March 19 : Chilterns Ramble, a giant worm, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Rural Oxfordshire: the geocar turns into a narrow lane. It is narrow and mud-covered and Mr Hg137 pulls up, concerned that it does not lead to the parking he hopes for. I walk on down the lane; a car passes, I see a few houses, and then the parking place. Mr Hg137 is mollified and we proceed, park, and set off on our geocaching circuit.
And so started our assault on the undulating (a.k.a. hilly) Chilterns Ramble, near Nettlebed in Oxfordshire. It was a cold, grey, day, but it had not rained for a while and we hoped it would not be too muddy. We headed gently downhill, finding caches as we went, along a path, then a track, and on through a nature reserve. All that downhill walking was repaid by a sharp uphill climb; hmm, we had suspected that would come sometime. A cache halfway up the hill gave us a moment for a breather, and also a chance to admire the most enormous worm adjacent to the cache. It was several inches longer than the outstretched span of my fingers, and my picture does it no justice.
We turned away from the hill climb – and that worm – to cross fields, and contoured along the side of the hill and through woods, finding another few caches as we did so. In a few weeks these woods will be bursting with bluebells, but when we walked through they were bare, with just a few shoots emerging. After lunch, taken on a handily placed seat, it was back to the caching trail again, to find the next few caches on this sixteen cache circuit.
And here, about three-quarters of the way around the figure-of-eight trail, we had decided to add in some extras. First we climbed uphill again, to emerge in the pretty hamlet of Russells Water. The Water itself is a large pond, where we sat, working out the clues to a nearby multicache, and watching a father and toddlers feeding the resident ducks, coots and carp – they got tortillas, not bread! But Russells Water has an additional claim to fame, apart from ducks with refined tastes; it was here, into the pond, that Truly Scrumptious crashed her car in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (more than once)

Russells Water

Russells Water

On our way out of the village, we paused to get another cache entitled ‘Russells Water’; we were only the third cachers to find it, as it had only been out for a week when we found it. Downhill again, we headed off to find another cache up a side track before returning to the Chiltern Ramble series. We only had four caches left to find now, but it had got colder and darker, the remainder of the route was uphill, and steeper, and muddier, and suddenly those extra diversions maybe hadn’t been such a good idea … But we did find the remaining caches and emerged back onto the lane just a few yards from our parking spot.

We were muddy and we were tired – this had been our longest walk since finishing the Thames Path almost three months earlier, but we were triumphant, having found all nineteen of the caches we had attempted. Result!

Before: badly hidden cache

Before: badly hidden cache

After: better hidden cache

After: better hidden cache

Usually, at the end of a blog post, we show some of the caches we found. But, first, above, as an aside, is an example of how NOT to hide a cache … some of the caches we found were in full view … we did what we thought was right and hid them better afterwards …

And here are some of the other caches we found:



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