Saturday, 30 September 2017

30/09/17 - Pentire Head & The Golden Lion, Port Isaac

Distance - 9 Miles
Geocaches - 8
Walk Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine, Feb 2001, Walk 1

Seems fitting in it's way that today's blog comes from Doom Bar.  Britain's #1 Bottled Real Ale may be brewed 287 miles away in Burton but the cask ale is still brewed at Rock, which we skirt on our return.

Our walk starts on a grey day at Daymer Beach car park.  Unemployment levels must be bad in Cornwall because they pay a man to take your £5 parking money, feed the machine and hand you the ticket through the car window.  I used to be a Work Study Engineer and feel that the process could be streamlined a touch.

Daymer Beach
The Camel Estuary - where the Doom Bar Lives
This is a classic coastal walk in surfing territory.  We make our way around to Polzeath, where a full blown Surf competition is taking place.  It's not this that draws our eye, but a conversion of a large Victorian pile overlooking the beach, that is advertising two bedroom apartments for £125,000.  When location is king, this seems a steal.   Inquiries show that £125,000 buys you access to the two bedroom apartment for 5 weeks per year.

It appears that our retirement will happen in the Midlands, after all.

Hayle Bay
We can afford this view.  For 10% of the year
The walk takes in a circuit of Pentire Head and the ancient fort detailed on the map as the "Rumps".  Lovely walking with conversation about whether we have been here before.   The answer from our repository of walks is no.  At least not since we started blogging.

Pentire Head
Heading around Pentire Head to the Rumps
It's a shame to leave the coast, especially when the inland route back is waterlogged.  At least there are helpful signage to aid the rambler.

Cornwall, Inland
Avoiding wet feet
Helpful route guidance
Helpful Signage

It's mainly golf courses on the way back but there is a real little gem in St Enodoc's church, reclaimed from the Sand Dunes in the C19th and final resting place of John Betjemen.

St Enodoc Church
St Enodoc's Church
St Enodoc Church
With it's pretty entrance

A fine walk that once again confirms that 9 miles of coastal walking is worth at least 12 of your inland miles.

Sharp's brewery may be just around the corner, but we don't really pass a pub on this route.  So, armed with the 2018 Good Beer Guide, we head off to the nearest recommendation.

The Golden Lion, Port Isaac, Tribute

Port Isaac - home of Doc Martin, the Fishermen's Friends Singing troupe and car parking all uphill from the village.

The streets are still thronged with tourists, even this late in the season.  We wonder if this will impact the chances of lunch.
The Golden Lion
Golden Lion, Port Isaac
Packed solid downstairs but upstairs, there is room - even if the tables all do have reserved on them.  This is to keep them free for diners, a category we more than fit today.

Our base for this break has been Camelford, where there is only one pub - the Masons Arms.  This is also a St Austell Brewery house but they serve it from gravity fed barrels kept far away from the hand pull pumps on the bar.

The Golden Lion shows the folly of their approach.  The beer is significantly improved by getting a bit of life to it.

And the view was non too shabby also.

Tribute at the Golden Lion
What a view.  And Port Isaac harbour through the window

Sunday, 24 September 2017

24/09/17 - Cirencester and the Marlborough Arms

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 9
Walk Inspiration

A Sunday where my home town in Worcestershire is encircled by road closures for the Birmingham Velo Bike Race.  Escape is only possible going Southbound.

That's OK.  The Cotswolds are Southbound.

Cirencester is chosen.  A fine looking 6 mile walk is found from   They think of everything, even the free parking.   Mrs M wants a Sunday Roast, so Tripadvisor is consulted for the best in town.  The Bible is consulted and two potential Good Beer Guide Ticks await.

If there's time, we can also add in a visit to the Museum and learn all about Corinium.

Lord Bathurst is to thank for the majority of this walk.  We feel a little cheeky entering into the grounds of Cirencester Park though a small metal gate.  The signage initally appears to indicate "No" but on closer inspection, it reads "No Horses".   We don't have one of those, so we head on into 3,000 acre Forest Park.

Instead of Craghoppers finest pro-stretch, I feel Mrs M should be in a puffy Crimplene number, holding a parasol.

Cirencester Park
Cirencester Park Broad Ride
Cirencester Park
Architectural Follies in the Park

Being private land, there are no Geocaches until we get out to the Polo Pitches.  A trail of half a dozen leads us to Stratton.  A minor diversion could have taken us to the Drillman's Arms - the first of the two GBG Pubs in the area.  We delay gratification and follow the River Churn back into Town.

