Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Between a Hard Place and a Tricky Place …
Today’s section of the Thames Path comprised starting at Walton, at the free parking we used last time round, downstream to Hampton Court, and then catching the train back to Walton and walking the mile or so back to the river. Sounded simple.
Setting off from Walton Bridge on a clear, cool, crisp autumn day, we turned aside almost immediately to look for ‘A Hard Place’, a cache hidden amongst bridge arches. Well, that’s where it’s said to be, but we couldn’t find it. Back to the river, and there were some cyclists about. Actually there were a LOT of cyclists about. Mr Hg137 paused to interview some of them (he does this a lot!) and found that they were cycling, off-road, from London to Brighton to raise money for the BHF charity. After not very long, dodging the waves of cyclists got a bit wearing and we turned gratefully aside to look for a cache just off the towpath. It was ‘Carry on don’t lose your head’, one of the ‘Carry on Caching’ series planted to commemorate the films; this one was placed close to Old Manor House in Walton, which was once owned by one of the people who signed the death warrant of King Charles I – he was beheaded, so it was a neat tie in between cache, film, and location.
Back on the towpath, there were not quite so many people on bikes, and we collected three more caches Weir 1, 2, and 3. This gave Mr Hg137 an opportunity for some grovelling on the ground… While doing this, we found a trackable, Norma, and also found the first stage for a multi-cache, ‘Sunbury Church Ait’.
Multi-caches are, as you’d guess, formed of multiple stages, with clues at each stage which combine together to provide the location of the final cache. This particular cache had just one intermediate stage, for which we were grateful – we don’t have a stunningly good record with multi-caches. And we didn’t have high hopes for this particular cache, as it hadn’t been found for a while. The clue led us onto one of the aits (islands) on the Thames, and into the undergrowth. A not-especially-long search found the cache. We were clever / lucky – hooray!
There was a flash of gold from the river, and, emerging on the bank, we saw … Gloriana, HM the Queen’s royal barge http://www.glorianaqrb.org.uk By the time we had rejoined the towpath and walked to Sunbury Lock, the barge was there, too, waiting for the lock. And it seemed as if the world had stopped, and a reverential hush had fallen; along with the host of people who had appeared, as if from nowhere, we stopped to watch the spectacle of Gloriana descending the lock and moving away towards London. Sometime during this, a man dressed as a Smurf ran by, and folk barely noticed!
We had mixed fortunes on the remainder of the five caches we attempted before arriving at Hampton Court. We found just two, though in mitigation I’d say that one cache was overrun with muggles, we cut short the search for another to rush for a train, and one was hidden in ivy – we’re rubbish with ivy! A train ride brought us back to Walton on Thames, where we failed to find yet another cache, one of the ‘Sidetracked’ series. It seemed a long, long mile back to the river (maybe we were getting tired). We found two more caches, ‘Centenarian plus3’ and ‘Carry on Doctor’ – another in the ‘Carry On’ series’.
And then the final cache of the day ‘A Tricky Place’ . Another one we didn’t find. It was quite difficult, a difficulty/terrain 4/4 and we worked out that it was hidden under a footbridge, but we didn’t have waders or a boat with us, so we decided to stay dry and leave that particular cache for others.