Posts Tagged ‘Geocaching’

I was reading this article which mentions new Beta firmware for the Oregon 550t (available here) which now allows you to add your own custom symbols for waypoints, including replacing all the Geocaching icons used on the unit.

I’ve always found the built in geocaching icons to be a bit small and really hard to see when overlaid on the OS maps when out caching. We usually cache by starting in one area and then just picking caches off the map to go to next, with no real advance plan of where we will be going. Being able to see where the caches are clearly on an OS map is thus really important to us.

To date, we’ve carried on using Memory Map on a PDA for this as the geocaching icons are easier to see, but with the new beta firmware it got me thinking about seeing if I can use the great Memory Map icons on my Oregon. Turns out it’s not as hard as I expected :-).

Even better is that you can double tap on the icons and get taken into the full cache details, just like you can using Memory Map with Cachemate on a PDA :-).

Here are a couple of screenshots:

Icons on nearest caches page

Icons overlaid on the OS map

I’m not sure if the new firmware is available on the Oregon 300 / 400t range yet but it’s only a matter of time if it’s not there already. If anyone wants a copy of the icons I’ve converted from Memory Map and how to use them (it’s a simple matter of dropping them into a folder on your GPS) then let me know :-).

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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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The final cache in our Behind Enemy Lines series at Tilstock has been out of action for a few weeks now. The last finder found it sat where it should be but with the lid off and thus it was a bit damp.

Obviously the old hide had been compromised to I decided to relocate the cache somewhere nearby. We’ve been wanting to swap the lock ‘n’ lock box for an ammo box for some time as this fits better with the theme of a wartime series final cache, so I could kill two birds with one stone.

I made up a new ammo box and also did a Regular sized lock ‘n’ lock box just in case I could not find anywhere to hide an ammo box. I need not have worried as a quick scout around in the area just past where the cache used to be revealed lots of great places to put an ammo box.

With that one safely hidden and the co-ords taken and checked, I decided to carry on my walk to the back of the woods, along the back and then back towards the A41 and where I parked via another path. It was a beautiful morning with clear blue skies and absolutely lovely for a walk.

As I was walking along I wondered about the lock ‘n’ lock box I had in my backpack and decided to see if I could find somewhere to hide that too as the woods are full of old buildings which are really fun to explore as most of them are open access.

I ended up at the old Ops building, which is a labyrinth of vary dark rooms, all connected with dark corridors and with doors everywhere. What a great place for a cache and as I looked around by torchlight there were quite a few places I could hide a Regular sized cache.

I ended up choosing a spot that hopefully will not be noticed by any other muggles while looking round themselves. I took my co-ords, tested them and then took a ton of photos of the old buildings, so I could use some of them on the cache page.

Once home I set about writing up an interesting cache page and have just submitted it. Hopefully it will be published very soon.

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After our trip into Birmingham yesterday, we were not quite cached out for the weekend so decided to go out today as well. Isaac was free so was keen to come along.

We started off near Codsall at the new Monarch’s Way caches. After parking up where we did for the old The Washers caches that used to be down this bridleway, we set off on foot.

The first cache was an ammo box and we soon arrived in the obvious area that you’d hide an ammo box in. The GPSr’s both thought differently and said we were 70ft out. We tried to trust our GPSr’s but they took us to somewhere where there was no place to put an ammo box. We returned to the first area and soon found the cache. I’ve no idea why the co-ords are so far out on this one as the rest of the caches by the same cache owner were bang on.

We carried on down the muddy path to pick up the other 3 caches along here, before re-tracing our steps to the Jeep. After re-positioning to nearer to the next cache, we walked over the field to GZ and another quick find. A very unusual cache container too – it was called ‘This boot was made for walking’. I bet you can guess what the cache was in ;-).

The next two caches were just down the lane so we were soon walking up the fields to find them. The second one of this duo had some great views over towards Wolverhampton. Isaac spotted the Molyneaux, which he liked seeing as he’d been to the match there (Wolves vs Bolton) with his Grandpa after school yesterday.

Next on the target list was a series around the Rough Wood area near the M6 on the east side of Wolverhampton. Isaac enjoyed guiding us along the roads to the parking area using Memory Map. Out came the bikes and off we set.

Our main target in this area is a series of 8 caches, collecting a clue from each to find the final bonus cache. Along the way there were two other caches to find. The series was nice and easy but we had a DNF on one of the extra caches. The hint lead to an obvious place but despite a good search, we could not spot the cache.

We were having great fun as we went round the series as each cache had a clue A = ?, B = ?, C = ? etc etc. Isaac started singing the really funny Black Country Alphabet song (well, we are in deepest Black Country here after all!) and we ended up doing it on and off for the rest of the day as it’s REALLY catchy :-).

After we’d finished here, we decided to head up to Cannock Chase to do Wild Goosey’s series of 6 caches around the old Bleak House mining area. We’d promised the cache owner we’d go and find her caches here ever since they came out so it was good to finally get to do them.

On the way, we stopped off at Sidetracked Bloxwich to see if we could find it as we had a DNF on it the last time we were in the area (it was muggled at the time). The new hiding place was clear but the cache was nowhere to be seen. I guess this is just one of those caches we’re destined never to find!

We soon arrived at the start of Wild Goosey’s series and found we had the car park to ourselves. Off we set, but failed to find the first of the caches. The logs said it was near the path but the closest we could get on the path was 80ft from GZ. Either we’re looking in the wrong place or the co-ords are way out (it was heavy tree cover so this could be a possibility). We gave up and decided to look for it on the way back.

The rest of the series was nice and easy, with some great views over the area as the walk was on high ground. We dropped off a lovely Cornish Tin Mine geocoin in one of the caches. It’s mission is to visit historical mining areas, so this place fitted the bill perfectly.

On the way back to the Jeep, we stopped to look for the first cache again. Nothing was to be found near the path so we decided to finally trust our GPSr’s. After a climb up through a brambly area, we were zero’ing out at an area with a very rough path through it. I wonder if this was the path other people have referred to in their logs? It was an we soon had the cache in hand.

We were due to see Freya in her stage school Christmas Play near home at 4:45 so we were rapidly running out of time by now. Just time for a quick few caches near Chasewater Country Park if we’re quick…

On the ride down to the first one, we were passed by a steam train along a railway we’d not spotted near a road. We never knew they had working steam trains around here so that was a lovely surprise.

The first cache was a no-go though as GZ was these huge stanchions filled with rocks. The cache was a micro with a hint something like ‘under three small rocks’. Talk about a needle in a haystack! We made an executive decision and moved on to the next cache. Thankfully this was a really easy find, which was exactly what we needed at this stage.

Unfortunately that was the last find of the day as we had to get going to see Freya’s show now, otherwise we’d never get there in time and the stage school shuts the doors promptly and won’t let you in if you are late.

Freya’s show was wonderful and she did a fab job (very proud Dad here :-)). 24 finds for the day, which is less than we usually get, but we did start quite late and finished quite a bit earlier than we usually do.

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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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