Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Big Hike

Mark's 'Big Hike' Birthday Weekend

We'd decided to go away for Mark's birthday but just hadn't decided whether to go North, South, East or West. The decision to go up to Scunthorpe was pretty last minute as we only booked our accommodation on Friday morning, we'd left it as late as possible to see what the weather would be like for the weekend.  The forecast was for light snow late afternoon so we decided to go for it.

The weekend was also a chance for Mark to try out his birthday present, a shiny new Oregon 550


We left home before 5 am and arrived in Burton-upon-Stather in time to set off on our walk at 7.30am.  A really chilly start but once we got moving it was really pleasant.

I had no idea how long the walk was going to be, Mark originally told me the first day would be about 16 miles, after about 8 miles and we hadn't yet reached the furthest point I realised we were in for a somewhat longer hike

River Humber

The section of the walk that followed the cliff path from Burton-upon-Stather as far as Whitton was extremely picturesque with great views of the River Humber.

Julian's Bower - Turf Maze

Along the way there were lots of things of interest, which is one of the things we love about caching, you just never know what you might find next:

Julian's Bower Turf Maze - Or more accurately a unicursal labyrinth (there is only one route in and one path through).  We couldn't resist walking through the winding labyrinth, a really interesting place.


Kell Well - A bubbling spring, between Burton- Stather and Alkborough. The waters were once said to have had petrifying qualities.  Remains have been found but these are thought to be fossilised crinoids, a star fish relation.

Alkborough Flats
Alkborough Flats - Where the Rivers Trent and Ouse join to form the River Humber - Alkborough Flats is an area that covers 440 acres.  The site is designed to act as a flood storage area in times of extreme weather, primarily during tidal surges which will reduce impacts of flooding along the Trent, Ouse and Humber.  The area was also home to a bombing range during World War II.

Remains of the northern bombing range observation post

We started at #1 and finished at #110 with a handful of other caches on route.  The entire walk was on good paths and all caches were were easy to find

We had a difference of opinion with the length of the walk, my Oregon reckoned 19 miles and Mark's 20.6 miles which we completed in 10 hours .... so a little further than the 16 miles I was told!

Hmm a little bit more than 16 miles

The Big Hike - Day 1


We decided to tackle #136 to #203 as Mark reckoned it would be about 10 miles or 'just over' and we'd be able to fit it in perfectly before heading home just after lunchtime.  The walk started in Winterton and went out as far as South Ferriby by the cement works. 

Cement works

The cement works is a prominent landmark in the area and the raw materials are obtained from the nearby quarry via the overhead conveyor belt that you will pass under, this stretches for quite some way across the countryside.  The landscape has a post-apocalyptic feel to it, expected to see Mad Max roar past in a battle weary V8 Interceptor at any point

Conveyor Belt
This loop is almost entirely micros and 2ml tapered nanos which are not a problem in themselves but on a power trail they get a bit tedious having to use the tweezers to extract the log sheet time and time again.
Walking across Horkstow Bridge
On the walk you will walk across Horkstow Bridge, it crosses the River Ancholme and is a Grade II listed suspension bridge that was completed in 1836 as part of the River Ancholme drainage scheme.

The walk was a little over 12 miles in the end and was very enjoyable, all on good paths and well marked routes.  We completed this section in 5½ hours.

To sum it up the area was one of the most peaceful and tranquil we have ever been to and everyone we met was really friendly.  The weekend was over far too quickly and it was time to head back home to the Midlands.  We'll be back again soon to find the rest of the caches.

What I have learnt

To always, always, always do my own research as to how long a walk is going to be before I agree to anything.

The Big Hike - Day 2

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Saltwells Local Nature Reserve


Saltwells Stroll

No. of caches - 14
Length of walk - 5 miles

This series has been on our to-do list since it was published last May as we remembered doing the Murray Grey Trail series that followed a similar route a few years ago.  We really enjoyed the walk back then and we knew it would be completely dog friendly too so we decided to take Whisper with us for the stroll today.  Poppy had to stay at home today, her foot is much better now and she no longer has the bandage but as she went on a long walk around our local wood yesterday today's walk would've been a bit much for her to manage.

Sculpture Trail

The series is set around Saltwells Local Nature Reserve.  Saltwells Local Nature Reserve is one of the UK's largest urban nature reserves covering 247 acres.

Saltwells Wood was planted by Lady Dudley in the eighteenth century to hide the scars of coal mining. The descendants of the Oak and Beech still survive and are home to many species of woodland birds.

Murray Grey

The walk is very picturesque in the woodland and if you detour to do the cache at Netherton Church there are great views to be had as far as the Black Mountains in Wales.  All caches are well hidden but easy to find with sensible hints where needed.

Panorama of Brierley Hill
We really enjoyed the walk which we completed in a little over 3 hours which included a break for lunch at Netherton Church.

Brewin's Cutting
We'd highly recommend this walk for geo-dogs as there are no dog proof stiles, it would be ideal for families too but as is about usual for everywhere at the moment the ground is very muddy underfoot in places.

Saltwells Stroll

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A busy February so far

Whisper on the podium

I haven't had much time to update the blog the last couple of weeks, been really busy with work and other things so thought I'd find time today whilst it's pouring down.  We had a very short local caching trip planned this afternoon with Whisper our yellow lab but decided to cancel as the weather is so awful.  Whisper has put on a bit of weight so we're trying to increase the length of her walks to get the lbs off her.  Last weekend we took her on a very nice 8 mile walk around The Greenway in Kenilworth, which included the Geohound Walk, really dog friendly and great caches, some of the others were puzzles that we'd solved ages ago, also we found Katie's Cache, an old one from 2004 that had been on our to-do list for ages. So it was good to tick that one off.

Poppy's poorly foot
Poppy, our black lab will be 14 in a couple of months and is not up to the longer walks, also she's quite slow now so we don't usually take her on caching trips and it's a nightmare lifting them both over stiles etc.  Poppy has had to stay indoors for the last couple of weeks due to her having an operation to remove a tumour on her foot.

Sunset over Warmington

Just a brief summary of what we've been up to (caching wise) this week:

I've mentioned Sunday on The Greenway already but last Saturday we went up to the Peterborough area for a day out (again).  It was a bitter cold wind and barely got above freezing the whole day, we set off before sunrise and did Yarwell and Back, Nassington and Back and Elton and Back, altogether walking around 17 miles and cached until the sunset.  All great walks and great caches.

Church at Shelton

On Tuesday Mark had some holiday from work he needed to use up, I couldn't get the time off at short notice so he went caching on his own and headed East to do Catworth Cult TV Circular, Kimbolton Krunch, and Shelton Scooby Doo.

At #3 Shelton Scooby Doo he caught up with another caching team, djw147 and they completed the series together.
Barn Owl

Yesterday we had another early start and as the forecast was 'sunny' for Peterborough and raining for just about everywhere else we thought we may as well have another trip out Cambridgeshire way.  We set off once again before sunrise and cached until sunset all together walking approx. 20 miles.  Taking in, Broughton Bananarama, part of the Woodwalton Waggle, Sawtry Fen Fumble and part of Alconbuy Amble.  A great day out and a memorable one too as just as we were leaving Alconbury we stopped off to find a cache, it was only a short walk but just before we set off we spotted a barn owl flying around, I managed to grab a few shots and then as luck would have it the beautiful bird flew past the car again and I was able to take some film - amazing!