September 17 : Sandhurst (Gloucs) to Sandhurst : Eastbury to East Garston, along the Lambourn Valley

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The Lambourn Valley and East Garston

The Lambourn Valley and East Garston

Our morning appointment had overrun, and we emerged into early afternoon on a gorgeous clear, sunny September day. Changing our geocaching plans, as we were starting later than planned, we decided on an out-and-back walk between Eastbury and East Garston.
Lambourn Valley Way

Lambourn Valley Way

Following the track of a disused railway, now a path, we soon found two caches, one named Lambourn Valley Way (the route we were following) which had a seat with super views over the valley towards East Garston. After another cache, hidden in a bit of redundant railway ‘stuff’ we reached the church at the edge of East Garston. We diverted off the path to find the Church Micro cache based here, and to pause by a memorial stone by the church door, to the First World War poet Edward Thomas (Editor’s note: Edward Thomas is best known for the poem ‘Adlestrop’. He was killed on Easter Monday 1917, and his widow Helen and their three children settled in Eastbury.)
Lambourn Valley Way

Lambourn Valley Way

The River Lambourn flows through the centre of East Garston, with tiny bridges over the river to paths and houses. Actually, ‘flows’ was not really true as the riverbed was dry after the roasting summer. A cache from the ‘Little Bridges’ series was based on one of those bridges, and there was also another Church Micro cache, where the church is now a private house. (Two Church Micros in such a small village …) The hint for this cache was so cryptic that we had found the cache, driven home, and logged it before we realised what it meant. Doh!
Another Church Micro ...

Another Church Micro …

... and free apples

… and free apples

We started our return journey after stuffing our pockets with free apples which were piled in a trug with a ‘free to a good home’ sign. (Editor’s note: those Worcester Pearmain apples became tasty apple turnovers.) We walked back along the old railway line. On our outward trip, we had been finding caches from the ‘Day of the Jackals’ series, but one had eluded us. It was hidden, we hoped, in ivy, but it hadn’t been found for four months and we wondered if it was still there. We started on another search, without expecting to find anything (and we are rubbish at searching in ivy) but Mr Hg137 spotted something out of place after a few minutes search, and we’d finally got the cache, not missing after all.

And that was it for the day, a short but hugely enjoyable walk in pretty countryside and charming villages on a golden September day. Lovely!

Here are some of the caches we found:

September 4: A Victorian Farm and a couple of Welsh caches

As we mentioned on our previous blog, we were on a week’s holiday with HF Holidays in Shropshire. HF Holidays organise walks (generally a choice of 3), on 5 days, but the sixth day is a rest/free day. Today was our free day!

Whilst many of our walking companions spent the day in Ludlow or Ironbridge, we had two different targets. The first was to visit the Acton Scott Farm just outside of Church Stretton. Our second target was to cross the border into Wales and collect a couple of Welsh caches. We had never found a cache in Wales, and as we were so close to the border, it seemed opportune to undertake such an expedition.

Acton Scott Farm was featured in the BBC’s “The Victorian Farm” broadcast about 10 years ago. The three presenters simulated how Victorian Farmers worked, coped and how advances in technology during the Victorian era changed their lives. Although much of the filming was done in nearby fields, some filming was undertaken in the ‘Visitor’/’Museum’ part of the farm.

Before we went round the farm we had a cache to collect just outside of the car park, and as we had arrived 20 minutes before the official farm museum opening time we were uninterrupted in the finding and logging process.

Acton Scott Farm Smithy

The farm museum is well worth a visit. As well as seeing how ploughs developed and blacksmiths operated, there were many species of farmyard animal to admire.
Geese and ducks ran about, pigs rootled in their sties. One-day-old chicks were handled by a visiting school party (and it must be said, Mrs Hg137 too!). A great morning’s visit!

Our next target of the day was some Welsh caches. We could have driven for about 5 miles to cross the border, but as the roads and the borders overlap a great deal, we wanted to collect a cache that stated was in Wales.

