May 26 : Bodiam Castle

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle


We had just finished our unofficial, self-made long-distance path from Sandhurst (just in Berkshire) to Sandhurst (just in Kent). Woo hoo! Mission accomplished, that left a hot, sunny May afternoon free for enjoying ourselves, and we moved a mile or so from Sandhurst to Bodiam, just back over the border in Sussex.

Bodiam Castle really looked the part of a castle, surrounded by a moat, standing square with towers at the corners and gates https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodiam_Castle It was built in 1385 and still looks very complete from the outside. Inside it’s more of a shell but there are rooms and towers to visit and steep spiral staircases inside turrets to climb to the battlements. Once up top, there’s a view out across the nearby countryside with its vineyards, and down into the moat with its large and numerous carp.
Fish!

Fish!


After about two hours we had ‘done’ the castle quite thoroughly, had climbed every uneven winding staircase, walked along the battlements, and visited every room. After a cup of tea, time for some caching! Our first cache lay uphill from the castle, along the Sussex Border Path, at the side of a vineyard. ‘Swine Bovine Equine’ was a very old cache, placed in March 2002 (that is extremely venerable in caching age!) and its name comes from the figures decorating the weather vanes of three nearby oasthouses.
Swine, Bovine, Equine

Swine, Bovine, Equine


There is more history in the grounds of the castle, though much more modern, a World War II pillbox (to be more precise, a pentagonal FW3/28A variant, brick-skinned!) and there is a cache based on that. (More information on this pillbox can be found on this blog: http://wwww.pillbox.org.uk/blog/216726 ) We’d done the research beforehand, so didn’t need to look very closely, and the cache container can be found a little way away, outside the castle grounds. The cache description says that the National Trust expect visitors to pay before entering the castle grounds and walking past the pillbox; we did that anyway as we were visiting the castle … but that path is also a public footpath, part of the Sussex Border Path, and I think you could walk along that anyway, without paying.

Past the castle and moat, we turned uphill away from the castle to look for another cache, hidden behind a decorated village pump, which is also a war memorial. More about this can be found here: http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/Bodiam.html It was somewhere we had driven by earlier, almost without noticing, and would not have stopped. While researching for this post, I came across a comment on the cache logs which was written on the logs after our visit … ‘Message from a Bodiam resident THIS IS A WAR MEMORIAL Show respect’ I agree: we should, and did, show respect; but from another viewpoint, the cache brings visitors who would not stop here otherwise, and who keep alive the memories of those commemorated there.

Bodiam war memorial

Bodiam war memorial


But there is more to Bodiam than the castle: just over the River Rother lies a station, which forms one end of the Kent & East Sussex railway, the other end being at Tenterden https://www.kesr.org.uk It had its heyday during hop-picking times, and is now a heritage steam railway. And, as there was a station, there was a cache to be found there, from the ‘Sidetracked’ series. Could we find it? We gave it a very long search, staring at every possible place it could be hidden, including a very suspicious large stone tucked behind a fence post. But we couldn’t find it … no-one else has found it since, and it’s been temporarily disabled. It goes missing quite often, according to the logs.
Bodiam Station, K&ES railway

Bodiam Station, K&ES railway


It was now about 5pm, and still very hot, and we were beginning to wilt, as we had been out walking / castle visiting / caching all day in the sunshine. We had just one more cache to attempt, sort of on the way back to the car. Once back at the bridge over the River Rother, we then diverted along the path along the riverbank. A little way along was the final cache, ‘Castle View’, which really did mark the spot for a splendid view back to the castle nesting amongst trees just above the valley. Facing the other way, there was also a splendid view of the station and railway: A well chosen spot indeed.
River Rother

River Rother


And that was it for the day: time to head back to the hotel for a rest, a shower and a meal, in no particular order.

Here are some of the other caches we found:

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May 25 : Devon / Cornwall : Day 4 : Ladies Window & Tintagel

Yesterday we visited the South coast of Cornwall, today would be the rugged North coast.

We had three destinations in mind, an Earthcache on the South West Coast Path called Ladies Window, a visit round the Arthurian town and castle of Tintagel and if, time permitted, Padstow.

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle


From Liskeard, our base for the week, the route to the North coast is not easy. There are two main alternatives for heading North, one was driving on ‘A’ roads which predominantly go East/West so there was a lot of zig-zagging from one to another, or take the very minor roads which head North. We opted for the latter and within 20 minutes fully realised the peril of this route. The high hedges of the narrow Cornish lanes, with infrequent passing places, was not a good place to be with a delivery van and a three other cars coming towards us! Some (slightly poor) reversing later and we were through. The car just about survived but as for the hedge…

We paused principally to regain our composure in a layby and discovered we were within 16 feet of one of the Cornish Compass caches. We found it, and took some comfort from the fact we may not have stopped at that layby had it not been for the Southbound traffic queue we had to negotiate.

