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Posts Tagged ‘Stafford’

The lovely church at Shareshill, near to the start of the PAF series

The lovely church at Shareshill, near to the start of the PAF series

Isaac was at school on Saturday morning so I planned to drop him off and then head off to the new PAF (‘phone a friend’) series just north of Wolverhampton. This is a circular walk involving 18 caches, 2 of which are Multi’s and the rest being Traditionals. The twist is that none of the caches have a cache container size specified and virtually all of them have no hints at all.

At GZ with one of the logbooks from the PAF series

At GZ with one of the logbooks from the PAF series

I parked up by the first cache and started to look for it. A constant stream of dog walkers started to come past, almost as if they were waiting for me to arrive! I thus decided to return for this one at the end of the walk and headed off for the next cache.

Part of the PAF series takes you along the Shropshire Union Canal

Part of the PAF series takes you along the Shropshire Union Canal

Once I’d got into the swing of things, and my geo-senses had finally woken up (!) I made light work of most of the caches. My only real problem was at #7 where the cache was nowhere to be found. I tried my only PAF’s of the series just to check I’d not missed something obvious (would not be the first time!). The first PAF could not remember the cache at all, but the second confirmed I was in the right place and it looked like the cache was missing. I got 2 PAF calls myself about cache #7 later in the day and it was then confirmed the cache really was missing and had now been replaced (quick work for the cache owner there – can’t fault that for service ;-)).

Which way next? On the PAF walk somewhere.

Which way next? On the PAF walk somewhere.

After I’d finished the series I grabbed cache #1 on the way back to the Jeep and headed off for a few other caches in the immediate area. Nothing too taxing here and I soon ran out of caches to do. What to do next then? Head over towards Walsall / Cannock or up towards Stafford, both of which had a good few caches I could aim for.

The photo I was not allowed to post with my log as it apparently contains a spoiler! I won't say which cache it is though.

The photo I was not allowed to post with my log as it apparently contains a spoiler! I won't say which cache it is though.

Stafford won out and I thus drove up to Penkridge to find the 4 Food Trail caches we’ve been meaning to do for ages. They were all nicely themed with good hides and fun containers. Heading up towards Stafford, I picked off a series of 4 new caches along a Bridleway near Brocton. No problems here except the last one was nowhere to be seen and when I got home later on I saw the cache owner has taken it back home as it had been muggled by children and wrecked.

Heading off to one of the Wizard of Oz caches

Heading off to one of the Wizard of Oz caches

Stafford was REALLY busy when I arrived so I had to do a bit of creative routing to get me to the caches without getting stuck in traffic for too long. I had another very lengthy search for two Wizard Of Oz themed caches near Stafford Grammar School. The first one was nowhere to be seen (and has since been confirmed as missing by the cache owner). The second one was 20m or so away from the co-ords so was found more by luck than good judgement.

View from GZ at one of the Newport caches. That's the old canal that is now a designated SSSI below.

View from GZ at one of the Newport caches. That's the old canal that is now a designated SSSI below.

Time was getting on by now but I just had time to pick off a couple of quick caches near to Norton Bridge on the way to Eccleshall and onwards to home. I also picked off our two closest to home not founds in Newport on my way home.

40 finds for the day. Here is a link to the Everytrail plot of our route.

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A quick cache in Stafford

The cache ... and a very busy street market very close by

The cache ... and a very busy street market very close by

I had to pop to the bank in Stafford this morning to pay some cheques in. On the walk from where I’d parked was a new cache, right in the main square on the high street called Muggle Central.

Needles to say this was a very busy GZ and the cache took a bit of patience! There was a family sat on the bench at GZ when I arrived so I went off to the bank hoping they would be gone on my return.

I returned to find an elderly lady sat there. Hmmm. Luckily she eventually moved on and I grabbed my opportunity to find the cache, but not before I had to dodge a council workman emptying some nearby bins.

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Me with one of the caches in the series to the south of Stafford

Me with one of the caches in the series to the south of Stafford

This morning I had to pop into Stafford to pay some cheques in at the bank so decided to clear up all the new caches around the town while I was there. This involved 9 caches in total, so it should not take too long.

