April 15 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Berks) : Crawley Down to Forest Row

PROLOGUE :

“That was nice to see”.

We were travelling on a bus, from Forest Row to Crawley Down to start our days walk. Two lads, both less than 10, had got on the bus, unaccompanied, paid their fare, placed their pedestrian scooters in the luggage rack and climbed to the top deck with no fuss at all.

Before Mrs Hg137 could reply, an elderly lady in front us replied “Did you see the Flying Scotsman then?”

We looked at her strangely, and marked her down as one of those weird, old, women of Sussex.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

The bus dropped us at the centre of Crawley Down. Next to a small war memorial. Crawley Down appears to have two war memorials, one is a traditional six foot cross about half a mile away, but this smaller memorial has been used for the last 3 years to mark the centenary of each individual Crawley Down soldier’s death during WWI. Indeed a service had taken place, just the day before. A sobering thought that a 100 years previously there was much sadness in the village, and we, a hundred years later, were out in a bright Spring morning enjoying ourselves.

Crawley Down War Memorial

Crawley Down War Memorial

We initially climbed out of the village on a tarmacked private road. Lots of big houses, and occasional views of advancing new housing estates on the edge of village. We found a couple of caches on the road (double wrapped film pots) and then suddenly we were in open country. A wide vista of fields and downland opened up and we felt we had the countryside to ourselves. We retrieved the next cache (and unearthed a small one inch frog too) and no sooner than we were replacing the cache then we saw an approaching family.

We rushed the to the next cache (another double film pot, easily found) but let the family pass shortly after. They were on a mission.. to feed the ducks and swans at a nearby fishing lake. We overtook them as slice upon slice of bread was being inexpertly tossed into the water by the two young sons. Out of view of the family we approached our next cache. One that had been reported missing a few days earlier. We failed to find it either – our first fail of the day.

Bluebells

Bluebells

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Orchid

Orchid

Our route then took us through woodland (with bluebells and wild garlic in abundance) and farmland, where we were able to find two more caches. One of these caches was part of the Sussex ABC Series – we found ‘K’ (Kingscote). As we approached this cache we became aware of lots of ‘Police No Parking’ signs. Most seemed centred on Kingscote Station (one of the stations on the vintage railway, the Bluebell Line.)

We took a slight route deviation to the Station Car Park to find out what was going on.. (we suspected a wedding, or charity cycle event), but we were told THE FLYING SCOTSMAN is coming through today!

Kingscote Station

Kingscote Station

So the weird, old woman of Sussex was not so weird after all. It all made sense. She knew about the train, and assumed the statement “That was nice to see” related to the train and not the two lads.

We enquired when the Flying Scotsman would be next passing. We had an hour to wait. Fortunately our route would take us parallel to the tracks for the next half-mile or so, and we would be in prime spotting position. This gave us time to find another cache (an ammo box, placed in March 2007), have our picnic lunch and wait. We waited, with 50 or so train fiends, each armed with various notebooks, cameras and air of expectation. We were not disappointed. At 1315 it came past. We took photos, we waved, we snapped some more! An unexpected bonus on our geocaching trip.

We had lots more caches to undertake, so we decided NOT to wait until the Flying Scotsman’s return journey at 1400. As we proceeded we passed various people waiting by the line, others rushing to the line to see the 1400 steam-by. As you can imagine the paths were unusually busy, and for once we were grateful we had a mile without caches, as it meant we didn’t have to play ‘dodge the muggle’.

The terrain suddenly changed from open countryside with clay soil to sandstone. Now Sussex is not renowned for sandstone, but suddenly sandstone abounded. Huge stacks were being assaulted by climbers, and our next cache was near the top of one such stack. We hadn’t bought our climbing boots with us, but we found a grassy pathway to the top avoiding a precarious climb. Here, a small cache had been wedged into a tree-trunk, and with a bright orange cap should have been easy to find. It wasn’t, and after about 10 minutes perched over a sandstone ‘cliff’ we saw the flash of orange, and the log was signed.

Somewhere up there... is a cache!

Somewhere up there… is a cache!

