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Archive for December, 2009

One last cache for 2009

Isaac and Freya with the cache

We could not resist finding one last cache to round off 2009 nicely. We had to go back to Stoke to pick up the Mac we took in for repair the other day, so this was the ideal chance.

After stopping off for something else in Newcastle under Lyme, we headed off for a cache by the Etruria Canal Museum. The hint narrowed down things but despite a thorough check of the item and several other things in the area the cache was nowhere to be seen. Just in case we’d missed something really obvious (would not be the first time) we used a PAF to a previous finder. They told us the cache was in the first place we’d checked, so it looks like the nano has blown off or something :-(.

Luckily we had a Plan B up our sleeve and an easy looking cache in Tunstall was just what we needed. Isaac guided us there using Memory Map and we parked up very close to GZ. Myself, Isaac and Freya jumped out of the Jeep and walked over to GZ. The were metal fences all over the place so we started to look for a magentic micro. It was then that I spotted the cache hanging off the gatepost – that’s a novel hide to say the least, but it does blend in very well.

Happy with our find we drove the short distance to the repair shop, picked up the Mac and set off for home.

We’d like to wish anyone reading this a very happy 2010. Hope you find all the caches you seek and don’t have too many DNF’s :-).

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Isaac with the cache

We had to pop into Stoke this morning to drop off a computer to be repaired at the Apple Authorised Repair Centre in Chesterton so decided to go and find the two nearest caches while we were in the area as they were not far off our route.

After dropping off the faulty Mac, myself and Isaac headed off to Bradwell and a cache in some woods not too far from Newcastle Crematorium. As we got out of the Jeep near the crem there was this strange burnt rubber smell. Isaac asked if this was coming from the crem! I’ve no idea to be honest and it’s not the kind of thing I’d like to be thinking about :-(.

Anyway, the cache was a short distamce down the bank in some woods, with the sound of cars whizzing past on the A500 below. Isaac soon spotted it while I was searching nearby.

Last on the list was a cache close to Keele University called Mochileros 100. We parked up and after some initial confusion over where the PF starts, we were soon on the right track and at GZ. We found the cache in the second hint item we looked at.

Now back home for some sandwiches.

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Lytham windmill

We’d put off our usual Saturday caching day out as Saturday was Boxing Day. By Sunday morning we were dying to get out and walk some of the Christmas excesses off. I’d seen the huge number of caches in the Kirkham area last week so suggested to Isaac that we head that way and see where we end up.

We got off the M55 at J3 and headed a short distance north for the first three caches, down a very icy and slippery lane. All were nice easy finds, with two of them just sat there with no covering on them at all. We tried to leave them a bit better covered up but there was not a lot to work with.

Wintery views towards Kirkham

Next, we headed down to the west side of the Mowbreck Lane cluster of caches. The first two were quick and easy finds, followed by a very damp walk over a field to the third cache. We tried for one other nearby cache but there was no sign of it anywhere, so we had our first DNF of the day :-(.

We then headed into the centre of Kirkham to get the urban caches out of the way as it was still early on a Sunday morning and nice and quiet. The first was a quick find and the second was obviously muggled but we could see where it should be. Everyone else had logged a find on it saying they would have found it had it been there, so not being (too) proud, we did the same. It will save us having to come back for it if it is ever replaced.

Cross marks the resting place of old funeral processions on the way from Freckleton to bury their dead in Kirkham

We were not sure where to head next so sat for a while to study the layout of caches on Memory Map. We decided to head over and clear up a few between Kirkham and Preston we’d not had time for last week. All were quick finds apart from:

  • 1 DNF – the cache was not there and there were lots of other DNF’s.
  • 2 Pink In Clifton caches of which there were no signs of each either (we could not see any pink either – all very odd). Lots of DNF’s have been logged on one of these too. How many DNF’s does it take for locals round here to temp a cache and do some maintenance on it :-(?

Next on the plan was some of the For The Love Of Anna caches on the southern edges of Kirkham. All nice quick finds, but we did leave two of them as one we did not have the co-ords for (it’s listed as a Traditional but should be an Unknown as you have to collect the co-ords from another cache – which is also muggled!). The other one was a micro in woods and thus just did not sound like our kind of thing.

Isaac with the cache

A short drive south brought us to a Virtual Cache at Frekleton. It’s not often we get the chance to do a Virtual in the UK so we really enjoyed having the chance to stop for this one today.

