October 10 : Richmond to Barnes Bridge

Some days are good days, some days are …

The journey started well enough as we caught the train to Richmond – Mr Hg137 even got chatting to someone he recognised on the train (but only remembered her name as we left (tsk, tsk)).
We passed through a deserted Twickenham station and knowing that the Rugby World Cup was on, remarked “It’ll be a lot busier this afternoon”. A short walk through Richmond town centre, in that early morning when shopkeepers haven’t quite got set up, but customers are buying to avoid the queues later.

The river on arrival was quiet. The summer was definitely over, hire boats were out of the water, being sanded, varnished and re-waterproofed. We wandered along the path, dodging the usual array of keep-fit enthusiasts to arrive at Richmond Lock.

End of Season maintenance

End of Season maintenance


To many people this lock is a surprise, as the river is tidal at this point and why would a lock be necessary? Apparently, about 100 years ago, the boat owners complained that the ebbing tide also took more river water out with it, leaving a very shallow body of water. A lock and weir was built to trap river water at low tide. For two hours either side of high tide, boats can ‘ride the weir’ in safety, but for the remaining time boats must use the lock (and, unusually, pay for the privilege!).
Richmond Lock - tide's out .. please pay!

Richmond Lock – tide’s out .. please pay!


Our first cache was on the bridge over the weir. The description mentioned both a key-safe (a slim magnetic playing card type cache) or a magnetic nano. Lots of metal, lot of of muggle dodging, lots of looking. Not a cache to be found. Not a good start!
Low tide

Low tide


We did notice that the tide must have been at low when we were at the lock as various sandbanks were visible in the river. Further down the path the tide was coming in quite quickly as many a rowing crew were being whisked upstream with barely an oar in the water.

We paused close to our next target ( Oh Deer! ).

A terrain 4.5 cache.

A tree climb.

After our success on the previous walk we had thoughts of at least looking at it. But to get to it there was a 6 foot drainage channel to cross. There was a bridge… made of uneven logs. We couldn’t even work out how to get onto the logs! We gave the cache a miss ! (And also realised some time after that neither of us took a photo of this obstacle!). Two caches sort of attempted, none found. Its going to be one of those days…

…and it didn’t improve at the next cache, Swamp Cache. Somewhere in the trees, down a bank, in a slightly muddy, overgrown area was a cache the size of a tennis ball. Was it on the half a dozen trees we examined ? Was it really in the swamp area with indeterminate depth of water just beyond ? We never found it. Three failures out of three – our caching trip was going very well indeed.

A rare success!

A rare success!


Our next two caches were remnants of an old 20-cache series set in October 2009. Now only two remain, numbers 16 and 19. Both, fortunately for us, easily found. But one was in desperate need of maintenance that it can’t be long before only one cache will remain from this series. Looking at logs for the other 18 archived caches, the owner has been negligent with cache maintenance with the whole series. Such a shame the cache owner didn’t maintain them, as the Thames Path does lend itself to lots of good hiding places !
Lots of good hiding places along here

Lots of good hiding places along here


The Thames Path passed behind Richmond Deer Park (hence the ‘oh Deer’ cache earlier, and Kew Gardens. On the other bank Syon House, was clearly visible. Syon House has been in the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland) since 1594. Although it is still in private hands, it is open for visiting 3 days a week during the Summer.
Syon House

Syon House

One other great moment of interest (well to Mrs Hg137, a canal buff) was where an arm of the Grand Union of Canal meets with the Thames. From here one can travel all the way to Birmingham by boat!

Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal


The South Bank of the Thames was devoid of caches for some distance (presumably the 20 cache series had caches on this stretch), so we crossed to the Northern Bank. We had two objectives – firstly to see and photograph the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Finishing Post. Second to find the cache yards from it!

We failed with both!

The Boat Race Finishing Post SHOULD be here!

The Boat Race Finishing Post SHOULD be here!


Firstly the finishing post had been removed and replaced by a temporary banner for that weekend’s (non-University) racing. Secondly we didn’t find the cache.. but we did find another cacher signing its log!

When we arrived at Ground Zero, the few people that were around were all connected with rowing. They were engaged with packing up, cleaning boats and the like. Except one lady, sitting on a stump, crouched over a piece of paper.

We enquired whether she was a geocacher and whether she was holding a geocache! We were right! A lovely Spanish lady with caching name of doways. Welcome to the UK – and hope you enjoy your caching adventures here!

Doways with the cache

Doways with the cache


So really we didn’t find that cache either!

We completed our walk on the North bank crossing back to the South bank to catch a bus back to Richmond. The bus was late (we think due to Rugby traffic on its outbound route), and we just missed a train home. This gave us plenty of time on Richmond Station to watch hundreds of Welsh and Australian rugby fans descend on the platform, squeeze on the next train, and depart.

Arrive, squeeze, depart.

Arrive, squeeze, depart.

Suddenly the whole station reverberated with the singing of “Cwm Rhondda” – a huge sound got closer and closer. then just six Welshman arrived and they were responsible for the huge sound ! Amazing!

Our train arrived, and like all the others was jam-packed, so much so we could barely get on it! Get on it we did but we were so squashed on the 10 minute journey to Twickenham station we could barely breathe.

An unpleasant end, to a rather poor day’s outing! Still there’s always next time!

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 5.3 miles
Total distance walked : 161.75 miles

Caches found : 3 (or was it 2.5?)
Total caches found : 289

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