June 23 : Annerschter (Simon’s Cat)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We found this trackable, Annerschter, in a cache from the ‘Lipchis Canal Wander’ series which follows the semi-derelict Chichester canal from the city to the sea.

Annerschter (with Simon's Cat)

Annerschter (with Simon’s Cat)

The tag/travel companion attached to the cache is a cat, better known as ‘Simon’s Cat’. It was registered on Christmas Eve 2014 and then travelled around 5,000 kilometres around Germany with its owners before being released to travel onward, and it has moved a further 3,000 kilometres since then. Here is a translation of the bug’s mission:

This small traveller, with Simon’s Cat as a travel companion would now like to see the world. He has already experienced a lot with us and now he is ready for his first steps alone. Perhaps he’ll land in England, India, or New Zealand, perhaps he will be around here … the people who will meet him will decide. And who wonders about the name? Well … Mrs. Angeldangel is native Hessin … and when she was asked what the trackable should be called, she said “Annerchter” (Anders auf Hochdeutsch), she was not clear that Mr. Angeldangel would take it so literally. And there he had the name. Take care of him. And maybe you have time for a Buidl (picture on high German) (Mr. Angeldangel, by the way, from Bavaria) on the road.

Editor’s postscript: We dropped Simon’s Cat into a cache in Simon’s Wood. We didn’t realise at the time, but that is quite appropriate!

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June 23 : Chichester Marina

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Chichester canal - the last lock

Chichester canal – the last lock


A warm Friday seemed like a good day for lazing around on a beach – and why not wonderful West Wittering? Just short of our destination we paused for some caching, a walk round Chichester Marina and views of Chichester harbour.

There are two caching trails that lead out from Chichester, forming a circuit. The first is the Lipchis Canal Wander,along the partially restored – partially derelict Chichester Ship Canal, which is also part of the Lipchis Way from Liphook to Chichester http://www.newlipchisway.co.uk The return section is appropriately called The Return, along Salterns Way http://www.westsussex.info/salterns-way.shtml to the city, which is an off-road cycle route back to the city. We planned to do the parts of both routes that lay closest to the marina.

We parked, and set off along the canal, derelict at this point, heading back towards Chichester. The canal still holds water, but this section is only used by ducks and moorhens, not boats at present. Guarding the first cache and ignoring us, two swans were a-sleeping on the road; they must do this often, judging by the number of loose feathers lying around and the protective ring of cones around them. We walked on along the canal finding three more caches, and a trackable, as we went. Crossing the busy A286, we had a glance at the next section of the canal, which is still to be restored, then retraced our steps towards the marina. We found another four easy caches as we walked through the marina. There are millions and millions of pounds worth of boats moored here, ranging from tiny motorboats to enormous floating ‘gin palaces’.

LOTS of boats here!

LOTS of boats here!


Nearer the estuary, the canal is used by houseboats as well as ducks, and then there is just a disused lock leading out into the harbour, set off by an interesting sculpture, which just looks like a boulder from one side, but something else from the other direction. Here, too, is the start point for a multicache which ended our first caching series for the day.


We’d now completed our caching along the canal so headed across the marina to look for caches elsewhere, from ‘The Return’ series. First, we had to cross the lock that keeps the marina full of water when the tide is out, and it was at that point in the tide where boats were busily entering and (mostly) leaving. We waited for the semicircular gate to close, walked across the top, and out onto the edge of the harbour.

We paused to eat our picnic lunch overlooking the harbour and the people messing about in boats. Later, walking along Salterns Way, we left the marina and were soon away from the coast amid farmland, hedges, and ripening crops. We found another two caches here, the last in a quiet spot away from the bustle of the marina with expansive views back to Chichester, the South Downs, and Goodwood racecourse.

By now, the beach was calling us, so we retraced our steps, circling the other side of the marina to reach the geocar and to head off to West Wittering for our first swim in the sea for the year. And, no, the water wasn’t cold!

