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 21 : Barrow Wake

What a day we were having!

Hazy View from Barrow Wake

A glorious walk between Barrow Wake and Colesbourne, and we had found 3 trackables too.

But we had one more cache to find, back at Barrow Wake.

We drove back from Colesbourne to the starting car park at Barrow Wake and our other car.

A few weeks previously we had solved a very clever puzzle cache and its final location was near the car park. (Well nearish, the 3/4 mile seemed an awful lot longer after a long day’s walking).

The puzzle looked like this :

Now there are two ways to solve this puzzle. The first, is to find a Rubik’s Cube you may have about the house, stick 54 small squares on it, so that the original Rubik’s cube has been masked, and then solve as a standard Rubik’s puzzle. (Mr Hg137 can’t do them, Mrs Hg137 can!).

Or… there is another way.

Editorial constraints forbid me from telling you the other way.. but with both of us working simultaneously, after an hour’s brainwork we agreed an answer.

So we wanted to find this cache. After a long day, our aching limbs at first rebelled, but soon recovered especially once we had the cache in hand.

Now, some puzzle caches can be a disappointment. Tremendous effort can be put into the solve and the final container is a nano or a film canister. This cache was different, a bulging container full of goodies!

A great end to a great day!

April 21 : Black-Veined White Butterfly Geocoin

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On our caching walk between Barrow Wake, overlooking Gloucester, and Colesbourne, in the Churn valley, we found not one, not two, but THREE trackables. This really doesn’t happen often! One of the three was this pretty butterfly.

Black-Veined White Butterfly

Black-Veined White Butterfly

The butterfly has been on the wing since May 2013, flying 5,600 miles. This is what the butterfly wants to do:
“To flutter by caches and make people smile.
PLEASE NOTE – although a butterfly and not a moth, to save your fabrics and backpacks being nibbled, please move along within 2 WEEKS. After all, what’s the point of a trackable that doesn’t travel?”

Apart from a single trip to Vienna, all that mileage has been in the southern half of England and Wales, probably not so very far from the locations where the real butterfly would have lived.

Here’s some information on the butterfly (taken with thanks from the trackable description):
“This large butterfly became extinct in the British Isles around 1925 with its last remaining stronghold in the south-east of England. It was always a rarity in the British Isles, although it is often very common on the continent. The cause of the demise of this species in the British Isles is a mystery since its foodplants can be found in abundance in all of its former sites. Disease (fostered by poor autumn weather), relatively-mild winters and increased predation by birds have all been suggested as potential causes. This species was concentrated primarily in the southern half of England and south Wales. The strongholds were in Kent (which held 40 colonies), Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Sussex.”

April 21 : MAGGIE – Misty the Maine Coon Travel Tag

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On our caching walk between Barrow Wake, overlooking Gloucester, and Colesbourne, in the Churn valley, we found not one, not two, but THREE trackables. This is almost unheard of! One of the three was this nice shiny new trackable, pictured meeting our own trail trackable, which we use to mark our progress on long walks.

MAGGIE – Misty the Maine Coon Travel Tag

MAGGIE – Misty the Maine Coon Travel Tag

Maggie the Maine Coon cat has been around since August 2017, starting off near Lothwithiel in Cornwall. She hasn’t travelled far since then – caches are visited much less in winter, so there is less chance of them being found – but she has been to some great places – to Truro, then to Oare on Exmoor, and thence to the Cotswolds.

All this sits well with Maggie’s own stated mission:
‘To explore past my little garden where I am allowed to roam. I love an adventure, take me far!’

And here is Maggies’s mission, in more detail, as given by her owner:
‘Our little Maggie trackable is in honour of our little cat who watches us leave very regularly with the geopooch to find geocaches. If we could take her geocaching with us we most certaintly would! Maggie loves climbing trees and anywhere green. Please help me to explore!!’

April 21 : U-Boat Geo-coin

As we mentioned on our previous post, on our walk between Barrow Wake and Colesbourne we discovered a Geo-coin.

