Saturday, 14 July 2018

14/07/18 - London Countryway Stage 6 - Merstham to Box Hill

Distance - 10 Miles
Start - Merstham
Finish - Box Hill
Geocaches - 2
Pubs - Stepping Stones at Box Hill
Previous Stages - Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4, Stage 5

Stage 6 of the London Countryway and I finally determine where the guide book's cover photo is taken from.

The Guide
Colley Hill
This leg promised a lot and duly delivered.  The entire 10 miles is along the North Downs Way, accessed almost immediately from Merstham railway station.

A gentle climb through sports fields, a golf course and across school grounds.

Today's first views
First views from the golf course
Plenty of interest here too, with information boards spelling out the history of Reigate Fort.  Even a gap in the trees has a story to tell.  There are two monuments, that sadly could not be taken in the same photo, but the gap in the trees is explained as a WW2 Air crash site.  The monuments mark the extremes of the wing tips and are part made from metal from the B17 Bomber.

WW2 Bomber Crash Site
One Half of the Monument
Much needed shade is provided by the tunnel like paths before we reach Colley Hill, where the North Downs reveal themselves in the their splendour.  I recognise the monument from the book cover but get that involved in taking photos that I neglect to look up at the art work in the ceiling.  Check out Des De Moor's excellent commentary for details.

Cover Guide Photo
With this beauty, I unsurprisingly failed to look at the monument ceiling
Mappiman at the Temple
Look up Mappiman, you goon
The Path Ahead

The last photo represents what fine walking remains for the day.... dropping to the valley floor on steep paths and working my way around the quarry and lime works to Box Hill.  There's only one question - where to sit for lunch?   A number of benches are either occupied or out in the midday sun, but I do find shelter in the trees just off the path.

Tom Stone Lunch
Seat for Lunch
In case you think I am being disrespectful, I do check the inscription.  I'm working on the assumption that "Quick, An English Thoroughbred" is a dog.

Leith Hill is the last to be conquered.   A picnic spot that is hard to surpass, judging by the hoardes taking advantage of the weather and the far ranging views.

Box Hill
Dropping down from Leith Hill
Rather glad that I am coming down this way, as the way up is beyond steep.  I half feel sorry for the cub pack coming up the other way, carrying kit for an overnight expedition.  It doesn't stop my exaggerated answers to their desperate questions of "how much further do we have to climb".

Westhumble and Box Hill Station, with its once hourly trains back to the smoke, awaits at the bottom of the hill but first a choice on which path to take.

Surely no-one takes the Footbridge

River Mole Crossing
Not me, anyway
A Country Pub is just before the station.  Four real ales were available but sometimes, reassuringly expensive continental lager is all that is going to do the trick.  Even if it is brewed in Northhampton.

Stepping Stones, Box Hill
Over Stepping Stones - to the Stepping Stones
Stepping Stones, Box Hill
£5.20 worth of Midlands lovliness

Saturday, 7 July 2018

07/07/18 - Summertime and the caching is queasy

Distance - 4 Miles
Geocaches - 4 out of 17
First Cache

If this is foreshadowing for the way the World Cup is going to pan out, then there's a Volvo in Worcestershire that is so going to get it.

6am start - to be back before the heat, to be back before England vs. Sweden at 3pm - heading off to the Wrekin area of Shropshire.  An area with a rich seam of geocaches, many entombed in soggy black socks from Matalan.

Today's circuit is the Rushmoor Ramble - 17 Caches and parking at a pub.

Things have changed since Google Streetview was in town.

Pub No More, The Gate, Bratton
That's the post walk drink cancelled
Off with the caching....  even with an OS Map and GPS route finding is tricky.  I don't need the track to the disused railway line but the road and a footpath along the side of houses.   Overgrown stile, leads to overgrown paths and a GZ for cache 1 that is... you've guessed, overgrown.

Still, I'm an experienced cacher, I can improvise.

Caching Whacking Stick
Mappiman Weed Whacker 
Caches 1 and 2 are found, but not easily.  At three, there is no chance.  I get the clue but no way to fight my way through brambles to find something that I realise has not been found this calendar year.

I must be really late to this party, as this is most unusual for a lengthy cache trail.   I make the decision not to drop my TB off and if I succeed if one thing today, its liberating another that's been lurking since 29/10/17.

Not Found this Year
Longtime not found
I proceed, attempting the ones that I can but not worrying about the inaccessible ones.

After the horseflies, the next hazard is the cows.  A field full of them is traversed and a wide birth applied.  Just as I get past them, I can hear movement and the one with very bull-like udders motions towards me.   The weed wacker is held aloft in preparation for combat, but after some snorting, he releases the longest fart I have ever heard and lies back down.

The 4th and last find of the day comes at #8 and the hazards intensify.  Horses.  God, I hate them.  I sometimes wish I was French, just so that I could order them off the menu.

Most are behind fences but along a narrow public footpath at Lawn Farm, the most skittish of the lot is bucking and broncoing his disapproval that the world's worst cacher wants to get by.

I decide not to antagnoise him and attempt to climb over the fence to avoid death by hoof.

The fence is waist high and of course, its electrified.   I find this out mid straddle, at the time my testicles get electrocuted.

There's people that would happily pay for this level of entertainment on a Saturday morning but I am questioning myself.

Caching now given up, I try and enjoy the walk.  There are fine views over the Wrekin.

Best Views
Best of the Views
You might think I'd end this blog on a high point but no, I've got to get through this path first.

Overgrown Paths
Footpath runs direct to the gap in the hedge, where there's a cache.  A DNF
It was a question of what to first when I got home..... Eat, drink, pick the pointy bits of grass out of my socks or log the poorest attempt at caching in my 10 year history.   4 out of 17.

A handful of stings, scratches and fly bites.  An extended shower required to check for ticks.  Zapped nuts.

I'll be back caching next weekend.