April 24 : Thames Path : Redbridge to Abingdon

Sometimes when we cache we find the whole trail is set by one particular Cache Owner. Sometimes the CO may have named their series after a particular event or popular culture for example Harry Potter characters or footballers.

The 20 caches we attempted between Redbridge and Abingdon were therefore unusual, as there were 8 distinct Cache Owners, and yet many of the cache titles contained PEOPLE’S NAMES.

We had William and Huw (one cache); Chloe, Laura and Amy (three caches); Howard, Bernadette, Raj, Leonard, Penny and Sheldon (one cache each…Question.. what TV programme do these last 6 come from ? Answer at end of post.)

The Thames Path in this section divided into three distinct sections.

The first, still in the outskirts of Oxford, was part of the National Cycleway 5, and cyclist and muggle-heavy. The paths were lightly tarmacked.
When Cycleway 5 left the Thames Path, the second part began. The tarmac became a worn, sometimes rutted footpath. Caching was easy, there were pleasantly few walkers (and a group of bird watchers, also walking to Abingdon).

Where have all the cyclists gone ?

Where have all the cyclists gone ?

The third part, the final half-mile or so, was the approach to Abingdon and its lock and weir. The hustle and bustle of a town lock on a beautiful Spring day makes for interesting caching !

The day started badly.. with a DNF.

Everyone, we’re sure, likes to find the first cache of the day. We are no exception.

We gave the metalwork near the ‘fish gate’ a good looking over. Were we still half-asleep ? Were the nettles so overgrown they acted as a great barrier ? Was our GPS not in sync with the Cache Owner’s GPS and we were looking in the wrong place ? Who knows – either way.. a poor start !

Somewhere near these gates is a cache. If you find it please let us know!

Somewhere near these gates is a cache. If you find it please let us know!

Fortunately many of the next few caches were simple finds. Mainly hidden in black plastic bags, sometimes under stones, mainly in nettles. One of the exceptions to this was a small magnetic film canister very well hidden near Sandford Lock. (Incidentally Sandford Lock is one of 4 locks on the River Thames manned, or should that be the ‘womanned’ by a lady lockkeeper.)

Sandford Lock (and pub opposite)

Sandford Lock (and pub opposite)

The majority of containers, as one might expect for a rural walk, were large enough to hold cache swag and trackables. Early on, we placed the ‘3 Ball’ trackable in ‘Messing about by the river 2 – Thames view’ with the plan to drop our second trackable, ‘Travel Case Geocoin’ much closer to Abingdon.

However about halfway long our walk, at cache ‘Chloe, Laura and Amy s Thames view cache 2’ we found the trackable ‘Suters Pub Crawl’, so we decided to swap trackables. We were to find another trackable too (Smoulicek), in our last cache of the day at ‘William and Huw’ in Abingdon. We don’t remember a day when we started with 2 trackables and finished with a different 2!

For us, though, two caches stood out.

The first, ‘Leonard’, involved a tree climb.

A 12-14 foot tree climb.

Slightly overhanging the Thames.

And we were up the tree far longer than we needed to be.

Mr Hg137 ascended (after a push from behind), carefully moving from branch to branch until the cache could be reached. He threw the green camouflaged cache to the ground for Mrs Hg137 to sign the log. Sadly she didn’t see the throw, and then spent some time looking for it in the long grass and nettles.
Then she couldn’t retrieve the log as it was wedged in the container. We took photos, and hoped this would be good enough for the CO to approve the find (we believe it is). Mrs Hg137 passed the cache back up the tree (using her ever-so-useful geo-pole).

The cache, the hook, and a log book wedged within!

The cache, the hook, and a log book wedged within!

All Mr Hg137 had to do was to hook the cache back onto the tree…onto a small stump he couldn’t see as it was behind the trunk…then.. the cache hook came off.

Somehow both cache and hook were passed down to Mrs Hg137 to fix.

More pole work to raise the cache and Mr Hg137 had another go at hooking the cache, this time successfully.

Fortunately no walkers passed us during this 10-minute operation, just a passing boat to which Mr Hg137 cheerfully waved and said “Don’t even ask!”

"Don't even ask !"

“Don’t even ask !”

Our second best cache of the day was called ‘You Choose!’. Just off the Thames Path, it was a large ammo can (Ed : can’t remember the last time we saw one of those) hidden in a youngish tree plantation. The log book was in a film canister.
The ammo can contained at least 20 film canisters, each had to opened to find whether it contained the log book. Great fun!
Which canister contains the log book ?

Which canister contains the log book ?

As we completed our walk into Abingdon there was one final twist.

The river itself.

By now, I’m sure you’ve realised that the Thames flows WEST to EAST towards London. However because of the river meandering much of the time the river actually flows NORTH or SOUTH as much time as it flows EAST. At Abingdon, for about half a mile, the river flows WEST ! Yes WEST ! Really!

So a great day’s caching – a couple of DNFs, a tree climb, and a total of 17 caches found!

Some of the caches we found included :

Thames Path statistics : Route length : 6.9 miles Total distance walked : 62.7 miles

Caches found : 17 Total caches found : 125

Answer to the Quiz Question. Howard, Bernadette, Raj, Leonard, Penny and Sheldon are all characters in “The Big Bang Theory”. We are none the wiser, either.


One Response to “April 24 : Thames Path : Redbridge to Abingdon”

  1. washknight Says:

    lol, I love the scene involving the tree climb.

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