June 8 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Fairford to Lechlade

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Fairford Church - St Mary's

Fairford Church – St Mary’s


After a gap of four weeks, we returned to our epic walk from Sandhurst (Gloucestershire) home to Sandhurst (Berkshire). This section was quite a short one, between Fairford and Lechlade, mostly through the Cotswold Water Park.

Parking one geocar in a layby near Lechlade, we stopped just long enough to find a cache there, then drove to Fairford in the other geocar. There’s a superb free car park close to the church, so we parked there and started our journey by crossing the road to visit St Mary’s Church. It’s a big church, funded by the wool trade, with superb medieval stained glass windows, the only complete set in the country https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairford_stained_glass Our plan was to collect information needed to solve the Church Micro cache associated with the church, have a quick look at the glass, find the cache, and be on our way. It didn’t quite work out like that …

Entering the church, a steward handed us an audio guide which detailed all sorts of things about the windows and the church. It would take well over an hour to see everything – there are 28 windows, and other things. But we needed to get on, and get walking. We compromised and looked at a few selected windows, found the information and left. (Editor’s note: we didn’t have time to do justice to this church interior but it is very well worth visiting and spending a while just looking at the windows; each one contains a wealth of detail and symbolism well covered in the audio guide.)

Leaving the church, we went to look for the cache, which was located very close to where the car was parked. Or should have been. Some nettle stings later, we abandoned our search, and finally set off. Oh dear, it was rather later in the day than we had intended. We walked through the town, skirted some building work, and set out along the track of an abandoned railway, now a path http://www.fairfordbranch.co.uk/Fairford.htm There’s a cache along here too, one from the ‘Sidetracked’ series. (Editor’s note: geocaches really do help with finding a route, we would have struggled to find this path without that location to guide us.)

After a bit, we reached the water park and followed a selection of paths leading round the lakes. Once again, it didn’t go to plan … the lakes are still being dug out, so the map doesn’t match what is on the ground … and we couldn’t find several of the caches we were looking for. They were part of a series planted by a local Scout troop to get their geocaching badge, but we suspect that the interest wanes a bit once the badge is achieved, and the caches aren’t maintained as well as they could have been.

Some day soon, this will be houses ...

Some day soon, this will be houses …


After some bumbling about we arrived at the edge of a housing development in progress, https://www.thelakesbyyoo.com There was a footpath somewhere, but we couldn’t spot it, and there were forbidding signs warning of dire consequences for any trangression. We approached a Gurkha security officer, asked the way, and were efficiently, promptly, and politely given a map (maybe we weren’t the first to ask). Emboldened, we set off, talked our way past some burly security guards, using the map as a talisman, clambered through a live building area, close to a digger, waving the map as a pass, and found our way onto a road leading through the already-built bit of the estate. There were some very large and very expensive houses here, but it didn’t do it for me: some of the lakes were a rather strange colour, and the buildings were a bit “Thames Valley Park” meets “Center Parcs”. I was glad when we emerged onto the Thames and Severn Way, leading us towards Lechlade.
Strange water colour?

Strange water colour?


Almost immediately we were finding caches from another series, the SSS / Seven Stile Stroll, which led us nicely into Lechlade, with only one failure among the five we attempted. Part way along the path we stopped for a welcome coffee break – we couldn’t stop in the building site/housing estate – and watched a small number of escaped sheep frolicking at the other side of the field. They spotted us, became embarrassed, and sheepishly slunk back to their field …
Lechlade

Lechlade


The path ended at the edge of Lechlade and we were soon in the town centre, it’s not a huge place. There are some quirky things to be seen – an all-year round Christmas shop, and a five foot high blue fibreglass hare being just two of them. A large blue hare? Why? Dunno. We went to the church, had a quick look inside – very pleasant, but not on the scale of Fairford – then worked out the answer for the Lechlade Church Micro which was, of course, a place that we had passed as we walked into the town. Then it was just a short walk along a tree-lined path out of town and we were back at the geocar; we’d been here before in March 2015 when we were walking the Thames Path.
It's Christmas all year in Lechlade....