We opted for the tiny village of Caerhywel (a definite Welsh name!), just outside the town of Montgomery. We parked in a small layby and went searching ‘behind metal box’. An obvious box was in the layby, but the cache was not behind it! Instead, some 3 yards further on was another ‘box’… and the cache was soon found. We had made the schoolboy error of trusting our eyes not the GPS!

Our first Welsh cache!

The second cache was part of the Side Tracked series near railway-stations. In this case, Montgomery’s now disused station. So the cache was part of the REALLY Sidetracked series, which celebrates the old, forgotten stations.

Our second Welsh site

…and our second Welsh cache

A longish walk from the layby, but soon we were at the old Station House, and a quick find. Well it should have been. but for the high level of muggles which appeared from nowhere just as we approached GZ! How often does this happen ?!

Two simple finds, but more importantly two Welsh caches.

September 9 : Farewell to Somerset

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Holnicote House, Somerset

Holnicote House, Somerset

Our walking week on Exmoor was already over – so soon – and it was time to head home. But we planned to hang around for a few minutes and get a few caches, putting off the time when we would probably spend more than a few minutes on the A303.

We had loaded the cache nearest to our holiday destination before we set off: it’s a handy reference point if we can’t find our destination! It would have been rude not to find it … and Mr Hg137 had done a recce on one of his walks and he knew how to get to there. (Editor’s note: we tend to do different walks on holiday – I like to wander along, look at the view, take pictures – Mr Hg137 likes to pile in the miles and the ascent… )

So, having packed, we took a footpath from Holnicote House, where we had stayed – – crossed a couple of fields, and along a very minor road. A little way along, just off the road, was a bird hide, overlooking water meadows – our destination. The cache, a good-sized yellow Tupperware container, was lightly concealed ‘in plain view’ in a pleasant and tranquil spot.

Returning to the car, our return journey started. Having taken the West Somerset Railway (WSR) earlier in the week, we knew that there were caches along the route that we hadn’t found. We turned off the A39, to arrive at Blue Anchor From the seafront, it was but a short walk to the WSR level crossing, and a short search to find another good-size cache, another one from the ‘Will Something Run’ series. And, we’d timed our arrival just right to watch the arrival of the first train of the day from Minehead – and our chance to wave at people on trains.

West Somerset Railway - Blue Anchor

West Somerset Railway – Blue Anchor

Blue Anchor station - signalbox

Blue Anchor station – signalbox

Editor’s note: ‘Will Something Run’ is an unusual name for a cache series, but it comes from the initials of the railway and a nickname it acquired during the time when volunteers were trying to save the line

Once back on the A39, we stopped after a short distance to search for another cache, hidden at the start of a footpath leading away from the road. This cache led us a merry dance; we searched everywhere (or so we thought) and were on the point of giving up when a careful re-read of the description, hint, and logs made us look again, and we found a tiny, tiny magnetic cache attached to some metalwork.

A little way on again, we stopped at Washford station to find another from the WSR series, this one hidden right at the end of the very long platform. It also gave us a chance to have a coffee, watch another train steam through, and to wave at more people on trains.

West Somerset Railway - Washford Station

West Somerset Railway – Washford Station

But the day was passing, and we weren’t getting much nearer to home, so we pressed on to Taunton and onto the busy A358, leading to the even busier A303. There are caches along the route, and we stopped at one of these, ‘Geo Pitstop’, in the car park of a Toby Carvery , and most cunningly hidden in a structure on the ground. And we stopped for another cache in the same series, ‘Manor on High’ a couple of miles further on, but we didn’t understand the clue, and we didn’t find the cache. Editor’s note: after recording our lack of success, the cache owner visited and has reported that the cache is no longer there; it was a meerkat, which explained the cache name.

And that was all the caching for that day, and for the holiday, for we joined the A303 soon after and made our way home.

September 5 : Steaming on the West Somerset Heritage Railway

Our holiday in Somerset was based on Exmoor with HF Holidays Ltd who organise and lead various rambles every day. Sadly for us, being part of a large party means it is quite difficult to geocache on these walks. (Everyone asks “What are you doing ?” and in the 2-5 minutes it normally takes to find a cache, open it, find the vacant line in the log book, fold the log book back to its original size, close the cache and re-hide it….the group has moved on quite some way.)

