We had about 10-11 miles left of our journey down the Thames, and we decided rather than have one long section and poor light to contend with, we would break the last few miles into 2 sections. The first would take us to Canary Wharf, with its gleaming skyscraper office blocks.
Our Destination.. Canary Wharf
Most of the walk would be on the Northern bank, picking up caches from a series entitled “From the Swan to the Canary” a reference to Swan Pier where the series starts and Canary Wharf where the series ends.
We would omit some of the caches in the series as we wanted to attempt some of the Southern bank caches as well.
But first we returned to where we finished our previous walk.
We were UNDER Cannon Street Railway Bridge on the Thames Foreshore.
Hidden against the various chains and holes in a brick wall was a magnetic 35mm container. About 12 foot up! Now, neither of us are giants, but having checked various photos on http://www.geocaching.com we had a likely plan to reach this difficulty 4, terrain 4.5 cache. Just under the cache was a concrete footing, with a 5ft iron pipe rising from it. If one could stand on the pipe – the cache would be within reach…
Heave, heave, pull, pull
There are two ways to reach the top of the pipe. The first was to ‘crawl around a wall corner’ with a 6 foot drop beneath or to haul oneself up onto the pipe using a chain fixed to a wall. Mr HG137 tried the latter and after 10 minutes gave up. His arms were still weak from his bone-break, and the iron pole was still wet and slippery from the tide. We could have spent some time trying to access the pole top, but with the full day’s walk ahead of us we moved on.
So a slightly disappointing start, but we feared as much so it didn’t seem that bad.
Our first real cache was the first in the Swan to Canary series. The hint alluded to a sign, which we could see, but we couldn’t see the cache! We looked further afield and eventually found the small magnetic film container attached to a gate. Phew!
Then over the river to an unusual cache – a sidetracked Earthcache. Sidetracked caches are part of a National series where the caches are in or near Railway Stations. This one was near London Bridge Station. However what made it special was the Earthcache qualities. At Ground Zero were 2 lumps of granite, from the London Bridge demolished in the late 1960s. These lumps of granite were mined at Haytor in Devon (we have stayed with http://www.hfholidfays.co.uk half a mile from the mine!) so we felt we had a connection with the cache. Being an Earthcache we had to undertake various scientific analysis of the stones and report our findings to claim the cache find.
Granite from the Previous London Bridge
Further along the Southern bank we came to HMS Belfast. Here you can see three great London landmarks together : HMS Belfast, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And it’s full of tourists. Lots of them. We thought this would make the next cache hard to find, but given a very accurate hint, and an Oscar-winning ‘tourist impression’ (taking lots of pictures!) the cache was retrieved, signed and replaced before we drew suspicion.
3 London Icons
We returned to the Northern bank over the tourist filled Tower Bridge, pausing to admire the ‘Girl with a Dolphin’ statue – now showing its age a little, and making sure that the Dickens Inn was where we remembered it to be. (We didn’t go in, but we did frequent it on one of our early dates many years ago!).
Girl with a Dolphin
Our next cache was a little away from the Thames Path, but being part of the Swan/Canary series we thought it would be worth attempting. Sadly GZ was on/near/under a number of concrete bridges, and our GPS never gave us an accurate location. The cache hint gave some idea, but we never really got close. Disappointing as we had drifted a little away from our route to attempt the cache!
Thames Barges, the Shard and Tower Bridge
The Northern Bank route took us in a zigzag route from the river, to the streets (Wapping High St) going in front of city apartments and behind wharves closed down many years ago. Eventually we arrived at Wapping Old Steps which led down to the Foreshore. Here, another cache awaited us, a very tightly screwed nano which took both us to unscrew. As we remarked in our previous log, the foreshore is very, very quiet and provides a completely different London atmosphere to the London streets just a few yards away. (Wapping Old Stairs and its foreshore still evoke a different era and appeared as a film location in the 2015 Christmas Edition of “Call the Midwife” – we’re quite sure its appeared in many other films and TV episodes).
Wapping Old Stairs
Onward we went with Canary Wharf getting larger with every step we took. Our next cache, was a small nano in a seat. But from the seat we could see a hangman’s noose! We were next to one of London’s oldest pubs The Prospect of Whitby, and outside on the foreshore is a mock-noose celebrating the pub being the hostelry of choice for “hanging” Judge Jeffreys.
Don’t hang around too long here!
Our next cache in a small London park was far more tranquil… but the next found us in a tricky predicament. The cache was under a small wooden footbridge which had enough wriggle room to go underneath. We had three futile attempts at wriggling underneath avoiding ‘muggle traffic’ before we found the cache, and foolishly we didn’t take the clip-lock box away from GZ to sign the log. (We like to move a few yards away to deflect interest). We had the cache open, signing the log, with all the trinkets on display when we asked by a small (5 year old?) girl, what we doing. Fortunately her mother appeared and we explained about geocaching. The girl wanted many of the trinkets but we settled on a small pink notebook. Fingers crossed she doesn’t tell others of the ‘treasure hidden beneath the bridge’.
The Swan/Canary series took us to many varied locations including a statue celebrating the work of ropemakers as well some very swanky metal-work (where the cache could only be found by looking in one very specific location).
Celebrating the Ropemakers of London
Eventually the towers of the Canary Wharf complex were above us, and we had one more cache to find.. a Church Micro. This Church micro, newly published, was based on St Peter’s Barge, London’s only floating Church. We found the answers to the clues near the church and walked to the final Ground Zero. Concrete pillars, overhead railway lines meant our GPS couldn’t get us close to the location and we gave up! A slightly poor end to an eventful day’s caching.
St Peter’s Barge, London’s Floating Church
Here are some of the caches we found :
Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 3.75 miles
Total distance walked : 178 miles
Caches found : 9
Total caches found : 329