Lots more easy caches then followed along the coast road between Frekleton and Lytham St Annes. Of note was one cache at the end of the runway at the old RAF Wharton with fab views over the Ribble estuary. A really top spot for a cache :-).

In Lytham we parked up and set off over to the prom for 3 caches along the front. Along the way we stopped on a bench by an old windmill to admire the views over towards Southport and have our soup (oh, and find the cache that was hidden under the bench!).

Fast flowing weir on the Lancashire Coastal Walk

After a few more easy drive-by’s, we parked up for a set of 5 caches on a circuit of Fairhaven Lake on the seafront. A really lovely walk just as the sun was going down and all nice quick finds. One of them was even something bigger than a micro – we were amazed that virtually all the caches in this area are micros. What’s wrong with putting the odd ammo box in a more secluded location for a cache? I know we LOVE finding well stocked ammo boxes :-).

We’d done with the caches for the day but had a half hour or so spare so we decided to head along the coast road and drive up the shoreline at Blackpool as far as the tower. Despite coming from the NW, Isaac has never been to Blackpool and was desperate to see the sights close up. All the lights were in place but they were all switched off and no-one was around at all. The whole place was like a ghost town which was very surreal as it’s always been VERY busy on the many times I’ve been here in the past.

Ribble estuary views

On the way back down to the Pleasure Beach area and the M55 we spotted a chippy that was open, so stopped for a bag of chips. On the way to the M55 from here, we passed the station at Squires Gate and spotted a Sidetracked cache there. How could we refuse? A nice easy find was had after checking way too many places first.

43 finds for the day, some lovely coastal scenery and a bag of chips each. A great day out!

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Caching plans for tomorrow

Kirkham caches to do

A return trip to Kirkham, near Blackpool is our plan for caching tomorrow. I ended up there at the end of the day last Saturday and only scratched the surface of the many, many caches in the area.

Isaac is keen to come to the area too, so we plan to start by M55 J3 and then work our way round as many caches as we can, including the Virtual at Freckleton as it’s not often you get the chance to do a Virtual.

In the remote event that we run of out caches to do in that area, we’ll head around the coast towards Lytham St Anne’s and then perhaps towards the South Shore at Blackpool, which will give us a quick and easy way of getting back on the M55 homebound.

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A quick cache while in Warrington

Freya with the cache

Today we were in Warrington delivering Christmas presents to various relatives. By the time we’d done our rounds it was getting late but there was just time for one cache.

We decided to head home via the M6 rather than our usual route of the A49, so a quick drive-by near Grappenhall looked perfect. The lane the cache was on was very icy and there was a sign saying the lane was closed, but the Jeep had no problems getting to GZ.

Myself and Freya jumped out and Freya found the cache instantly (that’s my girl :-)). After we’d done with the cache, we managed to find somewhere to turn round and we were soon on our way home.

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Frozen pond

Isaac wanted to plan this week’s caching and was keen to head back to the North West for a change as we’ve not been caching there for ages. Ironically enough, Saturday morning dawned and Isaac woke up full of a cold and shivering. He thus stayed at home keeping warm as going out caching in the snow and cold was not wise.

I set off up the M6 and was soon parking up near VTT2 to the east of the old vehicle test track in Leyland. There was quite a dusting of snow in the area with everywhere looking very white and all paths looking very slippy. I put my layers on to keep warm on the walk and set off.

The first cache was right by where I parked and a nice quick find. I could not decide whether to do the series clockwise or anti-clockwise but as the next nearest cache was just south of where I was, I went that way (clockwise). Needless to say I soon realised I was doing the series in reverse but that’s not a problem as there is no bonus cache to find at the end of the walk.

Frozen pond

The next part of the walk took me over a park area with only one dog walker in sight. The series then took me along a little used PF to the west of the test track (the main reason for the series appears to be to encourage the use of this path as it’s hardly used otherwise).

All the caches were quick easy finds with really good co-ords. It’s a shame Isaac was not with me as quite a few of the containers were fun and he’d have enjoyed finding them. I was soon back at the Jeep and feeling pleased with myself as I’d bagged the 12 caches in just over an hour – not bad going even though I do say so myself :-).

Next on the list for today was Nandad’s F.A.B. Thuderbirds series just to the NW of Preston. I’d read good things about this series and it’s even been awarded the NW Caching ‘Cache Du Jour’ award so I knew I’d be in for a treat.

