Monday, June 10, 2013

Hinchingbrooke Country Park

Hinchingbrooke Country Park is the sort of park you find a lot in America (though this one is found in England). A bunch of nature trails criss-cross the land. Some large open fields are available for sports. A large playground with modern equipment has been installed. A small lake with plenty of wildlife is tucked away inside. How could we resist a visit?

The playground was the obvious and immediate attraction. Even before the playground, we found some balance beams and stumps to play on just by the parking lot (which was a pay and display lot, unlike in America).

Trails to the playground

J balances

The playground itself had all the usual stuff, though the slide was of unusual size. L was rather dwarfed by it.

Massive playground

Massive slide

The zip line was the favorite (also something not found in American parks, presumably for liability issues). Since we were at the park early we had the line to ourselves, which meant alternating turns for J and L. At one point, Mommy went to the other end of the line and we'd toss the children back and forth.

J zips!

L zips!

Other equipment got its fair share of work.

Ever popular seesaw (with room for four!)

Easy climber/slide

Tougher rope climb, but not too tough for J!

Nearby was a fire pit with a helpful warning sign.

This sign is just the sort you'd find in America, again for liability issues

We knew some geocaches were hidden not much further into the park, so we cranked up the geocaching app and sought out The Lord Protector's Playground cache.

This might be a good point to mention another contrast with American parks. Originally this land was a Benedictine monastery. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539, the land wound up in the hands of the Cromwell family, presumably as a gift from the king for loyal service. The Tudor house still stands and can be visited on Sundays. We weren't there on a Sunday, so visiting was not an option. But back to geocaching...

The first cache is down by the lakes and a small stream. Unfortunately, the way we approached, we were on the wrong side of the stream. The children were walking rather slowly, as they are wont to do. My wife encouraged me to go ahead and find a bridge if there was one. About a tenth of a mile down the path I found a bridge to the lake. I was able to find the cache and come back before they made it to the bridge.

Wooded path

The lake

View of the lake from near the cache

I found out that the children had been slaying dragons along the path. Also, their names had changed: J was now Jakalot and L was Lucivere. Like Lancelot and Guinevere, right? They'd been very busy. We all enjoyed the lake for a while and then proceeded to the next cache.

As we walked we saw a swan standing by the pathside. He did not give any ground, which made Mom and Dad worried. Was he going to charge us? The kids were blissfully unaware of any danger. We saw a nest with another swan on it, so clearly this guy was on guard duty.

You lookin' at me?!?

The next cache is called Nun's Bridge. The nun's bridge does date back to the monastic times, so the name isn't so strange as it might first seem. The cache was a little trickier than we thought. Jakalot and I checked under the bridge for the cache, but all we found was water.

Nun's Bridge, hiding behind the trees

Not where the cache was located

After a check of the hint, we found it quickly. Then we trekked back to the car through the winding, woody paths. We had a fun visit to the park and were happy to get some geocaches in too!

A nice blooming tree that didn't fit into the narrative above!

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