Ladies Window

Ladies Window

Ladies Window is a natural arch high on the South West Coast path halfway between Tintagel and Boscastle. There is no obvious car parking nearby but we managed to park near some farm buildings in the tiny hamlet of Trevalga. This left us a good half a mile walk to the arch. The arch is well hidden from the South West Coast path, indeed we walked a few yards past it before we stepped off the path to see it! Being an Earthcache there is no physical container to find, all we had to do was provide the cache owner with facts and figures about the geology, and the shape and size of the arch. While we stood thinking about the questions several other walkers went by – most seemed unaware that the arch was there and we directed them to see the arch.

Our main sightseeing goal was Tintagel. Full of tourist shops trading on the myth that Arthur was born there. The town was heaving and we parked in the first car park we saw – sadly he furthest away from the Castle and surprisingly the most expensive!

Tintagel Castle is not for the weak or faint hearted.

It is hard work.

The town of Tintagel is about 280 feet above sea level, the castle (spread over the mainland and an island) are also about 280 feet above sea level. But it wasn’t a flat route between the Tintagel sites! Our route took us DOWN 200 feet, UP 100 feet, DOWN 100 feet to the causeway to the island, UP 100 feet to the Island summit, DOWN 100 feet to the causeway, a further 70 feet DOWN to the sea and then back UP 270 feet to the town!

Ups and Downs at Tintagel Castle

Ups and Downs at Tintagel Castle

More ups and downs

More ups and downs


The ups and downs are not easy as much of the route is carved out of the rockface. But we got there!
Tintagel Castle Ruins

Tintagel Castle Ruins


We checked every ruined room, we avoided the coachload of Spanish/Italian? schoolchildren (and a similar amount of French schoolchildren), we read every noticeboard,
Noticeboard and mini-sculptures

Noticeboard and mini-sculptures

we went through the tunnel, and walked around walled garden.. and there at the far end of the Island was the person we were looking for… KING ARTHUR!
King Arthur !

King Arthur !

We finished on the beach, and looked in Merlin’s Cave (really a cave tunnel under the castle) and few other caves.

Merlin's Cave

Merlin’s Cave

Before our final ascent to the village of Tintagel we had a cache to find. Set about a short distance from the castle and on the Coast Path we found it fairly quickly. Though Mr Hg137 was asked by a passing rambler whether we was alright when his arm was half in a rabbit hole!

A rarity on today's expedition - a cache!

A rarity on today’s expedition – a cache!


Tintagel had not got quieter.

We walked away from the tourist centre to undertake a Church Micro Multi. We acquired the final coordinates (not easy from an almost illegible sign) and walked to a gate/stile nearby. Sadly we could not find the cache.

We walked through the tourist town. A small nano was hidden near a seat, in the most busy part of town. We gave ourselves 10 minutes of searching, sadly another DNF! Tintagel Castle had cast its mystical spell rendering our caching powers useless!

The day was getting late, we were exhausted from climbing up and down… the Ladies Window and Tintagel had beaten us, Padstow would have to wait for another day.

August 29 : Thames Path Eton (Windsor Bridge) to Old Windsor

We were planning a few days away so today’s walk was a bit shorter than our normal sections. The Thames loops round Windsor Castle on one of its giant meanders, so the 4.8 mile walk was only about 2.5 miles as the crow flies!

We had left the Thames at Eton (Windsor Bridge), but you can’t really go to Windsor and not admire the castle from the centre of town.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

We had stood here before, as it is the start of the Three Castles Path which we walked back in 2010 and links Windsor and Winchester via Odiham Castle. This was before we were geocachers and many of our subsequent geocache finds have been on or near this 60 mile route.

From Windsor Castle we headed to the river via one of Windsor’s two railway stations. Here, not unsurprisingly was a cache in the ‘Sidetracked’ series. Our problem was not the finding… but the coach loads of tourists inhibiting our searching at GZ. We arrived just as 5 coaches must have emptied! That’s well over 200 people! After, what seemed an interminable wait, the cache was a simple find (luckily!).

A small cache, a large castle and a lot of people!

A small cache, a large castle and a lot of people!

Back to the river and we then found in amongst the flowers and railings by the river our second easy cache of the day.

A beautiful corner for a cache

A beautiful corner for a cache

We then decided to cross the bridge and have another go and trying to find ‘Eton Style’. Our previous attempt to find this cache was fruitless 2 weeks ago, but we had read the cache logs on http://www.geocaching.com and realised the cache was there waiting to be found. It is a narrow dark alley, with dirty brickwork, spiders’ webs and lots of places where really shouldn’t stick your fingers… but we did! And to our relief we found the cache on our second sweep of the alley! Its always good to find a cache one has DNFed in the past!

