Posts Tagged ‘birmingham’

The very lovely Selfridges building in the city centre, close to where I parked

The very lovely Selfridges building in the city centre, close to where I parked

Whilst caching yesterday, the toe on my right walking boot came away from the sole of the boot so I knew it was time to invest in a new pair of boots. The right boot has been intermittently leaking for a few weeks now so I had an idea something was not quite right.

The usual outdoor shop I got my last pair of boots from has now closed, so I spent a while ringing round various shops in the area (and beyond!) this morning trying to work out who had some in stock. Cotswold Outdoors in Birmingham city centre had the best choice of size of the boot I was after (I could not remember what size by last boots where!) so off I set.

After investing in a very comfortable new pair of walking boots, I headed off to do the two nearest caches before I returned home. The first was a nice hide and took some spotting, even though a previous finder has put a serious spoiler photo on the cache page. The second cache was by the Birmingham Hippodrome and a much easier find – in fact I walked right up to it :-).

The only problem with both caches was the caching was totally in-promptu and I did not have a pen to sign the logbooks with. I’ve put photos with the logbook / cache on my logs to prove my find instead.

Now back to home to crack on with some work…

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Looking out from the top of the main York Minster tower, near to the YOSM cache

Looking out from the top of the main York Minster tower, near to the YOSM cache

We’ve been really busy with other things the last few weeks so not had time to write our normal blog posts. I’ll try and get things up to date here in one go…

23 June 2010 – Birmingham City Centre

Part of the queue outside the Bullring at 5am - it got a LOT busier still later on!

Part of the queue outside the Bullring at 5am - it got a LOT busier still later on!

I was in Birmingham city centre for the launch of the iPhone 4 so decided to do a couple of quick caches before I went back to the hotel for an early night as I had to be up really early to beat the lines at the Apple Store the next morning.

I opted for the two caches closest to the hotel. The first was proving tricky as my GPSr would not settle with all the tall buildings around. As I was working out the possible hides to check, someone walked up and asked if I’d found it yet. It was bikeboyroy who was looking for the same cache. We joined forces and soon had the cache in hand. The second cache was a short distance away and a much easier find as I ignored my GPSr and just used cacher’s instinct.

I was at the Apple Store for 5am the next morning and had a fun time chatting to like minded people while waiting in line. After 7.5 hours waiting (I must be mad!) I finally got my hands on my new phone – it was well worth the wait too :-).

26 June 2010 – 3 Quick Caches closer to home

Old wharf buildings at Wappenshall

Old wharf buildings at Wappenshall

We’d saved the big caching day out this week for Sunday so on Saturday I opted for 3 closest to home not founds, after dropping Isaac off at school. The first one was half way up The Wrekin and a fun one to walk up the hill to. The next two caches were quick and easy with no problems at all. The last of the two I did by cacher’s instinct and did not find the first stages of it (it was a Multi) until after I’d signed the final logbook.

27 June 2010 – The Lenches series and various other Worcestershire caches

Beautiful village church in Rous Lench

Beautiful village church in Rous Lench

The main target of our day out today was a 12 mile walk round the new Lenches series near Evesham in Worcestershire. After that we’d planned to pick off as many nearby easier caches as we could before it was time to go home.

Newly planted woodland along the first part of the walk

Newly planted woodland along the first part of the walk

We parked to the south of the loop and started off with cache #12, working our way down the numbers to #1 and then from #25 back to where we’d parked at #13. We were hoping this might mean we would bump into other cachers who were doing the series in the correct order, but it was not to be so as the only other finders of the day had been and gone long before us (we’re not early risers).

Some great Wimbledon themed tennis scarecrows along the walk

Some great Wimbledon themed tennis scarecrows along the walk

A really lovely walk ensued with lots of good caches and some fab countryside. The first half of the walk was more hilly, but the terrain then flattened out for the second half and the journey back towards where we’d parked. If I’m truthful, I would have liked twice the number of caches on the walk than there were as some of the gaps between the caches were pretty long. That being said though, it was not a big problem and we both thoroughly enjoyed the whole walk.

