July’s caching exploits start off on a low note with an accidental Did Not Find (DNF). Or rather a Found It But Didn’t Realise We Had Found It So Didn’t Take The Qualifying Picture And Therefore Can’t Log It (that would be a FIBDRWHFISDTTQPATCLI – catchy!)
A few months ago, you might remember that we went to Tyneham Village in Dorset, which I assumed would have no caches present as it is on military land, but then later I realised there was an easy Virtual Cache there we could have claimed – doh!
Never mind, good job we’re not real “it’s all about the numbers” cachers, or we would be kicking ourselves for that missed smiley :)
Tumuli Durnovaria. This cache was chosen mainly on the merits of it being very close to where we had spent the day (at a Medieval Fayre near Dorchester) – but it would have been worth seeking out and travelling to even if it hadn’t been so convenient.
It was a fairly tricky find, it took us a while to nab it, finders honours eventually going to my 18 year old, Darby, looking very pleased with himself here :) He took the little polar bear (above, with one of the burial mounds) from the cache as a souvenir of his great finding prowess.
Eventually we reached our destination, the super amazing fossil forest. In a nutshell, although this area is now on top of a cliff, in Jurassic times of yore, it was at sea level. Massive trees grew, but then they were flooded, and around the base of the trees, mounds of algae gathered. The trees torred away, but the algae mounds, or tufae, fossilised, and can be seen today as huge doughnut shaped structures which are quite unique. Fascinating stuff. And really good fun to clamber over / pose for photos in too :)
After our fun weekend in Dorset we were pretty pooped, so there was no geocaching in the week, but we did sneak a couple in the following Saturday (not on the Sunday, though, as Connor’s 8th birthday party consumed the whole day). We went over to Bristol for the day to visit our friend Isobel – we get to see a lot of her during the hockey season as she is a goal judge at our rink - but we miss her during the summer.
|not many pubs have a lock in their beer garden :)|
So, let’s do another! :)
Close to Isobel’s house is an urban nature reserve called Trooper’s Hill. It really is a fascinating place, almost like wild heathland in places, and a haven for loval wildlife including some rare butterflies and lizards, but bang in the middle of a very built up part of the city, and with a large industrial chimney (no longer in use) plumped right on top of it.
Of course there is a cache up there - #114 Trooping By the Chimney - (I’m surprised there aren’t more, it’s a big enough area to support a couple more I would have thought) And it’s a regular, so it ticks all the boxes for the sort of cache we enjoy – a good length of walk in an interesting place, with a big box of goodies at the end of it :)
I don’t think Izzy quite knew what she was letting herself in for when we set off up the hill – it was a fair distance over quite an incline – definitely more effort involved than the amble down the river bank earlier in the day. The cache page says you should be able to reach the cache in 10-15 minutes, maybe if you fly! It took us a good hour :) We were all huffing and puffing- but we all made it to the top of the hill intact, explored the chimney, and then delved into the wooded area to find the good sized cache.
Unusually I was right in there with the kids trading swag for once, as there was a cool paper crimping tool in there which I swiped for use in my arts and crafts :)
On the way back down we had a great view and could see Izzy’s house clearly, which was fun as she had never seen it from that angle before.
This was a really enjoyable cache, I’d recommend it to anyone else in the area.
After Bristol, once again we were cache-free during the week, so our next smileys were picked up the following weekend, in beautiful South Wales. We were there for a short break (we set off Friday afternoon, stayed two nights in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, and returned home on the Sunday evening) to celebrate Connor’s birthday.
The main focus of our trip was a day at Oakwood theme park, not geocaching, but we did manage to fit a couple of caches in, one very appropriately named, as you’ll see in a moment.
We arrived at our hotel fairly late on the Friday night, it was already getting dark as we walked down into the harbour to try and find somewhere to eat (we managed to find a Chinese restaurant who were happy to serve us a sit down meal at 10pm, we were the only people in there, it was delicious :) ).
We walked right past a micro cache site - #115 Harbour Heights on the way down the hill from our hotel, but there were too many muggles about for a good look. We decided to leave it until the next day, but of course on the way back up, we couldn’t resist another try, despite it being pitch black.
