Archive for June, 2009

The weather for the weekend was forecast to be absolutely awful but we could not let the weekend pass without going out caching. I work from home during the week so getting out and about at the weekend is an absolute necessity for me, otherwise I’d slowly drive myself nuts.

During the week, we spotted a new series by The Strangler, just south of King’s Norton in the countryside just outside the urban sprawl of Birmingham. The caches are based around the albums from the band The Stranglers, with most caches containing a clue needed for the Bonus cache to the series. There were also quite a few other caches we had not done in the area so it looked perfect.

We set off from home in heavy rain, armed with full waterproofs as it looked like we were going to need them. The first cache was a drive-by, not far from the M42 junction, so we donned our waterproofs and jumped out of the Jeep for an easy find.

Next, it was a short drive to the next one, which was just into a field near the road. We then headed 0.25 along the public footpath, up the hill to the next one. By this time we were thoroughly soaked and beginning to question our wisdom of coming caching in such awful weather.

Needless to say, we struggled with this one as it was in a very slippery place and you had to stand in what would normally be a shallow stream to get the cache. Today it was anything but shallow! We were not having fun at all so decided to give the cache up and return to the Jeep to decide what to do.

Back in the warmth of the Jeep, we had a good look at Memory Map and decided to hit drive-by’s and cache and dashes in the vain hope the weather would improve and we could consider longer walks to caches.

A couple of M42 Motorway caches followed. We had a nightmare at the second one as it was one of those tiny dog-tag holder nanos. After a struggle, we got the logbook out and signed it, but could we get it back in the container? Of course not. The more we tried, the soggier and harder to get back in it became. We ended up having to take it with us and leave the cache in situ with no logbook in it.

Next up, were more of The Strangler’s Studio 16 series, which were nice and easy, with some fab hides involving string, hooks etc etc. All good fun and very enjoyable.

The only other thing of note here was a major disaster at yet another dog tag nano. I was on the phone and Isaac was doing the biz with the cache. As he struggled to get the logbook back into the tiny container, the bottom of the container slipped out of his hand and rolled in slow-motion to the planks on a wooden bridge and down a gap between the planks. We had a good look under the bridge for it but it must have got washed away in the stream beneath. We PAF’d to the cache owner to apologise profusely and also let them know about the missing log in their M42 Motorway cache from earlier on.

The Studio 16 series was spread all around the area, with no clear route round the caches. We had worked out a rough plan to get round them and hopefully not miss any out but this changed on the fly as we went round.

Part way round, we were near the Hollywood Bypass series, so worked our way along the back roads picking these up, along with a couple of Studio 16 straggler caches.

Towards the top of the area for the series, we stopped for our sandwiches and plotted out the clues we’d collected for the Studio 16 Bonus cache. We realised we only needed one more clue for the Bonus, so worked out what the missing digit was likely to be and saw we were not too far away from it.

A short drive later (via an un-related cache) and we had an easy find of the bonus cache in the second of two co-ordinate possibilities we had. We then headed off to pick off a few more caches in the area, before we headed off into more urban areas for some fun urban caching (which we always enjoy in the suburbs of Brum).

First off, were four caches in Kings Norton. The first one was easy enough, but then we came a cropper at the next one as we had just started to look for it when some teenagers came to shelter from the rain under a nearby canal bridge. We had to abandon the search as GZ was in full view of the muggles. Hmmm!

Next was a really interesting spot a bit further down the canal where there was this really unusual guillotine style canal gate. The cache page had lots of interesting information on it that we really appreciated. We love this kind of thing.

The sister cache to the last cache foxed us though. We arrived at GZ on the edge of the canal by the site of an old swing bridge (no longer there). We searched for a while in a place that matched the hint, with co-ords down to 3ft but no cache was to be found. We gave up and have since noted that the cache is actually on the other side of the canal. No wonder we could not find it!

A few more urban caches around the southern suburbs of Brum followed, with nothing particularly special to note. All good fun though!

By this time, we were getting hungry so started to head for home, but not before picking off an inner Ring Road cache we’d had a DNF on last Christmas (it was missing last time we looked for it). We also tried for “one last cache” at a Sidetracked cache near Aston, but the cache seems to be missing as the hide was obvious, the co-ords were bang on, but no cache was there.

A great day out which we thoroughly enjoyed, despite the damp spirits at the start of the day. 31 finds too!

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I was wondering when the elusive #3 in the new 8 cache series around Apley Woods near Wellington would come out as all the rest had now been published. Mid-evening yesterday, along came the notification email so I dashed off out to try and get a FTF on it and also find the only other remaining one, #8 (we’d DNF’s this yesterday with several other cachers).

I was soon parking up, just up the road from the new Hospice and wandered down the cycle-path and into the woods. GZ seemed to be just to the left of the path as I walked into the woods. I could hear some people in their back garden just the other side of the garden fence from where my GPSr was pointing so I knew I’d have to be stealthy.

A quick creep around the undergrowth there revealed nothing. The cache had no hint so all I knew was I was looking for a small box, probably the same cylindrical shape as the others in the series and almost certainly wrapped in a black plastic bag (like the others were).

I tried the other side of the path but still could not spot it, so I decided to head off to try and find #8 while I searched my mind for inspiration on where the new #3 cache could be.

Luckily #8 was a nice quick find with the new co-ordinates. We’d searched for this one yesterday but could not find it anywhere. It turns out the cache owner had a problem with the co-ordinates under the heavy tree cover and they were just under 200ft off where they should be.

Buoyed with my success, I returned to #3 and started to re-check all the places I’d already looked. No cache. I widened the search up to about 100ft into the woods but still no cache was to be found.

By this time, I was getting a bit frustrated as there were tons of places a small cache could be in such dense woods and I was wondering how good the co-ords on the cache page were (they turned out to be pretty good in the end).

I was literally about to give up when I thought I’d have one final check of a pile of sticks / small logs just by the path as I’d not looked properly there before. Still no cache, so I decided on one final sweep of trees coming back round to the path and low and behold, there the cache was, under leaf litter at the side of a tree I’m sure I’d already checked. I was FTF too. Phew!

I returned home very satisfied with myself as that was *so* nearly a DNF and a 4th trip to these lovely woods to finish off the series.

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed my 3 trips to the woods for the series. There have been a couple of frustrating moments, but this has been more than made up for with decent sized containers, well stocked caches and a lovely walk in a great place. Well done nozi parkers for placing them!

Meanwhile, Isaac has been wanting to place a new cache near his Grandparents in Blymhill for ages so as I knew he was off there after school yesterday, I sent him with a GPSr, camera and a well stocked ammo can.

As soon as he’d placed it, he phoned me with the co-ords so I could make a start on the cache page, while he was driven back home by his Grandpa. When he got back, we both finished off the cache page, double checked everything and hit the submit button. I wonder who will be FTF? …

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After the 3 caches from the new Apley Castle series being published last night, another 4 of them came out at lunchtime today. There is still 1 yet to be published so it looks like a third visit to the area is on the books sometime soon!

We were at Halfords in sunny Telford when I spotted the new caches on the iPhone so dashed round to the area and parked up in the same fisherman’s lay-by as I did last night. Off Sarah and myself set down the path, making hard work of navigating as we’d been caught short with no proper GPSr with us – just Isaac’s very old eTrex Yellow (useless under tree cover) and my iPhone (OK, but the maps look to be from OpenStreetMap, which is worse than useless round this area).

We eventually arrived at the first cache and luckily the clue made the hide very obvious and I found the cache in the first place I looked. A nice FTF too!

Next on the list was not too far away. As we approached, two people were taking pictures of each other by the very ornate gate into the woods. As they turned round we realised it was Paul and Izzy from Izzy and the Lizard King. They had just got FTF on the nearby cache, so I did the biz with the cache while everyone chatted away.

We all set off for the next cache in the woods, which Izzy and Paul (and cannonedwards) had already DNF’d. We searched a very wide area but nothing even coming close to the hint had a cache.

We gave up and moved on to the 4th new cache. This was a nice easy find thankfully and a Joint FTF with Paul and Izzy. We all then returned to the DNF again and had an even more extensive search but the cache is nowhere to be found. We wonder if the cache owner has transposed part of the co-ords or the cache has gone missing before FTF.

We then walked with Izzy and Paul to one of the caches I got a FTF on last night before continuing on to the Jeep and heading back home for some dinner.

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I was just settling down to watch Corrie last night when quite a few caches came out not too far from home. There was #1, #6 and #7 of a series round Apley Castle near Wellington and a whole trail of caches along the old railway line between Stafford and Newport.

Decisions, decisions….

The Apley Castle ones are decent sized containers but numbers 2-5 are obviously still waiting to be published. The Stafford / Newport ones are virtually all micros (not our favourite cache size at all).

I went for the Apley Castle ones as we know the area from visiting for 4 old caches that are there (3 of these are now sadly archived) and it has a special place in our hearts as one of the first caches we ever found was there.

On the way, I had the WiFi network in the Jeep on and my iPhone constantly checking to see if numbers 2-5 had been published. By the time I arrived they still had not come out so I set off anyway.

After parking up on the A442 in the fisherman’s lay-by, I vaulted the wall and waded through chest high nettles, only to find out that there was a gate with a perfectly good path not 20ft from where I’d vaulted the wall – doh!

The first cache was a quick find, after I initially checked the wrong mossy log. A nice FTF too!

I then headed off round the lake to the next cache. This one took me a good while to find as the co-ords were pointing to the edge of the lake but after wading through the nettles and not seeing a cacher’s trail that the cache owner must have surely left when they set the cache, I spotted somewhere else on the other side of the path. A quick dive into the bushes there yielded the cache. Another FTF :-).

As I was walking off to the next cache, some muggles were coming towards me and the customary “are you geocaching” was said. It was Greygeeza – great to meet you all at last. We had a nice chat before continuing on our ways. They had got their first FTF on the remaining cache – nice one!

The last of the three caches was a really easy find. I then checked again and the missing 4 caches still had not been published. The cache pages for the ones I had found gave a few clues as to the route to follow to find the missing 4 caches, but there were just too many places to check to have a hope of finding them. If I had more time, I could probably have found one or two, but we’ll just wait for them to get published and do them properly I think.

On the way back to the Jeep, I bumped into Greygeeza again so we stopped for a chat. We lost track of the time and it was soon going dark, so we both headed off to our respective homes – they had their first FTF and I had 2 FTF’s – a good evening’s caching for everyone :-).

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After I’d finished logging Saturday’s caches, it was such a lovely day again, it would have been rude not to go out and try and tick off some of the closest to home not-founds.

We started off with a quick cache in a lovely park near Wellington. We’ve been past the park loads of times in the past but not realised just how nice it was in the park as you can’t quite see in from the road. The cache was a quick find, although I had to send Isaac creeping in for it behind a tree as a muggle fisherman was fishing on the other side of the tree.

Next, we went for a multi-cache around Wellington town center. This was based on plaques that had been put up at various interesting locations around the town. We had a great time wandering round collecting the information needed before going for an easy find on the final cache.

Isaac then directed me over towards Trench for another new cache we had not done. One our Cache Dispenser offspring used to be on the side of the lake here but is now archived. We’d done that one in the dark and not seen the lake at all, so it was great to do this cache properly and see what a lovely hidden spot this is. On the way back to the Jeep, we had to wait for a huge group of ducks to cross the path.

We then headed off down the M54 to Shrewsbury and up the A49 to Clive and the brand new Shropshire Church Gem cache there. These caches are usually pretty quick ones so we did not expect the longer walk we were about to do on this one. Not a problem, but had we known, I’d have taken some water with us as we both got pretty thirsty part way round and would have loved a drink.

The walk started off by a lovely church, which we assumed was the Church Gem we’d been brought to see. By stage 3 of the multi, we were brought to another, much bigger, church on the other side of the hill. This was the Church Gem and very nice it was too! A short walk later and we had the final cache in the bag and were heading off towards home.

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On Saturday we decided to go for snerdbe’s new caches along the canal and old railway line to the west of Wolverhampton. We then planned to go onwards to the new Essington Moat series near the M6 and then if we still had time left, head over to the Brownhills area to clear up newer caches in that area.

I’d got everything loaded up by teatime on Friday but then 7 new snerdbe caches were released, neatly completing the circular walk around their caches. I re-loaded everything so we had the new cache details with us for the trip out.

Saturday turned out to be a fabulously hot day so we set off with the bikes in the back of the Jeep as we’d read that the snerdbe caches were perfect for bikes. They were indeed!

We parked up by the old station at Tettenhall and set off on our bikes. On the way out we went down the old railway line and then returned up the nearby canal, picking up caches along the way. None were too taxing apart from one called No Fishing Allowed which was missing.

After we’d finished the series, Isaac directed us over to Essington to start on the 6 new Essington Moat caches there. At the first one we bumped into another cacher – great to meet you Loony Phoenix. The rest were nice and easy with well chosen hides and good views all around. At the last one, we stopped for our sandwiches (no soup today – it’s way too hot to be having soup!).

Next, we headed off into Bloxwich for what turned out to be a total disaster caching-wise. Litter, bad hides, thorns, nettles etc etc made for a couple of DNF’s on the run. This is not what caching is about, so we gave up looking for any more caches in the area and moved on to a more rural location towards Brownhills (*much* better).

On the way we picked up our first Walsall Church Gem (we did a few more later in the day). We parked up for a nice circular walk over open fields, which turned out to be the perfect tonic for the frustrating last few DNF’s.

One of the caches on the walk turned out to be very eventful as Isaac ended up shin deep in a brook and not too happy about it. He could see the funny side of it later and is still telling everyone about it now :-).

The next cache had been found by muggle children, who had signed the log and mentioned they were going to look up geocaching on the internet. Makes a refreshing change from taking the cache home or just trashing it in-situ.

On the way back to the Jeep we had yet another DNF. The hide was clear and we checked with a previous finder, before getting the Jeep alongside the sign the cache should have been hidden in so I could climb up a bit higher and fully check the bars on the back of the sign for the cache. It was not there.

We still had an hour or so spare, so Isaac suggested we head off to the center of Walsall for some fun urban caching now all the shoppers would be going home for their tea and the evenings drinkers would not yet have arrived.

We had great fun (not!) near the town center as Isaac was directing us using Memory Map, which does not show one-way roads. Needless to say the place was full of one-way roads and after going past the same spot 4 times, we gave up and parked in the nearest legal place and set off on foot.

We had a lovely hour or so wandering round the town picking up caches. Lots of them were pretty big containers for a town center hide, which we loved as it shows the cache hider has put a bit of thought into the cache instead of chucking the ubiquitous 35mm container out (yawn!).

By the time we’d done all the town center caches, we were getting hungry and it was heading towards tea time, so we headed for the M6 and the journey home. 35 finds for the day.

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