Saturday, 25 March 2017

25-03-17 0 Wye to Thames - Walk 9 - Moreton-in-Marsh to Kingham

Distance - 12.7 Miles
Geocaches - 2
Previous Walks - Walk 1Walk 2Walk 3Walk 4Walk 5Walk 6Walk 7, Walk 8
Pubs - Horse and Groom, Upper Oddington and Kings Head, Bledington

I boldly claimed that Stage 8 of this superb walk from Hereford to Oxford along the Cotswold Railway Line would be the best.

It appears I may have peaked too early in my praise.

It could have been the sunshine (after all, we have had two weekends at opposite ends of the country in Fog) but this is a special, easy walk.

And it will be remembered for the day when Mrs Mappiman smashed the psychological double digit walking miles barrier.

We've looked at the train times and know that the two hour mid afternoon siesta taken by Great Western Railways means an early start.  Frost knocked off the car and at 7:30am, we are the first to park up at Moreton-in-Marsh railway station car park.

And out, through the surprisingly busy high street, and into the countryside.  Nice to report a new geocache has been placed at the Duck Pond since the last leg.

Moreton Duck Pond
Geocache GZ 1 - The Duck Pond
Views
Early Morning Countryside Views


The Monarch's Way takes us out of town to the first architectural highlight of the day, Sezincote Hall, a little bit of India in the Cotswolds.  Worth the short detour off the planned route to get the an up close view.  I will meet it again when I complete the Heart of England Way.  Look at the views, it's going to be no hardship.

Sezincote House
Built 1805

Views from the Monarchs Way
The Heart of England Way

This walk is a collection of pretty villages.  If you time it right, it could be a four pub beauty.  If you judge a village by its local, then Longborough is the pick of the lot.  We are greeted by the beautiful church and then meet the Coach and Horses, including the landlord who tries to convince me its never too early.  It's 8:30am.  He may have been joking with the daft ramblers.

Longborough
Longborough Church 

Coach and Horses - Longborough
What a Beauty - Coach and Horses - Longborough
The HOE Way is shunned and we let the Monarchs Way take us through Donnington and a revisit into Broadwell, a mere 5 months since our last visit.  One day we'll time it right for when the Fox is actually open.

Fox - Broadwell
Photos of the Fox - 2 - Actual Visits - 0
We lunched on Broadwell Village Green during our last visit.  We are making good time but I feel the need to press on.  I do vow to stop at the next bench we see at just the moment (7.5 miles in) that Mrs M suggests it would be a good point to "rest her hips".  Next bench found outside a the Horse and Groom in Upper Oddington.  It's 10:06am and has a sign both proclaiming its North Cotswolds CAMRA Pub of the Year 2013 and open at 10am.

I get that look.  The one that says "You're not having a pint, are you?".   As usual, she is correct.  The landlord will only sell me tea.  Cafe culture, my aris.

Horse and Groom - Upper Oddington
Tea for 2 and a 15 minute breather
Geocache 2 is at the Church at Lower Oddington.  The description tells all about the C14th Wall painting called the Doom.  Alas, copper thieves have rendered access impossible - the rain has got in, the picture has been damaged and the church is under repair.  This is the description of the painting from the cache page and you have to hope the Big G is really this vengeful.

The main wall painting in the church is the 14th century'Doom',dated to about 1340 it is 32ft long and 15ft high.

In the upper part is the seated figure of Christ,attended by Angels and Apostles.Below Angels blowing trumpets summon the dead from their graves.To the right the lost are being propelled by devils into the jaws of hell.

Nearby some of the torments of the damned are depicted with fearful realism inc a man suspended from a gibbet and a group of persons being boiled in a cauldron.
I wouldn't mess with his roof.

The final part of the walk can be filed under "Mud", as we cross woodland and Bledington Heath. The railway station is mid way between Bledington and Kingham.  We have made an excellent 2.6 MPH and timed it to perfection to at least visit the one pub.  The Kings Head in Bledington, located idyllically on the village green.

