May 9 : Thames Path : Abingdon to Clifton Hampden (circular)

After a few days on the Isle of Wight… its back to the Thames Path !

For much of the Thames Path, we have taken two cars and walked linearly between them.

Our next section of the Thames Path (Abingdon to Wallingford) seemed quite long if we were to cache the path too. Instead we chose to break the section at Clifton Hampden which enabled a circular walk… and only one car!

We started at Clifton Hampden and walked away from the river through countryside towards Abingdon. Our first target was a 3-stage multi. (Given our feeble efforts with a 5 stage multi on the Isle of Wight a few days earlier, this was a brave choice). Fortunately the caching gods were with us, as we found all 3 parts and the final part too! The cache container was awkwardly hidden in a tree stump, and it took some minutes to retrieve it.

As we were collecting the 3 parts for the multi, we tried one of the caches we passed on route. It was last found 6 months ago prior to the trees losing their leaves. 6 months of the leaf litter was over a foot deep, and concealed the cache so well we DNF-ed it.

The multi took us close to the high, and slightly intimidating, fence surrounding Culham Science Centre (http://www.culham.org.uk/)

Culham Science Centre

Culham Science Centre


We continued around it before arriving at our next cache, one of the RRR series (Rascal’s River Ramble) of 12 caches we were to follow for much of the day. The particular cache had us fooled momentarily, until we undertook the cachers trick of lifting and moving everything.

The RRR series description quite clearly stated “it is thorns, ivy and stingers free!”. Sadly this piece of information caused us much confusion at several caches, as they were indeed in nettles ! A good variety of containers including sawn-off logs, magnetic nanos, bisons and tupperware made this a very enjoyable and thought provoking series.

We arrived at Abingdon, and thus our Thames Path resumption, at lunchtime. There are many seats by the river and it was pleasant watching the life of the river unfold. A canal boat was being filled for a few days away, another boat went to the fuel station to fill up, other pleasure craft chugged along.

Lunch stop by the river

Lunch stop by the river

We still had a few miles left – and a few caches too – so set off in search of the cache called Ollie the Owl. We weren’t expecting to find it, as it had been disabled as the cache had gone AWOL (or should that be AOWL ?). A shame as the pictures on http://www.geocaching.com showed a really fine creation.

Ollie the Owl... before he flew away (source : www.geocaching.com)

Ollie the Owl… before he flew away (source : http://www.geocaching.com)

We nearly walked passed Freddy the Frog, as were distracted by a game of cricket – fortunately a quick find.

Frog...

Frog…

...Squirrel

…Squirrel


Thereafter we picked more of the RRR caches including a great hide in a squirrel! Nuts eh ?

We had one other DNF, where the cache was hidden in/under/on a deserted bridge.

The river took us close to Didcot Power Station. Built in the late 60s, much of it is now being decommissioned. During the Summer last year, 3 of the 6 cooling towers were demolished. The remaining 3 will be demolished later this year.

This view will change when towers are demolished later this year!

This view will change when towers are demolished later this year!

Our final cache was a puzzle cache we had solved some weeks earlier. We haven’t been tackling many of the puzzle caches, as the final co-ordinates may be some distance from the Thames. This one was dangling in a tree only yards from the water’s edge.

We paused at the last lock of the day, Clifton Lock, and watched a boat pass through. We then noticed the lockkeeper had plants for sale. Sadly no fuschias as Mrs HG137 wanted- but we did buy some Aubrieta, which we’ve subsequently planted. When they flower next year (I have great faith in Mrs Hg137’s green fingers) they will remind us of a great days walking and caching in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Plants for sale

Plants for sale

Here are a few more of the imaginative containers we found on this trip :

Thames Path statistics : Route length : 3 miles Total distance walked : 65.7 miles

Caches found : 14 Total caches found : 139

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