The sandstone was to provide us with another ‘cache’ too, an Earthcache. We had to visit 4 separate sandstone outcrops compare the colours, strata layers and in one case guess what animal the sandstone shape made! All very interesting, but as we went from outcrop to outcrop we were passing two other caches, and somehow we had to keep track of what we were actually doing (and in fairness, we didn’t do it that well, as we failed to take a single picture of a sandstone outcrop… whoops!)

The caches we attempted during the Earthcache were part of a ‘Trick or Treat’ series. Each one was themed on a ‘Halloween’ theme… we had flying witches, scary door knockers etc as well as a spider. The spider was scary in its own right, as it was in a grassy corridor between two fields. As we were replacing the cache, a herd of cows, including calves and a bull, decided they wanted to use the corridor and move from one field to the next. Some of the cows went by peacefully, others gave us the ‘hard look of doom’ and with nowhere for us to run to, it was all just a little unsettling. We are quite sure that cache owner didn’t mean that sort of scary when the caches were placed.

We were now walking along the banks of a reservoir, but with dense undergrowth between us and the water we barely got to see it. Our eyes though were watching the GPS very, very carefully. Somewhere soon we would cross the Greenwich Meridian and into the Eastern Hemisphere. We walked ever slower, waiting, watching and the finally all the Westerly (or was it Easterly) co-ordinates read zero!

Crossing the Meridian

Crossing the Meridian

We still had a couple of miles to reach Forest Row and another few caches to undertake. The first, an old ice cream container was hidden under a log in shortish undergrowth. In a few weeks this cache will be tricky to reach, so we were glad we arrived before the main Spring/Summer hedgerow growth.

We undertook a multi based on the ruins of Brambletye House (a Grade II* very ruined mansion built during the reign of James I) and finished the day with a series of double-wrapped film pots in exactly the same way as the day had started.

Brambletye House

Brambletye House


We walked about 10 miles, crossed into the Eastern Hemisphere, found 18 caches, including an Earthcache, a flying witch, a 10 year old Ammo can and of course… saw The Flying Scotsman! Phew!

Don’t see many of these!

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December 31 : Caches of the Year 2016

Here are some of our caches of the year including dinosaurs, crocodiles and kangaroos ! Some of the pictures you may have seen before, some we have deliberately held back. Thanks for following our blog during 2016 – and happy caching in 2017!

December 16 : London

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

No. 9 London bus

No. 9 London bus


We hadn’t used our Oyster (London travel) cards for some while, and we were worried that they might be disabled, so we set off to London on a caching trip – now there’s a tenuous excuse for a day’s geocaching!

Almost as soon as we left the train at Waterloo we were searching for our first cache, at the entrance to the station. The description said a London landmark would be visible from Ground Zero, the location of the cache. Well, the bottom half of it was, and the top wasn’t; the cloud base was very low, while the Shard is very high …

We made our way down to the Thames, just downstream from the London Eye, with a great view over the river to the Houses of Parliament. Having found the cache hidden there, we signed the log looking out over the river, and got a rare view of much of the riverbed. It was two days after the full moon, and a very, very low spring tide, and the level was lower than we had ever seen it, with the footings of one of the bridge arches exposed to view; even in the few minutes we watched, the tide turned and the riverbed began to disappear.

River Thames - VERY low tide!

River Thames – VERY low tide!


Crossing the river on the Golden Jubilee footbridge, our next target was the Sidetracked cache at the nearby Charing Cross Station. It was tucked away behind a drainpipe close to, but not actually in the station. We did the ‘pretend to tie a shoelace’ mime to retrieve the cache, but we really needn’t have bothered, as everyone in the city is in a hurry, looking at phones, rushing onwards, and not interested in the antics of a couple of oddball cachers.
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square – lion at Nelson’s Column


Our main objective of the day was the ‘No 9 Routemaster bus: cache route’, which involved a bus ride and the spotting of clues on the way to the final cache location. But before that, we wanted to have a go at the caches in Trafalgar Square. And the first cache was … ‘Trafalgar Square’, a cunningly concealed cache hidden in an item around the square. We moved on to two earthcaches, one based around Nelson’s Column, and one around the statue of Charles I which is placed on the original site of Charing Cross, which is regarded as being the centre of London for measuring of distance. Earthcaches are excellent little teaching aids – in each case we learnt something about the places that we couldn’t have guessed beforehand.
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square


