Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Only a few days after our last walk, we were back on the Thames Path. This time there would be quite a lot of “Path” and not very much “Thames” as this part of the walk is mostly several fields distance away from the river. The Thames Rangers are working with local landowners to fix that, but it’s not settled yet.
Setting off from the lychgate near Castle Eaton church, the first mile of the walk was along a quiet country lane, with not a single geocache. At the end of the lane, the geocaches started, as we had reached the Hannington Wick (HW) circuit. We had already decided to step away from the Thames Path, find some of the caches in the series, then head back to the Path, and then to diverge again a little further on to find the remaining HW caches. The first part of the plan worked well, though it was quite wet and muddy underfoot (was this a portent of things to come?) and we returned to the Thames Path with several caches safely found.
Finally we reached the Thames itself, which we last saw before we reached Castle Eaton, and arrived at the site of another cache. But where could it be? Some hedging and tree clearance had taken place and the cache site no longer looked like its description. We searched around unsuccessfully for some while, then paused for refreshment and reflection. Coffee works! Success at last! We found the misplaced cache after a little more searching.
For a short distance we followed the main course of the river, then a side channel, and then we doubled back along the a wooded track to complete the HW circuit. With just one cache left to find in the series, it got damper and damper beneath our feet, and then the track disappeared under some inches of flowing water; oh dear, this was so horribly reminiscent of our freezing paddle through the Cotswold Water Park a month earlier.This time round we decided NOT to get wet and returned to the Thames Path. If only we had done the HW series in the correct order, we would have realised that the track, Watery Lane, is aptly named (isn’t hindsight wonderful?)
Back on the Thames Path, we collected more caches along an attractive but muddy bridleway leading to Upper Inglesham. We had found 17 caches out of 18 up to now, a good haul, and had one more cache to go. But first: the not so fun part of the walk. To get back to the river, just over a mile of the busy A361 needs to be travelled. The guidebooks strongly advise against walking this section, and suggest a bus or taxi instead. We had decided to walk, though we weren’t looking forward to it at all. After psyching ourselves up, we set off into the traffic. It turned out to be not as bad as we feared, as traffic was fairly light, the weather was dry, and the verges and hedges had been recently cut back, but we were still very glad indeed to step off the main road and head down the quiet, narrow lane to the hamlet of Inglesham.
Inglesham is the site of a lost village where only a farm and an 11th century church remain. The church is much as it was five, six, seven hundred years ago and is well, well worth a visit as it is like stepping back in time. And just outside is a Church Micro, our final cache of the day, where we found another trackable to move on its way – hello to “Hopkin the Bunny”.
Finally we got back to the River Thames, which had grown since we saw it briefly a few miles earlier. Across the river was Inglesham Roundhouse, once the lock-keeper’s cottage where the (currently derelict) Thames and Severn Canal ended. And, in the river itself, were … boats! We had reached the head of navigation on the Thames. From now on it will be boats, locks, weirs, and more boats all the way to the tidal river at Teddington.
Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 6.2 miles Total distance walked : 24 miles
Caches found : 18 Total caches found : 73