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Archive for December, 2009

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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We’re out for the evening tonight and then Isaac is at school for the last time this year tomorrow morning, so I’m looking for an easy day tomorrow and then a more involved caching day on Sunday.

Looking at the maps, I think I might head for the circle of canal caches by Lee Ford near Oldbury. Perhaps not the most scenic of areas, but there are enough caches we’ve not found in the area to keep my interest up. Plus, I can do them by bike, thus saving my walking legs for Sunday…

On Sunday Isaac is coming along and we plan to tackle delta68’s new Abberley Advent[ure] series to the SW of Stourport on Severn. Reading the logs and looking at the OS maps, the walk looks to be fabulous but involves a fair amount of terrain. Sounds a bit like the LEGEND letterboxes in Lancashire we did earlier this year :-).

Can’t wait!

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The final cache in our Behind Enemy Lines series at Tilstock has been out of action for a few weeks now. The last finder found it sat where it should be but with the lid off and thus it was a bit damp.

Obviously the old hide had been compromised to I decided to relocate the cache somewhere nearby. We’ve been wanting to swap the lock ‘n’ lock box for an ammo box for some time as this fits better with the theme of a wartime series final cache, so I could kill two birds with one stone.

I made up a new ammo box and also did a Regular sized lock ‘n’ lock box just in case I could not find anywhere to hide an ammo box. I need not have worried as a quick scout around in the area just past where the cache used to be revealed lots of great places to put an ammo box.

With that one safely hidden and the co-ords taken and checked, I decided to carry on my walk to the back of the woods, along the back and then back towards the A41 and where I parked via another path. It was a beautiful morning with clear blue skies and absolutely lovely for a walk.

As I was walking along I wondered about the lock ‘n’ lock box I had in my backpack and decided to see if I could find somewhere to hide that too as the woods are full of old buildings which are really fun to explore as most of them are open access.

I ended up at the old Ops building, which is a labyrinth of vary dark rooms, all connected with dark corridors and with doors everywhere. What a great place for a cache and as I looked around by torchlight there were quite a few places I could hide a Regular sized cache.

I ended up choosing a spot that hopefully will not be noticed by any other muggles while looking round themselves. I took my co-ords, tested them and then took a ton of photos of the old buildings, so I could use some of them on the cache page.

Once home I set about writing up an interesting cache page and have just submitted it. Hopefully it will be published very soon.

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After our trip into Birmingham yesterday, we were not quite cached out for the weekend so decided to go out today as well. Isaac was free so was keen to come along.

We started off near Codsall at the new Monarch’s Way caches. After parking up where we did for the old The Washers caches that used to be down this bridleway, we set off on foot.

The first cache was an ammo box and we soon arrived in the obvious area that you’d hide an ammo box in. The GPSr’s both thought differently and said we were 70ft out. We tried to trust our GPSr’s but they took us to somewhere where there was no place to put an ammo box. We returned to the first area and soon found the cache. I’ve no idea why the co-ords are so far out on this one as the rest of the caches by the same cache owner were bang on.

We carried on down the muddy path to pick up the other 3 caches along here, before re-tracing our steps to the Jeep. After re-positioning to nearer to the next cache, we walked over the field to GZ and another quick find. A very unusual cache container too – it was called ‘This boot was made for walking’. I bet you can guess what the cache was in ;-).

The next two caches were just down the lane so we were soon walking up the fields to find them. The second one of this duo had some great views over towards Wolverhampton. Isaac spotted the Molyneaux, which he liked seeing as he’d been to the match there (Wolves vs Bolton) with his Grandpa after school yesterday.

Next on the target list was a series around the Rough Wood area near the M6 on the east side of Wolverhampton. Isaac enjoyed guiding us along the roads to the parking area using Memory Map. Out came the bikes and off we set.

Our main target in this area is a series of 8 caches, collecting a clue from each to find the final bonus cache. Along the way there were two other caches to find. The series was nice and easy but we had a DNF on one of the extra caches. The hint lead to an obvious place but despite a good search, we could not spot the cache.

We were having great fun as we went round the series as each cache had a clue A = ?, B = ?, C = ? etc etc. Isaac started singing the really funny Black Country Alphabet song (well, we are in deepest Black Country here after all!) and we ended up doing it on and off for the rest of the day as it’s REALLY catchy :-).

After we’d finished here, we decided to head up to Cannock Chase to do Wild Goosey’s series of 6 caches around the old Bleak House mining area. We’d promised the cache owner we’d go and find her caches here ever since they came out so it was good to finally get to do them.

On the way, we stopped off at Sidetracked Bloxwich to see if we could find it as we had a DNF on it the last time we were in the area (it was muggled at the time). The new hiding place was clear but the cache was nowhere to be seen. I guess this is just one of those caches we’re destined never to find!