A very elaborate looking post box in Rous Lench

A very elaborate looking post box in Rous Lench

Back at the Jeep we took the roof off, wound down the windows (it was the hottest day of the year so far) and decided to pick off some drive-by’s and cache and dashed. A few caches round Cropthorne followed by quite a few more in Pershore followed.

The stunning Pershore Abbey. A very big church for such a small town.

The stunning Pershore Abbey. A very big church for such a small town.

On the way back to the M5 and home, we totally missed the motorway entrance and TomTom took us up to the next motorway entrance by Droitwich. On the way we could not resist a quick drive-by we spotted on TomTom. It had had 2 recent DNF’s but we went for a look anyway and Isaac put his hands straight on it.

Love the amusing place names around here

Love the amusing place names around here

38 finds for the day and a fab walk in some stunning countryside. Just what we needed :-).

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

3 July 2010 – York Mega Series

Isaac with the York Mega Series bonus cache

Isaac with the York Mega Series bonus cache

The York Mega Series is a set of 82 caches, plus a bonus cache on a 17.5 mile circular walk. We’d been alerted to it by a caching friend who also said it was bikeable. That’s like a red rag to a bull as we LOVE caching by bike.

The earlier part of the walk takes you along this stream for a while

The earlier part of the walk takes you along this stream for a while

A few days before we were due to go, the cache owner made an announcement that they were going to archive half of the loop as they think they have a cache trasher at work who keeps removing the caches. We thus decided it was now or never for our trip to York and as Isaac had just broken up for the summer holidays from school, this weekend was the perfect opportunity.

One of the earlier urban caches. Love the colours in the bush behind Isaac.

One of the earlier urban caches. Love the colours in the bush behind Isaac.

We set off from home but did not arrive at the start of the loop until 11:50am. Looking at the previous logs, it looked possible to do the circuit by bike in around 7 hours so we should still have plenty of time.

A lovely field of poppies near to one of the caches

A lovely field of poppies near to one of the caches

Off we set on our bikes. The first stage took us through some urban areas with nice easy caches. It was then out into the open countryside using a combination of quiet lanes and footpaths over fields around the caches.

The cache nearby was called "Rickety Bridge" - very aptly named too!

The cache nearby was called "Rickety Bridge" - very aptly named too!

At the half way stage in a lovely village called Sutton we spotted a nice Tea Shop on our route so stopped for a lovely ice-cream, followed by a wander round the village. Time was getting on a bit now so we headed back to the caching.

Looking down the main street in the village of Sutton on the Forest

Looking down the main street in the village of Sutton on the Forest

The second half of the series was the part affected by the muggled caches, but we managed to find quite a few more than we were expecting. We suspect a farmer has taken a dislike to caches on his land and removed all of them. The other missing ones tended to be 35mm containers hidden in hawthorn bushes about 5ft along a quiet lane. Some were there and some were not.

This way to the next cache!

This way to the next cache!

Back at our starting point, we headed off the short distance for the bonus cache, which was a nice quick find. We then took in one final cache in the village before going back to the Jeep and the drive to our hotel on the east side of Leeds.

Relaxing at an open air gym near to a cache after finishing the Mega Series

Relaxing at an open air gym near to a cache after finishing the Mega Series

Near the hotel we managed 3 more quick finds, taking the tally for the day to 88.

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

4 July 2010 – York city centre

Beautiful wild flowers by the first cache of the day

Beautiful wild flowers by the first cache of the day

We’d planned a more relaxed day today, doing more touristy things round the beautiful Roman city of York, with a few caches as we were passing. We wanted to get to at least 101 finds for the trip, so we ended up with 9900 finds at the end.