One side shows an intricate top-down view of a U-boat, the reverse shows the U-Boat profile possibly lined up in a torpedo target.
U-Boats were the German submarines during the both World Wars. This geocoin started its journey, not from Germany from Majorca. Its mission, is to visit first Gibraltar, then La Rochelle and then the Polish port of Swinemünde (Świnoujście).

The geocoin has travelled 37,500 miles in since its release in September 2011. Most of its geocaching journey has been cross-crossing Europe and it very difficult to ascertain whether it has met its three objectives!

Apart from Europe, it had a brief sortie to the Far East including Shanghai, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ideally of course the geocoin wants to be near the sea, unfortunately our Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst (Berks) won’t go near the coast, so we will place it somewhere on our travels for someone else to do so.

April 21 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Barrow Wake to Colesbourne

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

A week had passed, and we were ready for the fourth section of our epic walk from Sandhurst (Gloucestershire) home to Sandhurst (Berkshire). We *should* have driven straight along the A417 to Barrow Wake, overlooking Gloucester. But the road was closed after an accident, and a scenic tour of Gloucestershire followed, via Cirencester, Stratton, Seven Springs, Crickley and Birdlip, and arrived at our start point later than planned. Just then the traffic started flowing again…

Crossing the A417, we set off up Shab Hill past the telecoms masts and down a country lane. We were high up, following the Gloucestershire Way, with good views all round, and caches spaced at regular intervals. But, if road building programmes have their way, this will all look very different soon http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/cotswold-motorway-plan-flatten-air-1393656

This could be a road soon!

This could be a road soon!

Our success at finding those first few caches was mixed – we found some, not others, and at least one was out in the open in an adjacent field! We spotted a seat – the first one we had seen – so stopped for an early lunch overlooking the Churn valley and Coberley long barrow. Just then a curly-haired, ginger dog appeared, soon followed by a muggle lady. We were sitting on ‘her’ seat. We shuffled up, and chatted, while the curly-haired ginger dog made covert attempts to get into our rucksack and steal our lunch leftovers.

Dog and owner walked on, and we followed them after a pause, as it gave us privacy to search for caches. It was cooler now, and not so sunny, and was that a drop of rain in the air? We reached the valley bottom, crossed the river, then the A435, and set off uphill across one of the biggest and dreariest fields we’ve ever crossed. Luckily, there was a cache at the far side of it … Unluckily, it was well wedged, and a few minutes of cursing and un-wedging ensued before we got to sign the log.
Upper Coberley

Upper Coberley

Climbing still, we walked through Upper Coberley, a prosperous looking hamlet (we looked much too shabby and muddy to be walking through here!). At the top of the hill we turned right, and the Gloucestershire Way turned left; it had served us well, but it was heading north and we were now going east.

We started on an undulating walk on tracks through the Pinswell plantation, along a ridge, through woods sprinkled with bluebells, primroses, daffodils and dandelions, and gently downhill towards Colesbourne, slowly losing the views as we went. Along our way, at regular intervals, were caches (they do help to keep you on the right track!), which were part of the Pinswell Loop series.

Expansive views ...

Expansive views …

... amid lovely old trees

… amid lovely old trees

Two caches are worthy of longer descriptions. One was sodden: water dripped onto our feet as we opened it. Inside was a geocoin: its subject – U-boats – sort of appropriate that it was underwater!

The other had many favourites: we didn’t know why. On arrival, we walked through some impressive stone gateposts and started looking for the cache. We couldn’t find it, and after about ten minutes admitted we were stuck and looked online for a spoiler photo (cheating, maybe?) We realised we had walked over the cache container several times …

We skirted the edge of the Colesbourne estate which is known for its snowdrops https://www.colesbournegardens.org.uk/ though they had finished by time of our visit. Crossing the Churn again – it was bigger now – we walked into the village and the end of this day’s walk.
River Churn, Colesbourne

River Churn, Colesbourne

We’d found thirteen of the fifteen caches we had attempted, and the threatened rain hadn’t happened. Superb walk, and a lovely bit of the Cotwolds, off the tourist trail.

Here are some of the caches we found: