Saturday, 27 August 2016

27/08/16 - Hetty Peglar's Tump & The Old Crown at Uley

Distance - 5.4 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk Inspiration - Pub Walks in the Cotswolds
Pub - Uley Bitter at The Old Crown, Uley

At the start of the day, little did I expect to be accused of thieving the roof tiles from a bus shelter.

To be fair, it's no ordinary shelter.  Passengers at Uley get to wait in a lovely Cotswold stone clad building, better than some folk's houses.  They've had vans turn up in the night and strip the tiles away.  So when a man is up on the internal bench, using a torch to look into the nooks and crannies, suspicions are aroused.

How to explain Geocaching to the Neighborhood Watch?  Still, I wasn't going to let it go.  This is a previous DNF for me.

We escape from the village with our dignity intact and Dixon of Uley Green placated enough to not call the rozzers.  Up hill out the village, menaced by grumpy cows.

Out of Uley
Its Ok Mrs Mappiman, We've lost the Cows
A small diversion is taken in Nympsfield for two reasons.  First off, I wanted to show Sonia where I stayed when walking the Cotswold Way - 10 years ago next month.  Second reason, a couple more geocaches to grab.

The Rose and Crown is as fine looking as I remember it, although securely locked up at 11am.

Rose and Crown, Nympsfield
Advertising Works
Rose and Crown, Nympsfield
Chez Mappiman - Sept 2006

Nympsfield Church
Cache GZ - Nympsfield Church
I've walked this area frequently over the years but never explored the burial tomb known as Hetty Peglar's Tump.  Its not on a decent path and requires a "there and back" walk along a busy road.  Still, when I found out from another blog on Walk1000 Miles Facebook Group that you could go into the tomb, I had to investigate.

With my torch.

Hetty Peglar's Tump
Someone's not interested in exploring
Hetty Peglar's Tump
As there are Spiders.  Lots of Spiders.

Having got Neolithic exploration out of my system, we head to Uley Bury Hill fort, via the Cotswold Way.  Shady woodland walking is most welcome.

back on the Cotswold Way
Cotswold Way
Looking at Downham Hill from Uley Bury
Downham Hill, from Uley Bury
Walk the three sides of the Hill Fort.  Occasional decent views of the Severn Estuary.  All that remains is drop down and complete the investigation of Uley.

Classic Village - 19th Century Church and 17th Century Pub, vying for dominance.

Uley Church
Uley Church
Old Crown, Uley
The Old Crown - Doing a roaring trade

Six real ales are on.  That's quite a choice.  Its also one of the few places that sells the beer from the Uley Brewery, 1/2 a mile up the road.  In the interests of science, I decide to try the Uley Bitter - shunning the slightly stronger Uley Old Spot.

A decent enough choice that I enquire to see if I can export it back to Worcestershire.  The barman confirms they don't sell it in bottles.

Uley Bitter
Uley Bitter - lack of receptacles suitable for export

Sunday, 21 August 2016

20/08/16 - Celandine Route and the 2 Pubs in Pinner

Distance - 11.7 Miles
Walk Inspiration
Geocaches - 12
Walk Start - West Drayton
Walk Finish - Pinner
Pub - The Queens Head, Pinner, Rebellion Mutiny

I'm not going to pretend that my navigation of the River Pinn in London has any comparison to John Hanning Speke's Nile expedition.  Whereas he was lauded in 1800's Society by finding the source and naming it Lake Victoria, I am only in with a chance of bumping into the most super of models in her home town of Pinner - famous only as the birthplace of Kate Moss.  She of saggy knees, as Mrs Mappiman is always keen to point out by circling imperfections in Daily Mail photo stories, when she gets the paper first.

London does a decent job of promoting walking routes of it's lesser known rivers.  Earlier this year, I completed a similar walk along the River Wandle and last week, I added the Waterlink Way onto my "to do list".  The River Pinn walk is promoted under the name "The Celandine Route".  A PDF is available at the link at the top of the blog.

The Pinn empties out into the River Colne near West Drayton.  From a walking perspective, its navigable to where it runs under the Grand Union Canal.  I know this stretch from the London Loop.

Start - Grand Union Canal
A repeat stretch on the Grand Union Canal 
Walking gets off to a poor start.  There is no signage at the canal and a false start leads me down a scummy dead end of a housing estate.  At least the sight of a fully loaded rambler gives the man sat on his doorstep, smoking and drinking a pre 10am Special Brew, something to look at.  Error fixed, the real path is found in a playing area and the first sight of the River Pinn is obtained.

River Pinn
Its like this for the next 11 miles.
Today is International Geocaching day and I make a pig's ear of failing to find the first two potential caches of the day.  The souvenir is in jeopardy until I make my first find of the day at a Side Tracked Cache in Cowley.

