Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Up, up and away …
We had got a good long section of the Thames Path to do, from Hampton Court, past Hampton Court Palace, Kingston on Thames, onto the tidal Thames at Teddington, then Twickenham, and finally to Richmond on Thames. That’s a lot of “stuff” to fit into a walk, even before a few geocaches were added to the mix!
We had (luckily) chosen a beautiful sunny day, just as it was at the end of June when we visited the Hampton Court Flower Show; but it was so, so much cooler; it had been 33C that day and today was much more pleasant, a lovely warm autumn day.
Leaving Hampton Court station, it was but a few yards to the bridge over the Thames, where we grabbed the first cache of the day before setting off on the big loop of towpath past Hampton Court Palace. There was a theme to the first few caches – Catherine of Aragon / Carry on Henry / Anne Boleyn / Hampton Court Garden Gateway – which was all very appropriate with the palace just over the towpath wall.
We swiftly moved on to the next three caches, which we was eagerly anticipated. All three were tree climbs. We are not especially good at any cache that isn’t on the ground, and trees – well, best not to dwell on that. I volunteered for the first tree climb. It was quite some way up, and part of it used a fixed rope; Mr Hg137’s arm had healed well since he broke it in May, but it probably wasn’t yet up to climbing ropes. Up I went. It seemed very much further up than it had from the ground.
I wasn’t conscious of it, but I’m told that I repeated “you can do this … you can do this … you can do this” over and over throughout the entire episode!
After what seemed like several days but was probably about five minutes, I reached the top of the rope, and then a small extra climb and a couple of desperate lunges allowed me to grab the cache. I was about six metres up the tree (not that I was looking down). Then I dropped the cache lid … ouch. Mr Hg137 ably came to the rescue. I climbed down a bit, and he held up the lid, poised on a fully extended geopole held above his head. After what seemed like several more days, but was probably another five minutes, I had replaced the cache and abseiled back down the rope, and had my feet back on the ground. After some patting myself on the back and congratulating myself, we set off again; but my knees no longer seemed to belong to me, and I was talking gibberish, (even more than normal); I assume it was the spare adrenalin left over from the tree climb; things returned to ‘normal’ after a few minutes.
The other two tree climbs were ably performed by Mr Hg137. He has longer legs than me and could easily manage to jam himself between tree trunks and climb upwards. It seemed as if those caches were retrieved within seconds, but it wasn’t me up the trees! How the perception of time does vary, depending on what you are doing!
Another cache brought us to Kingston Bridge, and here we diverted from the Thames just for a few minutes to take in an Earth cache, ‘Where England Began’, which was a sarsen stone that participated in the coronation of seven Anglo-Saxon kings. We would never have found this by ourselves, and it was an unexpected pleasure to walk through Kingston market on a busy Friday and to see the throngs of people enjoying the riverside.
Teddington Lock is a little way downstream from Kingston. This is a big, big point on the Thames as it marks the point where the Thames becomes tidal, with a big, big lock, too. Here, too, is a terrain 5 cache (the hardest), ‘Treeless T5 in Teddington: Look Out at the Lock’, hidden somewhere on a wooden structure mid-river; we looked, but didn’t attempt, as we hadn’t brought either a boat or waders. Once below the lock, beside tidal water, the river was visibly different, with gravelly shoals at low tide and then filling with fast moving brown water: quite a difference.
There were more caches along the riverside as we walked between Teddington, Twickenham, and Richmond. We didn’t find all of them, only four out of seven, and we assumed at the time that we were flagging / useless / looking in the wrong place / any of those; it wasn’t that, they had gone missing and have since been replaced. Failure is always more tiring than success, and we were really pleased when Richmond Bridge came into sight, and we headed back to the station to start our journey home. It had been a superbly varied caching day (oh, how varied!) on such a beautiful day.
Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 8.5 miles
Total distance walked : 156.45 miles
Caches found : 13 Total caches found : 286
Some of the caches included :