It’s Christmas all year in Lechlade….


... and giant blue hares live in Lechalade too...

… and giant blue hares live in Lechalade too…


We drove back to Fairford to collect the other geocar. We were, once again, very close to the first cache of the day, which we didn’t find earlier. Once again, we braved the nettles. And this time we found a cache! (Editor’s note: when logging the cache, we found that it had been replaced, during the day, with the cache owner’s permission, so we hadn’t missed it on our first visit.)

And here, as ever, are some of the caches we found:

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May 11 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Bibury to Fairford

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

River Coln, Gloucestershire

River Coln, Gloucestershire


Spring was two weeks further advanced, and we were set to do the next section of our epic walk from Sandhurst (Gloucestershire) home to Sandhurst (Berkshire). This section followed the Coln valley downstream from Bibury to Fairford. And, good for our navigation, the route also followed more of the largest cache series we have ever seen (the Great Cotswold Walk or GCW series) which comprises over 130 caches. Just follow the arrow on the GPS!

Start point of our walk


We set off from the riverside overlooking Arlington Row in Bibury, where we finished our last walk. It was early on a weekday morning, but the tourists were already out in numbers. Luckily, they were all clustered around that one small area, and we were soon away from people as we stepped onto the track leading away from the village. It was about 3 miles to the next village, Quenington, walking roughly parallel to the river, along paths and tracks, through fields and woods, all very attractive and spring-like. By then we had found just under 20 caches, almost all of them from the GCW series, and all straightforward finds with accurate hints to assist our searches.


One of the caches not in the GCW series was Old Ent, a cache set in a venerable hollow tree close to the footpath. We sort of expected the cache to be hidden in the hollow trunk of the tree, but no … a search ensued and we were eventually successful.
Old Ent

Old Ent


Our arrival in Quenington coincided with lunchtime, and we sat on one of the many seats on the village green, ate our sandwiches, and watched the world go by. The green was freshly mown and all was very tidy: it was the village fete the very next day. There were two multicaches in the village: one from the Fine Pair series (where a red telephone box is visible from a post box), and another from the Church Micro series, St. Swithin’s Church https://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=1565. We found them both, criss-crossing the village and the village green several times on the way.
Quenington - village green

Quenington – village green


Quenington - a Fine Pair - red phone box and postbox

Quenington – a Fine Pair – red phone box and postbox


Quenington - St Swithin's Church

Quenington – St Swithin’s Church


Eventually we decided we had ‘done’ the caches of Quenington, striking out towards Fairford. We trundled onwards by the river, finding yet more caches as we went. While finding one cache in the woods, we were passed by a fisherman, who wanted to know what we were doing; a long explanation was provided by Mr Hg137. Later, having just found a cache, we were passed by a lone walker. We stopped to chat about inconsequential things, then both moved on. Strange that he also had a GPS … We looked back, to see the lone walker disappearing into the same hedge that we had just left. Aha! Another cacher: hello, Muriel the Pluriel.
Approaching Fairford

Approaching Fairford


We walked on, more and more caches were found, and we approached Fairford. It turned out that we had been following a permissive path along the river (FYI – it’s closed on Tuesdays!) (Editor’s note: but we had thought we would have at least two miles of road walking and this is MUCH better.) http://ernestcooktrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/the_pitham_brook_permissive_footpath_map.pdf As we reached the geocar in the (free) car park, we totted up the number we had found that day. Thirty five !!! A new daily record for us (albeit that our previous record had been set only two weeks before, on the very same cache series …)
Our route from Foss Cross to Fairford

Our route from Foss Cross to Fairford


Here are some of the very many caches we found:

April 28 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Foss Cross to Bibury

Bibury

The next section of our walk back to Sandhurst would pass through Fairford. As the crow flies it was a distance of about 8 miles. To reach Fairford would mean walking through one of the largest cache series we have seen (the Great Cotswold Walk or GCW series) comprising over 130 caches!

Foss Cross to Fairford caches


What to do ? Do we walk to Fairford and ignore every cache on our way ?

Do we walk to Fairford and attempt every other cache ?

