Isaac had a day off Saturday school this weekend so we both were looking forward to a great day out caching together. The weather was looking good due to the high pressure system that is sat over the UK at the moment so we settled on a set of caches along the Oxford Canal right by the border of Warwickshire with Northampton.
We soon arrived at the first cache in the hamlet of Marston Doles. As we drove up, we spotted some handy parking right by the canal bridge – perfect! We got our bikes out of the Jeep and off we set.
The first cache was a nice easy one to get us started. There was only one place it could be and indeed that’s where it was. We then headed off along the canal towpath picking up caches as we went. All nice easy finds and all nice sized boxes, just the way we like them.
We’d planned the first part of the day to be a circular bike ride, coming off the canal near Priors Hardwick and then up to the village and back to where we started via footpaths across the fields. We were not sure if we’d manage to get the bikes down the paths on the return leg but we need not have worried as most of it was hard pack tracks, with only a few fields to walk the bikes through along the way.
Once back at the Jeep, we got back on the towpath for the 4 caches to the north of where we’d parked. The first one was muggle central when we arrived so we decided to save it for the return leg. The other three were nice easy finds – the only thing of note was a collapsed towpath at one point, making the path only about 1ft wide. On the return leg, the first cache was deserted so we had a nice quick find.
Next, we drove round to the village of Priors Hardwick to grab a quick cache by the beautiful village church.
A short drive down the road and we were at our first of the Alphanumeric Northants series. This seems to be a mirror of Messe’s excellent Alpha Quest in Oxfordshire, which we’d enjoyed finishing absolutely ages ago. We’re trying very hard not to get drawn into this series as well as Messe’s one had us doing stupid things like driving from Shropshire to Cambridge to Winchester to Oxford, all in a day and all just to pick up two essential TB’s we needed for the series.
After a short drive down to the next canal stage at the start of the Spice series, we stopped to have our sandwiches. Suitably fortified we set off on our bikes along the towpath for more caches. Nothing much to report along here apart from a very thorny path with hawthorn bits and pieces all over the place. It was only a matter of time before we got a puncture and indeed just before the last cache of this stretch Isaac got a front tyre puncture.
We stopped to mend it and noticed his back tyre had gone too. Some time later I had them both fixed and off we set, a bit more carefefully this time. Not careful enough though as he had yet another puncture within a few minutes :-(. We walked the bikes up to the bridleway over the fields (which was the quickest route back to the Jeep) and stopped to fix the puncture. I then spotted that I’d got a front tyre one myself – hmmmm!
With about an hour wasted on punctures in total we were very glad to be off this section of towpath and were soon back at the Jeep.
Just time for a few more caches before heading home so we drove round to the next section of canal caches, hoping the towpath would be better here (it was!).
As we pulled up, the area looked familiar as we were sure we’d been here to do other caches absolutely ages ago. We walked down the path to the canal and sure enough, we’d been here to do a set of Oxford Canal caches by a cacher called theblack. We had five caches along this part of the canal to do and apart from the first one, all were nice and easy as I think whoever had set them had re-used some of theblack’s locations. Everything was *very* familiar to us both.
Time was getting on by now so we headed back for the Jeep for the drive home. Isaac was navigating and took us via a final two caches along yet another canal towpath. This time we walked them as we could not be bothered getting the bikes out one more time and fancied stretching our legs before the drive home anyway.
The first was a quick find, the second took a bit longer but was a belter of a hide and easily the best hide of the day.
40 finds for the day, which is very satisfying. We’ve both had a cracking day out (despite the punctures).