Archive for June, 2009

Last Friday, in addition to the new caches along the old Market Drayton railway line coming out, there was a 16 stage multi around the lovely (small) town of Eccleshall, not far from home.

On Sunday, after I’d finished logging Saturday’s caches, myself and Freya set off for Eccleshall to try the new cache.

With so many stages, we’d opted for a printed version of the cache (rather than being strictly paperless, as we usually are). I’d glad we did as the 15 stages meant lots of writing things down and co-ord calculations for the next stage.

We were taken on a lovely circular walk, taking in some interesting spots we’ve driven past loads of times but not looked at in detail.

Eventually we got to the 16th stage and sat down to work out where the final cache was. We realised it would make sense to go back to the Jeep and move it round to nearer the final cache.

This we did and a short walk later we were approaching GZ. Freya found the nicely hidden cache.

We were getting hungry by now so headed off home for some well deserved refreshments and some food.

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On Saturday we decided to head to Sambourne, which is between Redditch and Alcester. There was an event there last weekend (which we’d totally missed spotting – probably because I’ve never heard of Sambourne before!) and lots of new caches had been placed in the area.

Isaac guided us off the M5 and to the first cache of the day. We failed to find it after a shortish search so decided to move on and come back for a better look later in the day.

The next few caches were all nice quick drive-by’s with co-ords that were absolutely bang on. My Oregon had us within 1ft of the cache at more than one of them – something I’ve never seen so good before.

After clearing up the drive-by’s, we parked up to plan our circular walks around the rest of the caches in the area. We could do them in 3 groups so headed off for the first group.

These were just three caches and all placed along the one PF. All nice quick finds and good sized boxes.

Next stop was just the other side of the village. We parked up and set off for a circular walk around the caches. Some sneaky hides on this section, which we really enjoyed. Also quite a few fields of rape-seed with paths just about visible through them.

After we’d finished this loop, we sat to have our sandwiches before setting off for the final loop of caches in the village. On the way, we drove past a walker who had an Oregon attached to his backpack. Could it be a cacher? On looking at the logs on the caches for the day, it could well have been Wrighty – wish we’d have gone back to say hello now.

The last circular walk started off badly as we could not find the first cache. We decided to come back later and look again and carried on. The next one was a fun one which involved some special equipment to retrieve it. The rest of the caches on this loop were nice easy finds, with some great hides.

As we arrived back near the Jeep, we had yet another DNF. Hmmm – looks like we’ll be busy clearing up our DNF’s later on.

Now we’d pretty much cleared the village of new caches, we headed off to delta68’s Follow The Arrow series, which are set along the banks of the River Arrow, in some great countryside.

Lots of great walking in nice areas followed, with no problems on the caches apart from one called Ditch which we could not find anywhere. A quick call to the cache owner on the PAF line revealed it must be missing.

After we’d finished the Follow The Arrow series, we headed off back to try and clear up our DNF’s. It’s always worth going back to a cache for a second time as we found all the DNF’s, which was very satisfying indeed! A summary of our mistakes the first time round:

  1. The co-ords were a bit off and we had not really had the patience to expand our search enough earlier.
  2. We’d actually checked the cache location as it was the obvious place given the hint. We totally failed to feel the rat’s tail on the sneaky hide as it was one of those caches you had to do by touch alone.
  3. The cache had actually slipped almost out of sight so we had not spotted it earlier. Another cacher had spotted this in the meantime and moved the cache back to where it should be.

35 finds for the day and a fabulous day out in an area we’d not really explored before.

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On Friday morning, I was just about to settle down to work for the day when I spotted 8 new caches very close to home, along the route of the old Wellington to Market Drayton railway line.

I was soon at the first one, which was the most southerly in the set. I’d missed FTF by about half an hour – greygeeza had beat me. I assumed he would be working his way up the series, so with him not being far ahead of me, I decided to head straight for the top of the series and work backwards in the hope of getting at least some FTF’s.

The top cache was at the side of Morrisson’s car park in Market Drayton, by the site of the old town station, which is now derelict ground. It took me quite a while to get the cache as there were shopping muggles everywhere, hindering my search.

Next stop was by the main road at Tern Hill. GZ was obvious and a quick scout around revealed nothing, so I checked the hint. I was just trying to make sense of the hint when Mark from cannonedwards pulled up. Great to see you again Mark. We combined our efforts but still could not spot the cache.