We did neither. We decided to break our route at about the 4 mile mark in Bibury. This would give us about 30 caches to find and a reasonable walk too.

Coln Rogers Church

Of course there were a few other non-GCW caches to find, and after about half-a mile’s walk we reached one of these. A Church Micro set in the tiny village of Coln Rogers. A small Saxon church. In the foyer, there was a memorial plaque to the villagers who fought in WWI. But, almost as interesting was another plaque. This village lost no-one during the fighting in WWI. Such villages are known as “Thankful Villages”.

Our route away from Coln Rogers was tricky. Some of the ‘public footpath’ signage was obscured by verdant Spring hedge growth, which meant we started to walk through someone’s front garden! Whoops!

Then the sting. A fierce uphill climb, up a muddy path to reach a bridleway. The path was muddy and slippery and the tree branches were excellent tools to aid ascent.

At the bridleway we had a choice. To head South to Bibury, or North to a village called Calcot before taking a different path to Bibury. We again did neither. We headed South to find three caches (one had a high number of favourite points, but actually was a cache on a stick hidden in ivy) then return and head for Calcot. The bridleway was very muddy, but no so muddy that a horse rider galloped past us while we searching for a cache.

The bridleway yielded 4 caches, all very easy finds. In fact all the GCW series were easy finds. The cache owner gave very specific hints for each which made every find very quick. The payback for these quick and easy finds is that the majority of the caches were small film canisters, with perhaps half-a-dozen exceptions.

The highlight find of the day was in Calcot. The cache was part of the ‘Fine Pair’ series, where both a red telephone box and red post box are in very close proximity to each other. Like many of the post boxes we had seen recently this was now a mini library. Second hand books festooned shelves, and on the floor of the telephone box, was a large metal box used by children to put money in. It took us a couple of minutes to realise that this was the cache!

A Fine Pair.. and its cache!


From Calcot we walked on a small road at first, then a track, then open fields.

Mmm… best not to ask!

The GCW finds came relatively frequently and quickly found. One of the trickiest to reach was screwed into the ‘orange hat’ used to mark the underground gas pipes. We wondered how the permission had been granted for placement on such a structure!

A field of slightly-interested cows were passed, and then.. a lake. A large expanse of water covered the footpath. We had seen pictures on http://www.geocaching.com, but didn’t realise it was a semi-permanent feature. The cache owner knowing this, had placed the next cache some way from the ‘true’ footpath, so that it could be used a bearing to guide cachers around the lake. Very thoughtful.

Has anyone got a boat ?


We had seen no-one all day, then suddenly there was loud barking. We were approaching some kennels and the dogs were barking at a Duke of Edinburgh’s party heading in the opposite direction to us. As usual a collection of teenagers exhibiting little map-craft were being ‘guided’ by a leader some yards behind. We warned them of the lake and the cows!

The kennels were just outside the small village of Ablington, where we decided to go slightly off route and collect a couple of extra GCW caches. Here a bus stop seat provided us with the opportunity for a breather, and to sign the log of an adjacent cache – wedged in a squashed film canister tucked behind the village notice board, in a concrete bus shelter.

Coln Valley


We had been following, albeit from afar, the River Coln from the North, but at Ablington we crossed the river to walk on the river’s Southern bank to Bibury. We struggled with a couple of these caches – our brains must have been fading – or the GPS wasn’t as accurate as it could have been, but we arrived in Bibury having found every cache attempted.

Bibury is one of THE tourist honeypots in the Cotswolds and it was mid-afternoon, and visitors were everywhere. (You can even get a Cotswold Tuk-Tuk ride in the Cotswolds! https://www.cotswoldtuktuktours.co.uk )

Fortunately for us we could bypass the town and head in from a different direction. A cache under a horse trough and another next to the Cricket Field both retrieved with minimal muggle interference.

Bibury Church


Our final cache on our walk was, like our first, a Church Micro. This time we had some memorial stones to find and undertake a simple calculation to acquire the co-ordinates for the final hide. (The term ‘simple calculation’ doesn’t apply if its the last cache of the day!). We then discovered we had walked by GZ some 15 minutes earlier. Grr! However what a find! The cache was hidden in a coffin shaped container! A macabre end to the day’s very successful walk.