Pylon view

The hardest bit was finding somewhere to park the Jeep while I walked round the caches. Plan A was the TomTom which lead me to a blocked off road some distance south of cache #1. Plan B was to use the parking co-ords on the cache page (why I’d not just used these in the first place is beyond me!). This failed too as I ended up at another blocked road to the north of the co-ords and with nowhere to park. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong here with all the blocked roads, but decided for the manual option of Plan C, which was to pick a suburban road near to cache #1 and then use Memory Map to guide me down some likely looking (and not blocked off) roads. This worked a treat I’m glad to say!

The first cache was a quick find. The next part of the walk was not clear from the OS maps on my Oregon so I again went with the manual option and walked down the main road looking for a likely path heading towards GZ. This worked well and I was soon walking alongside a frozen canal and some lovely locks.

Chilly canal view

Several easy finds then ensued with the only problem being me missing the obvious path alongside the canal a bit further on and going over a field to find myself on the wrong side of a double barbed wire fence from where I needed to be! A stile was close-by so I used that to get round to GZ for another easy find.

All too soon I was at the far end of the walk and headed off over the fields to the canal which would take me along the rest of the series, to the bonus cache and ultimately back to the Jeep.

The rest of the series was easy and I was soon calculating the bonus co-ords, which was an easy find. A really nice hide too! As I was walking back to the Jeep from the bonus cache it started snowing, which was the perfect ending to the series and really put me in a Christmas mood :-).

Fun sign I saw on my walk

I still had quite a bit of time left so I headed off to tackle some of the many drive-by’s between here and Kirkham, near Blackpool. Not a lot to report on these ones apart from:

  • I gave up on one cache as it was a micro in woodland with leaves and snow covering everything. Not my idea of fun.
  • A great little micro by a tree statue in the centre of Kirkham with muggles everywhere. A really nice cache location but a tricky one to actually get hold of as the muggles were non-stop. I got there in the end though.
  • A cache by a lovely old windmill that has been made into a house. What a cracking place to have a bedroom at the top of the windmill!
  • Two caches which clearly were not there and even after several DNF’s by experienced cachers and a Needs Maintenance note over a month ago, the cache owner has not done anything or even posted an intention to do anything. They have not logged on since August so I assume the caches have been abandoned and have posted a Needs Archiving log on both of them.

Icicles under a canal bridge

The last cache of the day was right by J3 of the M55 and a handy place to start my journey home.

41 finds for the day and some really fun caching, although I’d rather have had Isaac with me since he planned the trip.

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Caching plans for tomorrow

Isaac wanted to plan our caching this weekend and was keen that we head northwards for a change as we’ve been caching round the West Midlands and beyond for the last few months. Some caching in the North West is long overdue!

He quickly spotted a nice circular walk called the VTT series by Citizen Smith to the NW of Leyland, followed by a trip slightly further north to Nandad’s Thunderbirds themed F.A.B. series. After that, if there is still time he has left us in an area with loads of drive-by’s we’ve not yet done (mostly micros, but that’s ok with us) before getting on the M55 and heading home.

We’re both looking forward to it. I’m especially looking forward to the walk round the Vehicle Test Track at Leyland (VTT series) as I’ve used it many times as a navigation point when flying northwards out of Liverpool, so it will be good to see it closer up.

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A quick cache (or two?) near home

A new cache had been published not too far from Isaac’s school last night. Late this afternoon I had to drop Mrs Bolas Heathens off at school for an hour so decided to go and try and find this new cache while I was waiting for her.

The cache was almost a drive-by and was a quick find in the place it just had to be. It’s the first cache hide by a newish cacher in the area and was a decent sized box with some good swaps in – just the way we like it. The cache page said about it being at the bottom of a field belonging to a now defunct school. It’s a shame it was dark when I found the cache as I did not get to see what I was brought to see. There’s always next time though, so all is not lost.

The cache page had a curious note on it about a ‘bonus’ for the FTF and I had heard a whisper that the ‘bonus’ was the co-ords of a new, as yet un-published cache. I may (or may not) have gone on to find the bonus cache later on and it may (or may not) have been a nice hide ;-). I can confirm that I had a quick drive down some Byways Open To All Traffic nearby that I’d been meaning to explore for ages – great fun, especially in the dark :-).

I’m not sure what the cache owner has in store for us all with the ‘bonus’ cache but hopefully all will be revealed very soon.

