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We’d had two DNF’s on two of our Shropshire Church Gem caches near to home, so as it was such a nice day today I popped out armed with replacement caches just in case.

St Luke's in Hodnet

St Luke's in Hodnet

The first cache is at St Luke’s in Hodnet and one I did not think would get muggled as it’s well hidden. I parked up close to GZ and walked over to look for it. Sure enough, it was not where I’d hidden it but a quick look around the rest of the old yew tree it’s hidden in revealed a bit of camo bag out of the corner of me eye. I checked the cache and it’s looking good, so I’ve just updated the hint a bit and re-enabled the cache.

St Swithun's in Cheswardine

St Swithun's in Cheswardine

Next on the list was near St Swithun’s in Cheswardine. This cache was an ammo box hidden at the far end of some lovely woodland on a nice walk from the church. Needless to say, as I approached GZ it did not look good as someone has used a chainsaw to chop the fallen tree the cache was underneath into short sections. They must have found the cache as it was nowhere to be seen. I left a brand new cache a short distance away and updated the cache page.

St John the Baptist in Great Bolas

St John the Baptist in Great Bolas

Finally, the last task for the trip was to drop off a TB that is a padlock and needs to be attached to an ammo box. The TB has a sibling that is a key and the idea is they both meet up and the cacher who manages it, can move the lock to a new ammo box. Our Shropshire Church Gem cache at St John the Baptist in Great Bolas looked perfect for that. A short walk down the old track had me at GZ and I did the business with the TB.

Now to head off back home to get on with some work!

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Puzzle caching on the Wirral

Old windmill turned into a house in Willaston

Old windmill turned into a house in Willaston

We’d enjoyed our caching on the Wirral last weekend so decided to come back this weekend to clear up some of the caches that we had left to do in the area. Last week we concentrated on the west side of the peninsula so this week we opted to cache along the east side. This side has lots of puzzle caches, but thankfully we had the co-ords for them all worked out.

On the walk round the Willaston caches

On the walk round the Willaston caches

The first area for the day was around the village of Willaston. There is a nice looking circular walk along with a bonus cache and also various other stand alone caches along the way. All were nice quick finds with nothing too taxing. The walk to the bonus cache was familiar as we’ve done a multi in the same area ages ago.

A preserved railway station now part of the Wirral Country Park

A preserved railway station now part of the Wirral Country Park

Next, we headed off northwards for the first puzzle caches of the day. The first was actually a multi as we had to get some numbers from a post, put them into a formula and then work out the final cache location.  All nice and easy and we soon had the cache found. We then did a quick stand alone cache in the Wirral FTF series on the way to the next puzzle cache.

Lovely flowers near to one of the caches

Lovely flowers near to one of the caches

The next puzzle cache is one that is actually at the published co-ordinates but there is a tricky wooded puzzle in the cache that you have to solve and then post a picture of you holding it with your log. As we pulled up we could see someone sat in their car nearby and wondered if it was another cacher. Sure enough it was wirralwanderers and they already had the puzzle and were trying to put it together. We pooled our thoughts and soon had it solved.

Isaac with the puzzle from the puzzle cache (in the rain!)

Isaac with the puzzle from the puzzle cache (in the rain!)

A couple of caches later, I was furtling in some ivy looking for a cache when another car pulled up. It was The Molecachers, who were just returning the cache after signing the log in their car down the road. Great to meet you all.

In lovely Port Sunlight

In lovely Port Sunlight

We then headed off to make a start on the main puzzle cache series – the Geneaology Series. This is a set of 8 tricky puzzle caches, based around doing research on family trees. I won’t say too much about the locations on here as I don’t want to make things too easy for other cachers. I will say that we enjoyed finding each cache, with some of them very close to great views along the River Mersey and over to Liverpool city centre itself.

Looking out along the River Mersey to Liverpool city centre and the Irish Sea

Looking out along the River Mersey to Liverpool city centre and the Irish Sea

While we were doing this series we picked up various stand alone caches including one with a really nicely engineered hide that is in plain view but totally blends in.

