July 13 Thames Path : Reading to Sonning

A day we had set aside for a simple day’s caching.
A day when the weather and buses conspired against us.
A day when every cache seemed to take an age to find.

Its a short distance between Reading and Sonning (just over three miles), but the grey drizzling skies meant we left after an early lunch as the afternoon seemed to be the driest opportunity.

We drove to Sonning with the intention of catching a bus to Reading and walking back. This would mean we could take our time over the walk, rather than trying to ‘rush for a bus’.

Sonning Lock

Sonning Lock

Sonning is medium sized village on the Berkshire side of the Thames. There is a long, single-file, traffic-light controlled bridge over the Thames which means that the traffic backs up through the village and its twee cottages are often masked by queues of cars.
For a medium sized village it has a surprising number of bus stops. We had checked beforehand which stop we required, but still decided to stand at the wrong one for a few minutes. Realising our error we trekked at great speed to another stop and waited.. and waited.. and waited. The hourly service was running 25 minutes late. Grr!
In fairness, since we’ve been using public transport this has been the first occasion where there has been a major delay.

During our criss-crossing of Sonning we were able to locate 2 clues from a 5 part multi – so not all bad!

We arrived at Reading and our first true cache of the day was at the Railway Station. Despite making lots of journeys via Reading Station we hadn’t ventured away from the building to find the ‘Sidetracked’ cache. We nearly didn’t find it either. The co-ords were slightly out, and the initial search of the obvious cache location yielded nothing. We wandered away, rechecked our GPS and returned for a further search. After a street-cleaner had placed a bike at GZ disrupting our inch-by-inch investigation we suddenly saw the cache – ‘one of those you can see from one angle, and retrieve (blind) from another’.

Minutes later we were at the Thames Path, or should have been, as the diversion we mentioned on our previous Thames blog, meant a had few hundred yards extra to walk.

Thames Path... BLOCKED!

Thames Path… BLOCKED!

No sooner we were on the Thames Path, we left it! There were 2 caches just to the North of the Path, one on a weir (which despite two lots of searching we never did find), and a magnetic cache hidden away near an information board on View Island. View Island is a small island, linked by pavements to both banks – with a lovely simple nature walk around it. The cache wasn’t that simple to find though!
Is this the cache ? No! So where is it then ?

Is this the cache ? No! So where is it then ?

We walked back across the weir to rejoin the Thames Path and walked towards Sonning. We admired the many boats moored up (many of the crews no doubt gathering provisions in the nearby Tesco) and arrived at the Kennet and Avon Canal. The canal links Reading to Bath and Bristol and fell into decline during the 1950s when it became impassable due to poor maintenance. Many groups of volunteers took up the challenge to restore it, and it was formally reopened by the Queen in August 1990. Every Easter the canal forms the first half of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, and the second half is the Thames from Reading.
A roof garden atop a boat!

A roof garden atop a boat!

We wandered along the canal towpath for a short while aiming for a Gas Holder. Here we were looking for another magnetic nano, but our searching was again interrupted – this time by youths who were after something much more interesting. Was it alcohol, drugs, or something else stowed away in that plain carrier bag they ran off with ? At least it wasn’t the cache, which we found shortly after.
Large Gas Holder... but a small nano to find!

Large Gas Holder… but a small nano to find!

The Thames quickly leaves the sprawl of Reading behind, and passes through Kings Meadow. This is a popular place to visit during the Summer, as the many paving stones marked “BBQ” testified.

A little away from the river, we headed for our next cache. On a small footbridge. Now we’ve realised that there are not many places at a bridge : on the bank underneath the bridge, dangling from the middle or dangling from one of the four corners. Given our speed of searching today, it was of course the last corner of the four where we found it.

That was our last cache of the day, as somehow we forgot to look for another we had loaded into the GPS and walked right past it!
It was that sort of day !

Our walk back to the car, through the throttled streets of Sonning enabled us to find another 2 parts of the 5 stage multi. Next time… all being well we’ll find the fifth part!

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 3.1 miles
Total distance walked : 98.1 miles

Caches found : 4 Total caches found : 198


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