A number 9 bus duly turned up and we caught it and got prime seats, upstairs, right at the front, where we could watch the route unfold. We were glad that we’d researched the answers to the clues for the cache beforehand so we could concentrate on the travelscape expanding before us. Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square (again), Pall Mall, St James’ Palace, Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, and the Royal Albert Hall … where we got off and crossed the road to one of the ornate sets of gates leading into Hyde Park. Mr Hg137 stopped to chat with a man from British Gas who was maintaining one of the gaslights on the gate. He told us that there are still over 1500 gaslights in London (!) and that they require regular attention http://londonist.com/2015/11/video-meet-london-s-remaining-gas-lamp-lighters The final cache was very close, and found after some very close inspection of park ‘furniture’. We had brought a trackable with us and had been looking for a suitable cache to place it. We decided on this specific cache as it had needed time and effort to solve, and so was unlikely to be found by chance, meaning that the trackable was likely to be picked up by an experienced geocacher.
Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial


Lunchtime: we sat on a park bench, ate our sandwiches, and people-watched, then did a circuit of the Albert Memorial https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens/things-to-see-and-do/memorials,-fountains-and-statues/the-albert-memorial , to find ‘The Royal Albert Hall’ cache, the 20th most often found cache in the country (the description says) with well over 4000 visits.
Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall


From here, we walked down to the Natural History Museum, which had two earthcaches in the grounds that we wanted to visit. We hadn’t really thought about this carefully enough: a skating rink is set up just outside the museum at Christmas time. That meant that the route to one of the earthcaches was through the museum, not through the gardens – and the other cache was within feet of the skating rink, so we thought about the answers while skaters whizzed by very, very close behind us http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/ice-rink.html What the earthcaches were about: one is centred on a (very) large fossil, and the other is about details in the memorial stone dedicated to those who were killed in the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.
Natural History Museum ice rink

Natural History Museum ice rink


There was just one more cache left on our list for today, a Church Micro, but where to find it? We walked up to the Brompton Oratory: was that it? No. Our GPS, and the clues to the cache, led us down a path to the side, to Holy Trinity, Brompton. The noise of traffic from the A4 died away as we walked round the church to the garden at the back, and it was peaceful and quiet, with tree-lined paths, and a squirrel frolicking on the grass, overlooked by small mews houses in cobbled streets. What a contrast to the loud, rushing world so close by!

And that was the end of caching for the day; it was getting darker, and colder, and we were getting tired and hungry. We caught the underground back to Waterloo and headed home in the dark.

May 27 : Devon / Cornwall : Day 6 : Plymouth

After the heavy overnight rain, our bedroom view of distant moorland was blanketed in a thin mist. We were grateful that today was our Town-Trail day, and a visit to the Coastal Town of Plymouth.

Plymouth is actually in Devon and about a 20 minute drive away. We decided though to go by train. This gave us the twin advantages of neither paying the Tamar Bridge Toll nor fighting Plymouth’s one-way system and car parks.

The train journey passed uneventfully, though we did learn the train was on a mammoth 12 hour journey from Penzance to Glasgow via Bristol, Birmingham, Derby, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh!

We had preloaded a number of caches into our GPS and the first on our list was the Sidetracked at Plymouth Station. Initially we took the wrong road to the cache (good start!) but found it easily. In fact it was silhouetted behind some street furniture and visible from some distance.

Our second cache was more troublesome. It was in a park, near to the University Student Accommodation. There were two seats in the park, and the cache was under one of them. That seat though was occupied by a youth, smoking whilst keeping a watchful eye on his dog. We decided to utilise the other seat for coffee and wait … Because of the overnight rain, the seat was wet, so we stood instead. Shortly after a just-graduated-student arrived. He was waiting for someone. He, too, did not want to visit the smoker’s seat. We got chatting, and as he was a Geography graduate, with pleasingly a job lined up, we talked about geocaching.
Eventually the smoker left and we made a swift find at the smoker’s seat. Showed the graduate the cache and re-hid. Whether geocaching has another convert… time will tell!