Then, we spotted Wild Goosey walking up. Great to meet you at last. We then re-searched all over before the penny dropped about the very tricky hint and so we concentrated our efforts where the hint said, but still could not spot the cache.

Eventually Mark and myself gave up, so left Joni searching on her own as she was determined to find it. As I was pulling off, she waved at me – little did I realise she had just found the cache and was trying to show me. Luckily she phoned me to let me know, so I returned from the next cache for a very easy find.

The rest of the caches were nice and easy and all done in the company of Wild Goosey. The last cache of the morning was a fun one involving a piece of special equipment and an extra sneaky hide.

4 FTF’s for the morning. I said my goodbye’s to Wild Goosey and drove the short journey home to get on with some work.

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Isaac was away all weekend at scout camp so I settled on a plan of a nice long circular walk on the moors, with a few caches to find along the way. Just the kind of caching I really enjoy when going solo.

On Saturday morning, the weather did not look too promising, but it was forecast to brighten up a bit later so I went for it anyway.

I parked up at the bottom of the hill, just down the road from Edenfield, near Ramsbottom and got myself kitted up with waterproofs and plenty of water to drink. The PF up to the first cache was REALLY steep and quite hard going, but at least it gets the main climb up to the moors out of the way quickly.

The first cache was a quick find and off I went to the next one, a bit further down the track. I had a really nice surprise when I opened the box as I was FTF. I’d totally forgotten that some of Hillgorilla’s new caches up here had not been found yet.

Just after this one, I arrived at the top and was amongst the huge wind turbines. As I made my way over the grassy clumps to the next cache, I waved over at some workmen in a big truck, who were obviously on their way to maintain one of the turbines.

The next few caches were quick and easy, although I had to deal with bands of rain that kept coming in, lasting 10-15 minutes and then pass over. I’m so glad I came in full waterproofs as I’d be soaking by now otherwise.

Three more FTF’s followed, including one at a fabulous spot in a cave at the base of a hidden waterfall. My favourite cache of the day as it’s a fantastic location and a nice hide.

A short spell of DNF’s then happened as I struggled to find a small cache under a rock at the bottom of a quarry that was absolutely full of rocks! Not really my idea of a fun hide. The hint was reasonably specific but after a 15 minute search I stopped enjoying it and walked away.

I found the next two, but then had another DNF at one that looks like it should be an easy find. The rain was belting down and I really was not enjoying the hunt, so walked away again.

On the way to the next cache, I came across the only walkers I saw all day: a group of young people trekking along the Rossendale Way.

I was starting to get hungry and was looking for a sheltered place to stop for lunch but ended up pressing on to the next cache. As I walked up, I realised it was the perfect place for lunch as someone had built a chair out of stones, with a U shaped wall around the sides and back. I sat down and had my sandwiches, before glancing at the hint and realising I could grab the cache without even having to stand up! What more could you ask for :-).

Next, it was on the homeward leg around the top of the moor, through a series of old quarry areas. A few more quick finds, including one at a fabulous natural spa. I had a taste of the water and very nice it was too.

The only caches left were the Dearden Brook ones, so off I set. The first one was tricky to get to as I had to traverse a steep bank with lots of bracken and reeds. Needless to say, with all the rain it was very slippy.

I started off to do the next few in the series, before realising time was pressing on and the rest of the series were on the other side of the valley up a very steep slope. I opted for the easy option and left them for another day.

I knew Isaac would like me to come home with a decent number of finds and the 16 I had got so far just was not enough. When I got back to the Jeep, I had a look at Memory Map and realised there were quite a few easy number crunchers in nearby Ramsbottom, which were too easy looking to ignore.

No problems from here on in, with nano’s hidden under various benches being the order of the day. Not very inspiring caches, but after a trek round the moors, I was in the mood for something quick and not too taxing.

After I’d done all the quick ones in Ramsbottom, I still had an hour to kill before I needed to head home, so had another look at Memory Map and settled on a series of 4 nano’s near Smithills Hall to the NW of Bolton. Not too far away and another few easy caches were then found.

I still had a couple of TB’s with me and needed to think about dropping them somewhere. I did not want to put them in a cache on the moors earlier and was trying to find an easy to get to cache so they would be picked up quickly by another cacher. Two small caches were not too far away so off I set. The first one was big enough, so I dropped the TB’s in there.