Here are some of the caches we found:

January 21 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : North Camp to Wanborough

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Today we had the crisp, sunny winter’s day we had hoped for on our last day. It was a beautiful morning, but, my oh my it was cold!


Starting at North Camp station, we set off south along a diversion from the official Blackwater Valley path. We saw a notice on a post about unauthorised change of use of the land by the rivers, and have also heard (but can’t confirm) that the landowner closed the riverside path around then. Anyway, that meant a walk along a bumpy track, with many an icy puddle, sandwiched between the A331 and some gravel pits. Soon we returned to the river, and went to find out first cache, a puzzle cache called ‘Follow you, follow me’; luckily, we’d got the puzzle correct and were the first to find the cache since September 2016. Like us, most geocachers find fewer caches in the winter than the summer because the weather is darker, colder, and wetter.

The start of the walk - near North Camp

The start of the walk – near North Camp


We went on along the river, enjoying the sunlit morning, seeing mist rising from the river, and watching the local birdlife – ducks on the river and, once, a jay. We stopped to watch a heron – I was so engrossed in taking pictures that I failed to spot a cyclist coming along and nearly got run down… The next two caches were along the riverbank, among trees or a sign overlooking the river (just a bit of creaking from the fence as Mr Hg137 climbed up to collect it). Soon after we left the Blackwater path to climb up onto the Basingstoke Canal. At last our direction was altering, and more in line with our quest; thus far we had been going south, to skirt the nearby, off-limits, army ranges. Just as we reached the foot of the canal aqueduct there was a flash of turquoise, then another – a kingfisher! What a great farewell to the river!

Once up on the aqueduct, we turned aside a few yards to look for the first of three caches in the ‘Oddballs 1st Mission series’. We found it, but it was leaky and the log was frozen stiff, and we couldn’t remove it from the cache, let alone sign it. We did little better with the next two caches, also from the same series, which we couldn’t find at all – some TLC is needed for those caches methinks.
A new friend for Mr Hg137!

A new friend for Mr Hg137!


A coffee break was taken. It felt pleasantly warm in the bright sunshine, though the ground was still frozen and the canal icy. Almost immediately a robin appeared and took a fancy to Mr Hg137. I thought it was the red bobble hat which was the attraction … We succumbed to its blandishments and fed it part of our lunch. Leaving the canal soon after, we walked down through Ash, passing the striking church (why isn’t there a Church Micro cache here?) and eventually turned eastward along a green lane. At last we were heading in roughly the right direction! Along here, we came across three caches all from the same series – based on Italy – Rome/Venice/Pompeii – all very similar neat, tidy caches, mostly not found for a bit.
Basingstoke Canal

Basingstoke Canal


The path changed to a track, then to tarmac, and we were at ‘Christmas Pie’. A good name for a place! There was a puzzle cache here based on information to be found on the village sign. We worked out the puzzle but couldn’t find the cache. We’ve checked our results later, and they were correct, so maybe we’ll stop off for another try at the start of our next walk?


Wanborough station was a little further on, the end of the day’s walk. There was one more cache here, overlooking the railway line, from the ‘Sidetracked’ series (they are near stations). A short wait later, the train took us back to North Camp and the start of our walk. In a few minutes, we retraced a route which had taken us a few hours to travel on foot.

The end of the walk - Wanborough station

The end of the walk – Wanborough station


We found eight of the eleven caches we attempted. Here are some of them, along with our touring trackable:

June 26 : Hinckley

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Ashby Canal a little north of Hinckley

Ashby Canal


An unexpected weekend away … I had unexpectedly found out that there was to be a school reunion at my old school, Hinckley Grammar School https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinckley_Academy … so off we went. People I had not seen since I was 17 – and so many of them remembered me – and I them. Some people look pretty much the same, across much of a lifetime, and others change so, so much. All very enjoyable, and thought-provoking too.
Trinity Marina, Hinckley

