Thursday, 31 March 2016

30/03/16 - The Swan, Chaddesley Corbett

Distance - 4.9 Miles
Geocaches - 2
Walk Inspiration - Pub Walks in Worcestershire, Walk 5

Clocks sprung forward and its taken us all of 4 days to head out and complete the first evening walk of 2016.


This walk has an extra bonus - starts at a Bathams Pub, where they have been offering steak at extraordinarily good value.

Two hungry ramblers head out on the trail, that starts directly opposite the Swan at Chaddesley Corbett.  Stride out on good paths, with the woods - our first destination - in view.

Out on the Trail
Head for the Trees
Into the woods and navigate the muddy trail in a North East direction.  An occasional gap in the trees for fine views of the Malvern Hills.

Chaddesley Woods
Into the Woods
Malvern Views
Malvern Hills in the far distance 

The walk takes us into Dordale where there are a few previously unfound caches from the Bailey Rangers.  I know from past experience that tools will be required.  I have completed my research and get 2 out of the 3 looked for.

Caching with a hungry walker is not advisable if a longer hunt is required.

The return is through farmland, where I get to understand how lambs can recognise their mothers.

2 22s
A couple of hours after having set off, we are back at the pub.

The Swan at Chaddesley Corbett
The Swan - Chaddesley
It tardis like building, with many rooms linked via a central bar.  And quite popular on a nice evening like today.

Food and drink wise - everything in perfect order.

Bathams - Finest in the Black Country

Let's hope its the start of many mid week excursions.

Monday, 28 March 2016

28/03/16 - Miserden Part 1 - The SE Loop

Distance - 10.4 Miles
Geocaches - 35
First Cache
Pub - The Carpenter's Arms, Wye Valley Butty Bach

Today's walk has been simply wonderful.

About a week ago, my geocaching email notifications showed a 100 Cache monster loop had been published in the Cotswolds.

It wasn't a question of if I'd do them, more when.  Investigations showed they caches were placed in 3 distinct loops - between 8 and 10 miles long.

So I'll tackle them in the same way that I completed a similar Cotswold Monster Loop in 2013 - and dedicate a weekend per month to knock them off.

The CO has thought of everything for this walk.  Parking co-ords are provided.  GPX routes can be downloaded from Dropbox - so everything is in order and I head of to Miserden.  In typically perverse style, I am doing the South East Loop first and hopefully, cache 100 will be the first I find.

I have walked all over the this area but for some reason - this is my first visit.  And I will be forever grateful to the CO for bringing me to this area.

The village is charming.  The scenery is stunning.   The walking is peerless.

Miserden Church
A little trouble finding where the first footpath is - it appears as though I am walking up someone's drive.  This is a theme that will repeat itself on a much grander scale later in the walk.

Cache 1 (or 100) is soon found.  And the caches are perfect for a trail of this scale.  The clue makes things simple - so you can concentrate on the walking.  Today took me 4 hrs 46 Minutes - so I am eternally grateful for not having elongated searches and being able to concentrate on views like this.

Cotswolds Views
An early vista on today's walk
Soon get a feel for the ups and downs of this walk, as I drop down to Frome Valley.  1260ft of ascent is completed today.

Into the Valley
Precarious Downhill to Frome Valley
Frome Valley
River Frome and the Valley Floor
Frome Valley
Frome Valley

Whats goes down has to go back up again, so I have a tricky climb up the rain soaked path from last night's storm.  Greeted by friendly sheep at the summit.

Frome Valley
Where's the Cache?
Work my way through the sheep to Edgeworth - where there is a church micro (lunchbox sized!). The Church may be unused but the grounds are well maintained and there are some fine tombstones.  Spent a while reading the inscriptions of graves from the 1700s.

Edgeworth Church
Edgeworth Church
I can't quite believe where the footpath is taking me now - as we enter the grounds of Edgeworth Manor.  Got to love this country and our rights of way.

Edgeworth Manor
Into Edgeworth Manor's Garden - hunting tupperware
Through the grounds, over a bridge and up out through the woods to Jackbarrow Farm.  I wondered if I would meet any other cachers today, and today's first - along with a very happy dog - just after I replace #83.

Duntisbourne Abbots is next up.  A collection of pretty houses but alas, no obvious sign of a pub.  Then through to Winstone, where we enter the grounds Misarden Park at a lodge.

Misarden Lodge - Not a typo - they do change vowels for some reason
Once again, I am walking along a very stately driveway until the park reveals it's gems - an impressive pool, the manor house and some wonderful woodlands.

Misarden Park
The Pool
Misarden Park
The Manor House and the Woodlands.

After a final stiff climb, I am back in Miserden.  There's only one way to celebrate such an epic walk.

Carpenter's Arms - Miserden
My new local for at least two more months
Back to the parking area - and four cachers are getting the cache over the road.  They've completed the first loop - so we exchange highly complimentary experiences and share our wonder at how the FTF managed to complete all three loops in a single day.

Massive thanks to the CO rupertmh - Superb effort in finding a stunning place to place a great trail.