The John Smiths brewery in Tadcaster

The John Smiths brewery in Tadcaster

We thus did a few quicker caches on the drive into York, with the main one of interest (to me at least!) being a Virtual outside the old John Smiths brewery in Tadcaster. I won’t even try and imagine the amount of John Smiths I must have drunk when I was younger, and especially at University.

Looking up at the MASSIVE York Minster

Looking up at the MASSIVE York Minster

We caught the Park and Ride into York itself and had a lovely few hours wandering round the ancient streets and along the old Roman walls. The highlight of the day for us both was going up the tower at York Minster and bagging the YOSM trigpoint at the top (the views were pretty good from the top too!).

At a virtual cache by the old Roman town walls

At a virtual cache by the old Roman town walls

We eneded up with 16 finds for the day, making the total for the trip 104 :-).

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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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View from the parking location at Perry Park

Isaac was at school on Saturday morning so after I dropped him off I planned to make a start on all the new caches that had come out recently in Sandwell Valley Country Park near to J1 of the M5. After I’d done there, I planned on heading east towards Perry Barr to another park and then if time permits, just choosing caches on the fly from my GPSr.

Little did I know that it would turn into quite a cache run with 51 finds at the end of the day. I was home in time for tea too, after not starting early (as I had to drop Isaac off at school at 9am)!

Looking out over the Ice Pool at Sandwell Valley Country Park

As I came off the M5 I passed a drive-by cache on the way into the country park so stopped for a quick look. Luckily we’ve seen quite a few of this type of hide in the USA so I walked right up to it. A nice hide nonetheless :-).

Once parked up in the country park I got my bike out of the Jeep as the caches looked to be bikeable. I was soon at the first cache but came a cropper as I could not find it anywhere. There was one very obvious place but the cache was not there. I decided to carry on to the next cache and have a look again on the way back to the Jeep.

Swan Pool at Sandwell Valley Country Park

The next few caches were all nice and easy and all with great co-ords. I was soon heading over to the far side of the park where there is an RSPB bird watching area with a hide (or perhaps more than one?) and a beautiful lake with all manner of wildlife on it. I could have stayed here all day watching it all, but there were caches to find…

Somewhere aound the park I found what is possibly our first “skirt lifter” in the UK. In case you were wondering what I was up to lifting skirts ;), they are caches hidden under a cover at the base of a lightpole and very common in the USA, where they are known as LPC’s (light pole caches). You don’t usually get them in the UK as our light poles are a very different design.

Our first UK "skirt lifter"

I was soon nearing the car park again so I popped over to the first cache in the park I could not find earlier. I still could not find it but spotted some people coming down the path so did my best to look un-suspicious. It turned out to be the thurs night gang, who are related to the cache owner and commented the cache was missing. He had a spare in his car so I walked back with him to sign the logbook. Great to meet you all again :-).

Next I did a quick cache by a fast food restaurant (I use the term ‘restaurant’ very loosely as it was a McD’s ;-)) before going off to do another similar cache. The closer I got to this one the busier it got. As I arrived at the cache I realised it was opposite West Bromwich Albion’s ground and they were playing at home today. With nowhere to park safely I had to give up on the cache and move on to the next one :-(.

Lovely spring flowers near a cache in Perry Park

Next stop was a set of 5 caches in Perry Park (I think that’s what it was called anyway). I got my bike out and had a nice ride round the park picking up the caches. The highlight for me was the last cache as there were lots of spring flowers out right by GZ making it look lovely.

I then headed off to a series of caches based around fountains in a nearby industrial estate. Not very exciting you may say, but they brought back memories of some lovely caches we did in Southern California a couple of years ago which were also based around fountains. I did a double-take when I read the cache page and saw the cache owner had done the same USA caches and been inspired to place their own ones in the UK.

One of the fountain caches

Anyway, I’m waffling a bit here so I’ll cut to the chase… all were nice quick finds and I was soon on my way to the next caches at Witton pool / lake.