Bishops Lydeard Station

Bishops Lydeard Station

So we decided to use the non-walking day as an excuse for geocaching. We based our day’s caching on the West Somerset Heritage Railway.

This Railway line, a original spur of the Great Western Railway originally ran between Taunton and Minehead. It was closed as part of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, and has never been fully reopened, but covers 20 miles (about two-thirds of that original journey) from Minehead to a small village at Bishops Lydeard.

Getting Steamed up at Minehead!

Getting Steamed up at Minehead!

We boarded at Minehead armed with our Rover tickets, which meant we could jump on and off the trains all day. We were slightly limited in options as there were just 5 trains in each direction that day.. but still a fun day out.

The first caches we found were at Bishops Lydeard. Here we had 3 caches to attempt. One was part of a small series entitled “Will Something Run” with a cache based at most of the Heritage stations (there are 9). This was a quick easy find overlooking the station. (A vintage diesel was about to leave).

Cache at Bishops Lydeard

Cache at Bishops Lydeard

We then walked the full distance of the village to find a Church Micro – hidden in a drainage pipe. The church looked splendid, but with less than an hour we couldn’t loiter too long. We did try for another cache, but this was hidden in larger culvert – apparently with easy access – but we couldn’t find out how, so we skipped the cache before catching the train back to Minehead.
Church Micro Bishops Lydeard

Church Micro Bishops Lydeard

We decided to break our journey at Watchet. A pleasant seaside town, and former thriving fishing port. Here there were three caches and with 2 hours until the next train plenty of time to find them all…
Steaming to Watchet

Steaming to Watchet

The first attempt was called “Sit and Watchet” . However this was under a seat, which was occupied. We moved on. We admired the harbour (now marina), various statues, and followed alleyways and byways until we reached a packhorse bridge. The site of another cache. We looked at the obvious locations, avoiding where possible muggle eyes, but failed to find. We saw another couple undertaking a town trail who were busy counting dragons on a nearby door (yes, really!). Eventually after much re-searching we found the cache well hidden in a flower border.
Watchet Marina

Watchet Marina

"The Ancient Mariner" at Watchet

“The Ancient Mariner” at Watchet

The third cache in Watchet was called “Choo Choo and View”. We (wrongly) assumed it would have a good view of the railway line. So we followed well made footpaths, rather than believing the GPS which pointed us up a pavement-less road to a small housing estate…with a minute distant view of the railway line. When we did arrive at the very unremarkable hiding place, we had just put the cache back, when a resident asked us whether we were looking for that “geo-catch thing”. Clearly this cache has had muggle awareness stamped all over it!

So two caches found, all we needed was the “Sit and Watchet” seat to be empty … which it was! We both groped underneath, in the way only cachers can and found the magnetic nano fairly quickly.

Watchet Nano!

Watchet Nano!

Watchet Packhorse Cache

Watchet Packhorse Cache

Watchet Choo Choo View

Watchet Choo Choo View

So after three mini-adventures at each cache site, we were grateful for the 2 hours we had in Watchet.

Our final cache of the day “Will Something Run – Minehead” was a quick find at the end of great day on the heritage railway!

Minehead Station

Final Cache of the Day

August 8 Thames Path : Marlow to Maidenhead

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.



For today, we had a plan to park the geocar at the end of the day’s walk, use public transport aka train to get back to the start, and walk back; much searching went on to find somewhere (anywhere) in Maidenhead that had free parking and was close to the river; Google’s Streetview was most useful here and we found a spot in Ray Park Road.

A fifteen minute walk brought us to Maidenhead station and the first cache of the day, one of the Sidetracked series which are hidden near stations.  On the train, we had a few minutes to sort out our walking boots and to chat to the many other walkers who were also on the train; one group of six were off on a two day outing, walking to Goring on the first day, then back along the river; we passed Goring some few weeks ago and it’s a long, long walk along the river, but not nearly so far if you cut off the big loops in the river.

