This was our first expedition since Mr Hg137’s unfortunate arm-breaking accident with the Segway.
We were not sure what affect his injury would have, so we settled on a small circular walk starting from Clifton Hampden. Not many caches and not many miles but enough exercise to see what we might be able to do in the future.
Our first cache of the day was within yards of our car, called Pegasus Bridge. What made this unusual was the high terrain rating (4). The cache was hidden up a steep bank, with a 1:1 gradient. The bank was probably 20 feet high and protected a churchyard from any river floods.
Normally Mr Hg137 would have attempted this type of cache – but with only one real balancing arm available it really was too dangerous.
So Mrs Hg137 went for it!
Climbing slowly (in fairness that’s her top speed), bending double both to avoid branches and match the slope, she soon made it to the top. Fortunately an easy find… then the tricky descent.
The path, such as it was, was tinder dry and even with a geo-pole, hands, walking boots and a few choice words the descent was made more slowly than the ascent. Fab effort by Mrs Hg137 – and one Mr Hg137 was really jealous (and pleased) of!
The cache was placed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the capture of Pegasus Bridge during the D Day landings. The operation was led by Major John Howard who is buried in the graveyard. (So more by luck than good fortune it seemed a good cache to do today – the 71st anniversary of D Day.)
We crossed the Thames on Clifton Hampden bridge and followed the Thames Path towards Day’s Lock near Little Wittenham.
Initially we walked though elbow-high stinging nettles (difficult to avoid with a broken arm), and then a field with ewes and lambs. We remarked that the ewes needed shearing as we could see the bulk of fleece on them really made look hot and bothered.
We passed several people also walking the Thames Path – some taking a couple of years, others just a few months. Our target was close to the base of Wittenham Clumps and it was reassuring that they became closer and closer as the walk progressed.
Our second cache was just before Day’s Lock. Hidden in a tree trunk, but big enough for a trackable swap. Here we left our Smurf friend, Smoulicek, and retrieved Lady Bug. Given the excitement of the previous cache, a nice easy find!
We crossed the weir and lock at Day’s Lock and watched three boats head upstream through it. The quality of boatmanship of the three crews at the lock was extremely variable ranging from the ‘pro’ to ‘downright amateur’. The pros could ‘tie up’ and ‘moor’ without incident, the others took several efforts to even square up within the lock itself!
The Thames Path continued on the bank, but our circular path immediately re-crossed the Thames over Little Wittenham Bridge. Since 1984 this bridge has been host to the World Poohsticks Championships. Sadly because of the sheer numbers the event has now moved to a bridge over the River Windrush in Witney.
Now there is only thing to do at this bridge … have a game of Poohsticks. But so does everyone else! There is not a branch or twig for 50 yards either side of the bridge. No wonder the World Championships were moved!
We headed across fields, and a footpath through a very attractive garden and across the only stile of the day (tricky with a broken arm) to the village of Long Wittenham.
Here we would find our third and final cache, Spice Alley. We guessed that normally there would be cooking aromas from the adjacent Oriental Eating Emporium, but today no such aromas existed. Our search took slightly longer than expected, hidden in an ivy bush.
Returning via footpaths to the Thames, we then retraced our steps through the field of sheep. Imagine our surprise to find them gone! They were being shorn by three farmers in the far field corner. So we were right.. they did need shearing!
A pleasant day out – and a great way for Mr Hg137 to start his caching recuperation!
Thames Path statistics : Route length : 2.75 miles Total distance walked : 68.55 miles
Caches found : 3 Total caches found : 142