Our target was the sea-front and Plymouth Hoe in particular. Rather than have a fixed route, we just followed the caches we loaded as we zig-zagged our way through the University Campus, through a shopping centre, passed a sculpture or two, until the lighthouse on the Hoe was visible.

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake


Many of the caches were named after famous people with a connection to Plymouth. These included Charles Darwin (stayed in Plymouth before his historic fact-finding trip in the Beagle), Oliver Cromwell (Plymouth was one of the few West Country towns that sided with him during the Civil War), Nancy Astor (first woman MP and her constituency was Plymouth) and Oswald Mosley (visited whilst trying to set up his extreme right-wing party.)

These four caches alone provided us with insights into Plymouth’s History which we wouldn’t have found out without geocaching.

And so to the Hoe.

Sculpture near the Hoe 1

Sculpture near the Hoe 1

Sculpture near the Hoe 2

Sculpture near the Hoe 2


A large expanse of park – mainly grass, with flower borders and many a memorial. Mainly to Navy crew, but others to commemorate other diverse worldwide events. There are few caches in the Hoe area (due to the 1/10th of a mile rule no doubt), but we found most.

Our route took us Eastwards around the sea walls, overlooking the sea-water Lido. Last minute cleaning was being undertaken, as the Summer Opening was only days away.. it did look inviting.. if a little chilly!

Anyone care for a swim ?

Anyone care for a swim ?

We arrived at the Mayflower Steps, having found another cache overlooking them, to discover a boat was due to sail to the Royal William Victualling Yard. We rushed on it and very shortly we were looking at the Lido and the Hoe but from the sea!

Mayflower Steps

Mayflower Steps.. from a cache site!


The Royal Victualling Yard was originally used to provide the Navy with Drink (predominantly) and other basic rations. Many of the buildings have been converted to flats, restaurants and the like. Given all this modernisation it was interesting to see an Earthcache on one of the building’s walls. We found the wall, failed to find the stone in question for some minutes, but then spotted the minutiae needed to answer the Cache Owner’s questions. Again, we would never have know about the wall, and its make-up without geocaching!
Finding an Earthcache

Finding an Earthcache


We had a long walk from Plymouth’s Western Edge back to the Centre and our train. The coastal path had a few caches to keep us occupied, including a scramble up the large bouldery sea-defences. This was our first DNF of the day – not helped by Mr Hg137’s phone going off when he had climbed 12 feet above head height.
Somewhere in these defences is a cache...

Somewhere in these defences is a cache…


We weren’t keen on descending the boulder field, so we left by a different route, but this did mean we couldn’t find a path back to locate two more caches. (Grr!)
It's a long way back!

It’s a long way back!

More Plymouth Sculptures

More Plymouth Sculptures

And more!

And more!


We arrived back at the Hoe area, and with enough time to attempt two more caches. The first, another Earthcache, was based on Drakes Island and how it was formed. We were impressed by the mini-sculptures on the handrail overlooking the Island too. Our last cache of the day was the biggest. Nestling near a tennis court it really proves big caches can exist in urban environment!
Drake's Island

Drake’s Island


We really enjoyed our day in Plymouth. We walked over 7 miles and found 10 caches but what we learnt from the cache descriptions really enhanced our knowledge of the Town’s rich and varied history.

Most of the 10 caches we found were either nanos or Earthcaches… but here are two of the larger ones:

December 29 Thames Path : Canary Wharf to the Thames Barrier

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Mission accomplished! Thames Path walk complete! Apologies in advance for quite a long post.

Thames Barrier

Thames Barrier


With Christmas gone and 2016 approaching fast, we had just a few days left to complete the Thames Path before our self-imposed deadline of December 31st; we had been keeping an eye on both our social diary and the weather forecast and had decided that December 29th was the day for the final section of the walk.

So we arrived bright and early at Canary Wharf station and exited the Jubilee Line into … a sharp shower of rain. Oh dear! That wasn’t in the plan. But it cleared within 5 minutes, leaving clear air and winter sunshine.

