Friday, 12 May 2017

A (dog) walk in the park - Batsford Arboretum

Hands up, this is another one that's not quite a park, but similar characteristics so I think I can get away with it!

We've recently become members of Westonbirt Arboretum, as we meet friends there fairly regularly for a dog walk. As part of a reciprocal arrangement we also get entry to a number of other gardens around the UK, one of these is Batsford Arboretum. As we had a free weekend, we decided to pay a visit. If you're not a member, it costs around £8 for adults and £4 for children. You'll find full details on the Batsford website.

Batsford Arboretum is in the heart of the Cotswolds, about half an hour from Stratford-upon-Avon and forty minutes from Cheltenham. It has a wide variety of plants from around the world, with a leaning towards species from the Far East. It is planted so there should be something of interest, whatever the season. We visited in mid April but unfortunately were just a little too early to catch the bluebells. I'm a bit of a bluebell obsessive!

Dogs are permitted throughout the site, including the cafe and main building, as long as they're on a short lead, and it's a great place to take them for a walk around. The exercise meant that Barney was happy to settle down whilst we had a cup of tea after our walk.
I do love a primrose
No bluebells, but at least there were plenty of forget-me-nots
A few more...
Barney looking fairly desperately in need of a haircut!
The flowering cherries were beautiful
As were the magnolias
The house is privately owned and not open to visitors
There are a number of streams around the arboretum, Barney likes to dunk his beard in each one
A solitary bluebell, putting in an early appearance
If you've visited Batsford, I'd love to hear what it's like at other times of the year. I love Autumn colours, so I'll no doubt be back around then.

Monday, 8 May 2017

More Movie Memories geocaching series

We're just back from a week's holiday in Dorset and decided to spend a free day down there doing a geocaching series.

This was a circular series only about ten minutes from where we were staying. This is a quick summary in case it's helpful for anyone else considering the series.

Name: More Movie Memories
First cache in series: GC6NTRB
Number of caches: 19
Distance: Approximately 3 miles
Location: Starts from Symondsbury, Dorset

We parked on Duck Street and headed towards and around the church to start the series, it meant that we passed the last cache on the way to the first, but at least there was one close to the car to finish with.
There's a cache somewhere in here
After a fairly lengthy search for the first cache (I think I must have misinterpreted the hint) we continued up the path.

The caches were all a fairly short distance apart so we'd already done three by the time the path opened out to give views across the fields.
Some very disinterested sheep
As it was a movie series, a lot of the cache containers were themed, this was number four, a little further up the path, Pirates of the Caribbean.
An appropriate pirate's chest
As we headed up to number five, the terrain changed, feeling more like a ravine which had cut through the sandstone on either side, than a farmer's track.
Scenery looking a little like something from Tomb Raider
Plenty of people had left their mark on the stones
We continued up the path and then, as it levelled out, followed it alongside fields.
Views into the distance
Barney was happy to have a rest whilst we looked for number seven, Don't Fence Me In.
Any opportunity to rest those paws
We turned the corner and continued along the track past a farm.
Another appropriate cache container
We found a travel bug in cache number 11, M*A*S*H* which we picked up and dropped one of ours off which we'd brought down from the last series we did in Wiltshire.
Barney getting bored of all the travel bug malarkey
We walked to the end of the track, doing a couple of caches on the way and then headed right down the road.
Track giving way to road
The road wasn't busy, we only met a couple of cars on our walk down and managed to tuck into the verge.
Nice quiet country road
We headed down the road and back into Symondsbury where we finished off the series.

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

Number of caches: 19
Distance: Approximately 3.8 miles. The map below from my GPS shows our route
Time: 3.5 hours, this included a lot of time fiddling with phones trying to get them to upload caches. It probably should have been half an hour less.
Terrain: Gradual incline for the first six or seven caches, then flat until a downhill section towards the end. A combination of farmers tracks, paths and roads. Dry when we walked it in May, but I'd imagine it could be very muddy in parts.
Wildlife: There were sheep in nearby fields but no need to enter the fields. We did see a cat at one point!
Facilities: We passed a cafe in the village.
It's so nice to do a series where all caches are present and nicely spaced out. I'd definitely recommend this series if you're in the area.