At these I spotted butttercup and stormystorm had found them today so texted them to see if they were still in the area. Unfortunately they had already finished and moved on to the next caches via a refreshment stop. Their next caches were the Perry Park ones I’d done earlier! Small world! Needless to say, I rode round the pool / lake finding all the caches quickly.

Looking out over Witton pool

I was making good time by now so checked the map on my GPSr to see what was the best area to head for next, given I’ve still got loads of time to cache left. The area to the east of where I was looked the most promising and would keep me near to the M6 for my eventual journey home.

Next I did two quick caches in another park and was treated to more spring flowers on display :-). From there I headed off for a set of 3 caches along the Brum and Fazeley canal. I got the bike out again and soon had all 3 caches polished off.

Brum and Fazeley canal

Carrying on eastwards I did a few stand alone caches before turning back westwards towards Castle Bromwich, where I imagined the caching day would end (it wouldn’t, but more of that later).

I spotted the River Tame Stroll series on the GPSr, which is a series of 3 caches along the River not too far from where I was. Strange how I’ve been totally un-intentionally following the River Tame all day, from the very urban areas in Birmingham to the countryside here :-).

River Tame view whilst doing the River Tame Stroll series

The 3 caches were quick finds and I then moved on to some caches in Castle Bronwich itself. I did one by a dual carriageway and remembered you (obviously) had to use other roads to get close to these as it’s not a good to stop on a dual-carriageway. There were quite a few teenagers in these areas playing football etc etc so I decided to leave the rest of this series as I was being watched everywhere I went. Perhaps these are caches for earlier in the day when it’s quieter ;-).

View from GZ along one of the canals during the day

After a quick drive-by and then a DNF as at micro in an ambiguous location that was totally overlooked, I gave up on the area and looked at the maps to see where I could get my last 4 finds to get me to 50 for today. Most likely areas were further into Birmingham, which would take me even further from home but I spotted some likely looking caches to the north of where I was, towards Sutton Park. That’s a much better idea :-).

Off I set and on the way went past this fabulous Spitfire statue at the Jaguar car factory at Castle Bromwich. They used to make Spitfires here during WW2 and the statue is a very fitting tribute to this. Pity I was driving as I’d have loved to get a photo of it.

More beautiful flowers in one of the parks I visited

The last few caches of the day were thankfully very quick ones, apart from one in some woodland where some teenagers were right by GZ and I had to wait for them to move on before going in for a quick find of the cache.

I soon had my 50 finds, but still had my backup cache (just in case I could not find one of the other ones) up the road and it looked to be an easy drive-by. It would have been rude not to stop and bag it.

Railway crosses the River Tame

51 finds and I was home for tea at the normal time. I know cache runs like this are not everyone’s cup of tea but I really enjoy the intensity of them from time to time and today was one of those days when everything just went well :-).

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Canal boats moored on the way to a cache we did

Isaac did not have to go to school this Saturday so we planned a trip out caching instead. Our idea was to start with some caches near Earlswood, south of Birmingham that were set for a recent event. We then planned a walk round some lovely looking woodland before heading back up the M5 to J3 and the new Illey Quest (IQ) series. If we have any time left, there are a few other new caches in the area we could look for.

We parked up by the Village Hall in Earlswood and set off on foot round the caches that were set for the event. The first one was just by where we parked and a nice quick find. We then headed off down a path to the back of the pub and into some lovely woodland by the reservoir.

Walking through the woods

The next couple of caches were nice and easy – the hardest thing was finding out how to cross quite a wide stream onto the path at the side of the reservoir as we could not see a bridge. We ended up spotting a reasonably shallow part and tip-toped over with our walking boots keeping our feet dry.

A curtain of ivy near to one of the caches

At the far end of the reservoir was a stand alone cache with the word “Challenge” in the cache title. It was obviously a sneaky hide, which is normally right up our street. The problem was, with it being so early in the day, we did not want to spend too long looking for it as it would put us back for the rest of the day. Needless to say we could not spot it so ended up moving on. We will be back though as we don’t like being beaten :-).