Trinity Marina, Hinckley


But, before we headed home again, there was a chance for a walk – and a bit of geocaching – along the Ashby Canal. Another of my previous pastimes revisited – there are many, many canals in the Midlands, and I walked a lot of miles of canal towpath during the time I lived in Hinckley. Setting off from our hotel overlooking the canal, we were quickly on the towpath and the first cache was not far away, overlooking the marina. On we went, to another towpath cache, ‘Triumph View’, overlooking the Triumph motorcycle factory, where many a classic motorcycle is built https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_Motorcycles_Ltd We couldn’t find it (the cache, that is, not a motorbike). Not a triumph, but not to worry, there would be another chance on our return.
Triumph View - not triumphal for us!

Triumph View – not triumphal for us!


On we went, as the morning warmed – it was a beautiful summer morning- finding another cache concealed in the hedge alongside the towpath, but failing to find another hidden in ivy – never a hiding place we’ve been very good with. There were at least two interlocking series of caches here – one for cyclists along the towpath, and another connected with ‘The Big Bang Theory’ comedy series http://the-big-bang-theory.com/ plus others.
Is this REALLY a footpath?

Is this REALLY a footpath?


We turned away from the canal and onto a footpath. All went well at first, and we found another two caches quite easily, but then we turned south onto another footpath at the side of a wheat field, heading back to the canal and our start point. It was a bit … umm … overgrown. To be fair, much of this was grass and meadow plants bent down over the path by recent sharp showers, but it was really hard work to wade through, and we did cheat a sometimes by walking along the tractor tracks through the growing corn. Twice we dived into the (large, thick) hedge beside the path to find some caches, but we were really quite glad when we navigated our way back to the canal again.
Ashby Canal

Ashby Canal


Time to have another go at that ‘Triumph View’ cache – we failed again, but we note that no one else has found the cache since – or any of the other caches we failed to find – so we feel just a little bit vindicated, but still not very triumphal. Once back on the towpath, it was so, so much easier to walk (phew) and we were back at the marina, our hotel, and the geocar, in not much time at all. Seven caches found, a pleasant morning’s walk, and time to go home …

Here are some of the caches we found:

October 10 : Richmond to Barnes Bridge

Some days are good days, some days are …

The journey started well enough as we caught the train to Richmond – Mr Hg137 even got chatting to someone he recognised on the train (but only remembered her name as we left (tsk, tsk)).
We passed through a deserted Twickenham station and knowing that the Rugby World Cup was on, remarked “It’ll be a lot busier this afternoon”. A short walk through Richmond town centre, in that early morning when shopkeepers haven’t quite got set up, but customers are buying to avoid the queues later.

The river on arrival was quiet. The summer was definitely over, hire boats were out of the water, being sanded, varnished and re-waterproofed. We wandered along the path, dodging the usual array of keep-fit enthusiasts to arrive at Richmond Lock.

End of Season maintenance

End of Season maintenance


To many people this lock is a surprise, as the river is tidal at this point and why would a lock be necessary? Apparently, about 100 years ago, the boat owners complained that the ebbing tide also took more river water out with it, leaving a very shallow body of water. A lock and weir was built to trap river water at low tide. For two hours either side of high tide, boats can ‘ride the weir’ in safety, but for the remaining time boats must use the lock (and, unusually, pay for the privilege!).
Richmond Lock - tide's out .. please pay!

Richmond Lock – tide’s out .. please pay!


Our first cache was on the bridge over the weir. The description mentioned both a key-safe (a slim magnetic playing card type cache) or a magnetic nano. Lots of metal, lot of of muggle dodging, lots of looking. Not a cache to be found. Not a good start!
Low tide

Low tide


We did notice that the tide must have been at low when we were at the lock as various sandbanks were visible in the river. Further down the path the tide was coming in quite quickly as many a rowing crew were being whisked upstream with barely an oar in the water.

We paused close to our next target ( Oh Deer! ).