We soon arrived at the start of Wild Goosey’s series and found we had the car park to ourselves. Off we set, but failed to find the first of the caches. The logs said it was near the path but the closest we could get on the path was 80ft from GZ. Either we’re looking in the wrong place or the co-ords are way out (it was heavy tree cover so this could be a possibility). We gave up and decided to look for it on the way back.

The rest of the series was nice and easy, with some great views over the area as the walk was on high ground. We dropped off a lovely Cornish Tin Mine geocoin in one of the caches. It’s mission is to visit historical mining areas, so this place fitted the bill perfectly.

On the way back to the Jeep, we stopped to look for the first cache again. Nothing was to be found near the path so we decided to finally trust our GPSr’s. After a climb up through a brambly area, we were zero’ing out at an area with a very rough path through it. I wonder if this was the path other people have referred to in their logs? It was an we soon had the cache in hand.

We were due to see Freya in her stage school Christmas Play near home at 4:45 so we were rapidly running out of time by now. Just time for a quick few caches near Chasewater Country Park if we’re quick…

On the ride down to the first one, we were passed by a steam train along a railway we’d not spotted near a road. We never knew they had working steam trains around here so that was a lovely surprise.

The first cache was a no-go though as GZ was these huge stanchions filled with rocks. The cache was a micro with a hint something like ‘under three small rocks’. Talk about a needle in a haystack! We made an executive decision and moved on to the next cache. Thankfully this was a really easy find, which was exactly what we needed at this stage.

Unfortunately that was the last find of the day as we had to get going to see Freya’s show now, otherwise we’d never get there in time and the stage school shuts the doors promptly and won’t let you in if you are late.

Freya’s show was wonderful and she did a fab job (very proud Dad here :-)). 24 finds for the day, which is less than we usually get, but we did start quite late and finished quite a bit earlier than we usually do.

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Every year we meet up with the cousins-in-law just before Christmas to see a show and then go out for a meal afterwards. We were not due at the Symphony Hall until 2pm on Saturday so I decided to head off early and find some caches beforehand.

We’ve done all but a couple of multi’s in the city centre so I settled on a series of caches by g6lpb along the Tame Valley Canal just by the M6 junction near Great Barr. If I have time, I’ll head over to alongside the M6 just north of the canal to find a few more caches by the same cache owner, before heading off into Birmingham.

Last, but by no means least, I planned a return visit to Cheeky Cache! in Edgbaston as we’d tried and failed to find this on the previous two years when we met up for our pre-Christmas event with the family.

I dropped Isaac off at school on the way and headed off to the M54 / M6. I was soon parking up on a side street near a cache called ‘Cliff N Bricks‘. Out came my bike and off I set down the towpath.

The first cache was just by the bridge near where I parked but I soon realised I was on the wrong side of the canal to get it. I decided to leave it and find it on the way back to the Jeep. The next cache had two consecutive DNF’s on it, but I spotted a skid mark in the mud on the bank as I pulled up and this lead to me finding the cache in the first place I looked (I was very lucky as there are quite a few places it could have been hidden).

The rest of the caches were good fun, with one down a slippery bank which was great fun and a few other nicely hidden caches. The last in the series was off the towpath and on a bridge high above the cut. I decided to drive round to it later on, but in the end I ran out of time and never got the chance. One for next time methinks :-).

After re-tracing my steps (or should I say tyre tracks!) along the towpath, I went off to get two caches the other side from where I parked before going back to bag the cache that was on the wrong side of the canal. I managed to DNF the oldest one of these caches but was in good company with the last person before me DNF’ing it too. I see today that someone has found it today, saying it’s their first cache find. I can’t begin to think how they found it as it was nowhere near GZ if it was hidden as per the hint. Very odd.

I then re-positioned the Jeep to near a cache called ‘Forgers Walk‘ and got the bike out again. A couple of easy finds, then a DNF. If I’d had more time I probably would have got this cache, but I needed to think about getting into Brum by now.

Just time for a couple more quick caches – Hollywood 1 and 2. The first I could not find, so I went off to get the second one, which was an easy find and a lovely big ammo box. I then returned to the one I could not find and eventually found it – a very sneaky hide it was too! Very satisfying :-).

Back at the Jeep, I drove into Brum, round the ring road and on to the Cheeky Cache!. Having failed on this two years on the run now, I was well planned and knew exactly what to do to find the cache. I can’t say what I did here (it’s a difficulty 5 cache and I don’t want to spoil the cache for others who have not yet done it) but the cache was a quick find – phew!

Just time for a couple more caches now before the show. Sidetracked Birmingham University was one we’d tried for last year and could not find anywhere to park so had to leave it. This time I parked a short distance away and cycled to it (much easier!).

Two quick caches on the southern ring road had me finished for the day and off I set to meet up with the others.

Only 15 finds for the morning, but some really nice hides and it was REALLY good to finally crack Cheeky Cache!

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