We returned to the river, and no sooner had we walked a few yards on the Thames Path, we walked off it again. This time to find the ‘Sidetracked’ cache for the second Windsor station. As with any tourist town, if you walk a quarter of mile away from the attraction, the roads and pavements are quiet and so it was here and our find was unimpeded by muggles.

This was our last cache away from the river, so after an hour darting around Windsor and Eton we were back on the main event, the Thames Path.

We headed to Windsor Lock, (or more properly called Romney Lock) which is not as accessible to Thames Path walkers as many of the other locks on the river. On our approach to the river we found our 4th cache of the day, in the roots of the tree , quite exposed. We left it better hidden!

The path continued on the Berkshire side of the Thames, until we reached the Victoria Bridge. Here we crossed into Buckinghamshire, but not before we grabbed a cache near one of the bridge parapets.

This was the end of our cache-finding streak as we then had 2 DNFs. Our excuse was that the Buckinghamshire portion of the Thames Path was overgrown. Nettles, brambles and branches hindered our progress along the path. All very disappointing as we could see the well manicured lawns of Home Park on the Berkshire of the river!

Buckinghamshire brambles ...

Buckinghamshire brambles …

... and Brilliant Berkshire grass

… and Brilliant Berkshire grass

Our first DNF was in a tree surrounded by nettles. We ventured in, trying to keep the nettle stings to the minimum (not quite achieved, but the nettles did win!) – all to no avail! Grr! Pain is worthwhile if the cache is found, but hurts even more when the cache is a DNF!

Eventually the overgrown path gave way to the village/town of Datchet. It was here we got our second DNF. The hint clearly indicated it was on or near a park bench. But we failed to find it. The cache had had several DNFs so we decided to highlight ‘maintenance needed’ on our log. The cache owner visited the cache a few days and replaced it as it had indeed gone missing. We do advocate recording DNFs for a cache, because if the cache has gone missing …. how will the owner know ?

Datchet is the home to several caches and we found our third ‘Sidetracked’ cache of the day behind a road sign! A find is always good for flagging morale!

Through Datchet the Thames Path is a pavement walk with a busy road alongside. Eventually we arrived on a footpath again and here met 2 pairs of Thames Path walkers walking in the reverse direction. At Windsor Albert Bridge we crossed back to Berkshire. On the bridge though was a cache. (Are there any bridges that don’t have caches ?) Here the Armco provided the hiding place, but it took us far too long to locate the magnetically attached cache.

Shortly after we encountered 3 caches opposite Ham Island. Ham Island is quite large, 125 acres, and contains well over 30 dwellings. Though many of these houses were abandoned during the 2014 flooding. The three caches all had ‘Ham’ in the title – ‘Ham it up’ being the most outrageous!

Two of the caches were straightforward, but the third involved a long and arduous search in undergrowth looking for the end of an ivy branch.

Fab Final Find!

Fab Final Find!


We were only a short walk from our final cache – a delightfully hidden and disguised stick – when we had some bird experiences. Firstly a fantastic house sculpture in the shape of a bird of prey – the size of it completely overshadowed a pigeon. Our last bird experience was seeing the local Swan Rescue Trusts removing an injured cygnet from the water. Hopefully they can treat the cygnet quickly and return it to Mr and Mrs Swan and its 5 siblings!

2 birds... 1 real!

2 birds… 1 real!

Looking after an injured cygnet

Looking after an injured cygnet

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 4.8 miles
Total distance walked : 132.75 miles

Caches found : 13 Total caches found : 252

Some of the caches we found included :

October 11 – Windsor Great Park – celebrating all things quercus

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

As soon as October arrived, so did the rain, and the paths were now distinctly soggy. Mr Hg137 found a route in Windsor Great Park that we thought wouldn’t be too muddy even after lots of rain. And so we got up on 11th October, ready for caching … and it was raining hard. Suddenly it didn’t seem such a good idea. But the rain eased and the sky brightened and the sun was shining by the time we parked at Queen Anne’s Gate at the edge of the Great Park. Result!

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Our plan today was to find the 9 caches in the ‘Right Royal Cache’ series. The owner’s description of the series is:
IMG_8585
…” 9 simple caches all within Windsor Great Park

The main theme of this series is the magnificent English Oak, Quercus Robur, of which there are many fine specimens in this park. It is probably the best known tree in Britain and an important feature of the English landscape. They live for hundreds of years and have always been important for their timber. The wood has been used to build ships, houses and furniture, but is also renowned for its use in casks for maturing wines and spirits. The fruit of the oak tree is the acorn, which appears usually in September and is very popular with squirrels. The oak is deciduous and loses its leaves very late in the year. “…

This says it pretty well, as eight of the nine caches are hidden in, on, under, or near to various fine examples of oak trees. The exception has the hint ‘troll’ and gave a good opportunity for Mr Hg137 to disappear under a bridge, to emerge triumphantly a little later covered with dust, cobwebs and a little mud; and then a wet bottom as he climbed out of the stream!