At least the Celandine Route signage improves, so at least I know where I am going.

Signage
A Large Scale Print of the PDF
Cowley
Signage at Cowley Church

I can tell from the lack of photos that the walking is not the most inspired.  There's really little to get excited about as I pass through the grounds of Brunel University, Hillingdon, over the A40 and into Ickenham, through Ruislip and into Pinner.  No open pubs are walked past.  Little to see.  The river barely changes in look and feel.

Say it quietly, it's all a bit dull.

The End of the Road - Pinner Park
Not really a fitting end to the CR Route

Can Pinner itself save the day?  It's a pretty handsome place and has a very "villagey" feel.  The buildings look ancient but what off the pubs?

There's only two.  Which is a worry for a place of this size.  They even try to increase the numbers by leaving the clues to former pubs.  The Zizzi Italian is hosted in the 1540 building of a pub and cruely hangs the of the Victory outside in "look at what you could have won" mockery.

I decide to try the highest rated pub first.  The Oddfellows Arms is at the top of Elm Park Road.  I brave a shower storm to get there.  I attempt the door.  Closed for a private party until 17:30.

The gods truly are against me today.

Oddfellows Arms
A Garden Patio too far.  Tell tale signs of the 70th Birthday Party in the Window
Back down and into the much prettier High Street, dominated by the Church at the top of the hill - where the Queens Head awaits.

Queens Head, Pinner
The Queens Head and it's unusual signage
Queens Head, Pinner
Love a pub with a bit of History


If this is the second best pub in Pinner, then the Oddfellows must be really going some.  Its ancient from the outside and all lovely and plush on the inside.  Seven real ales on, spread across the serving hatches.  The barman was keen to reel off their relative merits and Rebellion Mutiny was chosen.  I even get another tick in my Cask Marque App.

Rebellion Mutiny at Queens Head, Pinner
Plush Velour seating and Ceremonial Glass

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

08/08/16 - The Ship Inn, Highley

Distance - 4.6 Miles
Geocaches - 6
Walk Inpsiration - AA 50 Walks in Shropshire
Pub - The Ship Inn, Highley - Hobsons

Rules to stop Doggers from entertaining themselves forbid us from parking at the Severn Country Park at Highley, Shropshire.  Honestly, height of Summer and the picnic area bolts the gates at 7pm.

We're in Highley to make the most of the fast disappearing light evenings.  There is a walk that has picqued my interest for some time.  Borle Brook is one of those strange places that Shropshire seems to throw up quite regularly.  A deep sided gorge, hidded from the outside world with a splattering of references to it's historical past.  Today, an 18th Century Pack Horse bridge and some light industry from the village's mining past.

To add a 21st Century flavour to proceedings, there is a Geocache trail laid by my 2nd most found CO - BlokieBloke.  Thanks for the caches!

Donkey Bridge over Borle Brook
18th Century Donkey Bridge

Borle Brook
The splendidly isolated Borle Brook
The walk is OK - overgrown in places, angry bovines in others.  It's a straightforward up and down both sides of the brook and return into the village to check out the amenities.

Back into Highley
Handful of Summer Evenings remaining
Church Micro, Highley
The Church Micro at Highley

Post walk refreshments?  We looked around Highley Village - its a fair sized - containing shops, takeaways, a sculpture trail to its mining heritage but it was hard to tell if the Bache Arms was actually open.  It looked rather forlorn.  So we headed down to the Ship Inn.

Its nice to be able to report an improvement in pub heritage.  The Ship Inn has a prime location, down by the Severn Valley Railway stop and right on the river.  The last time I went, it had a real run down feel about it - with a couple of scabby looking benches outside.  It appears to have had considerable investment.

A lovely new patio area - only causing problems when you drop a pound coin (me) or a lighter (fisherman) and they disappear down the gap.  No doubt the owner sends down a Miner's offspring to collect up the booty at the end of the week.

Five real ales, including the lesser spotted Banks Mild, and a decent looking menu.

Most importantly, more punters than the staff could deal with.  On a Monday Night.  Great to see.

And my discovery for the evening - Hobson's compliment their wonderful Town Crier with the perfect snack - handcooked scratchings.

The Ship Inn, Highley
Pub Makeover
Hobsons - Beer and Scratchings
Perfect Pint, Snack and Views


Sunday, 7 August 2016

06/08/16 - Cribyn, Pen Y Fan and Corn Du

Distance - 9.2 Miles
Geocaches - 4
Walk Inspiration - Country Walking June 2016, Walk 21

Twice before, I've climbed these three classics of the Brecon Beacons.  Never in decent weather. Never attacking the hills from the North.

