Friday, 21 April 2017

A (dog) walk in the park - Avebury

Let me start off by admitting that it's not a park, but Barney had a great day out and why ruin the name of a great series of posts?!

Avebury is a village in Wiltshire and the site of the largest stone circle in the world. The village is also the location of Avebury Manor and Garden, owned by the National Trust. We've visited Avebury before and looked around the Manor and Garden, but this time with Barney in tow, we restricted ourselves to a walk around the stones, followed by a trip to the cafe. Car parking is expensive at £7 per day, free for National Trust members, but for that you get to walk around the stones for no further cost. The village is a nice place to wander around, even if you're not crazy about Neolithic stones. Be prepared for it to be busy, despite visiting in March, we got just about the last parking space. Being a village there are all the facilities you'd need for a day out. 

Dogs are meant to be on leads around the stones, but Barney didn't seem to mind too much. He met lots of other dog owners who made a fuss of him, as well as a lookalike cockapoo. It's a nice place for a dog walk, if you don't mind them not being able to run free.
The view down the River Kennet to Silbury Hill
A section of the stone circle
Barney's not really one for history
Looking over towards the village
Village church

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Grittleton Gambol geocaching series

We used to be keen geocachers and then we got Barney. Since we got him in May last year, we've done a total of nine geocaches. However, now he's over a year old, we no longer have to limit the distance of his walks, plus I've reached the end of my physio on my knees and Andrew's settled into his new course of medication; it seemed like a good time to get back into the geocaching habit.

I love a circular series and found the Grittleton Gambol series about half an hour from home. Perfect. I thought I'd write a short blog post about it in case it's helpful for anyone else considering the series.

Name: Grittleton Gambol
First cache in series: GC179PC
Number of caches: 12
Distance: Approximately 3.5 miles
Location: Starts from Grittleton, Wiltshire

We parked on The Street in Grittleton to start the series. Although it was Easter weekend, we found a spot without too much difficulty. From here we headed past the church and out of the village to pick up the start of the footpath. 
The church in Grittleton
We found the first three caches easily and then retraced our steps back to the road.
The field we skirted to the first caches, complete with chicken coop

Barney, sitting pretty much on top of the first cache
From here we crossed over and headed out across the fields. The first section had been ploughed but luckily was dry due to the lack of rain recently, we then came to a planted section, but it seemed to have been planted with grass for silage, rather than crops. We kept to the footpath as far as we could tell and started on our way. It was a surprisingly large field and due to the length of the grass, Barney couldn't walk through it and had to bound over it. We picked up two caches on our way across.
Making our way across the fields
Looking back towards Grittleton
At the end of the field there was another cache in the series, but we'd actually picked it up on a previous geocaching trip in December 2014. After leaving the field, we turned left down the Fosse Way, an old Roman Road, now a byway. 
First bluebells of the year
Making our way down the Fosse Way
Towards the end we got closer and closer to the M4. At this point, we decided that we still had energy left in our legs and paws and made a detour up a nearby country road to take in another three caches ('Dealing with Witches - Holly Oak, Rose Oak and Ivy Oak). These were less fun than the Grittleton series, two of them positioned across ditches and surrounded with brambles. 
The view out to Littleton Drew from the last of the 'Dealing with Witches' caches
We retraced our steps after picking up these three and made our way down the larger road back towards Grittleton. There was a fair amount of traffic, but the road was wide enough that we didn't feel unsafe. 
Making our way up the road back towards Grittleton
A quick stop off at the penultimate cache to take in the fields
Back to Grittleton
We stopped for drinks and snacks at the nearby pub and then did the Church Micro in the village before heading home.
A stop off for much needed refreshments

So, compared with our plan at the start of the day, this is what we did:

Number of caches: 15
Distance: Approximately 5.9 miles. The map below from my GPS shows our route
Time: 3.5 hours, excluding pub stop
Terrain: Flat, combination of fields, byways and roads. Dry when we walked it in April, but I'd imagine it could be very muddy in parts
Wildlife: There were two areas with chickens, and one fox spotted in the distance
Facilities: The pub in the village, the Neeld Arms, looked good and allowed dogs

I really enjoyed this series, all caches were present and in good condition and none too difficult to find. Despite a few nettle, bramble and holly injuries I'd definitely recommend it.