River Churn
River Churn
We always like arriving into towns at the end of our walks.  Cirencester is more spectacular than most.  The Church dominates the skyline as we weave through the ancient honey stoned streets - picking up the odd urban micro geocache under the noses of the multitudes.

Coming into Cirencester
Coming into Cirencester
Cirencester Church
The Church
Cirencester Church
Time for a look inside
Cultural yearnings satisfied, it's time for the 2nd GBG entry.

The Marlborough Arms, Sheep Street, North Cotswold Brewery Windrush Ale

Yesterday's Essex Good Beer Guide tick was a let down but order in the universe is restored.  This pub is an absolute belter.  Being on the edge of town, it would not have been found without a recommendation.

Marlborough Arms
My Sort of Place
The six or seven real ales are lined up in order of colour - lightest to the left, darkest to right.  Just like when ordering Steak, I hit the middle ground, shunning the Shagweaver for the North Cotswold Brewery's Windrush Ale.

Superb condition and taken to wooden seating, admiring the vintage brewery paraphernalia.

Marlborough Arms
Mrs M, stealing the WiFi
Marlborough Arms
Windrush Ale in a Classic Pub

Great pub but it doesn't do food.  An equally pleasant experience can be found in the tiny Twelve Bells Pub, a short stroll to the other side of town.

Mrs M concurred with the Trip advisor reviews but was too full to either a) have a pudding or b) hit the museum.

We will have to save that for another day.  There are four other walks on walkingworld taking in Cirencester.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

23/09/17 - Epping and the Forest Gate Inn

Distance - 15.6 Miles
Geocaches - 26
Walk Inspiration - Jarrold Essex, Walk 27

A full day walk, where all of my hobbies combine for maximum effect.

Epping is easy to get to from London.  Just get on the Central Line, head East and ask for someone to give you a nudge when you get to the end of the line.

Welcome to Epping
Epping - End of the Central Line
Of course, it's Epping Forest that provides the best walking area.  Great to do, not so good to look at on the photos.  Broad tracks through the forest shared with the grumpiest look Duke of Edinburgh kids that you've even seen.

Epping Forest
Epping Forest looks like this
I'm reading about English history at the moment and a Geocache at Ambresbury Fort tells the story of Queen Boadicea's last stand against the Romans in AD61.  Legend has it that this was the location where she poisoned herself and her daughters, rather than being taken prisoner.

Ammo Can's Galore
High proportion of Ammo Can Caches in the Woods.
Best views of the day are at Woodridden Hill.  I share the spot with the DOE'ers, who, at the prospect of food, are in better spirits.

View from Woodridden Hill
Essex and Hertfordshire below...
A classic walk that ends at a Pub.  The 2018 Good Beer Guide dropped through my letterbox this week and the Forest Gate Inn, Epping, wins the prize for this volume's first tick.

Forest Gate Inn, Epping, Adnams Southwold

Forest Gate
Good Beer Guide 2018 Entry
So, the walk linked in nicely with the History book I am reading and the pub links in nicely with Geocaching.

The pub is a Multi Cache.  For the uninitiated, it means that I have to collect clues from the building to find the co-ordinates of the Geocache.  After counting Lamposts, collecting dates from the benches, counting the bars on the gate on the pub sign and getting confused by what the Cache Owner meant by the round window, I have all the information required to plot the co-ordinates at the bar, whilst taking a pint of Adnams Southwold.

Good job I had something to do, as it took my mind of a disappointing pint, where the head disappeared before I had programmed the GPS.

Adnams Southwold Bitter
Poor Start to the 2018 Good Beer Guide Ticking
There's a couple of hours to kill before heading back to the Smoke for my pre-booked train.  I could right this beer wrong by seeing what's available in town.  The George and Dragon looked too much like a Gastro Pub with Stone Baked Pizza and Prosecco.  The more down at heel Black Lion looked too much like Quavers and Carling.

I decided to extend the walking and attack the cache trail along the start of the Essex Way.

Sometimes, it's all about the caching numbers.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

17/09/17 - RGR Geocaching and The Weighbride at Alvechurch

Distance - 4 Miles
Geocaches - 20
First Cache

I noticed these caches being published around a week ago.  There was no hesitation in moving them to the top of the to do list for the following reasons;
  1. I've enjoyed the Leaky Cauldron's other cache trails in the area
  2. Alvechurch was the best walking areas when I took inspiration from the Capital Ring Long Distance Path to create a 2nd City Alternative - The Brummie Ring
  3. There's an unticked CAMRA Good Beer Guide Entry, waiting to be er... ticked
With Mrs M otherwise engaged, I headed out for some solo caching.  If I had been a little earlier, I could have teamed myself up with Modge UK.  I'm fairly sure I parked up next to their Geowagon at the Rowney Green Chapel and certainly saw their same day stamped logs.