Mrs Mappiman had an inkling (well, a weather app) that today would be perfect conditions for something a bit more challenging than our usual walk through - as she puts it - boring fields.

I'll show her some excitement.

Which starts with the last mile drive to the car park at Cwm Gwdi.  A single track lanes with high embankments remind me that it costs just over a grand to replace a BMW's wing mirror.  Its been a year since the Brown Clee Hill transit van disaster.

9am and we're the 3rd car to park up.  Booted, breakfasted on Malt Loaf and off round lanes to discover the futility of trying to get a "good morning" out of Welsh sheep farmers.  We pick up the whale back of Bryn Teg to deliver us, ever upwards, into the hills.

Bottom of Bryn Teg
Bryn Teg - Take me to the Mountains
Going is steady. Mrs Mappiman's technique is to walk hard, then sit for a rest whilst I catch up.  I try and tell her about the hare and the tortoise.  She won't have it.

Top of Bryn Teg
Frequent Stop by Mrs Hill Fit.  Cribyn - Left, Pen Y Fan - Right
The photo doesn't quite do justice to just how steep the final pull is up onto Cribyn.  It seems a lot of work just to come straight back down again.  Besides, there is a geocache on its flank, accessible by a thin dotted line on the map which represents something not quite wide enough to be called a path.

You know, its funny.  You can live with someone for nigh on 30 years and not realise they are terrified of heights.  Surprise is a cornerstone of long lasting relationships.  I ask what she doesn't like about the path.  Hands are released from the mountain side just long enough to point downwards and a mutter of "That".

Vertigo Inducing
Worth it for the Geocaching Smiley
Worth it for the Views
And the views

We celebrate our arrival at the gap between Cribyn and Pen y Fan with lunch.  Never have ham, cheese and branston been combined so deliciously.  We can dine, looking back at what we have achieved.  Admittedly, the path looks narrower from above.

Our path can just be seen around Cribyn
Can just make out our "path" on the left flank of Cribyn.
A short haul up to Pen Y Fan.  Having had the mountains to ourselves so far, we hit the masses.  This type of hillwalking is for everyone.  All shapes, ages and attire is represented in a smorgasbord of humanity.  Plenty of photos taken in my first mist free ascent of Southern Britain's highest mountain.

Pen Y Fans Views
Pen Y Fan Views
Top of Pen Y Fan
Highest Couple in Southern Britain
Me, highest man in Southern Britain
Form an orderly queue for a photo

Short hop to Cribyn and then the descent starts.  I've read about the story of a 5 year old lost on the mountains for 29 days in 1900 but this is the first visit to Tommy Jones memorial.

Tommy Jones Memorial
Tommy Jones Memorial
Views from Tommy Jones Memorial
And the Outlook

The descent is easily the best walk off a mountain I have ever completed.  The views are stunning, the terrain firm under foot and a canopy of trees guides us home in the later stages.  It's an unexpected joy.

Best Mountain Descent Ever
Car is down there, somewhere
Best Mountain Descent Ever
Last look back at the hills

A classic walk and definitely the best way of ticking off these three easily accessible mountains.

And on to the post walk drink.  We could have stopped in Brecon itself but parking looked complicated and the beer garden of Boars Head was full of a hen party who had adopted a nautical theme.

Instead, we take a chance and stop at one of the many former coaching houses that align the road in. A couple are dismissed and we settle on a hand printed sign from the by pass that lures thirsty mountaineers into the Baskerville Arms at Clyro with a promise of Real Ale.

It would appear that the by pass has done the gaff no favours.  A single punter propping up the bar got quite excited that new blood was coming in.  Still, they keep a decent pint of Otter.

Baskerville Arms, Clyro
Baskerville Arms - Clyro
Otter at Baskerville Arms
Wonderful Otter


Sunday, 31 July 2016

30/07/16 - Malvern Pub Crawl

Public Transport and a lovely walk from Colwall to Malvern, left me in the town with three hours to spare before the first direct train home.

What to do?

I know, I'll investigate the pubs.

The first three are within spitting distance of each other.  At 11:55am, only the Wetherspoons is open.  Wetherspoons are always open.

The Foley Arms - Malvern - Inveralmond Lia Fail
Foley Arms, Malvern
Pub Number 3, the Unicorn, is in view
One of the more architecturally interesting Wetherspoons.  This is a 200 year old former coaching house and with it wouldn't look totally out of place in New Orleans.  You can imagine people hanging off the gallery during a mardi gras.

Finding the long bar packed with thirsty pre dinner drinkers, my mardy server caused pub chaos by making the classic mistake of shouting "who's next?".

Why of course, it was me.

As well as rescuing old buildings, JDW does a good job of introducing you to interesting beers.  Who would have thought in a Worcestershire spa town, I would be drinking a decent pint from Perth (Scotland, not Australia).