As we headed to the car, we took the obligatory photos of Bibury (now thankfully much quieter), and we realised we had equalled our best ever day’s caching. Then we remembered, there was another cache parked in a layby not far from where our other car was parked back at Foss Cross. So, on the way home, we pulled into this layby, and found, not for the first time, a film canister.. yielding us a record breaking number of 31 caches! Woo ! Woo!

Making progress through the GCW series!

Some of the caches we found :

April 22 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Colesbourne to Foss Cross

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

A night (staying nearby in Great Witcombe) had passed, and it was time for the fifth section of our epic walk from Sandhurst (Gloucestershire) home to Sandhurst (Berkshire). Starting at Colesbourne, where we finished the last walk, we were going up and across the hill tops to Chedworth, then finishing the walk where our route crossed the Fosse Way at Foss Cross (and yes, there is no consistency at all in those place names – almost everywhere else it’s ‘Fosse’ but not at ‘Foss’ Cross).

But first … a slight diversion on our way to Colesbourne. There is a puzzle cache based on the village called ‘When were these Coles Born?’ and we had solved the puzzle based on that neat turn of phrase, and stopped off to collect the cache on our way to the village. We planned to park one car at Colesbourne Church. Silly me – I had forgotten it was Sunday. No spaces at the church. We rethought, backtracked, and parked the car next to a wine wholesaler, having first checked it was closed on Sundays (unlike churches!) And off we went. The first cache on the walking route for the day was ‘Two Degrees West’, very close indeed to our starting point. The cache name made no sense till we inspected our GPS at the cache site – it was exactly 2 degrees west.

Colesbourne - 2 degrees west (exactly)

Colesbourne – 2 degrees west (exactly)

After a little bit of road walking, we headed onto tracks and into the countryside (and uphill). We found several caches as we climbed, all in good condition though some had not been found all winter. There was a bit of scrambling up banks, a bit of wildlife watching (a herd of about a dozen roe deer running across a field, and buzzards overhead), and a very, very pleasant walk through the Gloucestershire country while spring frothed and flowered around us. On the downside, Mr Hg137 snagged himself on barbed wire (the same piece, twice – he can be a slow learner!) and we both got stung by evil nettles, but that didn’t matter too much.


Spot the running deer!

Spot the running deer!


Very pleasant woodland walk

Very pleasant woodland walk


There was about a mile of road walking approaching Chedworth where there were no caches, not one, so we sped up and hastened along. Coming to a road junction, we spotted a parked car. It was a Porsche. Next to it was … another Porsche, and another, five in all. Mr Hg137 couldn’t miss this chance and rushed over to the drivers to ask what they were doing. It turned out to be a photoshoot, which will be featured in 911 & Porsche World magazine in June 2018 http://www.911porscheworld.com At least that explained why all those cars were so incredibly clean!
Porsches everywhere!

Porsches everywhere!


There was a steep descent down from the hilltops into Chedworth, and its church, almost the first dwellings of any kind that we’d seen since the start of the day’s walk. Chedworth church has an easy-to-find church micro, but the inside of the church is also worth a visit, with lots of material detailing the exploits and awards of the bellringers, and information on Elizabeth of York, Henry VII’s queen, who visited Chedworth and is depicted on a ceiling boss in the church (an early form of photo, maybe?). Elizabeth appeared again for our last cache of the day, which was based on the village sign, which included pictures of all sorts of things related to the village – Roman mosaics … English queens …
Chedworth church

Chedworth church



Chedworth village sign

Chedworth village sign



The last leg was a cacheless walk over the flat top of the Cotswolds, passing a gymkhana, over fields, under a disused railway and out onto the busy Fosse Way by the Hare and Hounds pub at Foss Cross.

And here are some of the caches we found:

April 7 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Down Hatherley to Shurdington

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!)

Gloucester Airport

Gloucester Airport


... and then the mud started!

… and then the mud started!


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.
Rickety railway bridge

Rickety railway bridge


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?
Aah ... cute!

