Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some recent Geocaching adventures....

I've touched on a few of our Geocaching expeditions in the A-Z posts....but here are pics and stories from a couple more, including the mammoth (for us, anyway) 6-cache-trek that Jay and I took on on my birthday, the one where we risked life and limb not once but twice! :)

First - there was Pinkcombe Wood. We tackled this cache after a particularly huge meal at the local Hungry Horse pub (well, it was 'H' fortnight...), and needed a good walk to burn off some calories.

The cache is a multi - you have to find a small ("micro") cache first, and this contains the co-ordinates of the final treasure box.

Micros can be pretty small - reckon you could find this in the woods?:

We did :)

And no, I don't mean the big thing in Connor's left hand...that's our GPS machine, the clever bit of kit that helps guide us to the caches thanks to clever-as-anything satellite technology.

Nope, that's not the cache, the little thing in his other hand was the cache. It screwed open to reveal a little bit of paper with co-ordinates for the end result.

It was a fair old trek to the final stage, through some pretty woodland with no sign of another human (but Jay did see a deer, he thinks).

Reece found himself a good hiking stick:

And Connor got the hang of stiles:

(and overcame his rather random fear of mushrooms)

When we did reach Ground Zero (ie the rough area identified by the GPS as the location of the cache), we had a good hunt around and then one of our eagle eyed crew spotted the booty up in a tree. In fact I think it was me that spotted this one. I sent Reece up to fetch it though, that's why we take the kids with us, they are useful for tree climbing activities :D

You can just see the cache near Reece's right hand in the picture above, for a better view see the photo at the top of this post. This was a nice big ammo can cache, the best kind, plenty of room for swaps and a lot more fun than tupperware.

Next, I have started to pick up the occasional cache close to work on my Friday lunchbreaks (on Fridays we can wear jeans and trainers to work...much easier to go caching in than work clothes and heels :))

There's a Roman series of caches, designed to take in various sites around Cirencester (aka Roman Corinium) that were significant back in the day, which really interests me, so I'm tackling them first.

So far I have found two, Roman Roamin' - Ermin St - Next Crossing Up, and Roman Roamin' - The Amphitheatre

The first involved a stroll along one of Ciren's oldest and prettiest streets and a little amble along the banks of the River Churn - no piccies sorry, I forgot to take a camera or even my phone. It was a lovely way to spend my lunch break but the cache itself, just a bog standard film cannister micro, wasn't anything spectacular.

But the second one - the amphitheatre - well, this one blew me away, and was a brilliant example of a "now THIS is what geocaching is ALL ABOUT!" cache.

I mean, just look at this place:

(this is a panoramic view of just over 180 degrees, you might need to click on it to see it at a reasonable size)

I literally drive within 20 feet of this place every single day, and had no idea it was there!

It is huge, and stunning, and just reverberating with history.

I was actually so blown away by the place that I forgot what I was there to do for a while, and just sat at the top of one of the mounds (in the cheap seats :)), imagining the baying crowd sitting all around me, and the spectacle taking place in the round below. They must have fitted thousands of spectators in there. It would put some premier football attendance numbers to shame, I bet.

I did eventually remember that I was there to geocache - and it was a quick dash to get the find before the end of my lunchbreak. Luckily it was an easy one.

On the way back out to the road, I came across this huge obelisk -----> and I mean huge - that stickman is me - completely to scale - the thing was mahoooooosive!

(I did try to take a self timer piccie with real me instead of stickman me in it, but ended up taking lots of pics like this <-------- oops!)

There are no legible inscriptions on the obelisk, and no sign or anything to give a clue what it is there for, when it was erected etc. If anyone reading this knows any more about it, I'd love to hear...

Finally, on to my birthday, which was last Tuesday, I'm now 21 again, twice, plus one, ouch!

Jay and I both had the day off work, and with the kiddies in school it meant we could spend some proper uninterrupted time together, which is a rare enough treat.

Jay asked what I would like to do for my birthday and, the weather being as glorious as it was, I couldn't think of anything better than a caching expedition.

There is a series of 6 caches over to the West of Swindon along the route of a 2.5 mile circular walk which sounded perfect for us to do without the boys, as it would probably be beyond their interest levels. One or two caches a day is their limit really.

So off we set, to the first of the (Harry Potter themed) series, Hagrids "Beard".

We actually made a bit of a pigs ear of the approach to this one, going across country and ending up doing some Mission Impossible style clambering across a tiny little ledge high across a brook that was too deep to wade across. We later found that we could have walked the whole way along a paved cycle path lol

Never mind - first find of the day :)

Much as I'm not a fan, usually, of Tupperware style caches, I liked this little circular loc n loc box - it had kept all its contents clean and dry and was fairly spacious inside. I've already bought one like it since for a future cache of my own...