On the way this morning, I’d spotted an Earthcache right by the M60 motorway junction at Worsley, so stopped by on the way home to break the journey up. I’m glad I did as it was a really interesting spot when an old underground canal came into the open. This used to be used to transport coal from nearby pits underground to the Bridgewater Canal and from there onwards to wherever they usually take coal.

I was amused with the “Welcome to Salford” signs as they were bright pink, with white writing on them. Not the colours I’d associate with somewhere with such a tough reputation as Salford has had in the past, but there you go.

33 finds for the day, a fantastic walk around the moors, which I really enjoyed. A great day out!

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On Friday, Mrs Bolas Heathens had booked us in for a health check at the Bupa hospital at Stretton, near Warrington. Naturally I had spotted a few easy to get caches for the way home – it would have been rude not to ;-).

Just as we arrived at the hospital, I did a quick check of emails and spotted a new cache had been published 1.9 miles from home. Typical – no chance of a FTF dash for me today!

After I’d finished my bit at the hospital, I dashed off into Warrington to get my hands on a new iPhone 3G(S). On the way back, I stopped at the Morrisons in Stockton Heath to walk down the cycle path by the side of the Manchester Ship Canal for a quick cache. A nice easy find and a really nice spot too (a lot better than I’m making it sound).

After I’d picked Mrs Bolas Heathens up at the hospital, we set off home, via a few drive-by’s. Nothing much to report with the caches apart from all being nice easy finds. I did wonder at one on the outskirts of Northwich, which was hidden on a Post Box as it seemed a bit pointless, but hey, a smiley is a smiley :-).

When we arrived home, I dropped Mrs Bolas Heathens off and dashed off to the potential FTF as I saw it still had not had a find logged on it.

It was in a place we’d scouted out for a potential hide ages ago but never got round to doing anything about it. I parked up and was soon at GZ for stage 1. The hint did not mean anything to me, but I soon spotted the nicely hidden micro anyway.

I won’t tell you what was in the micro, but the penny dropped quickly and off I set for the final cache. Another quick find and a nice big ammo box too. Better still, I was FTF :-).

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The weekend before last, we’d cached in the pouring rain all day in South Birmingham. When we’re out caching I use a Garmin Oregon 400T and Isaac has a Garmin Colorado 300.

During the day in the rain, Isaac’s Colorado kept switching into Mass Storage Mode, as if it thought a USB cable was being plugged into it. I suspected rain had got into the USB socket (despite the unit being advertised as waterproof) and sure enough, after we left it drying out in the Jeep for an hour or so, it was working as intended again.

This week, Isaac had the Colorado on a lanyard round his neck on the way to caching and by the time we got there, there were quite a few visible droplets of water and general fogginess under the screen on the unit. Hmmm – the water must have worked it’s way internally as well last week.

We relied on my Oregon for most of the day as the fog on Isaac’s screen was making it hard to read.Anyway, this morning I phoned Garmin Support, who were as puzzled as us as to why the water had got into the unit, but gave me a returns number and told me to send it in and they would send a new unit out to us. I tried to see if they would send us the equivalent Oregon unit (as we much prefer the ease of use and lightness of the Oregon over the Colorado) but they insisted it was like for like. At least it solved the problem though :-).

Just as I was about to pop out to post it to them, a DNF popped into my inbox for one of our caches that we adopted off MarcB in Gnosall. It was the 3rd consecutive DNF on the cache so I went out armed with a replacement cache just in case.

First stop was the Post Office in Gnosall. With the Colorado on it’s way, I went over to check on the cache. Sure enough, it had gone as the pile of sticks it was under was still there, but no cache was anywhere to be seen.

I scouted around and found a much safer hiding place not far away so hid the new caches, took some revised co-ords and headed off home to update the cache page.

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On Sunday, I’d finished logging Saturday’s caches and was at a loose end.

The weather was still beautiful so I thought I’d pop out and find the new series which is set along the old Gnosall to Stafford railway line. This was converted into a really nice cycle-way / walking route as part of the year 2000 celebrations.

I set off in the Jeep and parked up in Gnosall by the start of the path. I got my bike out of the back of the Jeep and off I set. The first cache was muggle-central so I thought I’d leave that one for the return journey, when hopefully it might be a bit quieter.

From there on in, I had a series of easy finds. All but two of the caches were fake rock micros which made me smile as Isaac’s guitar teacher, who caches as XL5, set a few caches in the area using fake rocks and it seems the idea has caught on :-).

I was thoroughly enjoying the cycling and all too soon I was passing under the M6 and near the end of the trail. Once I’d found all the main trail caches, there were two other ones near to the Stafford end which I cycled up to for yet more easy finds.

On the return journey I cleared up one I could not spot earlier, then went non-stop back to the first cache in the series. Thankfully the area was deserted on my return so I had another quick find.

A really good fun hour and a half or so and 14 finds.

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Our Plan B for last week became our Plan A for this week…

The bad weather put paid to it last week as the plan involved parking up and then walking round 36 caches during the day, before ending up back at the Jeep. No fun in the rain, but fabulous fun in the lovely sunshine we had this weekend!

The caches are further up the M6 than we normally go (near Preston), but having cached in the area a few weeks ago, we knew it was a great place for a long walk and with so many new caches on nice circular walks, it was too good to resist.

We parked up by the church in Balderstone and got our back-packs loaded up with all we needed for the day. The first cache of the Grommit series was about 100ft away so off we set.

The first one was a nice hide and set the scene for the kind of hide we would be looking for most of the day. We then carried on down the lane and spotted a stile which lead over a field to the next cache. The field was full of knee high grass, which was pretty much what we had all day long, with none of the footpaths appearing to have much use (I bet they will for the next few weeks though!).

The next few were easy enough, including a cache at a lovely little dingle by a stream that feeds into the River Ribble a bit further north from GZ.

At the next cache, we’d just put the cache back and were working out the route to the next cache on Memory Map when we spotted some walkers coming along the path. It turned out to be Eurochamps – great to meet you both. We were stood chatting when another walker with his dog came along the path. It was duncscott – wow, this is turning into a mini cache event!

We all carried on to the next cache, where we said our goodbye’s as they were all carrying on the Grommit series, whereas we were diverting off to do the OBS series by nandad.

The first of the OBS ones was a HUGE box, which was ideal for dropping off two big TB’s we had with us. We’d promised a cacher near home that we’d drop them in Lancs, so as to start them off with some mileage.

The next cache was a really nicely engineered hide which was a quick find. There was a horse jumping event in the nearby field so we had to be stealthy with the cache, although to be honest the people there were far more interested in anything with 4 legs than us (that’s if they could actually see us!).

We then lost the PF and ended up skirting up the edge of a field and having to jump a great big steeplechase water jump to get onto the next PF. Then it was a quick walk down into a dingle and up the other side to the cache.

This is where time started to slip away a bit as all the PF’s had been diverted around the nearby Hall, but they had neglected to put up enough signs so you knew where you should be going. We managed reasonably well, but totally lost the path around the front of the Hall and ended up right outside it, where we thankfully found a friendly gardener who put us on the right tracks.

The rest of the series was straightforward from there. Lots of very nice containers, which made the caches really enjoyable. We stopped for our sandwiches in this beautiful meadow on the edge of some woods, before continuing on our way.

Not far from finishing the OBS series, we bumped into duncscott again. He had finished the Grommit series and was now starting on this one.

With the OBS series finished, we headed off over another really un-obvious PF to join up with the next cache in the Grommit series. From there, it was a nice easy walk around the rest of the caches in the series, with all the caches being really easy finds, except for #19, which we could not spot.

With the details collected for the bonus cache, we plotted it on Memory Map but then wondered how the heck you are supposed to get to it as (without giving anything away) it’s not near any roads or marked PF’s. We tried our best to find a decent route to it, but did have to walk over a private field and climb two very sharp barbed wire fences. Not recommended.

Once in the woods where the final cache was located, we were soon at GZ and had an easy find with great co-ords (which have been bang on for pretty much all the caches today).

We’d hoped to finish a bit earlier than we did and would have gone on to do a few more local caches, but time was not on our side so we headed back to the Jeep and onwards towards home.

On the way back, I remembered there were two quick caches we could easily do, both near M6 junctions. We stopped for the first one at J17 which was nice and easy and then carried on back down the M6 to J15, where we were to leave the motorway anyway.

The last cache of the day, at J15, was only about 150ft from where our old Not Motorway Mayhem cache was, so was an easy find as we knew where to look before we got there.

37 finds for the day and some stunning walking in beautiful landscape.

