April 11 Thames Path : Swinford to Oxford

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

River Thames, Port Meadow, Oxford

River Thames, Port Meadow, Oxford

It was Boat Race day, so it was most appropriate to be walking into Oxford.  And it was a fine morning, after earlier rain, and once again there were caches to be found.

We set off from Swinford toll bridge and, where Wytham Woods came down to the Thames, quickly found three caches, all quite large and easy to find.  My, so good to find caches so close together!  Then we were out into open fields, speckled with sheep and lambs, and heading for the most northerly point of the Thames, at Kings Lock.  From here it’s (mostly) east and (mostly) southwards towards the sea.   And, guarding the most northerly point, there be dragons …

Kings Lock, the most northerly point on the Thames

Kings Lock, the most northerly point on the Thames

... here be dragons

… here be dragons

The river turned south and under the noisy A34.  We passed an old metal boundary marker and into Oxford.  Our next stop was the multi-cache based around the ruined Godstow Nunnery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godstow ; we collected the clues and solved the problem while eating lunch and watching boats go through Godstow Lock.  The final location of the cache was … upstream, the way we had come. 

Godstow Nunnery

Godstow Nunnery

Back we went to that boundary marker; we now recalled that we’d read about that in the cache logs.  But the GPS said we weren’t yet at GZ (ground zero, the cache location), so it was off into the undergrowth and nettles; and there, a little way away, was another metal boundary marker, with a cache nestling next to it.  Success, and an excellent cache!
Back at Godstow Bridge, we turned aside to find another cache, hidden by Wolvercote Mill stream, one of the many side-streams of the Thames.  But the likely location of the cache was on a narrow bridge on a busy lane, and we gave up before we got squashed by a car. 
Trout Inn, Godstow

Trout Inn, Godstow

We passed the Trout Inn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trout_Inn , originally the hospice for the nunnery, and more recently the haunt of Lewis Carroll (in real life) and Inspector Morse (in fiction).  We went by the nunnery yet again, and headed off towards Oxford; the next mile or two passed the huge Port Meadow, an open space for the people of Oxford.  Children played, picnics were eaten, walkers and cylists came past, cattle came down to the river to drink, geese paddled by, and rowers practiced on the river – this is a VERY popular place.  We had just one more cache to find along the Thames; it was on Fiddler’s Island, one of the many, many islands along the river.  It’s a cache that’s described as ‘suitable for beginners’ as it is next to the path, not too high or low, and fairly easy to find.    But, though we found it (in the end), we still managed to make it quite hard for ourselves, by looking in the wrong place, in the wrong kind of trees, not believing the GPS, and all sorts of other errors.

On leaving the Thames at Osney Bridge, we had nearly a mile to walk back to the geocar.  There were two caches near our route back so we decided to find those, too.  The first was in Botley Park, at the edge of some allotments, and near a side stream of the Thames where there used to be a swimming place called Tumbling Bay.  We had rummaged around for some minutes, without success, when two ladies walked up, each with a GPS.  They were puskailves and Tarya, from Finland, who were at a conference in Oxford and who had sneaked off to do some caching.  They, too, searched for the cache, and found it in a place where we thought we had looked.  We felt very silly.

puskailves and Tarya, geocachers from Finland

puskailves and Tarya, geocachers from Finland

As a group of four cachers we set off towards our final cache of the day, on a bridge over yet another side-stream of the Thames. We talked about geocaching on the way and found out that these cachers had been all over the world to cache, both have about 5000 finds, and have arranged lots of events.  On arrival at the cache site, we searched once again we searched, and once again the two Finnish ladies beat us to the find.  Finland 2 – England 0 !

Finally we headed back to the geocar, after a lovely day’s walking and caching along a beautiful stretch of the river.

Thames Path statistics : Route length : 6.2 miles Total distance walked : 53.0 miles Caches found : 5 Total caches found : 92



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