|This is where it went wrong|
First of the day was Egham's Wildlife Walk #7 just up from where we had parked up. A quick search of the wrong tree and then hubby spotted it. An easy start. Some nice houses around here.
#8 was up a footpath so off we strolled. We could hear what hubby said was a motorbike and I said was an industrial strimmer in the distance. Very noisy. Suddenly the noise got louder and hurtling down the path came a motorcrosser. Not a strimmer then after all. Plenty of time for him to spot us here but there were lots of bends so I do hope he goes carefully (not for his sake you understand, but for any walkers out here). Had to wait for him to pass before we grabbed the cache. A travel bug to help on its journey too which I collected.
Popping out near Piper's End, we crossed the road and down the track. I was just thinking of darting in the bushes for a tinkle when hubby, fortunately, spotted the CCTV looking both ways down the path. That was close or I could have been on YouTube! The motorcrosser was back again making a bit of a mess of trying to get up the steep path. He seemed to have given up and was trying to do a U-turn in about 3 feet of space on a hill. He got there in the end and disappeared into the distance once more. This gave us an opportunity to pick up #9 from its hiding spot.
Down the hilly path we headed until we popped out at a bit of an opening. Here was the motorcrosser again having a ciggie. We headed down to the left towards #10 as he started his bike again and disappeared in the other direction. GPS was whizzing backwards and forwards here and we saw a few suspects but lots of pulled down barbed wire was also around so I stood back with the girls while hubby went in to search. A quick spot. He threw me the cache container and as I caught it I looked down. Bloody hell! I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had around 10 on my left leg and 6 on my right - in a blasted line. This resulted in me slapping my legs and doing some kind of crazy-woman dance trying to get rid of them, which clearly panicked the girls a bit (they were in leggings so quite safe I hasten to add). Teach me to wear shorts in woods. Throwing the cache back to hubby and still doing some weird Harlem Shuffle in the leaf litter, I headed off quickly with the girls, keeping a careful eye on my legs.
A train went past. We now had to cross the track. Taking a hand each, we opened the gate and carefully looked both ways. All clear and away we went.
The house at the other side of the track is clearly being done up and we said our hellos to the builders all around working and then took a look at the horses with foals as we headed up the lane.
|Neigh, it's not near us|
Crossing over at the end of the lane so that we could walk around the corner at Stroude, we spotted the next footpath and crossed back (really harsh corner to try and cross on) and headed off between the fields to #12, where some more horses watched our antics.
|Another great container|
I'm not at all fond of cow fields. I never was but even less so now hearing about more deaths this year with people being trampled. I therefore felt quite edgy when I spotted the cows but they were a fair distance away to our left in a group so we walked at a brisk rate down the track. The cache (#14) was an easy spot and I must have retrieved/signed/replaced at light speed. I did not want to be here any longer than necessary. Fortunately the cows had zero interest in us and we headed off, marching the girls along.
I was in such a hurry to reach the other gate and get away from the cow field, that I just ignored #15 altogether. Can always pop down another day for that.
Reaching the far gate the homeowner was just getting into his car and looked at us, said hello and "searching for somewhere?" seeing my compass on the phone. "Just having a stroll around the footpaths" came our reply. He waved as he headed off and we carried on down the lane.
Was about to dart into the bushes to have a tinkle (no, still not had one) when we spotted the house owner up a ladder doing something to a tree just around the corner. He moved on as we approached and started chatting to another householder a little further down. Hubby spotted the wasps nest on the right at a cut down tree on the other side of where he had been so we walked past quickly.
My GPS told me that #16 was about 20m from where the two people were chatting. Spotting the cache immediately, I said "Oh look, lovely ivy climbing here. Let me get a photo for the book" and hubby and the girls stopped while I 'took some photos' (with a pen) of the ivy. Quick retrieve/sign/replace again. I'm getting good at this. Wonder if they'll do a 'fastest cacher' race at the next Olympics?
We had to do a bit of road walking now around Prune Hill and then over a level crossing, before dipping down the footpath again. A nice easy find for #1 which is now taking us on the return journey to our car.
|Off we go|
|Teeny-tiny frog - can you spot it?|
This is where it all went wrong....
We walked along the track. A sign appeared at the end of a trampled down bit of corn field to say 'Public Footpath' but that was the wrong direction. To our right it said 'Private Property, No Public right of way' so we decided that the track must - just around the corner - join on to the other piece of public footpath that there was to the right. We carried on walking.
As we rounded the corner, it was clear that the track did not join the path and to get to the cache would mean walking through long grass and trees across the 'Private' piece of land. Hubby suggested we go back. I said we should carry on as it's bound to meet up with the path again. We decided to skip #2 and go straight for #3. We carried on following the track.
|A Thorpe Park roller-coaster in the distance|
Turned out we were slap, bang in the middle of said 'Private' land, as suggested by the appearance of CCTV with Infrared on a very tall post in front of us. Oops! At least they're not likely to shoot us in this country but I could imagine a jeep full of men in black suits and dark glasses turning up any moment asking us what we were doing here.
No sound of a vehicle approaching? Nope. Good, we'll go for #4 then. The track headed off into the woods so surely we could walk around the edge of and get to it. No going back now.
We walked around the woods. We argued a bit more. The girls grumbled they were tired and things were prickling them. They both had a tinkle (away from the CCTV!).
Right, just around the corner we could get to....a 6' fence with rows of barbed wire on top. Bugger. Hubby and I had one or two more words. Carry on came the order from behind. The path was getting narrower and I had to pick N up to avoid all the nettles. #5 was getting further away on my map. This was not good.
Rounding a corner, another CCTV/Infrared set appeared on top of a very tall post. Whose blasted grounds were these and what were they looking for....or trying to keep in? *gulp*
I was getting angry and turned to hubby and said "We're almost back at Hollow Lane we're so far off course" to which he replied "Great, that's where we're parked". DOH! We were around 200m from our car now. Hooray.
We rounded another corner to be met with 15' high steel gates locked shut with a large padlock and chain and those nice twisty metal bits at the top to stop you climbing over (not that we could have got the girls over them anyway if they'd have been flat).
To our right was a bit of trodden down fence. It seems that whatever had been in this area had escaped - the same way we were about to - through the corner of the bungalow's garden. Yes! I went over first and took the girls one by one, putting them over the next bit of fence until they were on the outside part. I then went to get across the second, slightly higher bit of fence which promptly caught me and wouldn't let me go. There was I with one leg either side, stuck. Close but no cigar. Hubby helped me off by squashing the fence down. I'm free....!!!!
You can see the map of how off-course we had become at the top of the page. Our route through the mysterious land is marked in yellow.
We strolled back to the car grateful to be out of there. We'll be back to do the other part in reverse down the footpath we should have followed in the first place.
Now off to the pub for a well-earned cold drink.