On the Max's Clowes Wood Circular Walk

The rest of the caches around the village were quick and easy and we were soon on our way to other caches. On our way to Dickens Heath we stopped off for a lovely cache along a very peaceful section of canal.

Dickens Heath was great fun as it seems to be a totally new village / small town and has more dead ends than a really good maze. After several u-turns we finally found our way to GZ and parked nearby for an easy find of the cache.

The next cache was nearby and was absolutely fabulous. It’s situated just outside a garden centre that specialises in “hardy tropical plants”. There were palm trees everywhere, a HUGE metal elephant statue and even an authentic Africa style Land Rover. What a great place :-).

Africa, but just south of Birmingham?

Next we headed off to try for Max’s Clowes Wood Circular Walk. This is a set of 4 caches, along with two other stand alone caches around some beautiful woodland in fine countryside. The first cache was a tricky hide and we could not spot it. We decided to come for another look on the way back to the Jeep and headed off for the rest of the caches.

Nice pond near to a cache

After a lovely walk with some really nice caches, we arrived back at the sneaky hide. On the way round the other caches we ‘d formulated some ideas as to the hide and sure enough, eagle-eyed Isaac soon spotted the tell-tale sign of the cache. A really inventive idea too.

We now headed off back along the M42 and grabbed a few quick caches near Bromsgrove on the way to the IQ series.

Welcome to Illey

The IQ series is a set of 8 caches plus a bonus cache, set on a 4.5 mile circular walk centered on the village of Illey. We set off and were soon at GZ for the first cache, which was a quick find. At the second cache, we saw a couple on the bridge near the cache, admiring the stream below. We got chatting and ended up telling them about caching and showing the hide. They were really interested – a couple of new recruits maybe?

We could not find #4 in the series – the clue had the dreaded vil (ivy) in it and it was a micro. Other cachers had struggled with it and needless to say so did we. We ended up giving up and moving on as we did not want time to slip too much.

Bullrushes on the IQ walk

The rest of the series was nice and easy and we soon had the bonus cache bagged and were back at the Jeep. Some jokers had thrown some mud pies at the windscreen, but they were easy enough to get off. I bet that was fun for them ;-).

Just time for a few final caches around the area so off we set with Isaac directing us using Memory Map. He loved the next cache as it was by an Audi garage and even the cache was a car themed micro. Great stuff :-).

View over the lake at Leasowes Park

We ended up at Leasowes Park in Halesowen. The plan had been to bike it round all the new caches here but it was going dark and we were getting hungry by now so we just ended up doing the one cache. A really good hide it was though, so well worth it.

35 finds for us today and another great day out.

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Looking along the canal from one of the Pelsall area caches

On Saturday Isaac was back at school so I planned to grab a few caches towards Wolverhampton after I’d dropped him off at school and headed down the motorway. Little did I know it would develop into a full day’s caching and that I’d meet 3 lots of other cacher’s while I was out!

The first cache was one myself and Allun from the Shropshire Seekers had had a DNF on a week or two ago when we were on a FTF mission. The cache was missing before FTF and had been replaced in the meantime so I popped along for a nice quick find. It’s always satisfying to tick off previous DNF’s :-).

Stream in Pendeford Woods

The next caches were not too far away and based along a walk though Pendeford Wood near Wolverhampton. I parked near to the top of the trail and had a lovely walk through the woods picking up the 5 caches there.

After I’d finished with the caches in the woods, I headed off for the Essington Signal Box series, which is a set of 4 caches on a circular walk near to an area I’d cached a few weeks ago. I started off with a quick guard rail cache before heading off down the path into the fields. The rest of the series were nice quick finds and it was a nice walk.

