April 18 – Being a Tourist near the Thames Path

We remarked in this blog recently we were approaching our 1000th cache milestone, and with a venue agreed for this auspicious cache we just needed to bolster our cache total a little bit. (We started the day on 991 caches and felt a target of 7 caches would get us close enough to 1000 that we could achieve the milestone in the pre-planned location).

So how to find those 7 caches ?

Well, we realised that as we walked (and cached) the Thames Path, there were locations we didn’t explore properly or indeed see at their best.  The first of these was North Meadow, Cricklade. (Readers may remember the very wet conditions we endured in January on our first visit to Cricklade).

As we noted in our January blog entry – North Meadow is renowned for its Spring Flowers and Snakes Head Fritillaries in particular ( http://www.crickladeinbloom.co.uk/north_meadow.html) and we were treated to a fantastic display on our visit today. Snakes Head Fritillaries are rare in Britain and 80% of them are in North Meadow, Cricklade.

North Meadow Full of Fritillaries

North Meadow Full of Fritillaries

There’s even a cache nearby too! Set by the Scouts it is marked as a ‘multi-stage’ cache.
First Cache of the Day!

First Cache of the Day!

We didn’t find the first part, but did find the cache and a trackable ‘3 Ball’. We’ll take this on our future travels..

Our next stop on our ‘Tourist Trail’ was to visit the village of Kelmscott. We had found 3 caches near to the village back in March and returned to find another 3. Kelmscott Manor was the Oxfordshire retreat of William Morris (of Arts and Crafts movement fame) and is open to the  public on many days during  the year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelmscott_Manor

Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor

We’d arrived shortly after a large coach party, so we decided against going round the house, as they work on a timed-ticket policy and we were in for a long wait!

And so to the Kelmscott caches. We enjoyed the 3 Kelmscott caches we had found previously and were again pleased with the variety of containers today… including A RAT!

IT'S A RAT !!!!

IT’S A RAT !!!!

After a quick visit to the Church, paying our respects to the Morris clan buried there….

William Morris Gravestone

William Morris Gravestone

… we left for our third and final location, Bampton.

Bampton ? You’ve never heard of it ? But I’m sure you’ve seen it!

Bampton is where ITV film many of the outside shots for “Downton Abbey”. Just a small corner of Bampton is used for filming and this where the tourists head to. We saw the Church, Mrs Crawley’s Cottage, Downton’s Hospital (aka Bampton’s Library!). We failed to find the Downton pub, which was a necessary part of multi-cache, and despite our best endeavours of guessing an answer based on the missing pub sign, we didn’t find the “Downton Treasure Hunt” cache 🙂

Bampton Church (or maybe the Downton Church)

Bampton Church (or maybe the Downton Church)

With 3 caches still to find for the day, we opted for a multi starting at Downton’s / Bampton’s Church and then walking past gardens, fields and woodland before arriving at a small bridge under which the cache was hidden. We sat there, drinking coffee, thinking we were the only people for miles around. How wrong we were ! In the space of 10 minutes at least 3 groups of people squeezed past us, and one dog nearly ate our biscuits too!

We headed back to the village to complete our caching with 2 simple caches. Our searching at both GZs were impeded by muggles. At the first our diversionary activity meant diving into a butcher’s shop, the next we had to feed greenery to 20+ chickens while a game of Pooh Sticks was finished. (It was while feeding the chickens that Mrs HG137 took one for the team… a chicken peck!)

So our day of tourist activity was complete – Spring Flowers, British social history and TV drama all rolled into the 7 caches we needed to take us to 998 caches, and just a small step from number 1000.

Smallest Cache of the Day

Smallest Cache of the Day

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