Posts Tagged ‘birmingham’

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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This weekend we’re due at our annual meetup with the cousins-in-law and their children in Birmingham. We meet up each year to go and see a show at the Symphony Hall and then head off for a meal somewhere before finishing with a wander round the excellent German Market.

I’m not due at the Symphony Hall until 2pm so have a few hours to go caching on the way. We’ve pretty much done all the city centre caches (apart from a few multi’s) so I settled on a series of Traditional caches along a canal near Great Barr, all set by g6lpb.

Looking at the logs they seem to be something a little different, with some sneaky hides, which we always like.

I then need to get over to just south of the city centre and do our 3rd try for Cheeky Cache!. We’ve failed to get this on the last two annual trips to the Symphony Hall, so it’s becoming something of a tradition for us to visit here at the same time.

I’ve got my bike in the back of the Jeep ready and hope to try for as many caches as I can in the time I’ve got.

If all goes well, myself and Isaac then plan to try for some of the newer caches around Codsall, Rough Wood and Cannock on Sunday.

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A quick trip to Birmingham

I had to pop to the Apple Store in the Bullring in Birmingham as one of our wireless routers in the house packed up suddenly last night. As I was driving down the M6 I was thinking there are no city centre caches left for us to do. I then realised that the Cole Challenge cache we could not find on Sunday was no more than 2 miles from the Bullring (or thereabouts) so took the ‘scenic’ route via the cache.

I parked up close to the cache and walked the 0.15 to GZ. I’d had a hint on the cache after our DNF so this narrowed down our search area. It still took an age to find the cache and when I finally did find it, I kicked myself as it was on the only tree in the whole wooded area we’d not already checked.

I was thinking I better get to the Apple Store and then back home as I’m supposed to be working today but could not resist bagging the other loose end from Sunday’s caching – the Ward End Park Bonus cache.

A short drive later and I was parking up for the bonus cache. I did not have a GPSr with me but did have my iPhone. The only problem being I only have the co-ords for the bonus cache on a scrap of paper in my pocket and I don’t know how you can input co-ords into the iPhone. I thus checked the approximate direction and distance of the cache off TomTom before I jumped out of the Jeep and set off for a quick bit of naked caching.

I need not have worried as it was a really easy find in the obvious place and I did not need the GPS at all.

Now, to try and work out how to get from here to the Bullring using minimal TomTom as it’s more fun that way. I set off in what I imagined was the direction of the city centre and was not far wrong as I was soon parking up by the lovely Selfridges building and heading off on foot.

On a final note, I did not have a pen with me for either cache and as they did not have pens in themselves, I had to sign both logs with a smudge of mud and add photos of this to my logs to prove my find.

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We’d switched our normal day out caching to Sunday and were looking forward to trying the Cole Challenge, a new set of 16 caches along the banks of the River Cole in E/NE Birmingham. They looked to have lots of sneaky hides and something a bit more of a challenge – just the kind of thing we enjoy.

We set off and had intended to come off the M6 to the north of the caches near The Fort but as we drove along the M6 it was clear that the motorway exit we thought was here did not seem to exist. We ended up having to carry on to the M42 and then coming off by the NEC. Quite a bit of a detour but it was still early and the roads were quiet, so not a great problem.

We parked up not far from #4 in the series and got the bikes out of the Jeep. We had intended to do the series in sections, moving the Jeep round as we go and picking off caches near to where we park before moving on to the next section. As it turned out, it was easier to just do the whole series plus a few others in one go by bike.

The first cache was a quick find, although you’d struggle to get it if you were short. The next one we could not find so decided to have another look on the way back. We had just found the third cache when someone cycled up and said hello. It was Luke, who caches as m3vvb and whom I’d been chatting to on Facebook last night trying to work out the best way of tackling the series. We joined forces and did the rest of the caches with Luke, even though he’d already found some of them so just stood back to watch us search.

When we returned to the one we had just DNF’d, Isaac spotted it after a short search. A really nice hide which blends in perfectly. The rest of the series was uneventful apart from one DNF (at cache #8) and quite a few sneaky hides, which I won’t go into detail about here as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not done the series.

At the end of the series, we did three other caches that were by the River and were on the way anyway. One, Bridge over the River Cole, we’d DNF’d the last time we were in the area (it had been muggled at the time I think) but was a quick find today.

We then made the long ride back to #8 for another look. After quite a long search (well, 10-15 minutes anyway) we still could not spot it. A micro in the woods with a hint that meant it could be anywhere is never going to be easy. It’s a shame we could not get this one as it would have meant we’d finished the series, but never mind, that’s life sometimes.

We said our goodbye’s to Luke and headed off to the Jeep for our sandwiches. After this, we decided to go to the Ward End Park series – a set of 5 caches plus a bonus cache around a nice looking park not too far from the M6. We set off on our bikes and soon had all 5 caches bagged. We did a double take when we plotted the co-ords of the bonus cache as it was about a mile away and nowhere near the park. Hmmm, we’re not going that way so that one will have to wait for a future visit.

We’d planned to finish the day with the new set of caches near Bescot – that’s just by the RAC Building where the M6 and M5 meet, if you don’t know the area. Isaac planned a route over to there, via a few quick and easy caches.

Two quick Sidetracked caches followed, then one called A Piece Of Cake, which was anything but the cache name and totally eluded us. We gave up after a short search as we did not like all the rubbish at GZ. We also had another DNF on a micro behind one of those horrible metal fences with bars everywhere. The cache could have been literally anywhere and as is usual with this kind of hide, we got bored and moved on. Not sure we’ll be back to be honest as we don’t like this kind of hide at all as it’s not fun to look for.

Next on the list was one in the Grub Grab series. We’d seen this mentioned on one of the forums (or was it Facebook?) when the series came out and did not have high hopes for it but were pleasantly surprised. The cache was quite near a McDonalnds admittedly, but it was in a nice looking park just out of sight of McDonalnds and was a Regular sized box with some decent swaps in. Not bad at all for an urban cache and certainly much better than the usual nano you get in these situations.

We had yet another DNF at Sidetracked Tame Bridge – the cache was nowhere to be seen in the guard rail it was supposed to be in. It turns out someone must have muggled the cache and thrown it over a nearby fence as another cacher had spotted it there.

Finally it was time for the 4 caches along the wildlife area at the side of the Bescot railway depot. The first was a quick find, then we spotted a group of 20+lads racing motorbikes around the circular area where the remaining three caches were. There seemed to be quite a few bushes to hide the cache finding from them so we pressed on to see if it was possible to get the caches undetected. It was and all were nice quick finds.

Just time for a few more caches before we get back on the M6 northbound for home. A nano by a Kebab shop (why is there a cache here?), followed by another Grub Grab cache, this time outside a Pizza Hut. We then went off to find a quick drive-by near where one of the Walsall Cacher Meets had taken place.

We can squeeze one final cache in, just about, so headed off for an interesting one which was on top of what is probably the highest point in this part of Birmingham. The cache was clearly by the side of a church but all the church helpers were shutting up for the day and stood outside chatting before going some. Luckily there were some information boards nearby so we stopped to read these while we waited out the muggles. This made it worse as they then came over to tell us all about the history of the area and even popped into the church to get us some leaflets about it! All we wanted to do was find the cache, but we’re glad they did stop to tell us about things as it was really interesting and really added to the cache and why we had been brought here.

38 finds for the day. We’d have loved to get 2 more to make it a round 40 but our Sunday Roast was going to be on the table by the time we got home and it was just too tempting.

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