murky March Morning
Dragon's hill climbed, we walk through the rural Rhode Barton.  All farmland, thatched cottages and the odd converted mill.

The first geocaches of the day make their appearance.

Lyme Regis
Caching Partners abandon me to the hunt
It's the River Limm that will be our handrail back into the town.  First off we get into a conversation with a fellow Labradoodle owner who furnishes us with detailed instructions on where to walk and why the Harbour Inn is the place to go.  The self controlled heated out door patio are a joy to behold.

Lyme Regis
Following the River Limm to Lyme Regis
The river takes us back into town, where I make a diversion so Sonia can change back at the car into something more fitting for the Cobb Arms.  Our Labradoodle owning guide also mentioned the newly completed quayside stairway that will take us from the car park into town.

Lyme Regis
£20m of sea defences opened in 2014

Lyme Regis
Which lead to a town that I don't remember and some gardens before the Cobb
It's 11:30.  Too early for the reservation.  Next to the Cobb Arms is the Harbour Inn and on the patio a sole man is shivering under his bomber jacket.  Yes, its our tour guide.  The heaters have broken. We join him for expensive and complex coffee.  A single shot Mocha is not the way forward, apparently.

Ten minutes killed, we make a quick tour of the Cobb and then head back - ready for warmth and food.

Dorset portions do not lend themselves to puddings.

Monday, 16 March 2015

14/03/15 - The Golden Cap

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 4
Walk Inspiration - Walk Britain

This was not meant to be our first walk on a short break in Dorset.  We were meant to stop off in Ilminster on the way down on the Friday, but the weather was too bad.  We could have coped but turning up at our cottage in Hell Lane, North Chideock, with a muddy labradoodle may not have gone down so well, when checking in.

So we consoled ourselves with a short trip to West Bay to look at the sights.

It would appear that the Danny Latimer Case is still open
View from East Cliff
Evening view from the East Cliff
Saturday sees us walking proper, straight from our front door and out over fields to Seatown.  Before getting a glimpse of the sea, we stumble upon the remains of Chideock Castle and a monument to five executed Catholics in the 1600s.

Chideock Castle
Simple Monument
Over the main Chideock Road and down into more fields to get our first view of the reason we are here.  Sonia suffers from severe sea side withdrawal.  It's cruel to make her live in the Midlands.

First Glimpse of the Sea
Down to the Sea

Jurassic Park
And we are heading Right - to Golden Cap
Our destination is simple today.  Golden Cap - the highest part of the South Coast.  We are completing a simple circuit, a lung busting pull to the top and a drop back down to Seatown - where the bloke in the Palmer's Brewery shop told me I would find the greatest pub in England.

Golden Cap
First around it - then back up it
The initial paths are hopeless in our attempt to keep the dog clean for this fine pub.  In the end, we have no choice but to just get on and wade through the ankle high puddles.  A couple of caches to keep us entertained and then the ruins of St Gabriel's Church.

St Gabriel's Church
How to Entertain a Labradoodle
We've been putting it off, but eventually we have to make our ascent of Golden Cap.  Fortuitously for us, someone has kindly planted benches every 100 metres so that "we can stop to admire the views".

And they are worth it.

View from the Top
View from Golden Cap. Over Seatown.  Our Pub is down there.
A simple drop down to sea level and a grateful stream so that we can all make ourselves presentable.

Pre Pub Wash Off
Operation Clean Up
The pub is superb.  Open at 11am, with a suntrap to sit outside.  We brave it for one drink before heading in for lunch and a look at the collection of fossil memorabilia.

The brewery shop keeper may well have been correct.  For location, food and quality Palmer's beer, this would be hard to beat.

Anchor Inn
England's Best?

Post Walk Pint
This beer makes a strong claim

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

09/03/15 - Jubilee Walkway - Western Loop - The Sights by Night

Distance - 6.5 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk Inspiration - Jubilee Walkway Western Loop

Find myself working in the smoke, so a chance to complete the next part of the Jubilee Walkway.

The Western Loop is the longest, at just over 6 miles, and the easiest tube route drops me at the door of the Salisbury in St Martin's Lane.  I have been wanting to visit this pub since Ian Nairn, in his 1960's guide to London Architecture, described it as "West End Glamour, with all the Stops out".  It hasn't changed from his 50 year old description and its pleasing that the Art Deco lamps are still in situ.

So Tea before walking.

New Favourite West End Pub
Can't see the Lamps, but lovely views all the same

Onto the walk - Simply follow the Silver Globes embedded in the pavement.

No point in describing it.  The pictures tell a thousand words.  Just look both ways when crossing the roads.  And don't be scared to use your torch for Geocache hunting.  No one cares in the City.

Latest Artwork
New Art Installation at Trafalgar Square - The Horse Skeleton
Nelson's Column
Nelson's Column, with a finely hidden Geocache.  Watch for Muggles.
House Guards Parade
Horse Guard Parade - and I fancied a go as well
Admiralty Arch
8pm Traffic Jam at Admiralty Arch
Big Ben and the London Eye
Across St James Park for First Views of Big Ben and London Eye
Lambeth Bridge
Down Millbank and over Lambeth Bridge
Houses of Parliament
Cache number 2 coming up
Founders Arms
A stretch along the South Bank to one of the best located pubs in London - Founders Arms
Founders Arms
Heaters meant March Outdoor Sitting
Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge - My Favourite View of London
Downriver - The Shard
Downstream to Tower Bridge and the Shard
St Pauls
St Paul's Cathedral
Fleet Street - Cheshire Cheese
Down Ludgate Hill to the Strand and a pub I would not normally walk on by
The Seven Stars
But I know the Seven Stars in Carey Street is coming up - 1602 and one of the few buildings to survive the great fire
Seven Stars Cat
Remember to close the door or Mr Ruff will escape
Covent Garden
Pass Lincoln Inn's Fields and back to the West End and Covent Garden

Two Jubilee loops down, three to go.