One of the Bromborough Crosses in a churchyard near to a cache

One of the Bromborough Crosses in a churchyard near to a cache

Time was getting on by now so we decided to head off and find the last puzzle cache series of the day: a set of three caches set around Eastham Country Park. We’ve been here a few times caching now and always enjoy coming as it’s a lovely place for caching. The three caches are actually two caches, leading to a bonus cache. The first cache has a key to unlock the lock on the bonus ammo box and the second contains the actual co-ords of the bonus cache.

Looking out along the River Mersey towards Runcorn

Looking out along the River Mersey towards Runcorn

Nothing too taxing with this series either. We even managed an easy find on the co-ordinate cache as that one is in an area usually with muggles everywhere. We picked a rainy Sunday afternoon when the World Cup is on TV so the area was really quiet.

38 finds for the day and another great day out, despite the constant rain all afternoon.

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Looking down the old canal section on the walk

Looking down the old canal section on the walk

On Saturday we had tickets to go and see the matinee performance of Hairspray at the Grand in Wolverhampton, but I could not let the day go by without at least finding one cache.

Steep steps heading up to the third cache

Steep steps heading up to the third cache

Thankfully three new caches had come out in an interesting looking ex-mining area in the north of Telford. Perfect! Off I went and was soon parking up for my walk round the caches.

Lovely old byway on the way back to where I'd parked

Lovely old byway on the way back to where I'd parked

The first was a quick find. I was then taken through the old mining area, which is now lovely woodland and past part of an old canal to the next cache. Another easy find here and I was soon at the last cache, which was a not so easy find as it’s a very small Small, hidden in tons of ivy and right in sight of some houses. I got it eventually though.

Looking out over the area from the top of the hill in the middle of the walk

Looking out over the area from the top of the hill in the middle of the walk

Now, off to meet up with the rest of the family and to catch the train into Wolverhampton for the show.

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Love these old style Public Footpath signs they have on the Wirral

Love these old style Public Footpath signs they have on the Wirral

Isaac is busy revising for exams at school this week (what a fun school holiday for him – not!) so we decided a day out caching might be the perfect break from this. Where to go though as Isaac wanted to cache in the North West, but we’ve already done a lot of the caches in the area?

North Cheshire Way? A sign right by one of the Skeg to Ness caches

North Cheshire Way? A sign right by one of the Skeg to Ness caches

A quick scour of cache locations on Memory Map led us to a return trip to the Wirral. We’ve not cached there for just over a year, in which time lots of new caches have come out in the area. There was a time when we’d nearly cleared the Wirral of caches, but not any more :-).

A cow, watching us sign the logbook at a cache

A cow, watching us sign the logbook at a cache

On the way to the Wirral we stopped for a few quick caches around the A41 on the east side of Chester. Nothing too taxing here, apart from a few nettles to contend with and a nano that had lost it’s magnet.

Funny sign in a front garden we passed - "Never mind the dog, beware of the owner!"

Funny sign in a front garden we passed - "Never mind the dog, beware of the owner!"

Once north of Chester, we opted to finish off the few Skeg To Ness caches (no’s 202-207) we’d left out when we did the rest of the series a few weeks ago. Along the way there were quite a few other caches to find. At Come on Down we bumped into a very new cacher as we were about to walk over to look for the cache. Nice to meet you mpl003 :-).

Isaac with the cache. We finally finish the Skeg to Ness series with #207.

Isaac with the cache. We finally finish the Skeg to Ness series with #207.

Once we’d finished this set of caches, we were at the lovely village / town of Neston. Here there is a nice trail of caches which go in a loop over fields and back along the sea front, with a further section of the walk along an old railway track that is now a cycleway. Sounds like a perfect excuse to get the bikes out – so we did!

Cycling down the great cycleway round a series at Parkgate

Cycling down the great cycleway round a series at Parkgate

After finding the bonus cache on the last series, we headed off further up the coast to Heswall for a few quick caches. Again, nothing too taxing here – even the cache outside another cacher’s house was out of sight of the house, so we did not get spotted.

Boats on the silted up Dee Estuary at Heswall

Boats on the silted up Dee Estuary at Heswall

You can’t come to the Wirral without doing some PhilPamAndRob caches – especially their excellent “old school” puzzle caches in which nothing is ever quite as simple as it first seems. We’d not done any of their caches yet today, but there was a group of them nearby at Royden Park. Off we set…

Lovely old stile on the way to a cache

Lovely old stile on the way to a cache

We got distracted at first by some caches around a circular walk that have been set by some local Cub Scouts. All of these were quick finds with pretty good co-ords and in nice spots.