Everything I want from a pub.  Open and serving pints.   And a chance to sample a never seen before Otter Bright.

Kings Head - Bledington
Kings Head, Bledington.  Shame about the Telegraph Wires
Sunshine in a Glass - Otter Bright
I've got Sunshine in a Glass!
Kings Head - Bledington
Cheers All - Happy Spring!


Sunday, 19 March 2017

19/03/17 - Porlock - Top Ship to Bottom Ship

Distance - 4 Miles
Pubs - 2
Geocaches - 5

We learn a couple of things about this part of the world.  Exmoor appears to have it's own micro climate.  We left our Porlock apartment bathed in blue skies to arrive at Lorna Doone farm in thick, wet flog.

But what an adventure getting there!  Road, the width, windiness and steepness I have never before experienced.  And if a BMW X5 is 1968mm wide, then Robber's Bridge is exactly 2m.  It may look a pretty pack horse bridge from the picnic area, but its frankly terrifying when your wife is out in the rain - giving you confident hand signals that betray the grimace on her face.

Park up, decide the 8 miles in the fog will be no fun and head back.  Taking different roads.

We can complete a nice little walk between the two Good Beer Guide Pubs in the area.

The Top Ship Inn, Porlock, High Street - Exmoor Ales, Otter Ales

This was our base for both holidays in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and this year.  We were keen to come back to a 13th Century thatched pub, renown for its food and beer.

Thankfully, it was exactly as we remember it.

Top Ship, Porlock
Multi Building Pub - C13th at its oldest 
We did spend more time exploring both the beers and the different rooms.  Otter Amber was the pick of the pints although a special shout out has to go to Exmoor Ales Beast.  Rather fittingly for a 6.6% beer, the bar staff disappear down into the cellar when you order it.  Presumably it's kept under lock and key, away from the lesser ales.

Top Ship, Porlock
What's on at the Top Ship
The Walk

Nothing could be simpler than the walk down to Porlock Weir.  We followed the quiet road on the way down.  Spent a bit of time investigating the Weir and the handful of geocaches on offer.  We found a more interesting route back, following an excellent brideway through the woods.

Only photos required to tell a story.

Porlock
Gloomy Views over Porlock
West Porlock
Striding Purposely through West Porlock
Porlock Weir
To the Weir
Porlock Weir
Photo needed for an Earth Cache
Porlock Weir
Views from Porlcok Weir
Porlock
Slightly elevated views from the Woodland

The Bottom Ship, Porlock Weir
Bottom Ship, Porlock Wier
The Bottom Ship - Just as impressive
Seemingly, the two pubs are owned by the same management.  We saw posters advertising two nights B&B for £90 and spent a while debating whether this was per person.  It appears that this is the total price - and if so, a bargain.

They also have a beer festival - WeirFest - and run a shuttle bus between the two locations for those real alers not into their walking.

We arrived at 10am on a Sunday morning and although tempted by the fine selection of LocALEs, it was a cup of tea for me a coffee for Mrs Mappiman.

I am not that much of a beast.

Bottom Ship, Porlock Wier
Can you believe I chose tea over this.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

18/03/17 - Lynmouth to Watersmeet

Distance - 5 Miles
Geocaches - 20
Walk Inspiration - Jarrold Exmoor, Walk 14
Pub - The Village Inn, Lynmouth

If you take Mrs Mappiman all the way to the seaside and don't have a coastal walk planned, there is only one way to save your bacon.  Make sure that there is a National Trust Tea Shop half around the route that you do have planned.

We start in Lynmouth for a walk that my guidebook describes as "one of Exmoor's classics".  I couldn't really tell you.  For the 2nd week running, low lying fog adds atmosphere but ruins the views.

Route finding is easy - follow the pretty stream into the moor.  Doesn't even matter which side of the water you are on, as there are frequent bridges but of course, we followed the unexpectedly high volume cache trail.  Thanks for the smileys, kevham1 and CeeKay1, they added to an already fine walk.