We turned south onto the Thames Path and set off past the skyscrapers and oh-so-expensive apartments overlooking the river. We had lots of caches loaded, but didn’t have high hopes of the first few, as they hadn’t been found for a while. And so it proved. We couldn’t find them either, though our cache searching gave us a chance to inspect various bits of dockland hardware, such as the chains and hydraulic ram at Millwall Old Dock.

By now we were in the Isle of Dogs, and a sudden change in feel; the houses were smaller, the people weren’t all business folk rushing about; London is very curious for this: completely different areas can be just a few yards from each other, or on opposite banks of the Thames. But – we had started finding caches at last. Our first success was cunningly concealed under a post box, and the next was at another unusual feature on the riverside – a ‘park’ made out of planks. Reading the cache notes and the noticeboard, we discovered that this was where IK Brunel had built the Great Eastern, then, and for some time, the biggest ship in the world https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Great_Eastern . It seemed an odd spot to have chosen, very close to some tight bends in the river and without much space around it – but we’re not brilliant inventors.

We found another couple of caches as we walked through Tower Hamlets, though we had to abandon the search for another as a traffic policeman stopped nearby. Oh dear, we really couldn’t risk being stopped by the police twice in three weeks! Then suddenly we entered a small park with a panoramic view across the river to the Cutty Sark and to the old Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Here, too, is the end of the northern bank section of the Thames Path. (Three and a quarter miles to the barrier, said a sign.) The rest of it is on the south bank, though it is not at all a straight line to the finish!

Thames pedestrian tunnel

Thames pedestrian tunnel


The way to the south bank of the Thames is through a 1,215 foot long pedestrian tunnel under the river, and this is also a virtual geocache, one of only 193 left in the UK. Down the stairs, through the tunnel, and up in the lift we went, both of us separately counting away at geocache clues as we went; luckily, our answers matched. It was a well-used walk under the river, but a slightly odd and eerie place; I wouldn’t really want to be down there alone, and it is said that it’s haunted. And all of a sudden we were back out in the light, only yards away from the Cutty Sark and surrounded by crowds of tourists. (Three and a half miles to the barrier, said the next sign; curious, we should be getting closer.) We set off along the Thames Path again, pausing to eat our lunchtime sandwiches on a seat in the sun overlooking the river, looking back at Canary Wharf and watching the tide rushing in.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
After lunch we set off again down the south bank of the Thames. As soon as we had cleared the naval college the crowds melted away and we were almost alone once more, amongst wharves and industrial areas. (Four miles to the barrier, said the third sign; this really didn’t seem right as we knew we were going in the right direction, though fortunately the distances dropped after that!) Every so often we passed an old pub – the Trafalgar, the Cutty Sark, the Anchor and Hope – but, cache-wise, there was little to stop for as almost all the caches between Greenwich and the Thames Barrier are challenge caches, and we haven’t qualified for any of them. So on and on we walked, following a big loop north and then south around the Greenwich Peninsula, better known to most as the home of the O2, formerly the Dome, and where we went to watch the gymnastics during the 2012 Olympics. It was just a little dispiriting to look back across the Thames to Canary Wharf and to realise that we were now only about a mile from where we had started that morning… Part way around the loop in the river we reached a sign telling us that we were now on the Greenwich meridian; we had to check that, so out came the GPS; that was correct, so the rest of our journey would be in a whole new hemisphere! As we rounded a bend in the river and passed under the cable car, the Thames Barrier came into view and in not many more minutes, we were there. Journey’s end!
Greenwich Meridian

Greenwich Meridian


Appropriately, there’s an earthcache, the Tide Lord, to mark the spot. I think our cache log says it well enough:
“ We did it!!! Finally at the Thames Barrier … and an earthcache to puzzle over. The item that forms the puzzle gave us the chance to reflect on our whole journey … which has been very varied indeed … including multiple tree climbs, paddling through icy water, being stopped by the police … and so much more. “

But we weren’t finished yet; we needed to return to Canary Wharf to catch a train, and we had some more caches planned for the return leg. A bus back to the Cutty Sark, transferring to the Docklands Light Railway and back under the Thames, and we were almost there. We stopped part way back to find a picture puzzle cache, ‘1 Canada Square’ The idea is simple, the finding less so; the cache description is a panoramic view of Canary Wharf, and the cache is located ‘within 20 metres of where the picture was taken’. Again, I’ll let our cache log tell the tale:

”Our Thames Path mission complete, we were making our way back from the Thames Barrier to Canary Wharf station and we thought this should be somewhere on the way. (Well, Mrs Hg137 thought it should be, as she had spent hours … and hours … and hours inspecting assorted electronic views of the area to come to a likely location).