Canal boats moored at Sneyd Wharf

Disaster then struck as I had a DNF on a new cache near Sneyd Whark called BOYHOOD ESCAPE ROUTE (1) – that’s the cache owner’s SHOUTING and not mine ;-). On the up-side, I did bump into Hank’s Crew at GZ – it’s good to meet you both at last :-).

A quick cache at Sneyd Wharf on the canal followed, before I moved on to the north end of Bloxwich for the ‘The sky is falling down” series, a set of 7 caches based along an old canal and surrounding area. We’d totally failed to spot this series on the map before as all but one of the caches have exactly the same dummy co-ords, so it just look like one cache on the map!

View down the ex-canal, now a nature reserve

Needless to say, I got my bike out of the Jeep like we always do for canal based caches. A had great fun travelling between the caches on a deserted towpath and then stopping to work out the co-ords of the next cache at each previous cache. All too soon I was back at the Jeep with the series completed.

Next on my list was two quick caches round the corner at Izaak Walton pool, a nice looking fishing pool. Nothing much to report here as they were both quick and easy finds.

A beautiful memorial to a teenage girl killed in a car crash nearby

I then headed off to the Pelsall area for all the new andynelaine caches that had come out recently. After I’d done a few of them I got an almighty shock. I’ll quote from my cache log:

As I got back to the Jeep I was sat checking my GPSr to work out which cache to go for next when there was an almighty bang from behind me. It scared the bejesus out of me to say the least!

A car had just gone past and I wondered if he’d clipped the Jeep as he was passing. I got out to check and all was ok. The only other thing it could be was a tyre. The Jeep ones were fine so I had a check of my bike in the back. Sure enough the back tyre was flat as a pancake. How odd though for that to happen as it was not moving and was nowhere near anything sharp which might have caused a sudden explosion.

Old pool, near to where a farmhouse once stood

When I’d recovered enough to drive 😉 I headed off for more caches in the area. That’s when the second bizarre / funny thing happened:

On the way to this one I was sure a blue car had started following me as every turn I made, they did too. I stopped to check my GPSr for the footpath to a nearby cache and the blue car pulled up behind me too. Oh no, I’ve not cut someone up and they have been following me to have words or something have I? I didn’t think so and thankfully spotted it was Des and Bren, on their way to the same caches as I was on my way to.

FIshing man statue near one of the caches

Great to meet Des and Bren again. We ended up doing the next 6 caches together, although they had already found the last two, so just tagged along as we were chatting anyway :-). Along the way we also bumped into the thurs night gang who were just arriving at a cache we’d just done.

They kindly gave me the co-ords of the new YOSM virtual cache location which was not too far away. A quick check on my GPSr revealed a few other new caches in that area so I decided to head off there next as it would leave me not too far from the M6 and the journey northbound to home.

On the way I grabbed a few quick and easy drive-by’s and a cache on a short walk.

Ye Ole Survey Monuments - Pheasey virtual cache

I parked as close as I could to the YOSM cache and got out of the Jeep to take the required photo of my GPSr with the trigpoint. All well and good, but I could not find the trig point anywhere! I then realised it was actually a flat concrete trig plate I was looking for and that I’d parked right on top of it – doh! I moved the Jeep back a bit and all was revealed.

Once I’d finished with the YOSM cache I headed off into the park over the road for the three new caches there. Some tricky hides on these which had me searching for a few moments and all good fun. The last one of the three had this amazing view over most of Birmingham, including the city centre :-).

That's my kind of 'Grub Grab' cache series location - a lovely Indian restaurant!

I decided I better head off towards the motorway and home as time was getting on, but spotted another 4 quick caches on the way so it would have been rude not to stop and find them.

44 finds for the day, which I was pleased about as I’d only intended to bag a few caches at the start of the day.

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Sunset over Earlswood Reservoir

After all the over-indulgences of the Christmas period, myself and Isaac were keen to get out on a good walk to not only get some fresh air, but work off some of the above excesses.