Lynmouth
There could be loads of photos like this
Footbridge
With the odd bridge thrown in

Watersmeet National Trust is a natural stopping off point.  We are in Devon, but the debate on which order to put the jam or clotted cream was unnecessary, as I had been sold scones with neither condiment.  I was soon sent back on a rescue mission.

National Trust at Watersmeet
Clotted Cream - 25p a pot.
We lose the cache trail for a while, walking steeply uphill to Hillsford Bridge, taking in the best of the waterfalls.

Waterfall
Waterfalls
The height gaining continued, right into the clouds.  On another day, Mytleberry Cleave would have offered fine views over the gorge to the sea.  We make do with getting back on the cache trail, keeping our feet and navigating the wildly zig-zagging path.

Mists
Nothing much to see here but Lynmouth is in the distance
Back in the village to look at familiar land marks and trying to determine the number of elapsed years since we brought our kids to play in the stream. We agree on 11. All that remains is the post walk watering hole. We remember the Rising Sun from before and in the interests of variety, try out the Village Inn.

Harbour
Made it to the Coast
Village Inn
The Village Inn
Sharps Atlantic
Sharp's Atlantic

Unfortunately, the Village Inn contains the Village Idiot.  But not from Lynmouth.  This particular loudmouth is from near us in Worcestershire and spent 5 hours yesterday on a coach to sit at the bar in a strange town to laugh at his own Monty Python impressions, in-between goading other customers about their accents.

It can't have been long before he was chucked out.

But there was no chance he was coming back home with us.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

14/03/17 - The Wokingham Pub Crawl

Pubs - 5
Distance - about a mile

I feel I should know Wokingham.  After all, I have been to Binfield.  Finding myself working in the area, I consult the bible and see there are two town centre Good Beer Guide Entries.  It's worth a visit, even if a 2.5 mile cab ride costs £8.

My taxi whisks me away from the Alpine hell that is the Coppid Beech Hotel.  I can live without Abba tribute bands in Bierkeller cellars.  My driver engages in chat, determining my plans for the evening and comes up with the classic - "Wokingham has more pubs per head of population than any other town".   I hear this up and down the country.   I'm sure it was Preston that last made that claim.

Start off at the GBG Entry, The Crispin.

The Crispin, 45 Denmark Street, Hogsback TEA


Random Beerintheevening Quote - "A good selection of ales but no cooked food and poor quality toilets."
The Crispin
Dodgy Photo
The Crispin
Hogsback TEA

The pub was in keeping with the quaint town.  It wore its age well on the outside.  On the inside, a few too many flags for my liking.  I spotted TEA and my mate who lives in Berkshire swears by it.  I've had it before and enjoyed it, but here it was slightly metallic, dull looking and the picture is the last I saw of the head.    This is something that can be leveled at most of the beers consumed tonight.

Normally, I would have stayed for a second, but there is much work to do.

The Roebuck, the Market Place, More TEA

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Outside not looking very good. Most of lettering now missing."
The Roebuck
Formerly, the Square Bar.  May explain the lack of letters.
The Roebuck
TEA in a Landlord Glass

My cabbie told me this was the best real ale pub in town.  He was wrong.

It was the Real Ale lantern that lured me in but I should have spun straight round when two of the three pumps were turned the wrong way.   The one that remained was more TEA.  This looked brighter but the head lasted less time and actually tasted worse than at the Crispin.

I stayed until Leicester went 1-0 up.

The Ship Inn, Peach Street, Fullers ESB


Random BeerintheEvening Quote "used to be my local,but not anymoor far too expensive.better pubs in nam"

Ship Inn
Only Fullers can save the Day
Ship Inn
Pint of the Night

This place was noticed on the cab journey in.  Its a very handsome Fullers place and worth the short walk out of town to investigate.

Leicester are holding onto their lead.  The locals are enjoying it.

ESB is a favourite of mine and it was presented as well as anywhere here.  Quality pint.  I failed to notice the price.

