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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Across flooded fields we glimpsed Gloucester Cathedral; shortly after we walked near to the Nature in Art Museum.
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.
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.
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.
Down Hatherley Church (St Mary and Corpus Christi) was the location for a fairly straightforward multi.
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!
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!