The first cache was on the way (well, on a scenic version of the way with a bit of a diversion from my normal route to Stafford ;)). A nice quick find was had and I was soon parking up in Stafford.

After I’d finished at the bank and grabbed myself a free coffee from Starbucks courtesy of a voucher we got from a Starbucks in London last weekend, I went off to find the only other town centre cache. This was a quick find and a very audacious hide in plain sight on a bench in the middle of a roundabout that must get used by muggles all the time.

Very wet and cloudy views to the south from one of the caches

Very wet and cloudy views to the south from one of the caches

The remaining caches were all to the south of the town and nothing presented a problem apart from the last one. I’ll copy my log for the cache below, which explains things:

I won’t embarrass myself and say how long it took me to find this one.

Oh, go on then… it took me quite some time and two visits!

I’d arrived at dinnertime and the car park was really busy with people arriving with children to have dinner at the pub very near to GZ. My GPSr was actually pointing a short way up the bank towards the roundabout at the motorway junction so after a quick prod around in the car park I drove round to there.

Nowhere sensible to hide a cache up there and nowhere safe to park either. The cache MUST be in the car park somewhere. I returned but even more people were hanging around in the car park and it was near on impossible to search as a lone male very close to parked cars. The last thing I wanted was someone spotting me and thinking I may be about to break into a car.

I reluctantly gave up the search and walked away muttering something about people hiding caches in busy car parks in lots of (e)vil, right by where people park their cars.

After I’d done the next cache, I decided to check the cache page for this one on my iPhone and spotted a picture from the FTF’s log. This confirmed exactly where I should be searching so I decided to return for one last look.

This time I went right to the correct GZ and looked slightly away from the corner and spotted the cache – phew!

I returned home felling pretty happy with myself for clearing up all the caches in the town and surrounding area. This was shortlived though as I was sat eating some dinner when in came two new cache notifications and both for caches to extend the series I’d just thought I’d completed to the south of Stafford.

Oh well, at least I’ll have some caches to find the next time I have to go to Stafford :).

p.s. the (e)vil I refer to in my log above is the ROT13 of ivy with an extra e added to perfectly describe the hide. It’s the UK equivalent of a Lamp Post Cache (in that it’s a boring and un-imaginative hide) and not a fun hide as there are a lot of possibilities to check to get the cache found.

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Isaac with a cache near to Stoke On Trent

Isaac with a cache near to Stoke On Trent

We don’t usually do much caching in the week but with the school holidays on, we inevitably end up finding a few.

4th August 2010

Isaac and Mrs Bolas Heathens had a few errands to run in Stafford and Stoke, so stopped off to find a quick three caches. Not much to report from what I hear apart from 3 easy finds.

5th August 2010

I had an hour spare just after dinner so decided to head out and pick off our closest cache to home – a cache by RAF Tern Hill, an active airfield and army barracks. I was a bit apprehensive about the cache given it’s proximity to MOD land and the very real risk of armed guards wondering what the heck I was up to. Thankfully it was an easy find, but it was (just about) on MOD land which is not allowed. I see now a Reviewer has archived the cache, which all things considered is very much the right thing to do. The last thing we want is our hobby coming under scrutiny for all the wrong reasons.

Me with one of the caches in Whitchurch

Me with one of the caches in Whitchurch

I was enjoying myself so decided to head off to Whitchurch to clear up the (quite a) few new caches that had spriung up recently in the area. On the way I picked up a straggler cache near Malpas in Cheshire that we’d been meaning to do for ages.

Not much to report on the Whitchurch caches apart from lots of very tricky and camo’d micros in ivy (not our favourite type of find at all). Two of them do stand out though as they were decent sized boxes full of decent swaps and hidden in nice locations.

Our FTF in a very dark Warrington

Our FTF in a very dark Warrington

I’d been working on a puzzle cache called Blank Canvas just to the south of Warrington on and off for the last few days and just after tea today I had a flash of inspiration on the final part of the puzzle and the cache co-ords were then revealed. I’d not normally drive just over an hour for FTF but given how many people are currently working on the same puzzle, I could not resist.

A quick call to Allun from the Shropshire Seeekers to see if he wanted to tag along and we were on our way. By the time we had arrived it was dark, so out came the torches for the walk over the fields to GZ. The cache was an easy find and we were delighted to see we were FTF :-).

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Isaac with the Chester Challenge logbook. Love these rhinoceroses that are dotted everywhere round the city centre.

Isaac with the Chester Challenge logbook. Love these rhinoceroses that are dotted everywhere round the city centre.

Yesterday Isaac did the remaining two caches we had to clear Stafford out again. He tells me they were both quick finds, one near the parking area for Doxey Marshes Nature Reserve, which we’ve been to before for other caches.

On the way home they diverted via Moreton to grab the final one of the Special Forces caches. We’d had 2 DNF’s on this in the last 2 days as it’s right opposite some houses, the co-ords are 69ft out and there have been people around when we’ve been to try and find it before. Today we timed it right, so Isaac went in for a quick find.

In the afternoon we had a meeting in Chester to go to so off we all set. We met up with Clotguy by the Racecourse (great to meet you at last :-)) and after the meeting headed off to do some caches.

Clotguy and ourselves phooning on the busy roundabout

Clotguy and ourselves phooning on the busy roundabout

The first was a really fun one where you had to stand on this very exposed roundabout and phoon (see the photos) with everyone going past in cars wondering what the heck you are up to. Once girl in a black car looked particularly bemused, which was hilarious :-).

After that, we headed off to Chester Challenge, which is a really fun hide in a VERY public and busy location. Thankfully, with all the children in our group we had excellent cover to search for the cache and soon had it located. An inspired hide in such a busy location too. If you are ever in Chester, go and try for this cache – you won’t be disappointed.

Isaac at the busy Eastgate clock cache. There were tourists getting photos all around GZ.

Isaac at the busy Eastgate clock cache. There were tourists getting photos all around GZ.

The last cache we found was by the clock at Eastegate on the old Roman walls around the city. We’d done the old cache here so looked in the place that was hidden first. It was not there, but Isaac soon spotted the cache nearby.

We did try for one final cache by a bridge over the River Dee but for some reason they had hidden a nano on some metal railings that were covered in ivy. As if that was not bad enough, it was next to an extremely busy road and the co-ords took you to a place that did not match the hint. After a quick look we gave up as it’s not our idea of fun I’m afraid.

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Lovely quiet lane with newly planted woodland by the third cache of the morning

Lovely quiet lane with newly planted woodland by the third cache of the morning

I had to drop Isaac off in Stafford this morning so while I was here I decided to clear up the two new caches in the area.

The first one was a bit of a nightmare if I’m honest as there were dog walkers all over the place and me loitering by the fence the cache was hidden behind looking suspicious did not help. I checked all the places as per the hint and could not find the cache. In the end I used a PAF and 5 minutes later they turned up on their bike. Can’t beat that for service! Great to meet you at last too Dave :-). We finally found the cache a short distance from where it should be and not as per the hint at all. We put it back where it should be.

Looking over towards Stafford Castle from the second cache

Looking over towards Stafford Castle from the second cache

The second cache was a bit more straightforward and I had it in hand after eliminating the various possibilities in the ivy at GZ. There were some nice views over towards Stafford Castle from GZ too.

Last, but by no means least was a brand new cache on the Weald Moors just north of Telford that came out yesterday afternoon. I’d normally have dashed out for a FTF attempt but did not have time yesterday. This morning it was a nice quick find in a lovely quiet area.

Now to get home to do some work.

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Ranton Abbey, seen from part way round my walk

Ranton Abbey, seen from part way round my walk

I had to pop to the bank in Stafford this morning so decided to stop by and check on our Alchemy Quest ~ Steel (Staffordshire) cache as the last two people who went for it could not find it. I took a replacement cache as I suspected it was missing.

After a lovely walk down to GZ it was clear that the woods where the cache had been hidden had been heavily coppiced and the cache was nowhere to be seen. I set about scouting out somewhere to hide a replacement cache nearby. With the new cache in place, I took a few co-ord readings and checked they took me to the right hiding place.

As it was such a nice morning and I was thoroughly enjoying myself, I carried on and made it into a nice circular walk :-).