The Queen's Head, The Terrace, Binghams Brewery Twyfords Tipple 


Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "I understand that this is now one of Greene King's "Local Heroes" pubs which as well as having GK beers can now offer local beers as well"

Queens Head
Four pubs and a never tried before Ale
The 2nd of the town's Good Beer Guide Entries.   This is a handsome little pub at the far end of town, reached after passing some interesting tudor architecture.  No outdoor photo of the pub, as there were smokers outside on my entry and exit.

I was initially skeptical, as it is a Greene King, but as the other reviewer has commented, it allowed guest ales and I tried a Bingham Brewery Twyford Tipple, after being offered a sample by a very genial landlady.  It tasted fine but once again, I was left frothless by the time I had attempted the Daily Mail crossword.

No way of knowing how Leicester are doing now.

The Broad Street Tavern, Broad Street, Wadworth Bishops Tipple


Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Great pub, great staff, although "fools" are not suffered gladly ..."
Apt description - it was quiz night.  I learned which breed of terrier is the biggest.

The Broad Street Tavern
Pub of the Night
The Broad Street Tavern
All the gang are here

If the Ship Inn provided the pint of the night, this was easily the pub of the night.

The Untappd App might be a touch annoying for my Twitter Followers, who I am sure are uninterested that I have reached "Wheels of Style Level 3" but it is handy for telling me that I have previously tasted Bishops Tipple just the once before.

I like Wadworths brews.  I need to go to Devizes.  I'll try and do it before 2017 is out.

The pub quiz kept me entertained, not least because of the quiz masters inability to pronounce most of the words in the questions.

Of course, its an Airedale.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

12/03/17 - The Langdale Pikes

Distance - 4 Miles
Wainwrights - Pavey Ark (2288ft), Thunacar Knott (2372ft), Harrison Stickle (2414ft), Pike of Stickle (2342ft) and Loft Crag (2238ft)
Geocaches - 1
Walk Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine Oct 2013, Walk 15

Last Night

After yesterday's post walk visit to the Old Dungeon Ghyll, the valley offered two more pubs to check out.

The Stickleback Barn provided little.  £3.90 real ales and middle class kids who's home for the night was a glamping pod, wanging the cushions around.  It was a cross between a vegan restaurant and a wacky warehouse and we were not in the mood.

The New Dungeon Ghyll was our home for the night.  Like the OGD, there was an unpretentious hikers bar, where hungry ramblers could sample the lesser spotted Hardy Tup ale and deliberate what exactly constitutes a "Lamb Henry".  I can find little information about Hardy Tup, other than I appear to have been accidentally drinking Mild again.

Food and Ale was exceptional but the only entertainment we could find was in the parlour, where a half hearted game of scrabble was attempted for the first time in years.  Bowfell must have taken it out of us.  We were all tucked up in bed before 10:15pm.

New Dungeon Ghyll
NGD and our Home for the Evening
The Walk

It's safe to say we can blame this on the sunshine.  After yesterday's slog, there is no way we would have faced another walk in the same conditions.  We awoke to mild weather and view of the tops and it had to be done.

That's not to say this wasn't a toughie.  4 miles in 4 hours and 2400ft of ascent.  If we weren't going up, we were going down.

The start of the route is both simple and superb, walking alongside Stickle Tarn on a good path, taking in the waterfalls and enjoying the views of the valley behind.  What a change from yesterday.

Stickle Tarn Path
Follow the Path
Waterfall
One of the larger Waterfalls
On the up
View behind and unusually, I am in the lead

Stickle Tarn provides a natural break in the walking and also the start of the Clag.  Once again, we are denied the best of the views that could have been on offer.  We didn't see enough from the peaks for me to tell you the difference between them all, and route finding was fairly easy.

Stickle Tarn
Stickle Tarn and the Cloud
The Three
The only team shot in two days of walking

The views don't come back until the last Wainwright, Loft Crag.  Another day of "look at what you could have won".

Views, at last
Loft Crag and the Valley below
Coming Down
The Path Home

The path down of Loft Crag is long, arduous and slippy.  Both my walking partners tumble twice, with one even exclaiming "Not Again" mid fall.  Somehow. on both walks this weekend, the descent is more painful than the ascent.  And I never thought I would say that.