Looking from GZ towards the Dee Estuary, Irish Sea and Wales (middle left of picture)

Looking from GZ towards the Dee Estuary, Irish Sea and Wales (middle left of picture)

Along the way somewhere (I won’t say where and won’t say if we diverted off the route to get it as I don’t want to give anything away) we stopped to finally find PhilPamAndRob’s excellent A “One-Off” cache. We’d actually started this tricky little puzzle on our visit to the area last year and after a further twist sometime earlier in the day today, we had the final co-ords for the cache. The actual cache was a lot easier to find than the puzzle was to solve, but very satisfying nonetheless :-).

Beautiful old church at Thurstaston

Beautiful old church at Thurstaston

Next it was into Royden Park itself for PhilPamAndRob’s Easter themed series. This is a set of 4 Traditional caches, which give you the co-ords to a bonus cache. All were nice quick finds and we soon had the bonus cache in hand. On the way round we stopped off to get their Wirral Advent Calendar puzzle cache.

You can see Royden Hall through the trees on the way round the Easter Egg series

You can see Royden Hall through the trees on the way round the Easter Egg series

By now, time was getting on but we had 44 finds and wondered if we could get this up to 50. Daft question really as there are tons more caches around here, so off we set…

We love caching in woodland like this - so tranquil

We love caching in woodland like this - so tranquil

The next two caches were DNF’s – why is it when you need a few more finds, they suddenly get really hard to find? We decided to stop trying so hard, relax and just go with the flow. This normally works really well and we find caches without really thinking about it, whereas if we try too hard we keep DNF’ing caches!

National Trust - Local Nature Reserve. The caches were in woodland adjoining this area.

National Trust - Local Nature Reserve. The caches were in woodland adjoining this area.

Needless to say we soon had over 50 caches found for the day, including clearing up 3 DNF’s in the Bidston Hill area from our visit last year. It’s always very satisfying clearing up DNF’s like this :-).

An almost yellow field with hundreds of buttercups

An almost yellow field with hundreds of buttercups

We REALLY must be thinking about going home now as we are getting hungry, but not before 3 last caches just to the south of Chester.

Looking along the Shropshire Union Canal near Chester on the way to the penultimate cache of the day

Looking along the Shropshire Union Canal near Chester on the way to the penultimate cache of the day

We ended the day with 56 finds and were back for a late tea, so made pretty good progress throughout the day as we did not start off early. Isaac’s mind was totally off his exams so the main objective of the day was achieved too :-).

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Oulton Millennium Stone

Oulton Millennium Stone

I was just about to have some dinner today when up popped 5 new caches very close to home. How could I resist? The caches were set around great big boulder stones that had been set around the area as part of the Millennium celebrations.

After I had eaten my sandwiches, I was off in the Jeep and was soon pulling up near the first one in the series. I managed to overshoot GZ in my eagerness to get there first and walked back up the lane for an easy find. The location was a great one, just by an old canal bridge which used to span the now defunct Norbury to Newport canal.

Weston Jones Millennium Stone, right outside an old smithy

Weston Jones Millennium Stone, right outside an old smithy

The next one in the series was right by Norbury Junction itself and another easy find. The hide was very audacious given the busy location and the fact it was a decent sized cache container. I wish more caches were as well thought out as these :-).

Next, it was a back-track along the lane leading to the A518 for another quick find by the Village Hall Millennium Stone. After that, it was two more easy FTF’s the other side of the main A518, both in great and very rural locations.

Now to head back home and get on with some work…

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Views over the lake at Hilton Gravel Pits nature reserve

Views over the lake at Hilton Gravel Pits nature reserve

This week we fancied a change and spotted a lot of caches we could attempt by bike in the Burton On Trent area. The first ones were along an old railway line stretching up the side of Derby and then there was a few round the village of Hilton, followed by a circuit of the Conkers Discovery Centre near Swadlincote.