A terrain 4.5 cache.

A tree climb.

After our success on the previous walk we had thoughts of at least looking at it. But to get to it there was a 6 foot drainage channel to cross. There was a bridge… made of uneven logs. We couldn’t even work out how to get onto the logs! We gave the cache a miss ! (And also realised some time after that neither of us took a photo of this obstacle!). Two caches sort of attempted, none found. Its going to be one of those days…

…and it didn’t improve at the next cache, Swamp Cache. Somewhere in the trees, down a bank, in a slightly muddy, overgrown area was a cache the size of a tennis ball. Was it on the half a dozen trees we examined ? Was it really in the swamp area with indeterminate depth of water just beyond ? We never found it. Three failures out of three – our caching trip was going very well indeed.

A rare success!

A rare success!


Our next two caches were remnants of an old 20-cache series set in October 2009. Now only two remain, numbers 16 and 19. Both, fortunately for us, easily found. But one was in desperate need of maintenance that it can’t be long before only one cache will remain from this series. Looking at logs for the other 18 archived caches, the owner has been negligent with cache maintenance with the whole series. Such a shame the cache owner didn’t maintain them, as the Thames Path does lend itself to lots of good hiding places !
Lots of good hiding places along here

Lots of good hiding places along here


The Thames Path passed behind Richmond Deer Park (hence the ‘oh Deer’ cache earlier, and Kew Gardens. On the other bank Syon House, was clearly visible. Syon House has been in the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland) since 1594. Although it is still in private hands, it is open for visiting 3 days a week during the Summer.
Syon House

Syon House

One other great moment of interest (well to Mrs Hg137, a canal buff) was where an arm of the Grand Union of Canal meets with the Thames. From here one can travel all the way to Birmingham by boat!

Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal


The South Bank of the Thames was devoid of caches for some distance (presumably the 20 cache series had caches on this stretch), so we crossed to the Northern Bank. We had two objectives – firstly to see and photograph the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Finishing Post. Second to find the cache yards from it!

We failed with both!

The Boat Race Finishing Post SHOULD be here!

The Boat Race Finishing Post SHOULD be here!


Firstly the finishing post had been removed and replaced by a temporary banner for that weekend’s (non-University) racing. Secondly we didn’t find the cache.. but we did find another cacher signing its log!

When we arrived at Ground Zero, the few people that were around were all connected with rowing. They were engaged with packing up, cleaning boats and the like. Except one lady, sitting on a stump, crouched over a piece of paper.

We enquired whether she was a geocacher and whether she was holding a geocache! We were right! A lovely Spanish lady with caching name of doways. Welcome to the UK – and hope you enjoy your caching adventures here!

Doways with the cache

Doways with the cache


So really we didn’t find that cache either!

We completed our walk on the North bank crossing back to the South bank to catch a bus back to Richmond. The bus was late (we think due to Rugby traffic on its outbound route), and we just missed a train home. This gave us plenty of time on Richmond Station to watch hundreds of Welsh and Australian rugby fans descend on the platform, squeeze on the next train, and depart.

Arrive, squeeze, depart.

Arrive, squeeze, depart.

Suddenly the whole station reverberated with the singing of “Cwm Rhondda” – a huge sound got closer and closer. then just six Welshman arrived and they were responsible for the huge sound ! Amazing!

Our train arrived, and like all the others was jam-packed, so much so we could barely get on it! Get on it we did but we were so squashed on the 10 minute journey to Twickenham station we could barely breathe.

An unpleasant end, to a rather poor day’s outing! Still there’s always next time!

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 5.3 miles
Total distance walked : 161.75 miles

Caches found : 3 (or was it 2.5?)
Total caches found : 289

July 13 Thames Path : Reading to Sonning

A day we had set aside for a simple day’s caching.
A day when the weather and buses conspired against us.
A day when every cache seemed to take an age to find.

Its a short distance between Reading and Sonning (just over three miles), but the grey drizzling skies meant we left after an early lunch as the afternoon seemed to be the driest opportunity.