And so we pitched up in the likely place in the gathering gloom. A short search found us this cache. Woo hoo! “

Canary Wharf at night

Canary Wharf at night


Just one more cache to do now, and it was pretty dark by now. On our last caching mission/walk we had tried, and failed, to find a Church Micro based on the floating church in Canary Wharf. But we didn’t give up. A short message session with the cache owner and a slight readjustment of coordinates suggested we had been close, but not that close. So back we went, and ten minutes searching in the dark behind concrete pillars and underneath railway lines found us the cache. The last cache of the year, and a warm sense of achievement at getting this one. Unusually for an urban cache, this one contained a trackable, ‘Dick’. It has an interesting mission but that’s a topic for another blog.

Apart from the satisfaction of completing the Thames Path, today was another landmark caching day: only the second time that we had found five cache types in one day: a traditional, puzzle, earth, virtual, and multi cache. A good note on which to round off our caching for 2015, and time to wish all our long-suffering readers best wishes for the year ahead.

Here are some of the caches we found :
IMG_1324IMG_1277IMG_1314IMG_1312IMG_1278
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Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 6.75 miles
Total distance walked : 184.75 miles
Caches found : 8
Total caches found : 337

December 19 Thames Path : Cannon Street Railway Bridge to Canary Wharf.

We had about 10-11 miles left of our journey down the Thames, and we decided rather than have one long section and poor light to contend with, we would break the last few miles into 2 sections. The first would take us to Canary Wharf, with its gleaming skyscraper office blocks.

Our Destination.. Canary Wharf

Our Destination.. Canary Wharf

Most of the walk would be on the Northern bank, picking up caches from a series entitled “From the Swan to the Canary” a reference to Swan Pier where the series starts and Canary Wharf where the series ends.
We would omit some of the caches in the series as we wanted to attempt some of the Southern bank caches as well.

But first we returned to where we finished our previous walk.

We were UNDER Cannon Street Railway Bridge on the Thames Foreshore.
Hidden against the various chains and holes in a brick wall was a magnetic 35mm container. About 12 foot up! Now, neither of us are giants, but having checked various photos on http://www.geocaching.com we had a likely plan to reach this difficulty 4, terrain 4.5 cache. Just under the cache was a concrete footing, with a 5ft iron pipe rising from it. If one could stand on the pipe – the cache would be within reach…

Heave, heave, pull, pull

Heave, heave, pull, pull


There are two ways to reach the top of the pipe. The first was to ‘crawl around a wall corner’ with a 6 foot drop beneath or to haul oneself up onto the pipe using a chain fixed to a wall. Mr HG137 tried the latter and after 10 minutes gave up. His arms were still weak from his bone-break, and the iron pole was still wet and slippery from the tide. We could have spent some time trying to access the pole top, but with the full day’s walk ahead of us we moved on.
So a slightly disappointing start, but we feared as much so it didn’t seem that bad.

Our first real cache was the first in the Swan to Canary series. The hint alluded to a sign, which we could see, but we couldn’t see the cache! We looked further afield and eventually found the small magnetic film container attached to a gate. Phew!

Then over the river to an unusual cache – a sidetracked Earthcache. Sidetracked caches are part of a National series where the caches are in or near Railway Stations. This one was near London Bridge Station. However what made it special was the Earthcache qualities. At Ground Zero were 2 lumps of granite, from the London Bridge demolished in the late 1960s. These lumps of granite were mined at Haytor in Devon (we have stayed with http://www.hfholidfays.co.uk half a mile from the mine!) so we felt we had a connection with the cache. Being an Earthcache we had to undertake various scientific analysis of the stones and report our findings to claim the cache find.