Aah … cute!


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.

Badgeworth Church

Badgeworth Church


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!
Closed!

Closed!


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:

April 7 : Barnwood

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

St Lawrence's Church, Barnwood

St Lawrence’s Church, Barnwood


As it was due to rain, we decided on a morning’s caching close to our hotel, so we could retreat if there was a deluge. As a child, I lived in Barnwood for two years, so I was looking forward to revisiting childhood haunts.

A cycle-cum-footpath led from the hotel towards Barnwood, passing close to a superstore. The first cache of the day was one from the ‘Off Your Trolley’ series. I looked and failed to find, then Mr Hg137 stuck his hand into the same bush and withdrew it, holding a cache. One up to him! Grrr

Springtime

Springtime


Lunchtime sandwiches purchased, we continued, away from superstores and industrial estates, into Barnwood proper. Our next cache was a Church Micro centred on St Lawrence’s church. Here was a place I recognised. I used to attend the local C of E school, and I well remember traipsing from the school to the church at harvest festival time, carrying a giant marrow. It seemed a very long way, but then I was only five … Anyway, I digress. We did several circuits of the churchyard, collecting numbers to use to solve the coordinates of the multi cache, and pausing to chat to a very elderly dog-walking muggle who was eager to describe the very heavy rain earlier in the week; parts of the churchyard were still underwater. Numbers gathered, we had a short and soggy walk to the cache location.

A diversion followed, while we went to look at my old house and my old school, which is now a school for the deaf. I got a bit misty eyed – they both looked a lot smaller than I remembered.

My old house!

My old house!


... and my old school!

… and my old school!


Back to the caching: we entered Barnwood Park to look for more caches, the first on being the oddly named ‘Chris Thistle’ which is close to a weir on the brook that flows through the park. All became clear as we drew near. The title is inscribed on an object close to the cache.
Chris Thistle is here, somewhere

Chris Thistle is here, somewhere


... or maybe Chris Thistle is here, somewhere

… or maybe Chris Thistle is here, somewhere


Walking on through the park, there were many signs that said ‘don’t feed the birds; don’t feed the squirrels’ so we had to disappoint the bold squirrel that leapt into our path and waited for food. We grabbed another cache as we left the park and then it began to rain. Grrr. At least we were expecting it.

But it didn’t last long, and had stopped as we approached the next cache, named ‘Raining Frogs’. We were hoping for an unusual container here, but we couldn’t find anything more interesting than a piece of string at GZ (Ground Zero – the location of the cache) After a long look around we left without success.

Postscript: The next day the cache owner posted this sad little note:
The GZ appears to have been “nuked”. I was amazed to see the tree splayed out and flattened in placed. Could see no sign of the cache, which was upsetting because it was a fairly expensive capsule. Still – that’s the risk I took and in this instance it is lost. Not replacing this – too disheartened! Thanks for doing it, those who did! Sorry!

We had one more cache on our list for the morning, ‘Elizabeth of Barnwood’, named after one of the more colourful residents of the Barnwood Hospital (Asylum) which used to be across the road from the cache site. It (the hospital) is gone now, turned into houses, just like the playground of my old school. Grrr. As with the first cache of the day, I searched confidently, but with no success, while Mr Hg137 put a hand out and grabbed the cache straight away. Grrr again.

Five out of six caches found, we returned to the hotel and lunch, with me wittering on about the past, and Mr Hg137 making non-committal noises. A good use of a damp morning.

Here are some of the caches we found:

April 6 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Sandhurst to Down Hatherley

Last year, 2017, we set ourselves a challenge to walk from where we live in Sandhurst, Berkshire to Sandhurst, Kent. There is a third Sandhurst in the UK, which is just a few miles North of Gloucester.

This year’s challenge is to walk, (and cache of course) from Sandhurst, Gloucestershire to our home in Berkshire.
The distance is likely to be about 90 miles. As last year, we will try to walk a relatively direct route, but again like last year we do have to avoid certain obstacles such as Army Land, Airports, Rivers etc..