We drove to Sonning with the intention of catching a bus to Reading and walking back. This would mean we could take our time over the walk, rather than trying to ‘rush for a bus’.

Sonning Lock

Sonning Lock


Sonning is medium sized village on the Berkshire side of the Thames. There is a long, single-file, traffic-light controlled bridge over the Thames which means that the traffic backs up through the village and its twee cottages are often masked by queues of cars.
For a medium sized village it has a surprising number of bus stops. We had checked beforehand which stop we required, but still decided to stand at the wrong one for a few minutes. Realising our error we trekked at great speed to another stop and waited.. and waited.. and waited. The hourly service was running 25 minutes late. Grr!
In fairness, since we’ve been using public transport this has been the first occasion where there has been a major delay.

During our criss-crossing of Sonning we were able to locate 2 clues from a 5 part multi – so not all bad!

We arrived at Reading and our first true cache of the day was at the Railway Station. Despite making lots of journeys via Reading Station we hadn’t ventured away from the building to find the ‘Sidetracked’ cache. We nearly didn’t find it either. The co-ords were slightly out, and the initial search of the obvious cache location yielded nothing. We wandered away, rechecked our GPS and returned for a further search. After a street-cleaner had placed a bike at GZ disrupting our inch-by-inch investigation we suddenly saw the cache – ‘one of those you can see from one angle, and retrieve (blind) from another’.

Minutes later we were at the Thames Path, or should have been, as the diversion we mentioned on our previous Thames blog, meant a had few hundred yards extra to walk.

Thames Path... BLOCKED!

Thames Path… BLOCKED!


No sooner we were on the Thames Path, we left it! There were 2 caches just to the North of the Path, one on a weir (which despite two lots of searching we never did find), and a magnetic cache hidden away near an information board on View Island. View Island is a small island, linked by pavements to both banks – with a lovely simple nature walk around it. The cache wasn’t that simple to find though!
Is this the cache ? No! So where is it then ?

Is this the cache ? No! So where is it then ?


We walked back across the weir to rejoin the Thames Path and walked towards Sonning. We admired the many boats moored up (many of the crews no doubt gathering provisions in the nearby Tesco) and arrived at the Kennet and Avon Canal. The canal links Reading to Bath and Bristol and fell into decline during the 1950s when it became impassable due to poor maintenance. Many groups of volunteers took up the challenge to restore it, and it was formally reopened by the Queen in August 1990. Every Easter the canal forms the first half of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, and the second half is the Thames from Reading.
A roof garden atop a boat!

A roof garden atop a boat!


We wandered along the canal towpath for a short while aiming for a Gas Holder. Here we were looking for another magnetic nano, but our searching was again interrupted – this time by youths who were after something much more interesting. Was it alcohol, drugs, or something else stowed away in that plain carrier bag they ran off with ? At least it wasn’t the cache, which we found shortly after.
Large Gas Holder... but a small nano to find!

Large Gas Holder… but a small nano to find!


The Thames quickly leaves the sprawl of Reading behind, and passes through Kings Meadow. This is a popular place to visit during the Summer, as the many paving stones marked “BBQ” testified.

A little away from the river, we headed for our next cache. On a small footbridge. Now we’ve realised that there are not many places at a bridge : on the bank underneath the bridge, dangling from the middle or dangling from one of the four corners. Given our speed of searching today, it was of course the last corner of the four where we found it.

That was our last cache of the day, as somehow we forgot to look for another we had loaded into the GPS and walked right past it!
It was that sort of day !

Our walk back to the car, through the throttled streets of Sonning enabled us to find another 2 parts of the 5 stage multi. Next time… all being well we’ll find the fifth part!

