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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.