Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Recently, we’d tried a couple of circular walks, but we weren’t progressing down the river very quickly, and it was back to linear walks. So – how to get from one end of the walk to the other? We decided to try the local buses. And very efficient they were too. A quick cache on the way to the bus stop, a bus to Wallingford, and second bus to Shillingford Bridge; excellent website, Thames Travel! ( http://www.thames-travel.co.uk/timetables-fares/oxfordshire-and-reading )
We got talking to one of the other bus passengers. He was a Morris dancer – yes, we could tell, as he was in costume – on his way to Oxford. We know some Morris dancers – Berkshire Bedlam – as, most years we take part in their ceilidh in late autumn. This particular person happened to be one of the musicians in a ceilidh band, and had been up on stage performing at some of the events we had attended, could remember the caller and the fancy dress themes ( it’s best not to ask about that, but the website gives the ecccentric details http://www.berkshirebedlam.org/ ). What a coincidence! A person met at random, in a random place, had been to some of the same events, some time and some distance ago. It’s a small world …
It was drizzling in Wallingford, and raining by the time we reached Shillingford. This wasn’t in the plan. We couldn’t find the first cache we attempted on the Thames Path; all those leaves were soggy and we couldn’t get a fix on the location, so we moved on. We had more success with the next cache, where we swapped the ‘Lady Bug’ trackable for another, ‘Biltmore or Bust’. Then there were another couple of caches in the nettles, and by the river, and another failed attempt in a dripping hedge, and we arrived at Benson Lock and boatyard. It was still raining, so we had an early lunch in a shelter overlooking the river, sharing rather more than we’d intended with a pair of ducks, and watching the hire boats depart.
Mr Hg137 didn’t like the rain and was getting a bit grumpy by now,so we agreed to abandon the walk if it was still raining when we reached Wallingford. At the rather scary Benson Weir, we crossed over the Thames. Mr Hg137 kept stopping for a chat (why? I couldn’t hear anything he was saying over the roar of the water), but I just wanted to get to the other side away from all that rushing water.
After a couple of urban/suburban caches, including one of the BIKERZ series near the church, we were quickly out in the country once again.
Then we came to the ‘Katie’s Floater’ cache; we’d not come across one like this before but we knew what was needed – to block up some holes in the outer cache container, then fill it with water to float the cache up to the top. Sadly, we didn’t have enough water, couldn’t find a container to top up our stocks from the river, and didn’t have a friendly octopus with us to block up all those holes; another time … Just a few caches till the end, and we didn’t get some of them; the nettles were high enough, and the GPS fixes vague enough, to put us off (the owners have subsequently checked them and they are there, so it was just our poor finding skills, again). Luckily, we found the last cache of the day on our walk up Ferry Lane to the geocar. It’s always good to find the last one, as it ends the day on a positive note.
Thames Path statistics : Route length : 5.4 miles Total distance walked : 78.55 miles
Caches found : 8 Total caches found : 157