18 September 2016 (Sunday) - Hanningfield Reservoir

A combination of having walked twelve miles yesterday together with that fourth pint last night made getting up at 5.30am seem to be not the best idea I’d ever had.
As I scoffed my brekkie I checked out my emails. I had another scamming email; this one from Mrs. Fadhilah Hassan who was writing to me “with tears and pain in her heart”. She can get stuffed. I spent a few minutes writing up more minutes of last Thursday’s astro club meeting, then got myself ready for the rigours of the day.

We collected Suzy and her entourage. Apparently Suzy had disgraced herself overnight as only a dog can. We then set off for Hanningfield in deepest Essex where we soon met up with Jo, Sam, Mark and Martin. Boots were put on, loins girded and we set off on a geo-stroll.
The NoCMoC (Nuisance of Cats - Murder of Crows) walk was billed as a series of seventy geocaches over fourteen miles. We knew time might be tight so we’d arranged to start walking at 8.30am. And walk we did. Near Hanningfield there is a humungous reservoir – this walk follows around the reservoir. But not closely enough so you’d see much of it

We had a rather good walk. Beautiful scenery, and we even saw a hare. You don’t see many of those. And we all laughed when Suzy-pup jumped into the smelliest and most stagnant water I’ve ever smelt. And the church with the floral depiction of the burning of Joan of Arc was really impressive.
However after a mile or so I had to stop. My boot felt uncomfortable. I took it off to find an AA-size battery in it. How did that get there?
And it was shortly after that when I became slightly miffed. On Friday I bought a new jacket, and in Friday’s instalment of this drivel I actually wrote (about this new jacket) “I wonder how long this one will last”. It lasted about two and a half hours. The stitching on one of the pockets had unravelled before 11am. That will go back to the shop tomorrow.

And we did have a dodgy five minutes at the Hanningfield reservoir visitor centre. We’d parked at the north of the lake so the visitor centre would be about half way round.  Ideal for an ice cream we thought. And it was. Having had an ice cream at the café at the easterly part of the centre we then walked through the grounds of the visitor centre. There were some wonderful forests. A couple of miles, an hour or so. The *ideal* place to walk a dog. The two dogs in our party seemed to think so. But now I come to think of it we didn’t see any other dogs there. It was only when we got to the gift shop at the westerly extreme of the forests that some irate old biddy told us in no uncertain terms that dogs were banned from the Hanningfield reservoir visitor centre’s grounds. And we found ourselves being thrown out. It was probably as well that we were thrown out just as we were leaving.

Despite the hound problem, geocache-wise this is a walk I would recommend. Billed as seventy caches over fourteen miles I ended the day with a total of seventy-two finds. There was one DNF, but we could probably have squeezed in another half dozen caches without too much diversion. Billed as fourteen miles, “Hannah” measured it at 15.8 miles. Mind you none of our sat-navs agreed that closely on the distance walked, and I have always said that the lengths of these geo-series are always under-estimated. (I myself have three such series which are always reported as being far longer than I think they are). Having read fourteen miles on the route descriptions I actually went out expecting to walk eighteen miles.
There was a variety of cache types and hides. Some fun ones, some rather more challenging. There was a chirp cache on the route; these are really rare. In over seven thousand geo-finds I’ve only seen three of them. This would have been the fourth -  it was a shame none of our GPS units picked up the chirp. I suspect the batteries of the thing need changing. This happen from time to time (or so I’m told).
Mind you Sam did hit a milestone – she got her eight thousandth find.
After ten hours (nine hours fifty-three minutes to be precise) we were back at the cars. Boots were pulled off; goodbyes said.
Within half an hour of setting off homewards it was getting dark.

I took a few photos as we walked. Once home I posted them on-line. I do this a lot. Being home rather earlier than anticipated "er indoors TM" set off bowling. I didn’t. I collapsed in front of the telly and scoffed pizza whilst watching “Dad’s Army” as my dog snored.
It wasn’t that long ago he was in dog hospital..

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