Muggle Mayhem – which as the name suggests, was in a very busy part of town, a lovely sensory garden area down by the beach. We resorted to using the hint, which was very specific, but still we had no luck. We gave up after 20 minutes or so of searching, grudgingly, we hate DNFs as much as anyone. We were therefore pleased (for our own pride, not the cache’s sake) to see an owner maintenance log pop up the next day to confirm that the cache had been muggled. The owner did manage to replace it just before we left Wales, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to go back for a second attempt.
The following day was our theme park day, so we didn’t have time for a ton of caching, but we did wander back down to the harbour in the evening after we had had our fill of Oakwood’s amazing coasters, and so we thought we’d go hunt out the only non tiny cache in the immediate area – a small called #116 Hectic Harbour.
We hadn’t expected to spend too long down there, but right near the cache location we discovered a second beach that we hadn’t noticed before, as it was tucked around the corner from the main beach where all the tourists and beach shops and cafes seemed to be. This beach was really beautiful, complete with its own waterfall, and the sun was just setting, so we spent a couple of hours exploring it (and almost getting ourselves cut off by the tide!). I took SO many pictures, these are just a couple, if you want to see the full set (and lots of pictures from Oakwood, Tenby and the Dinosaur Park too :), clickity click here).
Our last cache found in Wales was on the Sunday morning. This was Connor’s birthday. We hadn’t planned to geocache at all on this day – the, pretty full, agenda was to have a swim and then breakfast, then head to Tenby for a few hours, check out the National Trust Tudor merchant’s house there, and then go on to the Dinosaur Park for the afternoon. But then I noticed that, less than 2 miles from our hotel, there was a cache called #117 Birthday Boy! How could we resist???
This one was in the woods, inland a bit, and boy, it was dark and dingy in there! Given it was about 10am and broad daylight, it was a surprise to find that I had to use a flash to take pictures. Otherwise they ended up like this – Connor looks like the Predator :)
Connor took on log writing duty in the birthday boy cache, of course, as he was the birthday boy, and he was writing it for ages, so the next finders will have had quite an essay to read.
The following weekend, Jay and I had a rare treat – some kid-free geocaching time :)
Reece had gone down to Dorset to spend a week at his granny’s house, and Connor was having a sleepover with his pal Oliver (who you will see more of a little later on in this post)
We had been enjoying our freedom since early afternoon, and had already been to the movies to see Inception (great film!) which was a long old movie, so we didn’t have time, or if I’m honest the inclination, to launch into a major expedition. But we figured we could manage a couple of easy urban-ish grabs on a nice summer’s evening, and so headed off towards West Swindon to carry on with a series we had found a couple of a few months back.
The One Near The Pond, very close by. I didn't see a pond there, which is odd. But there was a lil' stream and a lil' bridge.
In fact the lil' bridge was soooo tiny it was smaller than a nano cache and a 5 pence piece, look:
Caches #119-#124 for us were on the West Side Story series. Here's the link for the first one - West Side Story 1 Cache in the Attic - we did this one and #s 2 - 6 today. We found #s 7 and 8 back in May, so that just leaves us 9, 10 and the bonus to find some other day.
And we did find this rather cool sculpture thingy en route.
We made our find count for the day up to 8 with a micro in Asda carpark, as we pulled in to pick up some food for tea - #125 Off Yer Trolley West Swindon. I don’t know about you, but I always feel kind of unclean doing these blatantly just-for-the-numbers caches. This one was a film can stuck behind a waste bin in the corner of the car park. I certainly can’t say it enriched my life. We didn’t need the smiley that much. I kind of wish we hadn’t bothered….
We put the bike back in the car once he'd had enough of the falling off part, and went looking for a couple of the caches in the park.
The first one, #126 Swat Me?, was a tricky little fella to track down. Not least because, as it turned out, it had been dislodged from its hidey hole, and therefore the hint, which we had looked at after searching fruitlessly for a while, was making us look in all the wrong places.
I reckon we were looking for almost half an hour in the end for this one, and we weren’t far off giving up when I spotted the tiniest glint of blue on the floor almost totally buried with leaves and dirt. It was the cache, a nano sized bison tube attached to something you’d swat :) We put him back where he should have been, and moved on to the next cache.
This next one was called Mine’s a Cornetto Please, hidden by the same person responsible for Swat Me?, Silverkonsulent, and just as tricky to find. So tricky, in fact, that we eventually had to admit defeat as Connor was getting bored, and we noticed that its last few logs were DNFs so wondered if it had been muggled. We logged a DNF of our own and slunk off home. I’m definitely going to give this one another try, though, next time we are at the park, as the cache owner has confirmed it is still there, and a few people have found it since.
The following Wednesday, both Jay and I had the day off work (yippee!), so we went for a day trip to Oxford for O fortnight. As Reece was still away, Connor brought a friend along, Oliver, the young chap whose house he had been to for a sleepover the previous Saturday. As usual, our day wasn’t focussed around geocaching (the main purpose of our trip was to visit Oxford Castle), but we did find a couple while we were out and about.
Appleton Amble (link takes you to number 1 of 3)
This was a really nice walk, around a mile and a half all in, through fields, some very pretty woodland (which is apparently even more gorgeous in bluebell season), and back past a lovely little church.
Always a bonus ;)
And finally for July (and one day into August), we went back down to Dorset for the weekend, to pick up Reece after his week’s holiday by the sea (lucky boy!).
On the Saturday, we took a boat trip from Poole to Brownsea Island, owned by the National Trust, and famous for being the birthplace of scouting. 'tis a lovely place.
There are actually three caches on the island, but we only had three hours there, and we wanted to have time to explore at our own pace rather than solely rush around looking for tupperware, so we just went after the main prize, a large sized cache (the first of those we have found) that was placed back in 2001. It’s always fun to find caches that have been around since the game’s earliest days.
This was #131 BP’s Brownsea Island. The “BP” in the name refers to Lord Baden-Powell.
Sadly, despite being a massive container, there was no non-rubbish swag in here, and all the travel bugs listed are missing too. I suspect the visiting cubs and scouts know exactly where this one is – it’s not exactly hard to spot now that the rhododendron bush it lives under has died a death leaving the cache very exposed – and they probably clean it out regularly. We put 5 or 6 items in to fill it back up, hopefully they’ll not get swiped.
We had a funny exchange as we approached ground zero for this one, I had the GPS around my neck with a very noticeable geocaching.com lanyard on it, and the kids were rooting around in the bushes, so it was fairly obvious what we were doing. Two park rangers suddenly appeared, approached us and asked if we were “looking for the geo box”. Both kids immediately said “no!”, having been trained to be discrete around non geocachers (“muggles”). I knew the game was up though, and said “mayyyybe…..” :) they then insisted on helpfully showing us exactly where it was :) Which kind of spoiled the hunt a bit, but never mind, like I said, now the rhodie is dead it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb anyway. And they were very nice and friendly, so I’ll let them off :)
Lulworth Cove. I’m surprised we haven’t found this one sooner, given how often we visit Lulworth. Just a tad smaller than the Baden Powell one :)
Corfe Common (Dorset) really was great, in both size and quality.
The hiders, ‘Gary & Jane’, were also responsible for the Grange Arch cache we found back in May, and on the basis of our two experiences with their caches so far, we will certainly be looking for more next time we are down Dorset way. They seem to favour biiiig boxes filled to the brim with great swag, and in some really spectacular locations. What more could you ask? Both of their caches that we have done so far have been multis also, which are always fun. And another nice touch, if you leave a nice log on their caches, Jane sends you a lovely email to say thanks. She seems like a really nice person.
This cache involved a great walk around the outside of Corfe Castle and around Corfe village, gathering clues (one was at the well where you can see Connor and Reece taking a breather in the pic above), and then a fair little hike up onto the common, past a few Neolithic burial mounds, I do love those, and then up onto the ridge where we found the super-sized cache.
|180 degree panorama shot from up on the common....you might need to click on this to see it properly|
After finding the cache, we wandered back down the hill and spent a few happy hours exploring the castle itself, we've always been too tight to go inside before, but now we have National Trust membership, it's free :) It would have been well worth it even if we had had to pay.
We're aiming for 200 caches found by the end of the year, so there will be plenty to blog about.