Taken outside to a lovely beer garden with the 2nd finest views from a pub in Worcestershire.  Try the Brewers Arms in West Malvern for the best.



Inveralmond Lia Fail
Superb Scottish Ale
Foley Arms Beer Garden
2nd Finest Views from a Worcestershire Pub

I could have spent a while here but a sandal and sock wearing Brexiter was quoting too many statistics to a bored looking couple.  When he shouted loudly "how would you like 5m Muslims living here?" it was time for me to find the Cask Marque sign, scan and move on.

The Red Lion - Ringwood Boondoggle

This could have been pub 1, but wasn't quite open after my descent from the hills.  It must be good, as there were at least four people waiting patiently for it to open.  Maybe, they really like Thai food - as this was half pub, half Asian restaurant.

There comes a time in a man's life when he wants to read weighty WWII fiction - and the beer garden here provided a perfect spot.

Red Lion, Malvern
Red Lion - Part Pub, Part Thai
Boondoggle and Nazis
Boondoggle and Nazis.

The beer was exceptional.  Library style peace and quiet only interrupted by the families marching up to the hills and a couple who came in for a liquid lunch.  Conversation;

Lady - "Would you like a pint?"
Man - "yes"
Lady - "Of anything in particular?"
Long Pause.....
Man - "No".

Two chapters read and its off to pub number 3.

The Unicorn - Wye Valley HPA

This is the earthy one.  Every town has one.  Barman with a tattooed neck.  Jukebox with every top 40 hit from 1952 contained within.

The Unicorn, Malvern
Plays all the Hits
A quartet on the next table are discussing box sets.  Man 1 has Game of Thrones and Peaky Blinders to watch.  Man 2 has Lovejoy to offer in riposte.  It's a wonder they got on so well.

Inspired by Peaky Blinders reference, I hit the music machine.  A bit of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey on a sunny afternoon really warms up a Malvern Pub.

I leave as my music choice expires to see the bar man feeding the machine.  Hit the streets to the Blues Brothers soundtrack.

The Morgan - Wye Valley HPA

A short walk in the general direction of the train station and into a previously undiscovered pub.  Its a tied house to the Wye Valley and judging by what they have done with the Black Star in Stourport, I am highly optimistic.

The Morgan, Malvern
The Morgan
Wye Valley HPA
Perfect Pint

It lives up to its promise.  Nice interior and fine beer garden to consume some fine beer.

I could have spent longer listening to some very knowledgeable boxing fans on the next table, but the 15:32 express to Kiddermister was calling.

Just need 5 minutes to spend on a fruitless search for the cask marque certificate.


30/07/16 - Wye to the Thames - Walk 3 - Colwall to Malvern

Distance - 4.9 Miles
Geocaches - 4
Previous Walks - Walk 1, Walk 2
Pubs - The Malvern Pub Crawl

Mrs Mappiman going to work on the train provided a perfect opportunity to tackle Stage 3 of my epic walk from the Wye at Hereford to the Thames at Oxford.  She heads North, to the England's 2nd City, I head South to Colwall.

I'm excited about today.  Stage 3 may be the shortest walk in the book but I know I will have a decent scale of Worcestershire's highest peak.  As I am on public transport, with a couple of hours to spare, I can also complete a Malvern Pub Crawl - worthy of a second blog.

Alighting the train at Colwall, I cross the footbridge to get to the countryside.  Worcestershire Beacon is in view.  I know what I have to do.

Colwall Station and Destination
High Point Ahead
I have a chance to right some geocaching wrongs.  There's a series of micros called the Colwall Circuit.  I had a go at them almost four years ago to the day.  The first still proves elusive today, despite a good 20 minute hunt.  I do manage to correct one previous DNF, as I climb ever upwards on Malvern's Western flank.

It doesn't matter how many times I walk Malvern, I never seem to complete the same paths twice. The Victorians certainly made it eternal walking country.  Today, I dissect the hills at Wyche Cutting and head arrow straight northwards on Shire Ditch to join the hoards at Worcestershire Beacon.

As expected, fine views on a lovely summer's day.

Views West
Views West into Wales
Views South
Views South, over British Camp
Views East
Views East - over the Next Leg of the Wye to Thames Path


Quick photo of the Trig and down, down to St Anne's Well - where the water bottle can be topped up, gratis.

Third walk out of 12 and I've enjoyed them all immensely.  Next leg takes me from Malvern to Worcester - 10 miles, but all flat.

Worcestershire Beacon
Highest Man in Worcestershire
St Annes Well
Refuelling Pit Stop at St Anne's Well.  Borrowed Dog.

Now, onto the Pubs of Malvern.