We are starting our challenge later this year as Winter’s short day-length coupled with a 2 hours drive would have meant very short trips. Then, the late Winter weather (“The Beast from the East” x 2!) scuppered our start dates in February/March.

So, some weeks later than planned, we booked a weekend away to start our walk and cache our way home.

St Lawrence, Sandhurst (Gloucs)

Sandhurst (Gloucs) is a relatively small, strung-out village just off the A38. There is one road in, and another out. Its location near to the River Severn means when the River floods, Sandhurst can be cut off.

We parked a car in the church car park and very quickly found our first cache. The GPS said ’17 feet away’ and before we could check the hint, the magnetic micro was in Mrs Hg137’s hand.

First cache of our journey home

Signed, replaced. Very easy. Fingers crossed for an easy ride for the next 90 miles!

Before we headed East, we wanted to see the River Severn. It had been on high flood alert (red alert), for the previous 4 days and we wanted to see how full it was. We never got there! After walking through a farm we arrived, just 2 fields away from the river-bank. But that first field was one large puddle! Water was gushing in from another field, our exit stile was in the middle of a lake. We abandoned our visit to the River Severn, though we both ended up with some of its water in our boots!

Should the River Severn really be this close ?


Sandhurst Church, where we found the first cache, is relatively old and dedicated to Saint Lawrence. It has been a place of worship since the 14th century, and also contains a 12th century font. The peace in the church was marred by roadworks going on within yards of our parked car!

No caches here!

The first couple of miles of our route were cacheless, even though we went over a couple of stiles and saw ‘useful’ trees which would have made good hosts.

In the distance … Gloucester Cathedral

Across flooded fields we glimpsed Gloucester Cathedral; shortly after we walked near to the Nature in Art Museum.

Nature in Art Museum/Gallery

The Museum acts a gallery for artists and artworks associated with Nature. As we crossed the Museum’s drive we made a navigational error. We were looking for a footpath, but we failed to realise until we had walked for 15 minutes, that there were two adjacent paths…and we had taken the wrong one.

This meant we had an extra half-mile road-walking to reach the tiny village of Twigworth. Here we crossed the busy A38,and headed for a bridge over the Hatherley Brook. We were expecting the Brook to have overflowed its banks too, but it hadn’t which meant we could try to find three caches close to its banks.

The first ‘Green Troll House’ was on one of the bridges. We took sometime to find this cache.

Somewhere on this bridge..


Magnetic. Hidden under feet, but not under the bridge.

Very specific. But we fingered the bridge all over. Young spring nettles defended (a bit too vigorously) a location or two and after 10 minutes we were about to give up. Then we saw the item, well concealed. A classic case of standing back and looking from a distance rather than fingertip searching.

…here it is!

The next cache was easier. Under a stile – one of those stiles, which now goes nowhere, as the footpath bypasses it. Everyone now walks by the cache without even realising it is there. (The stile did give Mrs Hg137 a chance to ‘relace her boots’ as a few people approached just as the cache was about to be replaced).

Our next cache was our only DNF of the day. Hidden by a kissing post – it was nowhere to be seen. We weren’t the only cachers to log a DNF, so we are fairly certain the cache has gone.

We continued following the Hatherley Brook, now adjacent to a Golf Course to Down Hatherley Church. We were on two long distance footpaths, The Glevum Way which circumnavigates Gloucester and the Gloucestershire Way which is a 100 mile path visiting Stow-on-the-Wold, Chepstow and Tewkesbury.

Two long distances footpaths at the same time!

Down Hatherley Church (St Mary and Corpus Christi) was the location for a fairly straightforward multi.

St Mary and Corpus Christi, Down Hatherley

Find two gravestones, extract a date or two, perform a simple calculation and find the cache. Most previous finders had mentioned that the co-ordinates were 30 feet out, so we went to the calculated co-ordinate site and split up. Mr Hg137 set off towards a distant tree, but Mrs Hg137 found the cache with the help of some nearby sheep!

We know where the cache is! Don’t ewe?

So we completed the first 4 miles of our ‘journey home’, found 4 caches as well as innumerable flooded fields. Fingers crossed it gets drier!