Back again in April!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

26/03/16 - At Odds With Julia

Distance - 6.5 Miles
Geocaches - 7
Stage 34 of the Millennium Way
Pub - Duck on the Pond, Black Sheep Holy Grail

I have some similarities with Julie Bradbury - we both look good in goretex and appeal to a certain type of man.  Yet there is one thing I fundamentally disagree with her about.

She thinks canal walking is wonderful.

I think canal walking involves alcoholic tramps, pleasure seekers boating at a pace slower than I can walk and lots and lots of dog poo.

So, it was with a certain amount of horror that I looked at my monthly leg of the Millennium Way and saw that most of it was on the Grand Union Canal.

And it's raining.

Still, I'm duty bound.  At least it starts at a pub.  The weirdly named Duck on the Pond at Long Itchington.

Duck on the Pond
Pub behind the things that named it
Past the Tudor House and down to the Canal.  Joy.

Grand Union Canal
3.5 Miles of this
Still, there are two things in the canals favour.  This is where the geocaches are - and I get 100% on the ones I hunt.

It's also providing better walking than the green lane (when was mud ever green?) called the ridgeway, which I need to follow when leaving the canal to get back to the Big Itch.

Ridgeway Path
It's getting worse - not better
The Ridgeway brings me to Snowford Lodge and a little walking alongside the River Itchen to get back to the village.

Long Itchington Church
Passing Long Itchington Church

Duck on the Pond
To Arrive at the Pub

Black Sheep Holy Grail
For Black Sheep Holy Grail
At least the walk ended on a high note.  Till April, Millennium Way.

Friday, 25 March 2016

25/03/16 - The Cotswold Classic

Distance - 8 Miles
Walk Inspiration
Geocaches - 1 found, 1 not found
Pub - The New Inn, Willersey - Donnington SBA

Mrs Mappiman is working at Broadway Tower today.  I didn't need asking twice when offered to share her commute and complete a walk in the area.

You must have heard of Death Row Dinners - The last meal a condemned criminal can order.  A walk through the quintessential Cotswolds villages of Snowshill, Stanton and Stanway would be my Death Row Walk.

With the worker dropped off at the Tower - location of many a super walk in itself - its a short drive to where I pick up the walk at Snowshill.  Free parking just outside the village.

Can you get anywhere more picturebox?

Snowshill Arms
Scene of several post walk refreshments
Snowshill Church
Snowshill Church

I decide to complete the walk in an anti-clockwise circle, heading slowly down hill around the cusp of a perfect natural bowl.  The views are outstanding for most of this walk.

The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds
Views over the Vale of Evesham

As you would expect with such gorgeous weather on a bank holiday, the walking masses are out in force.  Now, I have always been a sociable rambler - saying "Hello" to everyone I pass.  But something unusual is now happening when I address people.

And I blame Country Walking Magazine.

Since they launched the #Walk1000Miles in 2016, an ever growing community of like minded people are sharing inspirational walks on Facebook.  So they can be identified as being in a gang, they have the opportunity to purchase a rather large shiny badge, announcing to the world who they are.

Social media is awash with said people and their badges jauntily adorned to rucksacks, fleeces and hats.

So now when I bump into people on walks, I am not only saying "Hello" - I am giving them quite the once other to see if they have a badge.

It's a wonder the rozzers weren't waiting for me as I arrive at my 2nd Cotswold village - Stanway.

Coming into Stanton
Approaching Stanton
Stanton Cross
The Cross in Stanway

A perfectly pretty little village with another fine pub - The Mount - which is not passed on this particular walk.

The Cotswold way takes me to the 3rd and final village today - Stanway.  This is dominated by the Manor House - which has the UK's highest gravity fed fountain within the grounds.  We don't get to see it on the walk but its presence is felt a little further on.

Stanway Church
Stanway Church

Once out the village, there's a toughish (this is the Cotswolds, not the Himalayas) climb up through Lidcombe Woods.  I've completed walks through here before and the same eerie thumping noise emanates from the trees.  This is the mechanism that feeds Stanway Fountain.

Views as we climb into Lidcombe Woods
Lidcombe Woods
Lidcombe Woods

Out the woods and I'm back on the top of the escarpment, feeling like I am on top of the world.  Snowshill comes into view and I just need to overtake the other ramblers as I have had a text to say the Worker's shift is no more and she would like lunch.

Back to Snowshill
Move out the Way Ramblers - I have a ladies lunch to provide
On a day like this, Broadway will be awash with antique hunters and general lovers of Britain.  We head to the next village along,  Willersey, where the New Inn provides fine Cotswold beer from the Donnington Brewery and an interesting line in customer service.

Donnington SBA in the New Inn Willersey
End of a Perfect Day - but where's our Ham Sandwiches?

Monday, 14 March 2016

13/03/16 - Major Leap

Walk Inspiration - Walk 27 Feb 2016 Country Walking Magazine
Distance - 4 Miles
Geocaches - 2

The main walk this weekend was a 14 mile monster along the length of the River Wandle in London.

The arrival of Spring prompted my fair weathered walking partner to demand an additional Sunday walk.  Still, it all adds to the Walk1000Miles challenge instigated by Country Walking Magazine and supported by a wonderful facebook community page.

