We were going to leave our caching day out until Sunday this weekend so Isaac could come along as well, but looking at the weather forecast Saturday was looking good but Sunday a lot less so. I thus decided to go caching on Saturday on my own and maybe go out with Isaac on Sunday if it looked ok on Sunday morning.
As usual, we struggled to decide where to head for so decided to go a bit further than we normally do and head towards Bicester and the Lark Rise to Candleford Green and Shelswell Loop series. They had good logs and looked like a really nice walk.
I dropped Isaac off at school and headed for the motorways and the long drive to the caching area. I parked up by one of the Lark Rise caches called Round The Bend. This was roughly in the middle of the two series and meant I could do a figure of eight walk around both series.
It was very chilly so I added a warm fleece to my normal walking kit and set off on foot to do the Lark Rise series anti-clockwise.
The first stretch going over the fields to the hamlet of Juniper Hill (what a great name for a place!) was uneventful. Lots of easy finds with good co-ords and a really nice walk overall. I DNF’d one cache but was in good company with 3 other cacher’s DNF’ing it in succession too. I suspect the cache has gone as it’s not anywhere the hint says it should be in.
The next leg of the walk was my favourite of the day, going over the estate of Tusmore Park and in great countryside with a mixture of woodland and semi-open fields. Part way through it I was walking along in a world of my own, thoroughly enjoying myself when I heard a loud beep right behind me. I must have jumped at least a foot into the air, I was so startled! It was an estate worker in a 4×4 doing the rounds.
I had another DNF a bit later on by a lovely church. Again, several people had DNF’d it right before me and I suspect it’s another one that has gone missing.
The next cache was about 100ft off the stated co-ords. I had heard that this series had some iffy co-ords, but this was the only one of the whole day I thought was out. After reading the previous logs, it was clear where to look and it was just a case of methodologically searching the various ivy bits (that means poking around the ivy with the end of my walking pole ;-)) until I heard a clunk of the cache box.
After that one, there was a massive stretch of walk with no caches on. I’m not quite sure why they had not put at least one or two caches on this part of the walk as there were tons of places you could hide a cache, but I’m sure there must be a reason.
I had another DNF on a nano I’m pretty sure is also missing, before arriving back near the Jeep. I was debating whether to carry on straight to the Shelswell Loop series or pop back to the Jeep for my sandwiches. In the end the walking won and off I went to start the next series.
By now I had about 2 hours (or slightly more) before it would be starting to go dark, so I got a wiggle on with my walking as all the torches were back in the Jeep. As I passed the pub by the first in the series, the landlady was outside talking to some smokers and shouted over to me “You look like you are on a mission”. I was!
Next, I headed off down the PF’s over the fields on the walk. I could hear the sound of shotguns in the distance and hoped they would not be near any of the caches. Unfortunately they were and I had to walk right past one of the caches as a guy with his shotgun cocked was stood right by GZ.
One more DNF followed a bit later on – a micro on the ground in a wooded area with dead leaves everywhere. Not my idea of fun, so I soon got bored and headed off to the next cache.
I nearly forgot about one cache and only spotted it on my GPSr at the last minute so had to do a 0.18 backtrack to get it – doh!
It was starting to go dark by now and I was only just over half way round the loop. Time to walk a little bit faster still. The rest of the series was easy enough with a few things to note:
- Another long gap between two caches. This time there was absolutely nowhere to put a cache in between (it was open fields with no hedges).
- Nearly tripping over the carcass of a dead sheep near a cache.
- Waiting for a tractor pulling a trailer full of country folk with their shotguns to go past.
I just about managed to get back to the Jeep as it became fully dark. The last few caches were in the darkness but it was just about light enough to see to find the caches.
Just two left to do for both series and they were a short drive down the lane. I parked up and set off over the fields with a torch and soon had both caches found.
That’s 37 finds so far. I wonder if I can find 3 quick and easy caches on the way back to the M40 junction on the way home. A quick study of the OS map on my GPSr and I spotted just the three caches I needed.
The first one was a short way down a closed off road and a nice quick find. The second was a bit more interesting as I was walking down the PF in the dark and could see a torch coming the other way. It turned out to be a man and his two dogs. I thought nothing of it until I turned round and he’d stopped a bit further down the track and was looking at me. Oh no, it’s not one of those nocturnal canine type places is it?
Thankfully it turned out to be the gamekeeper from the estate and he was wondering what the heck I was up to in the dark on my own in some woods. I explained about caching to him and he was fine with this. Apparently they have some trouble with drug dealers and poachers on the estate so he was just being careful. After he went on his way I soon found the cache.
Last cache of the day turned out to be one of the Alphanumeric Northants series caches, set at the very southern end of Northamptonshire. I collected the clue for the next cache and have filed it away for when we’re next in the area and want to carry on that series.
With 40 finds in the bag and a very satisfying day’s walking, I stuck a great podcast on the iPhone and headed off to the M40 and northbound to home.