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I’ve been helping a new cacher who lives not too far from home out with advice on setting up a new cache series and how to make your cache page look nice, with images and different text. For the record, I had no idea where the caches were going to be set so did not have an advantage over anyone other cachers.

This morning, my Inbox pinged to the lovely sound of 13 new caches close(ish) to home. The sun was shining – how could I resist going out to have a try for them?

On the way to the caches, I spotted a familiar car coming the other way down the lane and was pleased to see it was Allun from the Shropshire Seekers. We had a quick chat and he told me he’d got 3 FTF’s and 3 DNF’s on the series at the crack of dawn. No problem, as that still leaves 10 FTF’s to go after and it’s a great walk anyway :-).

I parked up in a place we parked absolutely ages ago when we did an old cache in the woods called The Pig Rails. I’ve not checked, but this must have been amongst the very first few caches we found.

The first cache was at the entrance to the woods and I noticed Allun had already been to this one. I carried on and had a DNF at the second cache. The co-ords *must* be iffy as they took me into the middle of an area of waist high nettles with no clue item anywhere in sight. Hmmm.

Rather than waste any more time, I carried on to the next cache. Navigating was interesting as Memory Map only shows a handful of the many, many paths in the woods. I ended up sort of zig-zagging my way along, picking up caches as I went.

All was going swimmingly until cache #3 where I had another DNF. Another suspected case of iffy co-ords as the co-ords took me to a bench in an open grassed area, with no hint item anywhere near. I moved on and decided to come back for another look later on.

The rest of the caches were easy enough with the main point of note being when I bumped into a group of locals out for a walk for the third time and in the third different location. They nervously asked me what I was doing and when I replied I was on a high tech treasure hunt, they looked really relieved. It turns out they thought I was a property developer sizing up the woods for a new development and that I was using my GPS to measure out distances!

Just before I got back to the Jeep, I went off to try and clear up DNF #1. I eventually found the cache about 65-70ft off the co-ords, just over the top of a bank from where my GPSr was pointing (and hence why I could not spot the hint item earlier). Phew!

I got back to the Jeep and drove round to a closer point to DNF #2. I searched as per the hint for a while and could not spot the cache. I then moved back closer to the bench and where my GPSr was trying to take me and spotted a nice cachers path leading to a hint item. How on earth I’d not spotted this earlier is beyond me. The co-ords were about 45ft out, so not *that* bad.

Just as I was opening the box, snerdbe phoned to say they were part way round the series and had seen our name in the logbooks and was wondering where I was up to. I mentioned I was at #3 and was told they had beat me to FTF on it.

Ah well, 9 FTF’s is not bad for a morning’s work and I’ve had a great time in the area anyway. The caches themselves were really good too – nice big containers (not a micro in sight), loads of good quality swaps and some nice hides. Just the way caching is supposed to be :-).

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The rain continued on Sunday with it absolutely teeming down most of the day. Later in the day, we’d just had a lovely Sunday roast dinner when the rain started to clear up.

I didn’t need an excuse to get out to walk my dinner off and more importantly, get some fresh air. The closest to home not found was near to The Wrekin in some lovely woods on The Wrekin’s smaller cousin, The Ercall. Perfect!

I was soon parking up and off I set up into the woods. On the way I passed the site of an Earthcache in the old quarry on the hill. We’d done this one ages ago so stopped for a moment to admire the great views of the quarry anyway.

The fun then began as the paths to GZ were not at all obvious and were not ones marked on Memory Map. I headed off down one that looked to be going in the right direction, only to be presented with a very slippery bank to climb down. It was then a question of hopping though the undergrowth before I found a better path. After that it was plain sailing and I was soon at GZ.

The cache took a few moments to spot – I should have trusted my GPSr as the co-ords were spot on and I was reading about 3-4ft at the cache. You don’t get better than that.

The biz done with the cache and I set off back to the Jeep. This time I tried to stick to the path and to my amazement, it joined back up with the main path near the old quarry. If only I’d known this earlier, although I would not have had as much fun getting to the cache.

Back home and settled down for the evening, I had a notification that a local cacher had had problems with our Jeep Challenge 2 cache and that part of the special equipment needed to retrieve the cache was stuck in the cache tunnel. Easily done by the sounds of it too.

We hope to have the cache back up and running with all special equipment back in place later today.

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