As expected the walking was fine.  A few ups and downs, with plenty of sheep/horse fields to navigate and serenaded by the ever present hum of the M42.

Here's the views;

Starting off in Chapel Lane
Starting off down Chapel Lane - Chasing Modge UK
Into the Countryside
Into the Countryside
Horses in their Finery
The Horsey Part of Birmingham
Geocaching Views
Worcestershire Views

If anything, the geocaches were better than expected.  Who knew I could decipher complex Roman numerals without a Smartphone?  Would Combination Locks cause the blue face of shame?  How did I end up doing an impression of Jeremy Beadle?

Answers can only be found in the online logs.

Great circuit - so thanks for the challenge, Leaky Cauldrons!

Onto the Pub.

The Weighbridge, Alvechurch

Something else that exceeded expectations today.

I've been to Alvechurch a few times but even though this is handily positioned for the train station, I've never turned away from the town and headed towards the marina.  Even then, you really need to know its there as it's not that obvious its a pub.  Entry involves navigating the huge Marina Car Park and heading towards the Marquee.

Weigbridge, Alvechurch
The Weighbridge, Alvechurch
But people do know about it.  Just gone midday on a Sunday and the place is packed.  The Sunday Lunches are apparently legendary but with just a Northern Irish £5 and some shrapnel available to me, I made do with a pint and a Tuna Bap, from the bar mounted smorgasbord of sandwich delights.

Which Pint?  Selection is made either by peering over the small bar or reading the overhead chalkboard.  It would have been a LocALE Wetheroak Tillerman Tipple but on pouring, the bar lady wasn't happy with the quality and instantly offered something else.

Wye Valley Butty Bach has never tasted so good.

Weigbridge, Alvechurch
A Rare Quiet Time at the Bar
Wye Valley Butty Bach
Butty Bach.  Gentlemen sharing a plate of Scratchings 

Monday, 11 September 2017

11/09/17 - The Northenmost Tick, the Northernmost Geocache

The view from our 4th Floor Porthole is rain.

Horizontal rain.

We are in Kirkwall, Orkney Isles.

The gang plank is near our room and we see the pensioners, holding on to their headscarves, walk down - touch ground - and walk straight back on again.

The 6 mile walk up a hill with no trees is off.

Other adventures await.   There is the chance to record my Northernmost Geocache.  Kirkwall joins Florida, Greece and the Canaries as the compass extremes on my Geocaching Profile.

Northernmost Geocache
Clue - it doesn't normally hide there
Pre Trip, the bible had been consulted.  There was simply no way I was going to miss out on a Good Beer Guide Entry called the "Auld Motor Hoose".

I'd even looked at Google Maps and wasn't surprised to find out it was a Theme Bar.

Northernmost Pub Tick
Kirkwall in the Rain
And the Theme is.....
As Paul Calf Said "Its a theme pub, The theme is get pissed"
The book provided an excellent representation of what to expect.  The locals, sheltering during a Monday Lunchtime, were friendly.  I even got a laugh when I asked if the TV Images of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was the local news channel.

The juke box was kicking out rock ballards.

The memorabilia was all motor related, including a petrol pump on the way to the juke box.

The Swannay Brewery Scapa Special Ale was exceptionally good.

A fitting end to the British Isles Tour.  We just need 48 hours on a boat in Storm Aileen to round off the holiday in style.

Scapa Special
Pint of the Week - Scapa Special
Get your Motor Running
Warning:  Contains Poodle Hair Soft Rockers.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

10/09/17 - Tobermory and Aros Park

Distance - 6.5 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine, December 99, Walk 1
Post Walk Refreshment - The Mishnish and the Distillery

Not even Tobermory's famous brightly coloured buildings can do much to lift the gloom on a filthy September Sunday.  However, the yellow house is instantly identified from the choppy tender boat. The Mishnish is the main pub.

Tobermory and the Floating Hotel
Yellow Peril and the Floating Boatel
If the town is all pastels, the walk is all green.   We head along the coast and into Aros Park, woodland where if you stand still long enough, everything gets covered in moss.  I spend a long time looking for a superb geocache at a spookily abandoned cottage.  When I return to Mrs M, I half expect to to have succumbed to its inevitable progress.

Aros Park
Into Aros Park
Into the Woods
Everything's Gone Green
Gardener's Cottage
Abandoned Cottage and Geocache Ground Z

It's funny, a week after the walk and I can hardly remember the rain that caused so much misery at the time.  I can remember the stunning Waterfall and Mrs M's poor attempts at giving up the walk and hitchhiking back to civilisation.

