We were planning a few days away so today’s walk was a bit shorter than our normal sections. The Thames loops round Windsor Castle on one of its giant meanders, so the 4.8 mile walk was only about 2.5 miles as the crow flies!
We had left the Thames at Eton (Windsor Bridge), but you can’t really go to Windsor and not admire the castle from the centre of town.
We had stood here before, as it is the start of the Three Castles Path which we walked back in 2010 and links Windsor and Winchester via Odiham Castle. This was before we were geocachers and many of our subsequent geocache finds have been on or near this 60 mile route.
From Windsor Castle we headed to the river via one of Windsor’s two railway stations. Here, not unsurprisingly was a cache in the ‘Sidetracked’ series. Our problem was not the finding… but the coach loads of tourists inhibiting our searching at GZ. We arrived just as 5 coaches must have emptied! That’s well over 200 people! After, what seemed an interminable wait, the cache was a simple find (luckily!).
Back to the river and we then found in amongst the flowers and railings by the river our second easy cache of the day.
We then decided to cross the bridge and have another go and trying to find ‘Eton Style’. Our previous attempt to find this cache was fruitless 2 weeks ago, but we had read the cache logs on http://www.geocaching.com and realised the cache was there waiting to be found. It is a narrow dark alley, with dirty brickwork, spiders’ webs and lots of places where really shouldn’t stick your fingers… but we did! And to our relief we found the cache on our second sweep of the alley! Its always good to find a cache one has DNFed in the past!
We returned to the river, and no sooner had we walked a few yards on the Thames Path, we walked off it again. This time to find the ‘Sidetracked’ cache for the second Windsor station. As with any tourist town, if you walk a quarter of mile away from the attraction, the roads and pavements are quiet and so it was here and our find was unimpeded by muggles.
This was our last cache away from the river, so after an hour darting around Windsor and Eton we were back on the main event, the Thames Path.
We headed to Windsor Lock, (or more properly called Romney Lock) which is not as accessible to Thames Path walkers as many of the other locks on the river. On our approach to the river we found our 4th cache of the day, in the roots of the tree , quite exposed. We left it better hidden!
The path continued on the Berkshire side of the Thames, until we reached the Victoria Bridge. Here we crossed into Buckinghamshire, but not before we grabbed a cache near one of the bridge parapets.
This was the end of our cache-finding streak as we then had 2 DNFs. Our excuse was that the Buckinghamshire portion of the Thames Path was overgrown. Nettles, brambles and branches hindered our progress along the path. All very disappointing as we could see the well manicured lawns of Home Park on the Berkshire of the river!
Our first DNF was in a tree surrounded by nettles. We ventured in, trying to keep the nettle stings to the minimum (not quite achieved, but the nettles did win!) – all to no avail! Grr! Pain is worthwhile if the cache is found, but hurts even more when the cache is a DNF!
Eventually the overgrown path gave way to the village/town of Datchet. It was here we got our second DNF. The hint clearly indicated it was on or near a park bench. But we failed to find it. The cache had had several DNFs so we decided to highlight ‘maintenance needed’ on our log. The cache owner visited the cache a few days and replaced it as it had indeed gone missing. We do advocate recording DNFs for a cache, because if the cache has gone missing …. how will the owner know ?
Datchet is the home to several caches and we found our third ‘Sidetracked’ cache of the day behind a road sign! A find is always good for flagging morale!
Through Datchet the Thames Path is a pavement walk with a busy road alongside. Eventually we arrived on a footpath again and here met 2 pairs of Thames Path walkers walking in the reverse direction. At Windsor Albert Bridge we crossed back to Berkshire. On the bridge though was a cache. (Are there any bridges that don’t have caches ?) Here the Armco provided the hiding place, but it took us far too long to locate the magnetically attached cache.
Shortly after we encountered 3 caches opposite Ham Island. Ham Island is quite large, 125 acres, and contains well over 30 dwellings. Though many of these houses were abandoned during the 2014 flooding. The three caches all had ‘Ham’ in the title – ‘Ham it up’ being the most outrageous!
Two of the caches were straightforward, but the third involved a long and arduous search in undergrowth looking for the end of an ivy branch.
We were only a short walk from our final cache – a delightfully hidden and disguised stick – when we had some bird experiences. Firstly a fantastic house sculpture in the shape of a bird of prey – the size of it completely overshadowed a pigeon. Our last bird experience was seeing the local Swan Rescue Trusts removing an injured cygnet from the water. Hopefully they can treat the cygnet quickly and return it to Mr and Mrs Swan and its 5 siblings!
Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 4.8 miles
Total distance walked : 132.75 miles
Caches found : 13 Total caches found : 252
Some of the caches we found included :