Sidetracked geocache

Sidetracked geocache

Sidetracked geocache

Sidetracked geocache

Sidetracked geocache

Sidetracked geocache

After a twenty minute train ride we disembarked at Marlow, dawdling behind the other passengers so that we could retrieve our next cache, another Sidetracked, without being watched.   The Thames Path was a short walk away, and we walked down to the river, then stepped away almost immediately for a look at Marlow Lock.  This was a busy lock (they all are!) with neat gardens (they mostly are!), a fine view back to Marlow Bridge … and the answers to clues to a multi cache, another with a Dr Who theme, which we found just a little further on our way.   Once under the speeding cars on the A404M we were out in the country and it was a quiet, warm sunny morning.  A couple of miles walk, with not a single cache, and we arrived in Bourne End.  We stepped aside to find the third Sidetracked cache of the day, near Bourne End station; we’d passed close by while we were on the train but we didn’t have quite enough time to find the cache while the train pauses at the station.

Bourne End railway bridge

Bourne End railway bridge

Just here, the Thames Path crosses to the other side of the Thames, and it does so on the railway bridge.  Here, too, somewhere, is another cache.  It’s a multi cache, and the description gives five possible locations, with a clue to work out which is the right one.  We solved the clue, and we tried all five locations.  Could we find the cache?  No, reader, we could not!  We paused for lunch, looking at the river.  Then we had another look.  Could we find the cache?  No!   We reluctantly gave up and moved away downstream across the meadows.  It was rather hot now and we wished there was more shade.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Cookham, the path diverted from the river, to walk past some expensive houses who had kept their river frontage private.  We passed the Stanley Spencer gallery, then followed the path through the churchyard, where a wedding was in progress; we’d read that Stanley Spencer’s memorial is here but we didn’t spot it.

We went down a leafy track away from the village; part way along a cheer rang out from the village.  We wondered if that was the moment England won the Ashes?  (Checking later, it wasn’t.)

Boulter's Lock

Boulter’s Lock

Busy river!

Busy river!

We arrived back at the river, and the remaining caches for the day were all along the path back to Maidenhead.  It was so pleasant that I walked past one by 400 feet, when I should have been watching the GPS, and we had to backtrack; grumbles, and rightly so, from Mr Hg137!  Another  most notable one was entitled ‘You want me to look there?’ and was close to both a litter bin and a dog poo bin.  We spent some while feeling round in places where we really did not want to feel – and it was a very hot afternoon so things were … aromatic – but we found the cache close by.   The final stages of the walk took us back into Maidenhead and past Boulter’s Lock, which was packed, and past a blue plaque showing that Richard Dimbleby had lived close by (he was a famous war correspondent and factual journalist).

Richard Dimbleby lived here

Richard Dimbleby lived here

Then we were back at the geocar after pausing at this poem etched into a stone by the river:

Old Father Thames goes gliding by
As ripples run he winks his eye
At Cotswold cows and Oxford dons
Nodding to Windsor’s royal swans
He bears our nation’s liquid crown
By lock and weir to London town
May all that know and love his banks
Pause here awhile to offer thanks.

Ian Miles (2002)

Here are some of the caches we found:

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 7.6
Total distance walked : 121.25 miles

Caches found : 12 Total caches found : 221

July 18 Thames Path : Sonning to Henley

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The theme for today is entertainment and the arts – with methods of travel thrown in as an extra.

Busy morning near Sonning Bridge ...