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 3.1 miles
Total distance walked : 98.1 miles

Caches found : 4 Total caches found : 198

March 14 Thames Path : Lechlade to Radcot : Locks and (pill) boxes

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Down by the river at Lechlade, it still felt like winter: there was hazy sunshine and a cool breeze. But there were signs of spring: fishermen, very well wrapped up against the cold, and people messing about with boats, preparing them for the boating season.

River Thames at Inglesham

River Thames at Inglesham


Before heading onwards, we backtracked a short distance to take another look at Inglesham Roundhouse. Then we turned back in the ‘right’ direction (towards the sea) and under Ha’penny Bridge.

Ha'penny Bridge, Lechlade

Ha’penny Bridge, Lechlade

Lechlade looked – and sounded – lovely in the morning light, with a peal of bells ringing out from the church. A little way downstream we reached St John’s Lock, the very first/last lock on the Thames. Here is the statue of Old Father Thames, watching over the lock; he used to be at Thames Head but he has moved here where it is busier and there are more folk to watch over him and keep him safe. Here, too, was a lock keeper, painting all the bits on the lock that need to look smart for the summer.

Old Father Thames

Old Father Thames

St. John's Lock

St. John’s Lock

Thames lock keeper

Thames lock keeper


Leaving the Thames Path, we passed the Trout Inn and headed along a footpath to grab two brand new (this month) caches, Lechlade Wander 1 & 2. There are few geocaches on or near this section of the Thames Path and we wanted to get as many as possible! Both are in excellent condition and well placed – well enough to give us a few minutes searching time on each cache. It seemed a good place to leave the trackable, Hopkin the bunny, to continue his conquest of the world.

Back on the trail, we walked on to Buscot Lock, the smallest i.e. shortest lock on the Thames, and where we met another lock keeper, busily painting. Just before arriving, we ‘happened’ on another cache. Strictly speaking, we should have walked into Buscot, solved some clues, and returned to the riverside to claim the cache. Instead, we read the description and the hint ahead of time, and decided to search among the most likely places where a cache could be placed; we got lucky at one of the first few places we checked; the National Trail geocoin was dropped off here. But we did walk into the village, which is owned by the National Trust; it’s slightly over-neat in that way that NT properties often are, but very pretty and a good (though chilly) spot for lunch.

Buscot

Buscot

Buscot Weir

Buscot Weir


By now the sun had gone, and the wind was keener, so hats and gloves went on for the rest of a rather bleak, cold walk. There were no caches to be found till Kelmscott, the next village, so we pressed on into the wind. We were getting cold, so, of the eight caches in the ‘Around Kelmscott’ (AK) series, we just found the three caches along the riverbank and then moved on. Kelmscott is associated with William Morris (of the Arts & Crafts movement) and the cache series has a good number of favourites, so we may come back this way soon to finish off the AK series and do some sightseeing in the attractive village.

The river meandered to and fro, peppered at intervals by pill boxes, part of the WWII defences of ‘Stop Line Red’. Most of them are still in fair condition, and you can get inside some of them. One of the AK series was hidden in a pill box; it was very neatly hidden (though I am short and it was a little out of my reach). This cache turned out to be one of the slipperiest ever – both of us dropped it at least once and much searching was needed for the already ‘found’ cache!

Stopline Red - pill box by the Thames

Stopline Red – pill box by the Thames

Grafton Lock - with boat!

Grafton Lock – with boat!


On along the river, we reached Grafton Lock, where yet again there was wet paint (those lock keepers have been very busy!) And there was a boat in the lock, the first moving craft we’ve seen on the river so far; we stopped to talk to the boaters and their boat-dog; they were heading to Lechlade for the night, then back the next day.

There was just one more geocache to find, close to Radcot bridge, the end of our Thames walk for the day. We made much too much of finding this final cache, and were on the verge of giving up before Mr Hg137 spotted it, hidden in a tree near the bridge. And finally, on to the geocar, which was parked near the Swan Hotel by the bridge.

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 6 miles Total distance walked : 30 miles
Caches found : 7 Total caches found : 80

Some of the caches found on this walk:

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