Posts Tagged ‘Sandwell Valley’

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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