This wonderful series is called Life Begins.., it is a nostalgic, autobiographical look back over first 40 years of Simply Paul’s life. There are 41 caches in the series including a bonus that starts and finishes in the village of Steeple Claydon where he lived for 9 years of his early childhood and has fond memories. The trail is very cleverly put together looping back through the village on a couple of occasions, so plenty of opportunity to break the trail down and do over a few visits.
I loved the way that this series has been put together, each cache represents a year in the life of Simply Paul, the caches pages contain interesting snippets of information about his childhood experiences and reminders of what was happening in the wider world in the same year. Unfortunately though the stories stop at 1983 when he got to the age of 12, which is a real shame as this is a great idea.
The trail is set along varying terrain including footpath, roads and also partly of the disused railway line dubbed the “Varsity Line or “Brain Line” because it was a route between Oxford and Cambridge, but which was closed in the aftermath of the restructuring of Britain’s railways by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s. This section ceased to be used for passenger traffic in 1967 but continued to be used for freight carry refuse to the landfill site at Calvert into the 1980’s. All that remains of Claydon station now is the platform but this line is set to be revived in 2017 under the £250m East West Rail scheme.
The trail starts from Steeple Claydon with a multi cache the goes south and along the disused railway then back up through the village passing the Parish Church and another multi-cache. The multi-cache leads you Northwards out of the village through the countryside to the village of Hillesden, passing the 100 acre deer park and the medieval church, built in 1493 and saved from the ravages of the English Civil War, however the scares of Cavalier bullet holes can still be seen in its door.
A 1 mile completely straight path leads you down hill from Hillesden towards Kings Kingsbridge Farm. During the Civil War when Charles I was fleeing from Cromwell’s army he crossed the brook at a point near the farm hence the name “Kingsbridge”, we crossed this bridge on the way to the way back to Steeple Claydon.
Once back in Steeple Claydon a third and final multi took lead us back out of the village again head south west this time to bring us back onto the railway line for a second time, before returning back up hill with good sight lines of the church steeple. There is a bonus cache that can be found but you will need to be able to answer questions to a general knowledge quiz. A great series, that I found very interesting on and off the trail.
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