But I still have some great geocaching experiences to share :)
First of all, we took our caching adventure overseas once again, back to Ireland, but to the North this time.
First, after lunch in the gorgeous Crown Saloon Bar, we found a nano cache right by the Europa Hotel – #180 Europa Hotel, Crown Bar and Grand Opera House - which turned out to be where the Bruins were staying. I was glad we read the previous logs on this one, as a lot of people reported the co-ords pointing to the wrong side of the (wide) road, and we had the same problem. We had to resort to the hint in the end, which I didn’t understand at all, but Tracy and Jay got it straight away (it was something to do with sensors… )
On the way we picked up a particularly unexciting cache – a film tub chucked under a bush in amongst piles of litter. Lovely. Not. This one was #181 May Street (George VI Memorial), if you’re planning a trip to Belfast and want to avoid it.
Our next find was much nicer – as was the approach to it along the Lagan Towpath. We passed a nice fountain, and a giant bottle top sculpture, and some cool totem pole style signs. I expected the towpath to be running alongside a canal, but instead it turned out we were walking by a whopping great big river. It was so tranquil and calm down here within just a few minutes walk of the city centre, I’m surprised we didn’t see more people out enjoying this walk on a Saturday afternoon.
The cache itself - #182 The Gasworks - was a good size, always a nice surprise to find a proper trading cache in or near a city centre – and we dropped off a troll travel bug here.
We just had time to pick up one more cache on the way back to the hotel before the big game, #183 St Geo’s Harbour, and it was a little cracker.
Can you see it?
How about now?
Bibury. We braced ourselves for a fiendishly difficult search, and likely failure, only to end up finding the cache really easily exactly at ground zero, what an anti climax! I don’t think that the easy find was down to any stupendous caching genius on our part, as looking back over previous logs, it appears that a few other people agree that it really doesn’t deserve its 4.5 stars. It was placed in 2002, and the cache description implies that the extra stars were given due to tree cover. Maybe our modern GPS is just more able to deal with the distractions?
|There's the giant bull. Eek.|
This is absolutely our favourite kind of cache – a decent walk through beautiful surroundings with a nice big box at the end of it – yet we were the first people to find it in over three months, and at the time of writing this, it’s gone almost two months again without a finder since our visit. What a pity that these great experience caches are overlooked nowadays in favour of a quickie in Tesco’s car park :(
|the jay had been perched on that gate post in the right of the photo, we were trying to get our picture taken with him but he suddenly went camera shy :)|
A Quick Flash In Stow. This started at 10 am and lasted for precisely 10 minutes (this ending at 10/10/10 10:10 :) ), and was a tremendous amount of fun! For somebody as socially inept as me, a ten minute event is perfect – no long awkward silences :) We were able to put some faces to names and meet a few new people, and we also met a trackable dog named Flo :) Plus the kids got “discovered” a few times in their travel bug t-shirts. Big thanks to Walk Tall for organising this one, we all enjoyed it.
28-Days-Later style urban exploration photos, but it was pretty well boarded up. It looks like the local kids have a lot of fun running around the area playing their own version of Counterstrike, as there were BB gun pellets everywhere!
The actual cache - #187 UPPER Cache, Proud History - was a straightforward find close to the Officers Mess. And as usual the boys enjoyed having a good rummage through the contents.
Hell-Fire Caves as an early Halloween treat for the boys (we weren’t going to be with them at actual Halloween as Connor was off to Ireland to see his granny, and Reece was staying at his mum’s house to trick or treat with his school mates). The caves were absolutely brilliant, especially decked out in their Halloween finest. We also loved the nearby church with its golden globe (this caught the sunlight brilliantly and is visible for miles around as it is at the top of a hill), and the octagonal mausoleum built by Francis Dashwood, the leader of the infamous Hellfire Club back in the 1700s.
Close to the mausoleum we found #188 Hellfire’s Globe - another old cache, hidden back in 2002. This one took a bit of finding but we got there in the end with the help of the hint.
An Unusual Parking Job. The cache was hidden on the chassis of an abandoned pick up truck quite deep into the forest. It was indeed an unusual place to park :) I particularly liked the graffiti’d trees around the car. It all had a bit of a Mad Max vibe going on :) Fun! I love this hobby. How else would we have found this exact spot?
Central Park just a minute or two after Slogger007, he was just signing the log when we got there. Drat. Foiled again! (That will teach me for picking Connor up from after school club first, I should have gone straight there :) ). It certainly wasn’t a wasted visit, however, as the cache hunt took us to a really nice park that I hadn’t known about before, and Connor had a good play there for a while before we headed off for home. We also found the Blondini statue that used to be in the town centre years ago – apparently this is where it was relocated to. Nice to see it again.
Then two days later, the weather was cold but dry, and I had time to nip out on one of my Friday lunchtime solo caching adventures, which was fun.
The cache I chose was #191 Two Degrees West – Merchants Downs. This was my second Two Degrees West cache – I’d love to do more, having enjoyed the book so much, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, as my log online shows:
|view from the parking spot for the 2DW cache, looking down into the valley|
I love Fridays :) Because dress down day in the office is the only chance I get to do a bit of lunchtime geocaching, and today was a great example of that. A proper little midday adventure.
I’m surprised that nobody else has gone looking for this cache in months – it’s not that far from civilisation (after all I managed to get there, take a leisurely walk down, take some piccies on my phone, find the cache, wander about for a bit trying to get the exact 2 degrees west co-ords to show up on my GPS, clamber back up the hill, and be back at my desk in Cirencester all within an hour (just!)). And the walk takes you through some stunning countryside - plus it’s related to the fab 2 Degrees West book (which I bought and read and LOVED after finding a previous 2 Degrees West cache)
At least if anyone has been put off going to look for it as it hasn’t had a find since July, I can confirm it’s definitely still there – in fact it was a very easy find as it was pretty exposed – I tried to re-hide it a bit better, but I doubt it’s at much risk from muggles down there. It is in excellent condition, all nice and dry and tidy.
I took a cute little old butter knife that reminds me of one I had as a child (strange thing to find in a cache, but I’m glad I did), and replaced it with two bouncy balls as that’s all I had on me (wasn’t really expecting to trade today as I had no kiddies in tow). I also found a lovely feather just near the cache, so am taking that home as another souvenir of my adventure :)
I actually got a reading of W 001 99 989 or something along those lines at the cache site, but I was determined to get my W 002 00 000 photo, so ended up having to wade across the little stream… I was a bit bedraggled by the time I got back to the office, but nobody seemed to notice / mind.
Thanks RoobyDoo for yet another quality cache!
On Sunday October 24th, we set out to break our personal best of most cache types found in a single day. To be honest, we didn’t have to try very hard, as our previous best was a paltry two :) And today we smashed that – finding 5 different types – go us!
The location for our record breaking expedition was Avebury, its stone circles and surrounds, always a great place to visit at any time of the year, but especially so on a gloriously sunny Autumn day.
Avebury Inner Eye - yet another 2002 placement, we found a lot of oldies this month. Unfortunately the webcam itself was down for maintenance - pah - but the cache owners were happy to accept a virt-style qualifying photo instead.
Next, an even older one – a virtual cache placed in 2001 - #193 Avebury Stone Circle – this is apparently the 3rd oldest virtual in England, and the 30th oldest cache of any type. There was a twist to this one which was partly funny and partly a bit of an anti-climax, but to tell you what the twist is would be a bit of a spoiler, you’ll have to find it yourself :)
For our traditional cache, we chose #194 Betwixt Stones and High Place. This one involved walking along the muddiest path in the world, ever. But the cache was a nice one, and we were rewarded with a brilliant view of Silbury Hill on the walk over to the cache site:
Lockeridge Dene Earthcache (our #195). This was based upon a field of glacial erratics – Sarsen stones (see, I’m learning something from all these earthcaches :) ), quite a spectacular location, and fun for photo ops too...:)
Nearby, #196 Chocolate Box Cottage, a multi cache, completed our 5 types in one day challenge.
That was fun! What can we do to top that?
How about finding caches in 6 different counties in one day? And they all have to be counties we have never cached in before.
So, that’s exactly what Jay and I planned to do on Saturday 30th October – on our way up to Lincoln for our second weekend away without the kids in the same month! I could get used to this:)
Our quest didn’t start off too well, our first two caches were DNFs.
Max’s Swap Box 3 – this was to be our find in Worcestershire, but unfortunately it had been muggled – we found its camo bag but no sign of the cache (the CO has since archived it). As we were on a fairly tight schedule, and we figured we could come back to Worcestershire easily enough another day as it’s very close to Jay’s house, we decided to press on. So we re-adjusted our ambition from 6 counties in a day to 5, and drove onward to the West Midlands.
I have to confess that made a bit of a boo boo with the selection of our West Midlands cache – Hatchford Brook, Bell Walk - I had looked for recent DNFs (it didn’t have any, good sign), but I had failed to notice that the last FOUND date was in May. And unsurprisingly, we didn’t find it, I think it was long gone :( . I can’t believe, given the regularity with which it had been found before May, and its location very close to a built up area, that nobody at all had searched for it over the entire summer. So how come not one person had posted a DNF??? There’s no shame in it, people! The CO responded very quickly after we posted our DNF log, confirmed the cache missing and replaced it. This could have been dealt with much sooner if people had bothered to log their lack of a find. Ah well.
We weren’t going to give up on the West Midlands as easily as we gave up on Worcestershire, so after that 2nd DNF we went after another West Mids cache and got our first find of the day, woohoo!!
Riverside Ramble 5 in Solihull. It was a nice easy find once we got there, but on heading for the parking spot, and pointing out a block of flats where one of my ex boyfriends used to live when I should have been concentrating on my driving, I ended up driving down a “buses only” road and getting pulled over and ticked off by the long arm of the law. Luckily the policemen were nice, and once they had established we were from distant country yokel parts, they let us off with just a mildly stern look and a warning not to rely too heavily on the sat nav, to the exclusion of noticing big signs that say BUSES ONLY! Sorry officers!
Next on our route was Staffordshire – specifically #198 the Tamworth Two’s Bridleway/Footpath Stroll #1. This one had a super cool container :)
the Ashby Ghost. This was by a really lovely old graveyard which we enjoyed exploring and photographing. We had some lunch here too.
Next on our whistlestop tour of the country was a milestone cache for us – #200 Feeling Flakey, in Stanton by Dale, Derbyshire. We really are the slowest cachers on earth, as it has taken us almost 3 years to reach 200 finds (some people do that in a week!). Never mind, slow and steady wins the race and all that :) We like playing this game at our own pace.
The Hemlock Stone – Fact or Fiction. This was probably our favourite cache of the day as the location was so fascinating.
The Hemlock Stone has been proven to have been deposited on Stapleford Hill, opposite Bramcote Hills, in the early Triassic Period over 200 million years ago. Many theories surround how the Stone came into being.
Against this research, some argue that it is the work of the Devil.
Houses of the Holy. I really wanted to find this one purely because I liked the name, having listened to a lot of Led Zep in my wasted youth. And it was in a lovely location overlooked by the gorgeous cathedral. But we looked and looked (feeling rather uncomfortable as Ground Zero seemed to be very close to some residential front gardens and the whole area was muggle central) and came up empty handed :( . I notice that, following a couple more DNFs after ours, the cache owner has now confirmed the cache had gone walkies and has replaced it.
Very close by, though, was the rather unattractively named but pleasantly situated nano cache #202 THE CURSE OF THE FTF LINCOLNSHIRE #11 (there’s no need to shout, Mr Cache Hider!). I was quite chuffed with this one as it was a tricky lil devil, and I found it before Jay spotted it, which is unusual as his cacher’s eye is much better than mine. This was around the back of the Cathedral which afforded us another less touristy view of this stunning building.
This was our last cache find of the weekend, and it was #203 Off The Wall. We found a nice big geocoin in there, which was a pleasant surprise as it hadn’t yet been logged into the cache.
We did get up to a grand total of 20 UK counties cached in, though, which made me happy :) And here's our new map - looking good!
So – onto November – we didn’t get out too much this month, partly as we have been busy doing other stuff at the weekends, and partly because of the coooooooooold weather. In fact we didn’t find our first cache this month until the 12th.
A Cunning Cache # 5 at Coate Water on the previous Sunday, but sadly we couldn’t find it. A little TOO cunning for us, maybe? Especially as we were all freezing and didn’t want to spend more than a couple of minutes searching. It has been found since, so I know it’s there, we will have to go back and try again one day. We made up for the DNF by going on the train - I love the Coate Water train :) ('twas blinking cold going round, mind)
So on to Friday the 12th, and another lunchtime expedition around Cirencester, which very nearly turned into a total blank. The first cache I attempted turned out to be across a VERY muddy field, and I didn’t have my walking boots with me, so I abandoned that idea. And the second, at a church, I could see exactly where the cache was, but couldn’t retrieve it as there were workmen there giving me very suspicious looks. So that one was also postponed until another day.
Off Yer Trolley, Cirencester Extra. I had no intention of ever bothering to look for this one, but desperate times call for desperate measures!
And actually, you know what? it wasn’t all that bad – it was a small trading cache for a start, not a micro, and it was in a tree by a stream at the back of the car park, which was fairly pleasant. Compared to the film tub shoved down the back of a bin I found in an ASDA car park once (which put me right off this Off Yer Trolley series), it was positively picturesque!
First up, though, we picked up #205 Meysey Hampton, a regular, that wasn’t part of the series, but was very close to where we parked our car. This one seems to have been discovered by the locals, as there were some rather, um, “colourful” entries in the log! But it has been otherwise left intact.
MH8 1-8. This was a really nice stroll around a lovely part of the countryside on a chilly but sunny autumn day. Just the ticket!
Wookey Hole earthcache (it would have been rude not to as we were right there). And all you had to do was have your photo taken in front of the car park sign and then answer a couple of questions that we picked up the answers to on our cave tour. Easy peasy.
Welcome To Wells – Tor Hill. It was also the location of filming for the accident scene in Hot Fuzz, apparently, I’ll have to watch the film again (yarp), to see if I recognise it. I’ll be pointing at the screen and yelling “there’s a cache in that bit of ivy there!” :)
Sapperton Canal Tunnel - was a DNF. I know it’s there, as a finder a few days after me has logged it with a “nice quick easy find, thank you” (don’t you just hate that when you’ve just DNF’d it?? ), but I couldn’t find it. Pah. I couldn’t look as long as I would have liked, though, to be fair as, after a couple of minutes of searching, I looked up to see a grumpy old bloke staring at me suspiciously from the top of the tunnel entrance, and I thought I’d better skedaddle before he called the Neighbourhood Watch out on me or something. I’ll have to get back out there on another lunchbreak and have a better look.
Lengthman’s Round House – and am pleased to report that I actually found that one, yay! And it was my bessie mate Alison’s first cache too – well sort of – as she was on the phone chatting to me as I found it :) That counts, right?
On the Saturday, in complete contrast to the lovely sunny Friday, it was freeeeezing, and foggy too. So we only braved the one cache. Fair weather cachers, us :)
This Way Or That – we soon realised why the area is virtually cache free. The wood is very young – planted in the 1990s – and therefore rather sparse, so no decent cover for caches – the one we found was pretty much right out in the open rather half heartedly covered up with a small plank. Plus, well, it’s just not very pretty. So we decided against it as a potential spot for our new letterbox hybrid.
But we did enjoy the cache that’s already in there, despite the chilly weather, it was a good size and had some good swag inside, Reece got himself a brand new pair of school scissors which he needed anyway, so that was handy. And I left another of our signature items in there. Nope – that one’s not been picked up yet either. This was actually The Chaos Crew’s second attempt at this cache, as Connor and I nearly went after it back in early 2008 – but just as we pulled up in the car park the heavens opened and we decided to go back home and look for the cache another day. I didn’t expect it would take us almost 3 years!