Still, we are saved the sight of Dungeon Force Waterfall on our return and the only Geocache of the day.

Dungeon Force
Dungeon Ghyll Force
Two days - hard walking, no views.

We are going to have to come back and do it all again.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

11/03/17 - Bowfell and the Old Dungeon Ghyll

Distance - 10 Miles
Geocaches - 2
Wainwrights Ticked - Bow Fell (2960ft), Esk Pike (2903ft) and Rossett Pike (2136ft)
Walk Inspiration - Walking the Wainwrights, Route 18

A week spent checking the weather reports in the Langdale Valley.  It changed from rain to mist and finally settled on fog.  Wall to wall fog.  All day fog.

Its going to be a tough ask to blog a walk, when for most of it, we could just about see our feet.

There's three pubs in the valley.  The CAMRA good beer guide has the famous Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel to knock off and that will be waiting for us after the walk.  We are starting from the New Dungeon Ghyll, our home for the night, where there is an adjacent National Trust pub/cinema/vegan restaurant/creche called the Sticklebarn.

A footpath on the valley floor takes us from New to Old, where we pick up the farm track to the unfortunately named Stool End Farm.  We meet the farmer and his overeager puppy, Lassie.

On the way to the Band
Stool End Farm and the Fog
The land mass behind is called the Band and this forms our gateway to the Mountains.  Once we are at 600 feet, we hit the fog and see nothing.    And its a shame - I have the feeling the views would have been spectacular.

The height is quickly gained and before we know it, we are at the summit of Bowfell, following another group of idiots walkers.  The path runs across broken rocks and is about 20m below the non trig point mounted peak.  Feeling like we might as well get to the peak, we leave the path, scramble up and see nothing.  We are reminded on how easy it is to get lost, as three of us, each with a GPS, spend a good 15 minutes trying to work out how to get back on course.   My excuse?  My glasses are steamed, beaded with water and I cannot actually see my screen display.

With some relief, we find our way across the featureless terrain of Bowfell Buttress, drop to Ore Gap and regain height to Esk Pike.  The path is along the edge of the mountain, across a flat stone walkway.  Again, I imagine the views to Scafell would have been magnificent.  But I have no idea.

Esk Hause marks the turning point to civilisation and the first shelter seen on route.  There's a Geocache to grab, whilst my companions munch on their tried and tested mountain food of Pork Scratchings and Mars Bars.

We drop down to Angle Tarn and argue about whether it is there or not.  Its now 2:30pm and a group of lads are coming up and asking directions to Scafell.   With no map / gps / clue, the following day, I complete a quick search on BBC News for mountain rescue missions.

Its a long descent, picking our way down a path running across Rossett Pike.  Very occasionally, we get a glimpse of what we could have won.

First glimpse
First time the camera has been out
Its a seemingly never ending descent along Rossett Gill, to a path junction and my second and final Geocache of the day.  We pick up the Cumbria Way which safely delivers us home.

Coming down
Dropping down through the gloom
Heading Home
Cumbria Way delivers us along the Valley Floor
And then the day is saved.  There is something rather special about walking straight off the mountains into a welcoming bar.

The Old Dungeon Ghyll, Theakstons Old Peculiar and Esthwaite Bitter 
New Dungeon Ghyll
The ODG
I've been wanting to check out this famous mountaineering bar for as long as I have been walking.  Every patron here has experienced the same as us today and there is a rather comforting smell of Goretex warming gently next to the bar centre point, the log burner.

One walker has taken things a touch too far and is drying his boots and his socks, choosing to sit sandy shaw style, roasting his tootsies at the best seat of the house.

The bar men - the only dry people here - enjoy their jobs and there is a high degree of banter.

Hitting the warmth has not done my camera the best of service, but I manage to just about record the selection for posterity.

Old Dungeon Ghyll
Six of the Best
If it wasn't for that last 3/4 mile back to the New, we would have stayed and worked our way along.