There was no time to sit around admiring the container, however, we still had 5 more caches to find, so on we walked, past the worlds largest UPS:

to the first of our life-and-limb-risking moments today (I'm not counting the narrow ledge above the river as if I had fallen off that, the worst I would probably have got was a sprained ankle and a soaking...)....

.....we had to cross a train track. A train track very much in use by very fast trains.

I was bricking it! Although not so much I didn't manage to take a very quick photo on the way across:

And I think I was right to be scared, look what hurtled past at about 100 mph when I was trying to take a pic of Jay in front of the track just after we crossed!

(to be fair he did announce himself with plenty of tooting from a pretty good distance, so you'd have to be VERY slow at getting off the tracks to get splatted)

The next cache in the series, Sharp as a Mandrake, was just a micro, but hidden in a whopping great big field, full of sheep, and very attentive bullocks. The cache description states: "Please use caution, there are bullocks in the field where this cache is set although they didn't bother us". Well that's as maybe, but they certainly bothered us!

There were about 20 of them, and they were big lads! At one point a handful of them started running right towards us, that was pretty scary! But luckily they stopped short of goring us to death (there were enough that did have horns to make that seem a distinct possiblity) and ended up just giving us dirty looks for the whole rest of the time we were in the field.

Which, as it turned out, was rather longer than we had hoped, because although the micro turned out to be an easy find, we simply couldn't figure out a route to cache #3, Fawkes. Our initial route took us to a dead end which would have involved trespassing on a farm (never advisable, those farmers have shotguns :)). We then decided it would be safer to trek back towards the first cache to see if the GPS could lead us a better way from there.

Nope, all it did was lead us to another dead end, which seemed to have been the site of a sheep massacre. The fox, or whoever it was who was responsible, must have had a feast! There were loads of skulls and other skeletal bits there :S

Eventually, with the help of Google Earth, we figured out where we had gone wrong. And we also figured out, reluctantly, that we needed to cross the bullock field yet again :O And this time, they were all gathered around the stile we needed to use, like an angry mob!

We didn't have any choice but to walk towards them slowly and unthreateningly (is that a word?), desperately trying not to make any direct eye contact. And phew! it worked, they dissipated, and we got over the stile to safety :)

All was pretty plain sailing after this. Well, almost. Jay did get a nasty scratch while digging around in the brambles near the river to find and retrieve 'Fawkes', it was quite a bleeder. But he's a big strong rough and tufty boy so he didn't make a fuss. He'd got the find after all :)

And his find, it may be, but I still got the job of filling in the log book:

Cache #4 in the series was called Ron rocks!!!, but I think it should have been called Platform 9 3/4, in keeping with the Harry Potter theme, as the hide was near an old railway platform, long disused, which has now been pretty much reclaimed by the forest:

It was a cool find - and another one of those "if it wasn't for geocaching, I would never have known this was here" moments. Just like with the Roman amphitheatre, I sat on the platform for a little while, and imagined people stood there with their luggage, waiting for a old steam train....

The fifth cache, Barty's Bridge was another film cannister micro. This one was in an area where there were a lot of workmen active, and we didn't want to be snooping around for too long looking furtive, so we decrypted the hint (something I HATE doing, and avoid unless desperate, as it always feels like cheating!), which led us straight to the location. Then it was just a case of picking it up as discretely as possible and whisking it around the corner and out of sight to sign the log...

Don't ask :) I appear to be meditating with it, no idea why :)

Finally, 4 and a half hours after setting off, having walked a hell of a lot further than the 2 and a half miles we were supposed to, we got to the sixth and final cache, Hedwig's Perch. This one took a bit of finding, as it was very well hidden, and also very much in view of the general public so we had to be as discrete as possible while searching.

Jay again took the finding honours on this one. His geocacher's eye is developing fast!

The series was very enjoyable, despite all the near death experiences, and I can't wait for our next opportunity to go on a nice long caching adventure together :)


ally said...

wow, i love caching, and the whole reason is that you get to find places that you never knew about. fab find s

Sid said...

Looks like you all has one fab time there ! Never tried this geocaching lark.....but it sounds really good ! The pics are fab !

Michelle S said...

Cool pics .... love it x

Kelly Jeanette Swift said...

I love geocaching. It's a great way for the family to have fun together and good for getting kids off the couch and exercising.

Anonymous said...

Who knew caching could be so dangerous? I would have been bricking it on the train tracks too but I loved the abandoned station, like something from a play or an old ep of 'Sapphire and Steel' lol.

Malc would have enjoyed it too, he's a big fan of lock lock :)

Glad you had such an ace birthday, didn't know you meditated anymore :) om :)

Kat said...

Wow! Fabulous pics, and sounds like nice areas with caches. DH and I really should start trying our luck with it as well, but we don't have a GPS at all ... :o

Erika Jean said...

What great adventures! Thanks for sharing!! The bones ans what not look cool :P