Monday, January 08, 2024

cache for questions

Here's a map of a short walk we did with some friends when we went up to Leicestershire to visit them for New Year. We had, collectively, five kids with us, so a twenty-mile route march was out and in any case would have cut unacceptably into drinking time. We ended up performing a slightly complex set of manouevres involving a car in order to ensure that smaller people who didn't want to do the whole walk and might potentially get a bit whingy and risk PISSING ME OFF had an opt-out and in the end it was only three of us (me, Jim and Nia) who did the whole route (around five miles) on foot. 

No claim will be made by me here that this was the most exciting or challenging walk ever, therefore, but I offer it up nonetheless to illustrate that if you're interested in what goes on around you you can find quite a bit to interest and intrigue even on a short, low-level walk such as this.

Start and end point was at our friends' house in Stathern, which I have obfuscated the exact location of just in case anyone decides to go and burgle it. We then walked along the road towards the neighbouring village of Harby before heading north just after the old railway bridge and linking up with the towpath of a disused canal before making our way into Harby, where we had a couple of pints in the pub and then headed back via the more direct on-road route.

Some points of interest along the way: firstly the old railway bridge and the railway it used to carry. This was the slightly cumbersomely-named Great Northern and London and North Western Joint Railway which meandered its way around Leicestershire in a mainly north-south direction. Its main business was goods but there were passenger services (ending pre-Beeching in 1953), and there was a station serving both villages called, imaginatively, Harby and Stathern, whose approximate location is marked by the purple star on the map. As with any station designed to serve two communities, it was roughly equidistant from each and conveniently accessible from neither. 

As if that were not interesting enough, Nia reminded me to have a look at my geocaching app and see if there was anything in the vicinity. I discovered not only that there was, but that there was one right under the railway bridge - cue a lot of scrambling around until we eventually found it under a log by the side of the northern bridge abutment.

I see I've mentioned geocaching a few times on Twitter before but the only mention on this blog seems to be in this post from 2008 wherein I was a bit sniffy about it. Well, all I can say is that was pre-kids and it's a lot of fun hunting them out with the kids and gives them a little bit of extra impetus to agree to outdoor activities. The link earlier in this paragraph includes details of the app, of which there is a free version more than good enough to facilitate some entertaining hunting; give it a go. Top tip: take a pen with you as quite a lot of them have log books and only the really lavishly-appointed ones have an accompanying pen, still less one that works.

So then there's the canal - this is the old Grantham Canal which ran from, you've guessed it, Grantham, to West Bridgford on the southern outskirts of Nottingham (and where I went to school for a couple of years in the early 1980s - I mean, not in the canal specifically) where it joined the River Trent. It's pretty reedy and silty and overgrown these days though still just about recognisable as a waterway. 

Finally, once we'd squelched along the muddy towpath to Harby we called into the Nag's Head for a couple of reviving pints. They'd evidently done their research and knew we were coming, as they'd facilitated a nice home-from-home vibe by having Brains SA on tap, and very nice too. Needless to say we lingered a while longer then we'd originally planned, so when everyone else piled into the car to head home the remaining three of us had to stumble back along the road in the dark. Luckily the roadside verges were fairly wide and my phone flashlight was just about up to the job of helping us see where we were going and avoid getting killed by occasional speeding cars. While we're on the subject of pubs we also called into the Montero Lounge in Melton Mowbray on New Year's Day for lunch. 

Finally, my mention of Melton Mowbray there reminds me to remind you that if you're visiting the area you will be in the middle of both Melton Mowbray pork pie country and Stilton cheese country, so make sure you eat some. I'm not big on blue cheese but I did ensure I ate a pie while I was there. 

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