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Great views early in the walk

We’d saved our main caching day this weekend for Sunday when Isaac was available. During the week the new Abberley Advent[ure] series had all come out and looking at the logs it looks like a really good set of caches on a nice long walk with a bit of terrain thrown in for good measure.

It’s a tricky area to get to from home as there is no easy way. We ended up heading south round Telford, then Bridgnorth, Kinlet, Cleobury Mortimer and finally Abberley. As we were appraching the starting point I was joking to Isaac saying “I hope they have not put the caches up those big hills there” (knowing full well that’s exactly where some of the caches were ;-)).

Lots of choices!

We parked up in a handy lay-by right by #1 of the series. As it turned out we could not be any closer to the cache as Isaac jumped out and came back, cache in hand, before I’d had chance to jump out of the Jeep. A nice easy start to things!

We got kitted up for a full day’s caching away from the Jeep and headed off to the next cache. Another easy find and then a walk down a lane to another quick cache. The route then took us off the lane and up a pretty steep (and muddy!) path. Looking at the OS maps, the hill is called Woodbury Hill and looks like it had an old iron age fort at the top. This was confirmed when we got there and spent a few moments reading the interesting information boards.

Views from the ridge towards Abberley Tower

The next stage was downhill slightly to link up with another ridge and then walk back towards the starting point (or rather, a bit further down the road from the starting point). As we approached one of the caches, we could see a couple acting very furtively at the point we imagined the cache might be. They just had to be cachers and sure enough they were – nice to meet you cagney37!

They were taking their time round the series so we headed off ahead as we were keen to get the caches done before it went dark. The rest of the caches along the ridge were all easy finds, but the best bit of this was the walk as we had great views on both sides of the path, through the trees.

Abberley Tower

At the end of the ridge, the walk went down the hill towards the road and onwards past Abberley Hall School (I think that is what it’s called anyway). The best part of the school was this HUGE clock tower right on top of the high ground in the school land. You could see this tower from miles away and it was visible on a lot of the walk :-)

After the school we came to the road we’d arrived on earlier and a cache that was hidden exactly like ch050 on the Chiltern Hundred series. We’d spent a short while finding the Chiltern one as we’d not seen this type of hide before, but this time we saw the tell-tale signs and had a virtually instant find.

The next leg took us up a hill on the other side of the road and onwards along another ridge. As we got to the top of the hill near to the trig point the path opened out to stunning views and a handy bench overlooking it all. We were getting a bit hungry by now so stopped to have some soup and enjoy the views.

View from near the trig point

Carrying on down the trail we had quite a few more easy finds before spotting more people acting a little sheepish ahead. It was monkeyhanger – great to meet you all again. After we said our goodbye’s, we carried on to the end of the ridge and down the very steep and slippery steps to the road.

The return leg back to the Jeep took us via on old quarry and then back up to the top of the ridge we’d just walked along before finally dropping down on another path to the starting point.

We managed to take a wrong turn towards the quarry and ended up in the actual quarry (which is thankfully disused now) rather than taking the PF which was just outside the boundary of the quarry. As we approached the next cache we realised our mistake and had to clamber down a very brambly bank to the right path.

Closer to the quarry than we should have been

After that it was several more easy finds, including taking in an Earthcache overlooking the quarry we’d just accidentally been in. As we neared the Jeep we had enough numbers to work out where the bonus cache was, so stopped to sort it all out. Once plotted, it looked like a likely location for a bonus cache so we headed back down to the Jeep to drive the short distance nearer to the bonus cache.

A short(ish) walk later and we spotted the place the bonus cache (which was an ammo box) had to be. Sure enough it was there. A nice ending to a fab walk. We’ve had a great time the whole way round, with perfect winter weather to make it all the more enjoyable.

Isaac with the bonus cache

We had 28 finds, so Isaac decided we’d do 2 quick caches on the way home so we’d end up with a round 30 finds for the day. Two easy looking drive-by’s in Stourport on Severn were chosen and these both turned out to be exactly what we needed – nice, quick and easy :-).

Now for the drive home – we opted to go to the east of the Severn on the way home so we’d see something different than on the way this morning. It proved to be a good choice as the road was much faster than the one we’d come down on earlier.

Another fab day out caching which we both thoroughly enjoyed. 30 finds in total.

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M5 goes over the canal

We’d planned a main day of caching on Sunday this weekend, so I thought I’d head off towards Birmingham for a few easier caches after dropping Isaac off at school on Saturday morning. There was a ring of caches around the canals of Oldbury which looked like fun and had the added bonus of being bike-able.