A new series just to the west of Coventry looked to be getting good logs and looked a nice walk so we settled on that as the target for the day. We knew this would not take us all day so spotted loads of caches near Hockley Heath (where the M40 meets the M42) which looked like they might keep us occupied for the rest of the day.

Old vehicle remains near a cache

Isaac directed us to the suggested parking for the Coventry caches, at the southern end of the walk. The walk consisted of starting off on the Peppa Pig Trail before joining up with the adjacent George Pig Trail and then finally finishing off the rest of the Peppa Pig Trail caches on the way back to where we’d parked. The George series were all stand alone caches but the Peppa series involved collecting visual clues at various parts of the walk, which then lead you to a bonus cache.

We set off on our walk and had a series of easy finds. One had a dog poo bag right on top of the cache sticks, which was nice (not!). Pity the lazy dog owners don’t take their rubbish home with them rather than hiding then in tree roots – who in their right minds would hide something in the roots of a tree in the middle of nowhere anyway ;-).

Lovely old tractors seen on the walk

Part way round the series we joined up with the George series and set off to loop round them. Lots more easy finds followed, with the main thing of note being that we recognised part of the walk from a puzzle cache we’d done in the area absolutely ages ago. We actually walked past the puzzle cache hiding place and had a quick look to check on it. It was not there and we now know it’s been archived for quite a while as someone had changed the combination on the padlock on the cache box, so even the cache owner had to break into the box!

Soon we were joining back up with the Peppa series and calculating the bonus co-ords. We plotted these and realised they were on the way back to the Jeep (how handy!) and there was another, un-related, cache we could grab on the way past.

There was an old cache hidden somewhere in this picture

Once back at the Jeep, we headed off for the next set of caches near Hockley Heath. It did not look far on the map but seemed to take an age to drive to. Luckily time was on our side so far today :-).

Once in Hockley Heath, Isaac took us to a quick drive-by before a short walk to a cache at the side of a very ornate garden with a big house in the distance. The cache was called ‘Dragons Den’ and it’s obvious someone with too much spare cash lives there, but I suspect it’s not a Dragon. Whoever it is has very questionable taste as the whole garden looked just a little big tacky to us. Each to their own though – it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things.

Great views

Next on the list was a cache down a green lane. Perfect for a drive-by in the Jeep. I’d not have wanted to try this in a non-4×4 though as the lane was pretty muddy and had HUGE potholes to navigate over.

We enjoyed this so much we headed straight for another set of caches along another green lane. We’d driven down this lane for a puzzle cache ages ago (I won’t say which one as I don’t want to spoil it for others) so knew it was passable. All nice easy finds with some really fun, if not a bit scary 😉 containers.

Driving down the green lane

Just time for a few more caches before it goes dark, but we’ve almost run out of ones to do around here. A quick check on Memory Map showed us there were lots we could try to the west of the M42 near Earlswood. This is an area we’ve cached in many times before and we’ve always enjoyed the caches there.

We were soon parking up for a quick drive-by on a lane we’re sure we’ve done a previous cache on – the lane was called Lime Kiln Lane and I’m sure the cache was something like ‘Tutti Fruitti – Lime’.

Next stop was Earlswood Reservoir. The sun was just going down over the far end of the reservoir now and the sky was awash with purples, crimsons and yellows. An absolutely spectacular sight, so I took some photos whilst Isaac did the biz with the nearby cache.

Obelisk cache

Last of the day was a walk down a PF with 6 more Max caches on them. Max is a caching hound (I think) and seems to have hidden fun caches all over this area – that’s our kind of dog :-). All were nice easy finds, even though it had now gone fully dark.

We decided to head off to the motorway and homewards, but spotted a quick The Strangler drive-by just before we got onto the motorway. How could we resist?

37 finds for the day, some great walking, some really good green lanes and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by both of us for our first caching of 2010 :-).

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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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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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