Any trolls here?

Any trolls here?

All nine caches were found, in bright clear sunshine, in beautifully manicured parkland, with distant views of Windsor Castle. A beautiful autumn morning’s caching.
Fine old oak

Fine old oak

September – a look around Edinburgh

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Edinburgh was such an interesting place that we took many, many photos during the few days we were there. Here is just a small selection that didn’t make it into other posts.

Edinburgh Castle at night

Edinburgh Castle at night


Keys to Edinburgh Castle

Keys to Edinburgh Castle


1 o'clock gun, Edinburgh Castle

1 o’clock gun, Edinburgh Castle


Heart of Midlothian

Heart of Midlothian

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard


Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament


Edinburgh, Calton Hill

Edinburgh, Calton Hill

Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat


Port of Leith

Port of Leith

Leith

Leith

September 10 – travel bugs on their way

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

While we were visiting the GC10 Edinburgh Castle, it seemed a fine and opportune location to drop off the two trackables we had brought with us, ‘Tag-a-Bondz geocoin’ and ‘Doc Jaunty’s Bug 3’. As this geocache is visited often, we thought they would be picked up soon, as was the case, and they are now safely on their ways. Good luck to them on their journeys!

IMG_8337IMG_8336

September 10 Edinburgh Day 2

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Today it was time for some seriously touristy stuff, along with the geocaches associated with them.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

We started off with a visit to Edinburgh Castle.

It’s the No 1 must-do tourist attraction in Edinburgh/Scotland (and the 2nd in the UK, we’re told) It was VERY busy, but we arrived before 10am and spent 3 hours investigating almost every corner. After watching the 1 o’clock gun being fired (yes, it’s loud!), we headed out into Edinburgh for the first cache of the day, GC10 Edinburgh Castle, at the foot of the castle mound. We spent some while poking around the likely spot and got it in the end. This was one of a series placed to mark the 10th anniversary of geocaching and was to showcase some of the wonders of Britain. (We tried for another in the series a few months back near the concrete cows of Milton Keynes, but it was missing.)

GZ for GC10

GZ for GC10


Then we moved on, along Grassmarket, to reach Greyfriars Kirkyard, known for paranormal activity but also as the home of ‘Greyfriars Bobby’. There’s a geocache here of the same name, just outside the kirkyard, but it’s hard to search for amongst the crowds of muggles crowded round the statue of the dog and making their way into the kirkyard.
Statue of 'Greyfriars Bobby'

Statue of ‘Greyfriars Bobby’

… A small bit of background here: Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier who became known in 19th century Edinburgh for spending 14 years faithfully guarding the grave of his owner, until his own death at the age of 16 (there are other versions of the story, but this is the most famous). His statue is just outside the Kirkyard, and lots of people touch his nose for luck; it’s very shiny! The Kirkyard itself has had a long reputation for paranormal activity, and this has intensified since the late 1990s when one of the memorials was disturbed. So many incidents happened that part of the Kirkyard is now fenced off, and is only accessible as part of a controlled tour; we did NOT want to meet any poltergeists so we didn’t go on this tour!. … That’s the end of the background information.
Greyfriars Bobby is somewhere in this crowd!

Greyfriars Bobby is somewhere in this crowd!

Now for the action of the day, a climb up Arthur’s Seat. We prepared for this by collecting (another) earthcache, ‘Earthscape Scotland’, which can be found just inside ‘Our Dynamic Earth’. Then it was off up the path to Arthur’s Seat, a volcanic hill which rises dramatically above Edinburgh’s skyline, especially looming spectacularly over the Scottish Parliament. It’s only about 800 feet of ascent, with a steady ascent from the road next to Holyrood Palace, and a final steep, rocky section. But we made it to the top … and so had dozens of others. There’s another Earthcache here, ‘Arthur’s Seat’, and we collected the answers to the earthcache questions but had to queue (!) for a photo of us at the trig point. Tiring now, we made our way down along the foot of Salisbury Crags, collecting another cache, ‘Radical Road’, on the way.
Arthur's Seat - nearly at the top

Arthur’s Seat


Another day, just 5 caches, but caches of the highest quality.

PS Some of you may think that this post looks familiar – that’s because Mr Hg137 accidentally published my post before it was complete (doh!). It’s now been finished, and polished, and is ready to go.