Mrs Mappiman's requirements are simple - local and great views.

Seems fitting that we use the magazine for inspiration - a nice little 4 miler on Wenlock Egde.  Ticks both of her boxes.

Expecting there to be a lot of walkers to be out on such a beautiful day, we head off early and become the first car to park up.

A gentle walk uphill following the Shropshire Way.

Wenlock Edge
Wenlock Edge and the Shropshire Way
The escarpment runs for 14 miles from Much Wenlock to Craven Arms.  Once the height is gained, we have very easy walking with some fine views appearing in gaps in the trees.

One of these views is at Major's Leap - Ground Zero for a classic geocache - and a location of a story of civil war Majors leaping off the hill on his horse to escape Cromwell's army.

Despite the good weather, there is a real haze, so the photos are somewhat less impressive than the ones in the magazine.

Hazy Views
No Tripod, so we take turns
Hazy Views
Better views than the photo suggests

The route finding is simple enough - to the left we have the quarry that provided the stone for Much Wenlock village and on the way back, we drop down the side to walk back along forestry tracks.

You are the Quarry
Path Back
Forestry Tracks lead us back to the car

Shropshire has woken up on the return to the now packed car park.

Was it a good idea to leave early?

Well, we had trouble free parking but at 11:23am, it's too early to check out Wenlock's hostelries.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

12/03/16 - Wandering the Wandle

Distance - 14.8 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Walk Start - East Croydon
Finish - Wandsworth Town
Pubs - The Surrey Arms, Mitcham (Stella), Old Sergeant, Wandsworth (Young's Special)

Back in London for the next adventure.  This is a first, walking an entire river from the source to the mouth in a day.  The River Wandle, unusually for a Thames Tributary, is mainly uncovered - with riverside paths along its length.

Merton Council have produced a guide concise enough to talk a Brummie into heading down to the smoke on cheap pre booked Virgin train tickets.

Its starts, incongruously enough, at East Croydon Station.

The Start - East Croydon
Country Walking?  Not Sure
Strange place Croydon.  The shops are selling diaries for the bargain price of 99p.  They are 2015 diaries.  Wetherspoons is open and full.  Its 9:17am and a rambler is making his way through the shoppers and the drinkers looking for a sign of something special.

Finding the River in Wandle Park
And this is it - Wandle Park
Wandle Park provides it.  Under a grate, starts the perfectly clear River Wandle.  20 years ago, it was classed as a dead river - pollution killing all forms of life.  But things change, its now crystal clear and for the entire 14 miles, there are fishermen,  Presumably, they are not wasting their time and there are things to catch.

Route finding when plotting the walk was a touch tricky.  The leaflet is good but small sized, so it took me a while to get it plotted into my GPS.  Fortunately, once you get to Waddon Pool, the route is well signposted.

First Sign
Follow the Wheel
But it's not all parks and countryside.  There are grim reminders that we are South of the Water.

Even the Bricks got Nicked
Its that rough, even the Bricks get nicked
Beddington Park provides a respite from the urban grittiness. It's that pleasant that the Romans built a bath house here.  I'll make do with the daffs.

Spring in Beddington Park
Springtime in Beddington

The signs offer an opportunity of a short cut at Carshalton leisure centre, but if I'm committed to something, I am going to do it properly.  And extra 3/4 of a mile to investigate Carshalton ponds and a chance to eat lunch under the peeling bells of the Church.

Lunch Spot at Carshalton
Shared with flying rats
The Wandle was referred to as the hardest working river in the world during Victorian times.  There used to be 90 mills along its 14 mile length.  At Carshalton, I find the remains of the first.

First Wheel on the Trail
First wheel along the Wandle
The river pulls me along a couple of miles into Mitcham.  At 12:03pm, it has to be time for a break.

What the Surrey Arms lacks in real ale, it makes up with reassuringly inexpensive continental lager.

First pub - Surrey Arms
Springtime in Mitcham
Refreshed, I am into the National Trust's Morden Hall Park.  It's a delight.

The Wandle
Morden Hall Park
Morden Hall behind the Arches
From this point on, its all riverside walking.  Merton, through Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon, Summerstown, Earlsfield and into Wandsworth.  Earlsfield apart, you see little of the towns and could be completing a country ramble anywhere.

The Camra Guide to London Pubs and Bars indicates the only place to drink in Wandsworth (since the Young's Brewery closed in 2006) is the Old Sergeant.  A diversion is required, but only a small one.

Nothing too special, although I do spend rather too long looking at the man with a happy Staffordshire Bull Terrier on a massive gold chain who I think is John Lydon (man, not dog).

Old Sergeant - Wandsworth
Best in Wandsorth
Youngs Special
Young's Country 
Find my way back to the river in King George's Park and all I need to do now is work my way across the Wandsworth Gyratory and see where its spills into the Thames.

Where the Wandle meets the Thames
The End of the Trail - and Start of Tony's Troubles
A walk worthy of being included in my "Long Distance Trails of the UK" guide book completed in a day.

The real joy was seeing a river brought back to life and thriving.

Who says things don't get better?