Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Today’s walk from Goring to Pangbourne was one we had done before, so we knew what to expect. After arriving by train, we set off to find the first cache of the day, one of the ‘Sidetracked’ series which are close to stations. Unfortunately for us, Goring station is being rebuilt so we had a detour to find the cache, with able assistance from a very friendly cat. If only we had realised it was possible to wriggle through the temporary fence at the station, instead of a long walk round!
Two more caches brought us closer to the river, and then there was just one multi-part Church Micro to do before we arrived at the river to start the ‘real’ walk along the Thames. We found all the clues really quickly on a walk round the interesting churchyard – yet another place that we wouldn’t have visited if it hadn’t been for geocaching – but the final cache eluded us. That wasn’t all down to our lack of ability; the final location was just where the school fete was setting up. We might have coped with that, but then a fire engine turned up and was surrounded by excited schoolchildren. Reluctantly I stopped myself from ogling the firemen and we gave up and moved on.
Down to the river at last, and a tempting seat overlooked Goring Lock. And that seat concealed a geocache, so we could feel around while apparently watching the boats go by. Finally we got up and headed off down the Thames Path. Most of the caches along the Thames Path were part of two series, the Gatehampton Trail (Gatehampton is a hamlet/ferry/place alongside the Thames) and the CHIP (Chiltern Hills Interlocking Paths) series, and most of the caches, as advertised in their description, were simple caches alongside the path. A few stand out … one where I broke my fingernails trying to open the cache lid, a friendly, smiley frog, and one which was an excellent cache for more than one reason. First because it was an excellent and unusual container hidden in an excellent place. Second, because I left my geopole behind, and didn’t realise till we reached the next cache, almost half a mile away. Ooops. Mr Hg 137 nobly ran (well, trotted/walked ) back to collect it, and then we stopped by the river to eat lunch. He has asked me to mention at this point that it was a very hot summer’s day, and he was still recovering from a broken arm so this was a brave and selfless act from him! AND we’re using the pole as a physiotherapy aid at the moment, so we can’t just abandon it on a path somewhere!
After recovering by the river over our sandwiches, we continued along the Thames Path / CHIP series towards Pangbourne. The caches came regularly, and were found regularly, but had enough variety in the series to keep us guessing. We were almost muggled at one cache. We had just gone behind a tree to retrieve a cache hidden in a small wooden chest when … we heard voices. We froze (usually, if you are off the path and keep quiet and still, human muggles don’t spot you … but dog muggles do). Just as we thought all was OK, a muggle phone rang, one of the two muggles turned to the other … and we were spotted. We gave a cheery greeting, as if hiding behind a tree was usual behaviour…
Once in Whitchurch, we didn’t go straight down to the river. First we went to view a feature of the place, Whitchurch Thyme Maze (it also has a cache based around it). http://www.whitchurchonthames.com/groups/maze/maze.html Our photo doesn’t do it even slight justice.
It’s a brick maze (of course we tried it, we love mazes) and it has a sundial, where you are the gnomon (we tried that too, and it keeps good time) and it has divining rods. Yes, divining rods. Needless to say, we also tried those. I went first; taking hold of the rods in the approved way, I set off across the maze, looking straight ahead, and the rods sort of flopped about. And then the strangest thing; I felt a sort of tingle and the hairs on the back of my neck, and down my spine, all stood on end; looking down, the divining rods had crossed and just wouldn’t uncross, till I moved on a few paces. It really was just so odd / weird /strange / unusual (I can’t think of quite the correct word). We both tried it, and it’s repeatable. We spent about an hour in and around the maze, doing all the activities, and then making hard work of finding the associated cache. This is a great, unadvertised place and well, well worth a visit.
Just two more caches left to attempt, so we returned to the Thames Path, and walked down towards the river, following the path where it diverts through the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin at Whitchurch on Thames. Here was a cache, ‘Church View’ Could we find it ? No. Our ecclesiastical failure at the start of the walk was repeating itself. We gave up when a passing muggle helpfully pointed out the Thames path to us … time to move on. We crossed the recently rebuilt Whitchurch Toll Bridge; in my recollection, it looks much like the old toll bridge, and it’s still free for walkers. We had just enough time to find the ‘Sidetracked’ cache at Pangbourne staion before the train arrived to carry us homeward.
Thames Path statistics : Route length : 4.2 miles Total distance walked : 88.1 miles
Caches found : 23 Total caches found : 186