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Archive for October, 2009

We could not decide on where to go caching on Saturday. The weather did not look too great all over the UK but seemed it might be better the further south you were.

We’d seen a new series of 40 or so caches on a nice looking circular walk in the Cotswold’s come out a week or two ago so this sounded like it might be for us today. It’s quite a bit further than we usually go, but after checking the approximate walking time with someone who had already done the caches it looked like it was eminently possible.

We did not arrive at the starting point until 11am as it did indeed take quite a while to get there, not helped being stuck behind a really slow car towing a caravan for most of the journey from the motorway. The road was too windy to get past them safely so we were stuck.
We parked up by the bonus cache dummy co-ords in the middle of the village and got our waterproofs on as it was raining lightly. The series is split into two loops, one to each end of the village. We decided to tackle the northern loop in the morning as it looked slightly longer, return to the Jeep for our sandwiches and then do the southern loop later on. Each cache has a clue in which then gives you the co-ords for the bonus cache.

As we approached the first cache, we realised it was the one you were supposed to do after you had finished the series and on the walk back to the car. Doh – looks like we’ll be doing the series backwards, which we often seem to do.

After this cache, there was something like a 0.7 mile gap until the next cache (which was the last cache in the main series). We were chatting on the way and suspected the bonus cache was somewhere along this stretch as we could see no other reason not to have at least one other cache here. As we walked along, we spotted a really nice spot for a cache and Isaac saw a likely looking cache tree. A quick pop round the back of the said tree and we could see some camo bag sticking out of a hole :-). Bingo – we’d found the bonus cache!

We then carried on round the rest of the caches in the loop as intended. It was still drizzling but we had out waterproofs on and were nice and snug. All the caches were incredibly easy finds. We found this when we did the UK Mega series and wondered if all caches down south are this easy or just the ones on the bigger circular walks. Either way, we appreciated it as the last thing you want is a long search while on a long walk.

All too soon we arrived back at the Jeep for dinner. The rain had just about stopped and there were small glimpses of blue sky. We had our sandwiches, stocked up with more drinks for the next part of the walk and off we set.

The final loop had slightly more terrain to it as the bottom end of the walk was by some lovely woodland overlooking the whole area. When I say slightly more terrain, it was only a gentle slope and nothing much. Several more easy finds later and we were back at the Jeep.

It was about 4pm now so we decided to start heading home as it would take a few hours to get back, but not before a quick Sidetracked cache not far from where we parked.

Isaac then guided us back to Stow in the Wold and the main road north to the M40 by Warwick. He took us via a couple of quick drive-by’s in Stow and then another Sidetracked in Moreton in the Marsh. We loved the towns in the area with their gorgeous yellow tinted stone buildings. Moreton was especially nice.

Just before we got to the M40, Isaac took us round the airfield at Wellesbourne to a quick cache. I was telling how I’d landed at Wellesbourne a few times now and that they had an old Vulcan bomber on the airfield which I think people are trying to restore. The road by the side of the airfield gave us a great view of the Vulcan, which we both enjoyed :-).

One final cache just by the M40 junction saw the total for the day at 47 finds. We’d have loved to find another 3 to get a round 50 finds for the day but we were too hungry and just wanted to get home now.

A very different than normal day out in an area we’ve never cached in before. We’ll have to come this way more often as there are tons of caches to find.

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A FTF I was not expecting

I’ll quote from our log on the cache, which says it all:

We’d just arrived at the Tibberton School Halloween Bingo and my iPhone pinged with a new cache notification. I could not believe it as it was only about a mile away. I left Mrs Bolas Heathens doing my bingo cards while I popped out to see if I could get FTF on the cache.

I only had my iPhone on me and getting a decent data signal was awful but eventually I managed to get the co-ords of the cache. The GPS on it was insisting I was in the middle of Warrington and would not budge so I was wondering how the heck I’d find the cache.

I pulled up around the area I thought the cache would be and had a rummage in the glove compartment. Luck was with me as our old 60CSx was at the bottom – the only problem was the rechargeable batteries in it were dead. I spotted some spare alkaline ones near to the GPS so soon had it up and running and getting a fix. I put the co-ords in and was delighted to find my guessing was right and I was 35ft from the cache :-).

At this point another car came down the lane and stopped short of me by about 100ft in the middle of the lane. They flashed their headlights in the way I’ve heard certain canine loving people do it ;-). Oh no, and there’s me just wanting to find a tupperware box in peace. I’ve no idea what the signal for “go away” is so just turned off all my lights and hoped for the best. It must have worked as they moved on down the lane, but not before a very slow pass of the Jeep.

Once the coast was clear I jumped out, walked the short distance to GZ and had a very quick find of the nicely hidden cache.

Not long after I was back at the bingo in time for half time refreshments. No prizes were won, but I’d got a FTF on this cache so was happy enough. I decided the leave the other cache for the daytime as I was not exactly wearing boots fit for walking down a bridleway in the dark safely.

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Caching A Plenty Around Redditch

On Saturday we fancied a return visit to the Redditch area just south of Birmingham as there seems to be an explosion of new caches around there at the moment. I thought I’d found a lot in the area last weekend but a quick check of Memory Map revealed a ton more to do.

Isaac has finished school for half term so was free on Saturday, the weather was looking perfect and there were tons of caches to find. Perfect!

We aimed to start off with the Hagley Loop series, a set of 9 new caches along with a stand alone cache along the way, forming a nice circular walk. We parked up by the first one and off we set. We kept bumping into dog walkers on every part of the walk so had to wait them out before diving in for each cache. Nothing too taxing here and we were soon back at the Jeep and ready so set off for the short drive to the next caches for the day.

We parked up by the lovely church in the village of Belbroughton for the Belbroughton Bimble series. This is another circular walk of 10 caches, with an extra stand alone cache on the way round. This turned into another excellent walk in great countryside with a nice variety of hides and cache sizes to keep things interesting.

The only matter of note was a slight mishap we had on #10 in the series. We could not decide which side of the hedge this one would be on so as usual, when faced with a choice of two things, we picked the wrong one – doh!

Isaac then crawled under the hedge to the other side for an easy find. He then had the brainwave of throwing the cache over the hedge to me on the other side. A nice idea but he threw too low and the cache popped into the top of the hedge. We peered into the hedge for ages, shaking it with my walking pole and could not spot the cache anywhere.

We logged a Needs Maintenance log on the iPhone immediately just in case any other cacher’s were doing the series and have email you about the mishap. We’re gutted about losing the cacge and can only offer our sincere apologies as the cache will almost certainly need replacing. The cache owner has been very nice about it and is hoping to go out and replace the cache in the next few days – phew!

After we got back to the Jeep, it was a short drive to the three new caches in Catshill near Bromsgrove. All nice easy ones and we were soon on the M42 heading east to the new Morton Meander series to the east of Redditch.

We parked up by #1 and ate our sandwiches before setting off for the circuit of the 16 caches in the series. Another fabby walk with lots to see and do on the way. Things of note were:

  • a sneaky hide on #6 that thankfully we’d seen before otherwise we might have missed it.
  • loads of friendly cows right by #11. They must have thought we were the farmer as they all trotted over as we approached the field they were in. Not a bother though and we soon had the cache found and were on our way.
  • a cache hung on a fence that Isaac initially thought was a padlock for some reason (I’m not giving anything away by saying this). He mentioned it and I said “why would someone hang a padlock on a random fence”. He then twigged and had the logbook in hand in seconds.

With this series finished, we were on 40 finds for the day and we still had a bit of time left. A quick look at the caches on Memory Map and we decided to head for Redditch itself and some urban caching to see how we go. This would also leave us with a quick exit to the M42 and northwards to home.

We grabbed a quick one by a bus-stop on the way into town and then another quick one not too far from the road in some woods. The third cache has the most bizarre swap we’ve ever seen in it: a cast of someone’s teeth. Why the heck would anyone leave this as a swap as I can’t imagine who would want to swap anything for it.

The rest of the caches were all near supermarkets and near railway stations and nothing much to report on. Just as it had gone dark we bagged out 50th find of the day, so decided to call it a day and head home for some tea.

Another fab day out with some great walks in lovely areas. Can’t beat this kind of caching.

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I had to pop into Stafford this afternoon to pay some cheques in at the bank and this cache was on the way into town – how handy.

I did the cheques first and then spotted the entrance to the church car park as I drove up the road on the way home. After parking up I crossed the road and walked up into the beautiful churchyard.

The co-ords were bang on and lead me straight to GZ for a very easy find. After I’d put the cache back, I had a mooch around the churchyard and took a few photos of the lovely church in the sun.

That’s Stafford cleared of caches again, for now ;-).

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Canal caching near home

Over the last few weeks (and days!) several new caches have come out along the Shropshire Union Canal not too far from home. First there was the Wheaton Aston Extension series and then the Canal Walk series near Goldstone came out on Friday night.

I had a few hours spare on Sunday afternoon so set off armed with my bike to try and find them all.

I parked up by the canal bridge near Little Soudley and off I set. I wish I’d picked a different day than a Sunday for these caches though as the local angling club were holding a competition and there were fishermen every 20ft or so along the towpath. Trying to ride along it was like doing the hurdles, with all their long fishing poles blocking the path.

I could not spot the first cache quickly so decided to move on and look for it on the way back. The next cache was a nigthtmare as it was a micro in a random hedge. To make matters worse there was lots of ivy involved and a fisherman about 10ft from GZ. I soon gave up and moved on, muttering to myself about the cache.

Thankfully the third one was a nice easy find in a location I’d scouted out for our Mission Improbable – Cache Chase cache ages ago.

I returned to where I’d parked and quickly found the cache there. I’d initially discarded it as it was in a black plastic bag and looked like rubbish. It was only when I poked it with a stick that I heard the tell-tale thud sound of tupperware!

The last cache on this section was on a section of towpath that was officially closed as the bank had partially collapsed. It looked safe enough to me and nobody was around this part of the canal so I nipped in for a quick find.

A longish drive down lots of narrow country lanes later and I was parking up at the northern end of the Wheaton Aston canal series. I had decided to tackle these 7 caches in one go from here, even though some were very spread out and I could have saved a lot of time moving the Jeep along every so often. I’m glad I did as it was a lovely afternoon and I really enjoyed the bike ride :-).

The first one was a tricky find but I got there in the end. The remaining 6 were all easy enough but were fun hides with some hanging in trees etc etc.

After I’d ridden back to the Jeep I decided to go and pick off a new multi in Priorslee on the outskirts of Telford. A nice quick find of the urban nano here with some very unusual cannonballs along the edge of the road (the cache was called Magic 8 Ball – I bet you can guess where the cache was hidden).

By this time, I was due to pick Freya up from her friends house but I could not resist going back to look for the hedge micro as I was hoping all the fishermen had packed up and gone home by now. They had and the cache was a really quick find. Just goes to show how hard muggles make a cache to find.

That’s all the new caches close to home found now so I’m off home for a lovely roast dinner :-).

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Isaac was at school on Saturday so I decided to go out and do the kind of caching I really like – good walking in great countryside.

A series of puzzle caches near Redditch that form a circular walk, followed by another circular walk of traditional caches by the same cache owner looked perfect.

I headed down the M6 and M5 and was soon parking up by the first cache which was an easy drive-by. Next I moved the Jeep a bit further along the lane and set off on foot for the puzzle series.

I can’t really say too much about these as I obviously don’t want to give the cache locations away. Some of the more interesting parts of the walk were:

  • A good variety of cache container sizes, with quite a few of them being bigger boxes.
  • Varied terrain with only a few ploughed fields to cross.
  • A cache with some absolutely fabulous views over towards the Malvern hills.
  • A field of curious cows who thankfully kept their distance.
  • Nice quick finds with great hints if you need them.
  • Some lovely woodland on two of the caches.

All too soon I’d completed the series, so moved the Jeep round to the start of the next circular walk. This set were traditional caches, with three puzzle caches thrown in for good measure. One of the puzzles was easy, the other I needed Freya’s help and the third is found by finding the first two puzzles.

I soon realised I was following graham1876 round the series but suspected he had done them a lot earlier in the day. I stopped for my sandwiches at a cache with another great view of the Malverns and then pressed on with the rest of the caches.

All of the series were nice and easy finds, lots of variety and beautiful countryside to walk through. This is exactly the kind of caching I enjoy.

After I’d finished the second series and found the three puzzle caches, I spotted a nearby drive-by Joy-Jar cache so off I went in the Jeep to find it. Another really quick find here.

Next, I aimed for a cache by a windmill we’d missed out ages ago when in the area doing Cakemaker’s nearby canal series. Try as I might I could not spot the nano, even with the very precise hint. It’s got to be missing. I logged a DNF on it and not long after the cache was archived as it’s gone missing in the past too so time for it to be put to bed.

Time was getting on a bit by now but just enough time to go and find a group of 4 caches on the edge of Bromsgrove that we’d missed out on our last visit to the area. On the walk down to the first one, I passed what must be the biggest ariel I’ve ever seen. It was right by a small house and not official looking at all. I don’t know what the person from the house needs such a huge ariel for (it was on top of a mobile crane!).

I managed to find 3 of the 4 caches in this group. I had to give up on the last one as two female dog walkers came over the nearby field towards where I was and spotted me. They stopped and started to look very uncomfortable at me loitering around. The last thing I want to do is scare dog-walkers so I moved on.

I really must be getting home now, but I could just squeeze in a couple more caches couldn’t it? Of course it could! A quick one on a canal towpath was followed by another one on a towpath. Then I did a quick Sidetracked cache followed by the last cache of the day at the Services area on the M42.

41 finds for the day, some excellent walking and I’ve hardly seen a soul all day long. Great stuff :-).

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We have not run any caching stats for ages so thought it might be fun to see the current status. It’s a bit rough and ready as the milestones need adjusting as it seems to take them in the order you log them so some are not correct.

I see it also says we’re one of the top finders of our own caches. That’s because we adopted all MarcB’s caches a while ago and had previously found them. We obviously don’t log finds on caches we have hidden ourselves as that would be pointless.

Here is a link to the stats page as they don’t get properly formatted if I include them directly here.

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