After I’d been to the bank in Stafford I popped along to do a quick cache in the suburbs, which turned out to be nice and easy.

Once I got home, I updated the Alchemy Quest cache page and posted it back as available for the next finder.

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Self portrait with the logbook

Another evening and another FTF dash with the Shropshire Seekers. There seems to be quite a few new caches coming out at about 7:30pm ish at the moment and I for one are really enjoying both seeing new caches coming out in the area and also a good opportunity for some nighttime caching.

I’d missed the usual notification email for the new one this evening – in fact it’s still not arrived two days later! I think Goundspeak need to feed the mail server hamsters more ;-). Luckily Allun noticed the new cache so popped up on MSN to see if I fancied the FTF dash. Daft question ;-).

He was soon round at out house and we set off in the Jeep. The cache is by the old airfield at Seighford near Stafford. The airfield is a busy gliding club at the weekends with another part of it used for a ‘Fast Car Experience’, where you can zoom round the track in Ferrari’s, Lambo’s etc etc. Must try that sometime :-).

Anyway, we were soon at GZ and the co-ords were good so we had a really quick find of the sneakily hidden cache. Not only am I enjoying the new caches in the area, but also some really nice hides too. Long may it continue.

I was back home with Mrs Bolas Heathens in just less that an hour.

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Lovely pond near one of the caches I found

I was going to have a day doing non-caching things on Saturday and save caching for a full day out on Sunday.

Just after dinner I started to wonder about popping out to clear up a multi cache that has been sat at the very top of our closest to home not founds for too long. We’re not great fans of multi’s but it was making the map look untidy so off I set. I had a nice walk around Woodseaves getting the clues and a short walk to the final cache location for an easy find.

After I’d finished, I was pondering a trip towards Stafford to do the other multi we’ve been putting off doing near Seighford. It was only 6 miles or so away so off I set. This one was a micro leading to a final box and easy enough, with a nice walk thrown in for good measure.

Misty views over Staffordshire

By this time I was enjoying myself and wanted to go and find more caches. The only problem being we’ve done virtually all of them in the area. The nearest was at Sandon, the other side of Stafford.

Off I set and was soon parking up at the church the cache was set near. As I got out of the Jeep I spotted some other cachers a short distance away and decided to pop down to get the cache (100ft away) and then go back to say hello to them. The cache was a quick find but when I returned to the parking, the cachers were not there as they had already set off on their walk – doh! I think it was milly’s marauders, based on the names in the cache logbook. Great to nearly meet you anyway ;-).

Next, I headed up through Stone to a couple of quick drive-by’s, including one at Stoke Rugby Club which was nowhere to be seen the last time I’d tried to find it. This time it was much easier – in fact the cache was just sat there in plain view under a conifer.

The Stoke Rugby Club cache

Last of the quick trip out was a new cache in the south end of Stoke. It was a .3 walk up an old road that is now closed off to vehicles. Another nice easy find was had here, with the only thing to note a dodgy looking lone bloke lurking by the side of the path towards where I’d parked. I’ve no idea what he was up to but he looked very dodgy. I did wonder if this is what I must look like when I’m out caching and waiting for muggles to go past GZ before I can find a cache. Probably :-(.

7 finds and quite a bit of driving, but at least the local multi’s are now done :-).

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Self portrait with the cache

I was at home looking after the children last night while Mrs Bolas Heathens was out, when up popped a new cache towards Stafford. Not long after, Allun from the Shropshire Seekers (who lives in the village nearest to us) popped up on MSN to ask if I fancied a FTF dash for it. Of course I did :-).

Allun arrived round just before Mrs Bolas Heathens got home and as soon as we could we dashed out to the cache. It was by an old bridge over the old Stafford to Newport railway line, which is now a lovely cycleway. We suspected the cache was on the cycleway so down we went.

My GPS zero’d out by a fence near the bridge so I set about searching there while Allun was looking nearby. We then wondered if the cache might actually be up on the bridge itself (the cache page said it was a sneaky hide!). One of us went up while the other carried on looking down below.

A short while later Allun came up with the cache, although I won’t say if he was ‘up’ or ‘down’ as we don’t want to make it too easy for future finders ;-). Even better, we were FTF on the cache :-).

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