View down the old railway line, now a great cycleway

View down the old railway line, now a great cycleway

The first cache was a very short distance down a track and so we parked at the end of the track. We were half way to the cache when someone shouted over at us from a passing car saying we were blocking the track (we were not) and that the track was in use “24 hours a day”. What total rubbish as it was very overgrown and clearly had not seen a vehicle in some time! Anything for a quiet life though and we moved the Jeep to a different parking spot.

Sitting cows - isn't that supposed to mean it's going to rain? Thankfully the cows had got it wrong and it was sunny all day!

Sitting cows - isn't that supposed to mean it's going to rain? Thankfully the cows had got it wrong and it was sunny all day!

Next, we parked up round the corner and got the bikes out for a ride to the caches along the old railway line. This is now a really well looked after cycle track and an absolute pleasure to use. We soon found all 10 or so caches, with a few being a bit sneaky but not *that* hard to find.

A very creative hide on one of the caches (I won't say which)

A very creative hide on one of the caches (I won't say which)

Once back at the Jeep, we headed off for a quick cache in fields by the local village before heading over to Hilton to do the numerous caches there. For such a small place it doesn’t half have quite a few caches ;-).

Hilton Millennium Clock

Hilton Millennium Clock

Our favourites of the ones round here were in this fabulously beautiful Nature Reserve which was hidden behind a very industrial looking lane, right by the side of the main A50. We’d never have known this area was here without caching as we did not seen any signs for it on the way. We had a real treat walking round the 4 caches in the reserve and saw tons of wildlife.

Great views over the nature reserve

Great views over the nature reserve

After that, we did a few more caches in Hilton before deciding to head over towards Swadlincote and the final big bike ride of the day. On the way, we could not resist a few more quick and easy caches around the lovely town of Tutbury. We’ve never heard of this place before and loved the castle on the top of the hill by the town. We’ve made a note to return for a closer visit sometime soon.

An old pit wheel is a fitting reminder of the mining that this area used to know

An old pit wheel is a fitting reminder of the mining that this area used to know

Once in Swadlincote, we parked up by Conkers Discovery Centre and got our bikes out of the Jeep. The trail of caches follows the Blue Route, which is a really nice cycle track round the perimiter of the Conkers Country Park. There were 12 caches spread round the whole circuit and it turned into a really enjoyable experience with a nice mixture of landscapes, caches and hides.

Conkers Circuit - Blue Route marker post

Conkers Circuit - Blue Route marker post

By the end we were ready for an ice cream each but despite it being a lovely day and the Discovery Centre car park being very busy, there was not an ice cream van to be seen. Someone is missing a very good business opportunity here methinks ;-).

Views over a lake on the Conkers Circuit. Hard to imagine all this area used to be used for coal mining.

Views over a lake on the Conkers Circuit. Hard to imagine all this area used to be used for coal mining.

We just had time for a few more caches before we had to go home, so opted for a set of 4 along the Trent and Mersey Canal in Burton, as we could do these by bike too. We DNF’d the first one (it’s since been checked by the cache owner and confirmed missing) but the other 3 caches were quick finds.

A very shady Trent and Mersey Canal in Burton

A very shady Trent and Mersey Canal in Burton

We then headed off to the A38 and the journey home, but not before we grabbed a final two caches.

A great play area near the last cache of the day

A great play area near the last cache of the day

46 finds in total for the day and a great day out with Isaac in a lovely area for caching.

Click here for a link to our route for the day on Everytrail.

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Isaac and Freya with the cache

Isaac and Freya with the cache

It was a Bank Holiday on Monday and we’d been invited round to dinner at the in-laws in Blymhill so stopped decided to go the ‘scenic’ route and take in the new cache just south of Gnosall that is an extension of the Special Forces series.

Needless to say it was a very quick find down a narrow lane not too far from the Shropshire Union Canal. Both the children spotted the cache as we pulled up opposite. The hide itself was a really nice one and probably the best of the series so far :-).

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Shropshire Church Gem - Shifnal

Shropshire Church Gem - Shifnal

On Saturday, despite breaking up for the half-term holidays yesterday, Isaac had to go into school for Speech Day. I dropped him off and planned to go and do 5 nearby caches while I was waiting to pick him up.

The first on my list was a Shropshire Church Gem in Shifnal and a quick find once I’d realised you access the path to it via the churchyard and not by a nearby street of houses – doh!