Aros Burn Waterfall
Aros Burn Waterfall
Poor Hitchiking
You're meant to put your thumb out, not point where you want to go.

We eventually get back to town and do the only thing reasonable.  Try and dry off in the Pub.   The Mishnish is as good on the inside as it looks on the outside but prime position in front of the log fire is taken by cruise based coffin dodgers who do not have soaking wet underpants.  Although, to be fair, I cannot say this with 100% certainty.

They refuse to acknowledge our discomfort and are so getting it the next time I am on the London Underground.

Beer wise, there's a couple of hand pull pumps on but turned backwards.  Apparently, it was a big Saturday night and time has not been found for replacements.

The Mishnish up close
Mishnish Guinness
When Real Ale is absent, Guinness it is.

The booze related treats don't end there.  It was my birthday last month and Mrs M knows me well.  A distillery tour beats slippers.

Tobermory Distillery
Where the magic happens, quickly.
Tobermory Distillery
Where the magic happens, slowly.

The best bit is always the end.  I am the only Birthday Boy who has the "Full Tasting" experience. My joy at getting four doubles to everyone else's single is quickly lost in the embarrassment of having the tour guide ask me to describe the various tastes from my four snifters.

Fellow students were expecting me to say something along the lines of "a powerful taste of salty toffee, smokey vanilla with a hint of orange peel".

They were disappointed with my response of "Nice".

Tobermory Distillery
Look at what you could have won, fellow Students
A life changing experience.  After years of threatening violence on anyone adding water to my whisky, I found a pipette's worth really does make all the difference.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

09/09/17 - Belfast Walking Tour

For the first time on the 10 day discovery tour of the British Isles, I am not responsible for entertainment.

Mrs M, presumably now bored of Geocaching, pub ticking but not walking has hired a professional tour guide to show us the sights of Belfast.

His name is Marty.  He is one of fourteen children.  He is not shy when it comes to walking into buildings (town halls, hotels, cathedrals, pubs), whether they are open or not.  He knows his stuff. Everyone on Tripadvisor agrees.

The blogs not here to show my holiday snaps.   We're bound to go past one of the six Belfast Good Beer Guide entries.   I might also find a Geocache.

Bittle's Bar

Marty tries to take us in here, but the landlord is quite adamant that he is not open.  It's OK, I've been before.  I've seen the whiskey collection.  I've seen the artwork that has been traded over the years for pints.   I've remembered the other flat iron building in Manhattan.

It's not in the Good Beer Guide but the soulless looking Kitchen Bar directly opposite is.

I'm back in my quandary of good bar vs. good beer.

Bittle's Bar
It would be a crime to foresake this for the Kitchen Bar to the left
The Crown Liqueur Saloon, Victoria Street, Guinness

This is another must visit bar and a 2017 GBG Entry.  The name itself may conjure up images of a wild west saloon, but this is ornate Victorian Boozing at its finest.   All fancy tile work, completed by Italian craftsmen as after hours "foreigners", once they had finished working on the churches.

Photos were in short supply.  Outside, is a constant gaggle of smokers.  Inside, only the Japanese are brave enough to pull out cameras without fear.  I attempt a surreptitious photo but get clocked by a local, giving me the look.

Crown Liquer Stores
Put it away, so you will.
If you're either lucky, or not visiting on a Saturday Afternoon, you might strike gold and get one of the ten hermetically sealed booths.  They come complete with door to lock, vanity glasswork and a little bell to summon service.  How I would have loved to give that a dong to see what happens.

Beer wise, it's a Nicholson House, complete with some familiar handpulls like Purity UBU.

I stuck with the Black Stuff.

The Duke of York, Guinness

At the start of the tour, Marty asked us if we had any preferences for the Tour.  Our Canadian co-students wanted to learn all about the troubles.  I asked to be taken to the pub with all the fancy mirrors.

Who would have thought the two could be combined?

I've been before but couldn't remember the Duke of York's name.  Through a process of elimination, Marty was able to determine my request.  I was able to teach him something in return.

This is not in the Good Beer Guide but if you're in town, you must visit.

It's what my living room would look like if Mrs M didn't rule with an iron fist.

Duke of York and Marty the Tour Guide
The Duke of York.  And Marty the Tour Guide.
Marty was keen to come in and show us a photo near to where he is standing showing of the pub destroyed by a bomb in 1973.

I was keen to show Marty the Whiskey Menu, which unbelievably comes with a number of Whiskies that are so rare, they have "Not For Sale" as a price.

The tour, a two hour bargain for £15, ends here.

We're off to find a Geocache.

Duke of York
Tour Over and left to my own devices outside the DOY