Granite from the Previous London Bridge

Granite from the Previous London Bridge

Further along the Southern bank we came to HMS Belfast. Here you can see three great London landmarks together : HMS Belfast, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And it’s full of tourists. Lots of them. We thought this would make the next cache hard to find, but given a very accurate hint, and an Oscar-winning ‘tourist impression’ (taking lots of pictures!) the cache was retrieved, signed and replaced before we drew suspicion.

3 London Icons

3 London Icons

We returned to the Northern bank over the tourist filled Tower Bridge, pausing to admire the ‘Girl with a Dolphin’ statue – now showing its age a little, and making sure that the Dickens Inn was where we remembered it to be. (We didn’t go in, but we did frequent it on one of our early dates many years ago!).

Girl with a Dolphin

Girl with a Dolphin


Dickens Inn

Dickens Inn

Our next cache was a little away from the Thames Path, but being part of the Swan/Canary series we thought it would be worth attempting. Sadly GZ was on/near/under a number of concrete bridges, and our GPS never gave us an accurate location. The cache hint gave some idea, but we never really got close. Disappointing as we had drifted a little away from our route to attempt the cache!

Thames Barges, the Shard and Tower Bridge

Thames Barges, the Shard and Tower Bridge

The Northern Bank route took us in a zigzag route from the river, to the streets (Wapping High St) going in front of city apartments and behind wharves closed down many years ago. Eventually we arrived at Wapping Old Steps which led down to the Foreshore. Here, another cache awaited us, a very tightly screwed nano which took both us to unscrew. As we remarked in our previous log, the foreshore is very, very quiet and provides a completely different London atmosphere to the London streets just a few yards away. (Wapping Old Stairs and its foreshore still evoke a different era and appeared as a film location in the 2015 Christmas Edition of “Call the Midwife” – we’re quite sure its appeared in many other films and TV episodes).

Wapping Old Stairs

Wapping Old Stairs

Onward we went with Canary Wharf getting larger with every step we took. Our next cache, was a small nano in a seat. But from the seat we could see a hangman’s noose! We were next to one of London’s oldest pubs The Prospect of Whitby, and outside on the foreshore is a mock-noose celebrating the pub being the hostelry of choice for “hanging” Judge Jeffreys.

Don't hang around too long here!

Don’t hang around too long here!

Our next cache in a small London park was far more tranquil… but the next found us in a tricky predicament. The cache was under a small wooden footbridge which had enough wriggle room to go underneath. We had three futile attempts at wriggling underneath avoiding ‘muggle traffic’ before we found the cache, and foolishly we didn’t take the clip-lock box away from GZ to sign the log. (We like to move a few yards away to deflect interest). We had the cache open, signing the log, with all the trinkets on display when we asked by a small (5 year old?) girl, what we doing. Fortunately her mother appeared and we explained about geocaching. The girl wanted many of the trinkets but we settled on a small pink notebook. Fingers crossed she doesn’t tell others of the ‘treasure hidden beneath the bridge’.

The Swan/Canary series took us to many varied locations including a statue celebrating the work of ropemakers as well some very swanky metal-work (where the cache could only be found by looking in one very specific location).

Celebrating the Ropemakers of London

Celebrating the Ropemakers of London

Eventually the towers of the Canary Wharf complex were above us, and we had one more cache to find.. a Church Micro. This Church micro, newly published, was based on St Peter’s Barge, London’s only floating Church. We found the answers to the clues near the church and walked to the final Ground Zero. Concrete pillars, overhead railway lines meant our GPS couldn’t get us close to the location and we gave up! A slightly poor end to an eventful day’s caching.

St Peter's Barge, London's Floating Church

St Peter’s Barge, London’s Floating Church


Here are some of the caches we found :

Thames Path statistics :

Route length : 3.75 miles
Total distance walked : 178 miles

Caches found : 9
Total caches found : 329

December 4 Thames Path : Vauxhall Bridge to Cannon Street Railway Bridge

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Allo, allo, allo … we were rumbled!
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On a bright December morning we resumed our walk down the Thames Path.  It had been so long … assorted commitments had kept us from our Thames Path mission for a whole month … but we were back.

Getting quickly under way with two caches around Vauxhall Bridge and Station, we joined the Thames Path, soon arriving at a small patch of grass, with some seats, overlooking the Thames.  There was a cache here somewhere; but the GPS wouldn’t settle and we spent quite a few minutes searching in, on, and under various likely locations.  We were on the point of giving up when …”Excuse me Sir, what are you doing?”  Oops! We’d been stopped by the police … two of them, a policeman and policewoman.  The geocache description had told us what to do if this should happen …

“This cache is located within an area frequently patrolled by Police & Security. Avoid acting suspiciously when searching, if challenged, explain about Geocaching”

Helping with our enquiries!

Helping with our enquiries!

… so we explained … and then they offered to help us in our search for the cache!  An unexpected outcome, we’d been thinking that a caution was coming!  With so many eyes and hands searching, the cache was soon found.

Westminster Bridge: busy, busy busy

Westminster Bridge: busy, busy busy

Westminster Bridge: security concious

Westminster Bridge: security concious

Towards Westminster, the path became busier and busier with throngs of tourists, so busy that we didn’t manage to find the next two caches.  Turning onto Westminster Bridge, there was a HUGE security presence – this was a couple of days after the government decision to take military action in the Middle East.   We turned away from the Houses of Parliament and all those police and roadblocks to set off along the north bank of the Thames.  A little way ahead were red phone boxes; we knew there was a cache inside one of them, but what was happening outside?  A camera was being fixed to a tree, a presenter was doing a piece to another camera, and filming chaos was in progress.  Diversionary activity was called for (from us), so Mr Hg137 engaged the film crew in conversation (it turned out to be a shoot for a fashion blog) while I slipped into the phone box and retrieved and replaced the cache.

Geocache - or fashion shoot?

Geocache – or fashion shoot?

Looking across at the London Eye – we’ve had good times on that before – we strolled on a little way to Cleopatra’s Needle, site of another cache and of an earthcache too.  Once again, this made us look much closer at a monument we’d seen many times before; quite a bit of the questions posed for this cache centre on a bomb which exploded very close to the base of the monument, and caused some damage.   Answers calculated, we paused for lunch in the nearby Embankment Gardens; there was a multicache here, too, but we couldn’t even attempt it as the statue (of a camel) which would have provided the answers had been boarded up to protect it from a nearby Christmas event; there was just the camel’s nose showing above the hoarding; with hindsight, we could have done the research beforehand and not needed the statue.

Spot the camel!

Spot the camel!

After lunch, we crossed back over the river at Waterloo Bridge.  There were caches both sides of the river, but there were two on the south bank that we especially wanted to attempt. They were down on the foreshore, so only accessible at low tide, using metal steps to get down to the shore. We’d checked the tide tables and knew we would be OK (always best to check; there’s a big tidal range on the Thames and the tide comes in – and goes out – at a ferocious speed).  The first was another earthcache, involving “things” to do with rocks on the foreshore, and the second was a conventional cache, but hidden away well below the high tide mark, lashed securely to the bank.  Both were easy to do, but neither of us had anticipated how different it would feel when down on the shore.  The noise of traffic and people dies away, so it is surprisingly quiet … and there is sand!  We weren’t expecting sand.
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Back up on the Queen’s Walk and back with the crowds and the noise, we walked on till we reached Tate Modern, with an iconic (and protected) view of St Paul’s Cathedral across the Millenium Bridge.  There was a cache near here, appropriately called ‘Wobbly Bridge’ – the bridge gained that nickname just after it opened, when it swayed rather too much, and had to be speedily closed for strengthening.   We walked across the bridge – it didn’t wobble – as there was a virtual cache just the other side of the bridge, or more correctly, just under the other side of the bridge.  Here was another place we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for geocaching, a new piece of sculpture with at least one item on it that is of interest to geocachers – and that’s the answer to the cache, so no spoilers here!  And that was our last success of the day; we tried, and failed to find a few more caches, ending up once again, in the gathering gloom, on the Thames foreshore very close to Cannon Street Railway Bridge; more about this in the next post; we came back to try again!
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Here, in no particular order, are some of the caches we found:
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It seemed like much longer, but it was just three miles!

Thames Path statistics :

Route length : 3 miles
Total distance walked : 174.25 miles

Caches found : 13
Total caches found : 320