By this time the rain had started and was coming down quite heavily, which was not exactly adding to the caching experience. I pressed on regardless in the hope the rain would stop soon (it didn’t!). The next cache was a quick one on a nice walk over some fields and into woodland.

Views over the rapeseed crop while walking to snerdbe's Old Park caches

Views over the rapeseed crop while walking to snerdbe's Old Park caches

The next two caches were an addition to snerdbe’s Old Park cache, which we’d done absolutely ages ago. I parked in the same place as we did the last time we were here and enjoyed the walk (despite the rain!) to both caches.

The last one of my short trip out was another Shropshire Church Gem, this time at the beautiful church in Tong. This was a multi and so I wandered into the churchyard to get the numbers I needed, before returning to the Jeep to woork out the co-ords to the final cache. I would normally have walked the last bit but it was still raining so I drove all the way and parked right by GZ for an easy find.

Once back at school, I was in plenty of time to pick Isaac up. Pity there were not a few more caches I could have looked for to pass the time ;-).

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A peaceful stretch of the Coventry Canal

A peaceful stretch of the Coventry Canal

On Sunday Isaac was free and the weather was forecast to be even hotter than it was yesterday. Sounds like a perfect excuse to go caching! We’d had a look for likely destinations and the Barnacle Bimble series just north of Coventry appealed as I’d enjoyed the same cache owner’s other series (Burgo and Beans) last week.

Lovely old traditional caravan by the canal

Lovely old traditional caravan by the canal

We were soon parking up in the village of Barnacle (strange name for a place that is not near the sea!). After getting kitted up for our walk and packing lots of drinks, we set off. The first part of the walk took us over fields and past several fishing pools, then the second part was along the Coventry and Oxford canals. The final part of the walk was back over the fields to where we’d started.

A family of swans on the canal

A family of swans on the canal

The caches were all quick and easy finds with a nice variety of hides and cache sizes. All too soon we were back at the Jeep and planning where to head for next.

Bluebell woods towards the end of the Barnacle Bimble

Bluebell woods towards the end of the Barnacle Bimble

The Fisherman’s Trail to the west of Coventry was next and on the way we picked up a quick drive-by by a Scout camp. The series itself was another great walk in an area we’ve been caching to before. One of the caches was an ammo box too, which is always good to see.

Beautiful views on the Fisherman's Trail

Beautiful views on the Fisherman's Trail

On the way to the next series, we passed through the town of Balsall Common and stopped for a quick drive-by (or so we thought!). No sign of the cache at GZ so we read the cache description only to find that it’s really a puzzle cache type as you have to guess where the final cache is based on some hints on the cache page. Hmmmm, ok … let’s try it anyway. Needless to say we ended up at a bus stop and started to get curious looks from passing motorists so gave up and moved on.

It's always good to find an ammo box. We wish they would be used more.

It's always good to find an ammo box. We wish they would be used more.

The next walk was around the Bloom Trail, which was set in some lovely countryside. All nice quick finds here too with nothing too taxing.

A beautiful day to be out on the canal

A beautiful day to be out on the canal

We were on 34 finds for the day by now but still had an hour or so spare, so decided to see if we could get up to 40 finds for the day.

Strange cache container that looked a bit like an aerosol deodorant bottle

Strange cache container that looked a bit like an aerosol deodorant bottle

The next cache was down this long dead end lane and as we neared the end we could see a fire engine and firemen everywhere. Oh no, I hope there is not a fire. Needless to say there wasn’t and the fire engine was turning round and going on it’s way by the time we parked up. I wonder if they need to update their sat-nav software ;-).

A small yellow hill - rapeseed is in full bloom this time of year

A small yellow hill - rapeseed is in full bloom this time of year

A few drive-by’s followed although we had to be creative about deciding which caches to go for as we’ve found most of the other caches in this immediate area. We ended up heading a bit further north and picking off the final few caches in the Tutti Frutti and Over The Rainbow series. Both these series are spread out all round South and East Birmingham and we’ve done them as individual caches over quite a few seperate trips. We now have the bonus co-ords though :-).

That's Birmingham city centre over there in the distance

That's Birmingham city centre over there in the distance

41 finds for the day and an absolutely excellent day out with my lovely boy in very hot weather. Perfect :-).

