Hello, Mrs Hg137 here again.
The morning’s rain had passed, so in the drier afternoon we walked the second section of our epic walk from Sandhurst (Gloucestershire) home to Sandhurst (Berkshire). This section followed the Gloucestershire Way, starting from Down Hatherley Church, along the edge of a golf course, round the perimeter of Gloucester aka Staverton airport, then, in quick succession, across the A40, the Gloucester-Cheltenham railway, and the M5, before following a stream through Badgeworth and finally to Shurdington at the foot of the Cotswold scarp. Quite a varied walk!
It was some way to our first cache of the day, so we started with a pleasant walk through the silver birches fringing the golf course, watching the golfers hitting their shots with various amounts of competence. (We didn’t comment, not even on the worst efforts – honest!)
After crossing a road – no caches yet – our route led us on a fenced-in path that skirted the very edge of Gloucester Airport. And here the sticky, squelchy, slippy mud started … It sounds grim, but the airport was hidden behind a hedged bank, a skylark sang overhead, and we were walking/slithering along the reed-fringed Hatherley Brook. A while later, we emerged at an underpass which took us under the A40, and across cycle route 41. We had arrived at our first cache – Collie Capers – a series named after a favourite dog-walking route. And suddenly there were dogs (no collies though), cyclists, runners, walkers … We picked our moment, retrieved the cache, and had a coffee as they all streamed by.
On we went, following the stream. Our next target, and our next cache, was close to the main line railway from Cheltenham to Gloucester. It was called ‘The Rickety Railway Bridge’ and, oh crikey, did it live up to its name. It all looks solidly supported but I’m a bit worried that a mainline railway should be propped up like this?
The one field between the railway line and the M5 is populated with geese and goats of all ages. The oh-so-cute goat kids (goatlets?) were totally underwhelmed by Mr Hg137 attempts to make friends.
Crossing the M5, we were immediately at our next cache. It was only as we approached we registered the Difficulty/Terrain rating (difficult, very difficult) and thought we may not attempt the cache. However, a careful up-and-over the mound of what looks like fly-tipped building rubble, and we were at GZ. Not so hard, really.
Our next few caches followed the line of a stream, along a more-or-less soggy path. They were all from the ‘Cheltenham Circular Caching Challenge’ series, which is described like this:
‘A series of in excess of 100 caches of a variety of terrains and difficulties set around the Cheltenham Circular Footpath by some of Cheltenham’s cachers
Devised by Cheltenham Borough Council, the Cheltenham Circular Walk follows a route of approx 26 miles and gives wonderful views of the Cotswolds escarpment. The walk starts and ends at Pittville Park and passes Cheltenham Racecourse and Dowdeswell Reservoir.
The Cheltenham Circular Caching Challenge of more than 100 caches follows this walk. It starts at Cheltenham Race Course with #1, and the caches are numbered clockwise. But you could of course start and stop anywhere along the route.’
Of the several caches we found from this series, one stands out: ‘No more Bull’ (the clue is in the title). We had walked through a muddy field, with cows. They seemed disinterested at first, but started to wander towards us as we walked. We speeded up, as far as is possible in ankle-deep mud. At the far end of the field was a kissing gate, and a cache. We narrowly beat the cows to the gate and slipped through to safety just in time. The cache was then retrieved under the close inspection of many big brown bovine eyes.
Just two caches remained, one, a large cache across a little stream – a bit of stream jumping was needed here, and the geo-pole came in very useful – and the other, the Church Micro in Badgeworth. We looked inside the church and had a quick refreshment stop before finding the clues. Had we realised one of the clues was right in front of us, we’d have saved ourselves some time! We argued about this clue, which asked what year in life someone was at the date of death – since if one is in one’s XXth year, one has yet to reach XX in age. (E.g. a one year old is in their second year of life). Anyway, we calculated 2 sets of coordinates, and found the cache at the first of them.
The description of the cache also asks for a report on something else in the churchyard – the toilets… They were closed. Apparently this is almost always so, judging by other logs!
And that was it for the day. Tired and muddy, we arrived at Shurdington, a little bit closer on our quest to walk home to Sandhurst from Sandhurst. Quite a varied walk!
Here are some of the caches we found: