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Archive for March, 2009

A quick cache at the NEC

We had some free tickets to the Homebuilding and Renovation Show at the NEC so stopped by for a quick cache on the way into the show.

Handily enough, the cache was literally half way on the walk from the car park to the show hall (I could not have planned it better myself!). The clue indicated it was a bench cache so we were hoping no-one was sat on it as it was a nice sunny day and it is a nice spot for a sit down.

Our luck was in and we managed to palm the cache in between passing muggles.

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We had an email from a new cache finder who has 19 finds yesterday. They had done all the legwork on our Newport By Numbers cache but could not find the cache.

What they described sounded like the right area to be looking but we know the cache can be quite a tricky one to find. This is deliberate as we suspect quite a few dog-walkers go past GZ and we don’t want the cache being found accidentally.

Anyway, the conundrum was do we go and check on the cache, given it was a relative newbie and they could easily have missed it or do we wait for another DNF before checking on it.

As luck would have it, I needed to go into town for some petrol so made a diversion on the way to check on the cache. Sure enough, it was tucked up all snug in it’s hiding place and waiting for someone to come and find it.

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This morning, as I was settling down to the day’s work I spotted three caches within 10 miles of home that had just come out. I could not resist.

10 minutes later and I was at GZ for the first one, by the Shropshire Union canal in a field. I scanned all around the abandoned hut at the side of the field but could not find the cache. I gave up and went on to the second cache, which was not far away.

For the second cache, it was a 0.35 walk over some very flat fields. I was soon at GZ and had a quick find of the nicely hidden cache. Just when you think you have seen all variations on a hide, a new one comes along!

I then returned to the Jeep and went back to check again on cache 1, but still could not find it.

A short drive later and I was nearing the third cache. It was in some lovely woodland that we had eyed for a cache hide ourselves ages ago but never got round to taking it further. Anyway, the woodland turned out to be just as lovely as I was expecting and I soon had the cache in hand.

When I got back home, I emailed the cache owner of the one I could not find for any further clues they may have. An hour or so later they replied to apologise that they had had problems with the cache and had only actually hidden it an hour or so *after* I had been to look for it – doh!

I dashed out again, confident I knew all the places to look for it now and sure enough, found the cache in double-quick time.

That’s now 3 FTF’s for the day – very satisfying :-).

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I was sat in the office working all day Monday, looking out of the window at the beautiful weather and wishing I was out walking instead.

It came to 4pm and with my Inbox zero’d, I could wait no longer. A nice set of 9 caches on a 5 mile round walk in the hills behind Stone came out a few days ago, which looked perfect!

I was soon at the first cache, which was a quick and easy drive-by. I then re-positioned for two more drive-by’s and then set off on foot up the hill to the next cache. Another quick find after walking though a rather muddy farmyard.

I then back-tracked to the other side of the road and the next section of the trail. The first one here was in a beautiful little dingle, with the first signs of bluebells coming though all around. I have to say, dingle’s at this time of year (or perhaps a few weeks later) are my absolute favourite location for a cache.

I then climbed up the path out of the dingle and up to the top of the hill half a mile away, where the next cache was. Another quick find with great views all around – Cannock Chase, The Wrekin, Welsh hills and most of North Shropshire and Cheshire were all in clear view. Fabulous!

After that, it was a quick find of the three final caches in the series: a micro, a nano and finally a small sized cache back up in the hills (but on the other side to where I was earlier).

It was not quite dark yet so I thought I’d pop the few miles up the road to try the new cache at Trentham Gardens and then reccie the 4/4.5 cache high above the Beech caves.

Trentham had shut for the day but I saw a group of joggers jump the gate and go off running so assumed access was ok on foot. I climbed up through the woods to the monument at the top of the hill, where the cache was. I found the cache after a short search and climbed back down to the Jeep.

A short drive later I was pulling up at Beech caves by the M6 in the dark. I did not think I’d be able to get the cache as you really need rope etc etc as the cache is at the top of a big cliff high above the caves. I set off with headtorch and a handheld portable lighthouse to check out what was required in anticipation of a return visit.

As I got to GZ the cache looked do-able from below so I climbed up to the top to see how it looked from up there. There appeared to be quite a few tree roots to use as handholds and a shelf by the cache, so I reckoned I could get it now.

Sure enough, with a bit of care, it was an easy grab. I took the cache back up to the top to do the business before returning it to it’s hidey-hole.

A very satisfying few hours caching in some lovely countryside.

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It was the middle of Sunday afternoon and I still had not got rid of the caching bug for the week, so had to go out and find a couple more caches.

Luckily, there were two new ones not far from home – one on the Shropshire Union canal between Adderley and Market Drayton and one just north of Audlem in Cheshire.

Freya was at a loose end, so we put our bikes into the Jeep and headed off for the first cache. We parked to the north and set off for the 0.67 ride down the towpath to GZ. A really nice spot for a cache with nothing but tranquil fields to look at.

We then drove over to the next one and walked down the PF. This cache is a bit naughty as you have to walk quite a way off the PF and then jump a barbed wire fence into an obviously private woods to get to the cache. Luckily it was a quick find and we were out of the area we should not be in very quickly.

Now, back home in time for tea.

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After being in Lancashire doing the Witton Weavers Way caches for the last few weekends, we fancied a total change of scenery this weekend. The area around Lichfield caught my eye as quite a few new caches had come out there recently.

Our first target was the two short series along the canals near Fradley Junction: the first set along the Trent & Mersey canal and the second along the Coventry canal.

We parked to the north of the caches and set off on our bikes down the towpath. Lovely countryside round here and a beautiful day weather-wise too – perfect.

All the caches were easy finds as there are not that many places to hide caches along busy canals. The highlight of the ride for me was seeing the old hangars at the old Lichfield WW2 disused airfield on the other side of the Coventry canal. I’ve often used these as a visual waypoint when flying to the SE from Barton or Liverpool, so it was great to see them close-up.

Next, we popped over to find a puzzle cache, Film Preview. The hiding place was obvious but no cache was anywhere to be found. We even used a PAF, who confirmed the obvious place for the cache, but it looks like it might have been so obvious, it has been muggled.

Next, it was three quick caches near a business park, before setting off on the March Mayhem series. These are some more challenging caches that have sneaky hides and no hints on the cache page.

It started off well with an easy find of a regular sized cache box. The next one was going to be tricky as it was hidden in a holly bush and looked to be a hanging nano. Hmmm … not our favourite type, but what the heck, it’s a smiley. We eventually found the top part of a nano attached to a branch, but the bottom was nowhere to be seen. It’s only when we got home that we saw others had had the same problem and that the cache was temp’d.

The rest of the series was uneventful apart from some very sneaky hides and both Isaac and myself picking up puncture on our bikes. In hindsight, we should have left them in the Jeep and gone to find the caches on foot.

After we’d completed the series, we fancied some shamelessly easy drive-by’s so set off to do the nearby M42 caches. These are all small sized and hidden in the guard rail near the motorway. Caching does not get any easier than this: I did not even have to get out of the Jeep for some of them as Isaac was out and finding them immediately.

Just time for the Bodymoor Heath (what a great name for a place!) canal series before we head off home, so off we set. A beautiful section of canal that was quite busy with muggles as it was tea-time and everyone seemed to want a walk here.

Some more sneaky hides along here made this set good fun. Isaac then directed us onto the M6 Toll for the journey home. As we passed Brownhills, I remembered we had one M6 Toll cache left to find (it had been muggled last time I looked for it) so we exited the motorway and went off for another very easy find.

41 finds for the day.

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We only had the Turton Section (minus 1 cache we had already found on the section) to go to complete the Witton Weavers Way series of Letterboxes, so the choice of where to go caching this weekend was obvious.

We parked up not far from the flagship cache and got the bikes out for the northward section of the trail along the old tramline. The first cache of the day was a Dragon Quest one, which was on the way to the flagship cache. A nice easy one to get us started.

The flagship cache was another easy find, with some great views over the area, as befits a flagship cache. We then carried on along the trail, with a series of straightforward finds.

About half way along, we’d just started to look for another Dragon Quest cache when we spotted a lone figure coming down the hill towards us. It was Bob Adams, a cacher from Leeds. Great to meet you Bob!

After we’d found the cache, we carried on in opposite directions, but would meet up with Bob later on. The rest of the caches down to Old Man’s Hill were easy enough and all had great views, which was a bonus. We particularly liked the aerial views of Belmont Reservoir and it’s islands.

We then back-tracked to where we’d parked the Jeep, bumping into Bob again at the cache just before the Jeep. The next three caches were rumoured to be the trickiest of the Turton Section, so we went mob-handed with Bob to find them.

Charter’s Moss was a very tricky find – it was in a really mossy, rooty area and unfortunately previous finders had made a right mess of the area, ripping up moss and throwing it all over the place. It’s a real shame to see cachers do such damage to a lovely area.

We then went back to the Jeep for some soup and sandwiches, before setting off on the next section of the walk: up the hill to where the Trig cache was. The first cache on the hill, Snake’s Nest, had had lots of DNF’s but was a really easy find for us as Bob had already found it and kindly left his calling card to indicate where it was hidden. Nice one Bob :-).

As we climbed the hill, the views began to unfold, resulting in full 360 degree views from by the trigpoint at the top. We could see the whole of Manchester mapped out before our eyes and sat for a while pointing our interesting things on the horizon to each other.

We carried on down the other side of the hill, finding more caches as we went. After a good while, we arrived back at the Jeep. We’d chosen a circular route round the hill, taking in all the new caches and a couple of existing caches as well. The take-away menus as the themed Lizzardman Curry cache made our mouths water and made us look forward to the curry that was awaiting us at home even more.

A short drive up the A666 and we were at the start of the walk for the final 4 caches of the series. Up the hill we went and soon had all 4 bagged, along with yet another Dragon Quest cache.

Wow – that’s the Witton Weavers Way series complete – 157 caches and something like 48+ miles of first class walking. Caching does not get any better than this. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series and would class it as some of the very best caching we’ve done.

On the way back down to Bolton and onwards to home, we stopped for 3 quick drive-by’s as they were right on the route we were taking.

An excellent day out on a very tricky and challenging section of the Witton Weavers Way.

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