Busy morning near Sonning Bridge …

To walk from Sonning to Henley-on-Thames along the river is simple, but getting from one to the other using public transport is not. Bus companies don’t cross the county boundary – the river – and Sonning has no train station. After much thought we decided to park at Twyford (you’re right, that’s not on the river) and catch a bus to Sonning. This gave us the chance to grab a quick cache near Twyford station, and another at a bus stop in Sonning. A stroll through the village and through the churchyard allowed us to collect the final clue for the ‘Border Crossings’ cache (a super multi-cache), where most of the clues are in one county and the final location is over the river in another county.
Border Crossing point

Border Crossing point

Sonning Bridge itself is an old, narrow bridge, built, I think, by committee, as its arches are a range of shapes and sizes, extending over the Thames and its backwaters. It’s controlled by traffic lights and the queues are legendary … An island in the middle houses Sonning Mill, which is now a theatre, specialising in farces; we’ve been there a couple of times and Mr Hg137 hooted with laughter all the way through, enough to scare any local owl!
... quiet moment near Sonning Bridge

… quiet moment near Sonning Bridge

Once across the bridge, we stepped back onto the Thames Path, to look for the ‘Sonning Bridge cache’. Could we find it? No! (It’s not been found since we attempted it.) We sat down on a log to ponder and to look back at the bridge. A passing lady muggle engaged us in conversation; she said George Clooney lived in the house opposite. Now we knew that he lived in Sonning, but didn’t know exactly where. We couldn’t see George anywhere in the gardens of the well-appointed house opposite. Maybe he was out, or was mowing the lawn just out of sight? (We’ve later found out that we were misinformed, and that Mr C’s house is on an island in the river, next to the theatre.)

Abandoning that cache, we set off downstream, and were soon away from the people, cars and cyclists and were in the country. That’s one of the good things about walking – once you are a few yards from any honeypot – it all goes quiet … It was a beautiful warm summer’s day and a pleasure to be out by the river. Near Hallmead Ait (Ait=island) we dropped off a trackable in a nice ammo can, hidden deep in not-so-lovely nettles. Time for Blubbie the fish to swim on; we’d kept him away from the river for far too long.

Shiplake Lock wasn’t much further on, and it was a great spot to eat lunch and watch the river traffic. And it was a busy day. There was a large passenger boat, packed with customers (we kept on seeing that boat all the way to the end of the walk) and many, many smaller boats. A good number of them were ‘older’ boats; the lock keeper told us there was a vintage boat festival going on at Henley. The next part of the Thames Path is away from the river as there is one resident of Shiplake who doesn’t want walkers at the bottom of his garden. We walked through the village, past Shiplake station – which advertises ‘alight here for the Thames Path’ and back towards the river.
We were heading towards a cache called ‘St Moritz-on-Thames’. Having found the cache, and dropped off our other trackable, we turned round … and there was an extensive model railway and a scale model of St Moritz station. Unexpected or what?

Soon after, we were back on the riverside, and soon after that we were at Marsh Lock, on the outskirts of Henley. And suddenly it was heaving, incredibly busy. People and boats everywhere, including that passenger boat we saw earlier. We walked on into Henley. Boats were double and triple moored along the bank, paddle steamers, motor boats, launches and rowing boats paraded up the river, and the banks, cafes, and pubs were packed with people enjoying a perfect summers’ day.

At the bridge, the end of the Thames Path section for the day, we turned aside to find the ‘Church Micro’ cache at Henley church. As so often with geocaching, we came across something we didn’t know; Dusty Springfield is buried in the churchyard and there is an impromptu shrine around her grave. Henley sometimes appears as a location in ‘Midsomer Murders’ and it was good to see an appropriately named boat moored on the river, though it was way too crowded when we were there for any of the dastardly deeds in that programme to be played out.


And finally, back to the geocar: we headed off to Henley station, at the end of the Regatta Line, and caught the train back to Twyford, where we just had time, for one more cache, the ‘Sidetracked’ cache by the station, before heading home, tired and hot and happy. (Editor’s note: Twyford, too, appears as a location in ‘Midsomer Murders’, as so does Sonning and Shiplake.)


Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 6.8 miles
Total distance walked : 104.9 miles

Caches found : 7 Total caches found : 205

And here are some of those caches:

July 13 Thames Path : Reading to Sonning

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

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

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

Sonning Lock

Sonning Lock

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

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

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

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

Thames Path... BLOCKED!

Thames Path… BLOCKED!

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

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

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

A roof garden atop a boat!

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

Large Gas Holder… but a small nano to find!

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

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

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

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

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

Caches found : 4 Total caches found : 198