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Chirk railway bridge viewed from Chirk Aquaduct. The railway bridge was deliberately built higher so as to make it look more superior to the canal.

Chirk railway bridge viewed from Chirk Aquaduct. The railway bridge was deliberately built higher so as to make it look more superior to the canal.

On Saturday I had only intended to do a few caches after I’d dropped Isaac off at school as we’d planned a proper day out caching on Sunday. In the end it turned into quite a bit more than a few caches and took quite a lot of the day!

Lovely wild meadow on the Perry Bridges caches

Lovely wild meadow on the Perry Bridges caches

I headed off along the A5 to tackle the 9 new Perry Bridges caches first. These are all set at bridges along the River Perry in the Oswestry area, some being driveby’s and some being walks down over fields to more remote foot bridges.

The beautiful methodist church in Chirk

The beautiful methodist church in Chirk

Nothing too taxing here and all were nice quick finds, with some of them being in really pretty spots. I was having a great time and decided to carry on caching and head towards Chirk in North Wales as that’s where the next nearest caches were.

Walking along Chirk Aquaduct - I'm a few hundred feet up at this point!

Walking along Chirk Aquaduct - I'm a few hundred feet up at this point!

On the way to Chirk I stopped off for a quick find on a Pirates Of Shropshire caches. In Chirk I started with a quick Church Micro before setting off on foot over the magnificent Chirk Viaduct. This is a HUGE structure, designed by Thomas Telford and both scenic and an extremely impressive feat of engineering. One end is in England and one in Wales so you walk to a different country along the way :-).

Croeso I Cymru

Croeso I Cymru - the Welsh end of Chirk Aquaduct

Welcome to England

Welcome to England - the English end of the Chirk Aquaduct

A few more quick caches round Chirk followed, with my favourite being in this lovely bluebell carpeted woodland near to Chirk Castle. After I’d done in Chirk I dropped back into England to head off to the Pink Wellie series. This is a set of 9 caches in the middle of nowhere and all involving some kind of physical challenge e.g. wading, climbing trees, screambling up slippery banks.

The massive chocolate factory in Chirk

The massive chocolate factory in Chirk

I came a cropper at the first one as it was nowhere to be seen. I’d even crawled down the badger track under the hedge and into a culvert by the road as intended but still could not spot the cache. I gave up and moved onto the next one, which involved taking off my walking boots, rolling up my pants and wading over a river under a roadbridge to get the cache – great fun :-).

Traditional church in Chirk town centre

Traditional church in Chirk town centre

The rest of the series were equally as good – the main thing being having to do something a bit different on each one to get the smiley. On the way round I passed a wedding party just coming out of the church in the village of Duddleston.

I don't own any wellies (especially not pink ones!) so had to wade barefoot to get the cache

I don't own any wellies (especially not pink ones!) so had to wade barefoot to get the cache

After this, I went off to look for the new Tetchill Tour caches, all set around the small village of Tetchill. On the way I grabbed two drive-by’s, both of which I’m still wondering about as they were both at the side of a nonedescript stretch of road. Why put a cache there?

Lovely canal on part of the Tetchill Tour

Lovely canal on part of the Tetchill Tour

The Tetchill caches were a nice walk and some fun hides. By now I really should start heading for home but could not resist picking off the few drive-by’s between Ellesmere and Whitchurch as they have been on my closest to home not found list for way too long.

Friendly cows on the Tetchill Tour

Friendly cows on the Tetchill Tour

One of the drive-by’s had the part co-ords for a nearby puzzle cache that has been out for 4 months now, but never found. I had a quick look and the other part of the co-ords were in a cache about 6 miles to the north of where I was, so off I set.

Old water pump in Tetchill - there's a cache in it too!

Old water pump in Tetchill - there's a cache in it too!

With the full co-ords for the unfound cache, I plotted them on my GPSr and realised they were (sort of) on my way home. What better way to end the day than with a FTF, which is just what I did :-). A very satisfying end to a great day on what has been the hottest day of the year.

On the way to my FTF (I won't say which canal it is though ;-))

On the way to my FTF (I won't say which canal it is though ;-))

37 finds in some beautiful and unspoilt countryside.

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