Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Allo, allo, allo … we were rumbled!
On a bright December morning we resumed our walk down the Thames Path. It had been so long … assorted commitments had kept us from our Thames Path mission for a whole month … but we were back.
Getting quickly under way with two caches around Vauxhall Bridge and Station, we joined the Thames Path, soon arriving at a small patch of grass, with some seats, overlooking the Thames. There was a cache here somewhere; but the GPS wouldn’t settle and we spent quite a few minutes searching in, on, and under various likely locations. We were on the point of giving up when …”Excuse me Sir, what are you doing?” Oops! We’d been stopped by the police … two of them, a policeman and policewoman. The geocache description had told us what to do if this should happen …
“This cache is located within an area frequently patrolled by Police & Security. Avoid acting suspiciously when searching, if challenged, explain about Geocaching”
… so we explained … and then they offered to help us in our search for the cache! An unexpected outcome, we’d been thinking that a caution was coming! With so many eyes and hands searching, the cache was soon found.
Towards Westminster, the path became busier and busier with throngs of tourists, so busy that we didn’t manage to find the next two caches. Turning onto Westminster Bridge, there was a HUGE security presence – this was a couple of days after the government decision to take military action in the Middle East. We turned away from the Houses of Parliament and all those police and roadblocks to set off along the north bank of the Thames. A little way ahead were red phone boxes; we knew there was a cache inside one of them, but what was happening outside? A camera was being fixed to a tree, a presenter was doing a piece to another camera, and filming chaos was in progress. Diversionary activity was called for (from us), so Mr Hg137 engaged the film crew in conversation (it turned out to be a shoot for a fashion blog) while I slipped into the phone box and retrieved and replaced the cache.
Looking across at the London Eye – we’ve had good times on that before – we strolled on a little way to Cleopatra’s Needle, site of another cache and of an earthcache too. Once again, this made us look much closer at a monument we’d seen many times before; quite a bit of the questions posed for this cache centre on a bomb which exploded very close to the base of the monument, and caused some damage. Answers calculated, we paused for lunch in the nearby Embankment Gardens; there was a multicache here, too, but we couldn’t even attempt it as the statue (of a camel) which would have provided the answers had been boarded up to protect it from a nearby Christmas event; there was just the camel’s nose showing above the hoarding; with hindsight, we could have done the research beforehand and not needed the statue.
After lunch, we crossed back over the river at Waterloo Bridge. There were caches both sides of the river, but there were two on the south bank that we especially wanted to attempt. They were down on the foreshore, so only accessible at low tide, using metal steps to get down to the shore. We’d checked the tide tables and knew we would be OK (always best to check; there’s a big tidal range on the Thames and the tide comes in – and goes out – at a ferocious speed). The first was another earthcache, involving “things” to do with rocks on the foreshore, and the second was a conventional cache, but hidden away well below the high tide mark, lashed securely to the bank. Both were easy to do, but neither of us had anticipated how different it would feel when down on the shore. The noise of traffic and people dies away, so it is surprisingly quiet … and there is sand! We weren’t expecting sand.
Back up on the Queen’s Walk and back with the crowds and the noise, we walked on till we reached Tate Modern, with an iconic (and protected) view of St Paul’s Cathedral across the Millenium Bridge. There was a cache near here, appropriately called ‘Wobbly Bridge’ – the bridge gained that nickname just after it opened, when it swayed rather too much, and had to be speedily closed for strengthening. We walked across the bridge – it didn’t wobble – as there was a virtual cache just the other side of the bridge, or more correctly, just under the other side of the bridge. Here was another place we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for geocaching, a new piece of sculpture with at least one item on it that is of interest to geocachers – and that’s the answer to the cache, so no spoilers here! And that was our last success of the day; we tried, and failed to find a few more caches, ending up once again, in the gathering gloom, on the Thames foreshore very close to Cannon Street Railway Bridge; more about this in the next post; we came back to try again!
Here, in no particular order, are some of the caches we found:
It seemed like much longer, but it was just three miles!
Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 3 miles
Total distance walked : 174.25 miles
Caches found : 13
Total caches found : 320