Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
The long and winding road …
Today we were to walk just under six miles along the Thames, plus some extra to get to and from station and river, plus some diversions to take in caches of interest. It sounded like a really long way, but it was just three and a quarter miles due east from start to finish. That sounds much less impressive.
The first three caches we found, soon after setting off, were placed by the SMB (St Mary Barnes) Scout troop. Geocaching is now a scout badge, and those who attain the award it must show they can use a GPS and a map, can place and find caches, and more. We’ve come across a few such caches and we are always glad for whoever thought up the idea for this achievement badge. One of these caches was outside a former furniture depository for a famous store, now luxury flats. This place is often mentioned during the commentary on the University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, held every spring: most of the riverside part of today’s walk followed the course of the race and it was good to see the names in the commentary come to life. However, it did take me a while to link the cache name ‘SMB H.A.Rodds’ with the shop … doh! … I was being unusually thick today. To continue the scouting theme, we found a trackable ‘Black Woggle’, and took it along with us. More about woggles will come from Mr Hg137, who was once a cub scout …
Approaching Putney Bridge, we had a choice, as the Thames Path runs along both banks of the river down to the next bridge. Should we stay south of the river, keep on the trail as it moved away from the river, and have the chance of just one cache? Hmm. Or should we cross Putney Bridge, keep on the trail as it moved away from the river, and have the chance of at least four caches? Hmm again. We pondered for (about) a second and turned north over the bridge. And just on the far side, amongst autumnal trees on the riverside, was a Church Micro – Fulham All Saints. In our short moment of pondering we hadn’t considered one thing: that we would arrive at the cache just as the congregation turned out of the Sunday morning service. There were parishioners everywhere, as we tried to lean on posts, read signs, sit on walls, and generally look unobtrusive while we searched for the cache; I expect we looked somewhat shifty to anything more than a quick glance. Luckily we found the cache before too long, then sloped off into the churchyard to sign the log.
Just here the Thames Path leaves the river to skirt around Hurlingham House, a rather posh private members club. Close by were some other caches, so we had decided to make a few forays to these, and then to return to the trail. First of all was Sidetracked Putney Bridge Station, another of those series, like the Church Micros (CM), that can be found all around the country; so far we are up to around 30 CMs, not even vaguely near the number found by the ace CM finders, Woking Wonders, who have found almost 5000! Lunchtime was approaching as we moved on to a puzzle cache, Movie Memories – the answers can be found in films with numbers in their titles – we (or rather Mr Hg137) had solved this beforehand. The cache was in some parkland, not far from to a well-placed seat. A cache and a lunch spot, a result all round! After our sandwiches, taken on that seat, we made just one more diversion, to Parsons Green, a sudden and noisy diversion away from the river and quiet parks and into busy traffic-crowded streets.
Returning to the riverside, there was a slipway and a little bit of riverbank. The river was rushing by, but luckily it wasn’t high tide, as there was a cache hidden in/under/around the slipway: I think that wellies might be needed at certain times of the day. On downstream, and Wandsworth Bridge soon came into view, flanked by blocks of new and (no doubt) expensive apartments. Crossing the bridge and winkling out a cache as we did so, we moved on downstream on the other bank of the river, walking along a promenade between those expensive apartments and the water. A helicopter descended and landed nearby. At first we thought there had been an accident, and it was the air ambulance, but a check of the map showed that we were approaching the London heliport. There was just one more cache to find, hidden near the perimeter of the heliport, before we skirted around the helicopters and some giant cranes working on yet more expensive apartments.
We returned briefly to the river by Battersea Railway Bridge (official title Cremorne Bridge, a Grade II listed structure) but it was getting darker and colder by the minute and we decided to finish our walk for the day. From here, it was a simple walk back to Clapham Junction station and a chance to reflect on a day when we had found all ten of the caches we had attempted, something of a record for us!
Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 5.75 miles
Total distance walked : 167.5 miles
Caches found : 10
Total caches found : 299