I came off the M5 at J1 and made my way to what looked like a handy parking area near one of the ring of canal caches. As I pulled up I noticed a cut just to the left of the road and assumed this was the canal. As I got out of the Jeep I saw it was almost dried up and there was no towpath. Hmmm – this is going to make the series tricky as I have no idea how I’ll get from one cache to another.

Thankfully common sense then prevailed and I realised that this was not the canal I was aiming for and that I needed to be about 200ft north behind a rent a van compound. A short time later and I spotted the obvious canal – how come I can spot a nano in ivy but can’t spot a very obvious canal!

Near my old client's offices

Once on the towpath the first cache was a nice quick find and a really nice hide too. I then carried on anti-clockwise round the series. I had a series of easy finds before I spotted a familiar building near one of the caches. It turned out to be the offices of a client of mine from my old day job from a good few years ago. I knew it was somewhere round here but did not know quite where.

I had a DNF a bit later on a cache in an area that was not very nice and looked like it was used by drug takers. I did find a roll of kitchen foil where the cache should be and there was quite a bit of used foil on the ground nearby. Hmmm.

The last bit of the ride was the most interesting as it took you along the canal right under the M5. Of all the times I’ve driven along the M5 I’ve never realised a canal was directly underneath! A little further on and there was a series of bridges, one on top of another, where the motorway, railway line and 2 * canals all crossed each other. Not very often you see that many forms of transport cross in the same place!

Motorway, railway line and 2 * canals all cross each other

Back at the Jeep I was thoroughly enjoying the urban caching so far so decided to carry on with some more. An area on the outskirts of Tipton had lots of caches we’d not done so off I set. I parked up at the ASDA and grabbed the two quick caches by the car park before heading off on my bike down another canal (or was it the same one as before, just a bit further along?).

A bit of a patchy caching experience along the canal followed with 2 DNF’s and 2 finds. One of the finds only had the top half of one of those tiny magnetic nanos. I’ve no idea what happened to the bottom of the container – all very odd.

Next, I moved the Jeep round for a series of 4 caches in a park called Sheepwash Park (strange name for a park, let along an urban park). All nice bigger caches and well hidden. A lovely area too with not a single muggle in sight.

Old locks in Tipton

More caches then followed in Tipton itself. Every time I see the name Tipton I think of the fab band Judas Priest who are from there :-). I found 2 of the 3 caches in Victoria Park (no sign of the third cache in the place the hint had to mean). The last few in Tipton were based around the old Tipton canal and nice quick finds.

I then decided to head off through Dudley to Kingswinford to do the Ridgehill Woods series of 5 caches. On the way I picked up an easy cache at a Lidl and had yet another DNF on a cache (this time I think the cache had slipped out of reach –  I even had the torch in the hole to no avail).

I parked up for the Ridgehill Woods caches and set off up the hill on foot into the woods. What a fab place for caching – I had a lovely circular walk around the caches, with some easy and some less easy finds. Very satisfying.

Carl Bridgewater farmhouse

Nearly done now, but just time for a couple more to get me up to 35+ finds for the day. Just down the road is a cache near the old farmhouse where paperboy Carl Bridgewater was murdered 20 odd years ago. I remember seeing this on the news at the time and having nightmares about it as he was about my age (possibly slightly older) and I’d convinced myself it happened at the farmhouse near to where we lived in Cheshire.

The farmhouse has been totally renovated now and you’d not know what happened there unless you were told. Nice though it is, I’m not sure I could live there, knowing what happened there all those years ago.

One more needed for my 35 finds so I checked the OS map on the Oregon and spotted a couple of easy drive-by’s just south of me in Kinver. Off I went and had an easy find of a canal cache followed by a drive-by Church Micro in Kinver.

Great views

I headed off to the Rabbit Run and the route home. As I was going round the Telford ring road northbound a bit later I was musing about stopping for our nearest to home not found, just over 3.7 miles south of home.

It was dark by now and a 0.3 walk but it was a good a time as any. Off I set and was soon at GZ. With no sign of the cache I resorted to the hint which said “conkers”. Two likely looking trees were nearby but no cache was by either of them. I eventually found the cache under an ivy covered branch a bit later on and still have no idea about why the clue said “conkers”. It would have been better saying “red herring” ;-).

I was back home for about 5pm with a very satisfying 37 finds for the day. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy urban caching and especially round Birmingham as it’s got tons of urban caches to go for.

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