February 24 – Ryde

Our last day on the Isle of Wight and a very, very cold one. The “Beast from the East”, a cold Easterly wind, blew all day and although there was no rain or snow, the temperature was very low indeed. Lovely late winter sunshine but bitterly cold.

All Saints, Ryde

There are many caches in Ryde. Our plan was to spend the morning on the outer edges of the town away from the sea. Here, we hoped, and indeed it proved, Ryde’s buildings would protect us from the wind.
The afternoon we cached along the sea-front walking East (and into the wind) and when we got too cold to go on we would head back Westwards to warm up.

With hindsight, our first cache of the day should have been our last, as it was inside.

Inside a church.

We were undertaking a Church Micro Multi based inside All Saints Church Ryde. Frequently with church micros the questions (if there are any at all) are based on exterior noticeboards or gravestones. Here all but one of the answers could be found inside the church. And what a church!

Affectionately known as “The Cathedral of the Island”, the church was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott (who also designed many London landmarks). The foundation stone was laid by one of Queen Victoria’s daughters. The multi took us around various key locations in the church – the font, a beautiful stained glass window, various side chapels, the sanctuary and pulpit. At each location there was information to count or find, and after 40 minutes studying the church in detail we had the co-ordinates of the location for the cache. Here we had a quick find – but our memory will be the sumptuous interior of a wonderful church which many visitors to the Isle of Wight probably never know exists.

Our second cache of the day, another church micro was closer to Ryde Centre.

No clues to find this time, just a simple cache hidden in neighbouring street furniture.

Near to this cache was another multi, with clues set, we thought, IN a garden of Remembrance.

However the garden gates were locked so we couldn’t enter. We’ve subsequently discovered we could have found the cache information without entering the garden – doh!

We walked away from the Town Centre for our next two caches. The first was near a Victorian Water Trough. Now Grade II listed, the lamp-post/trough sits close to a road junction with lots of street signage capable of hiding a cache. The cache was hidden behind one such sign, but right in front of a garden with a loud barking dog. We escaped very quickly once the cache had been found!

Our last find in the morning was at one of Ryde’s three Railway stations. The Isle of Wight Railway line runs between Ryde and Shanklin using (old) London Tube Trains as its rolling stock. We found the ‘Sidetracked’ cache quite easily and then waited a few minutes for a train to arrive!

Here comes the train!

Our last cache of the morning we couldn’t attempt. The cache was hidden behind a seat. However the seat was occupied. We waited as inconspicuously as we could for 10 minutes (sheltering from the cold). But no joy, the person didn’t move! Even worse they were joined by a friend as well as a local caretaker! A Did Not Attempt does sound better than a Did Not Find !

A couple of our morning caches :

We adjourned to the sea front and our first two caches were two more ‘Sidetracked’ caches based on two different Ryde Stations. The first, Ryde Esplanade, was a multi. We had to count items from a plaque to a former, and world renowned, Isle of Wight resident. It was a good job there were two of us counting as we frequently ended up with two different numbers. Eventually we agreed on the numbers, and hence coordinates, and marched towards GZ. Here we searched for some time and failed to find the cache. We double checked our findings again from the plaque and discovered we were in the correct place.. just without the cache!

Our next ‘Sidetracked’ cache was also fruitless. This was at Ryde Pier Head, and is at the end of a half mile walk along the pier. Ryde Pier is one of Britain’s longest piers, but probably the only one which allows road traffic as well as rail traffic. Ryde Pier Head is the disembarkation point for the Portsmouth – Ryde catamaran, and the cars and rail link save the island visitors a half mile walk into Ryde. As we walked along the pier the hovercraft also left from Ryde… this pier is real transport hub!

Catamaran Arriving

Hovercraft Leaving

And so to the cache.

A bolt hidden 2 metres high.

Easy ! Nope!

We looked at every object looking for a bolt, all to no avail.

An interesting, but cacheless walk along the pier!

It was lunchtime.

We hadn’t found a cache for some time and the wind was just beginning to bite. The bus station (again next to Ryde Pier), provided shelter and a bit of warmth (Ed : by ‘a bit of warmth’, we mean ‘less cold’).

Lots of space on the beach!

Suitably refreshed, we found several caches in quick succession as we headed East along the sea front.

Sometimes the caches were attached magnetically, sometimes in flower borders.

Is there a cache here ?

The sea front was busy as despite the bracing wind, people were bravely playing on the beach, dogs were being exercised, kites were being flown. The boating lake was though devoid of people and it was here we had our next failure. The GPS bounced around, and the hint didn’t help much either – and so our rapid finding spree was at an end.

We had arrived on the outskirts of a park where two caches were hidden. One was a puzzle cache we had solved quite quickly at home (It took us longer to find the cache than solve the puzzle!). The other cache was near a small stream, which had to be crossed. Mr Hg137 jumped across, found the cache, but couldn’t open it. He threw it to Mrs Hg137 to try. Our cold, numb hands couldn’t turn the lid. Eventually we opened it, and the contents fell into the stream. We then spent a few minutes ‘fishing’ the items out of the cold water ! An easy find, but 15 minutes to open the cache and replace contents!

Can you open this ?

These should have been our last caches of the day. We wandered back to Ryde – now with the wind at our backs – and re-searched our DNFs. Still no caches to be found. We drove out of Ryde, following an odd one-way system and discovered we were driving along a road we had cached along earlier. Look ! There’s the seat! The one with cache we didn’t attempt! Mrs Hg137 was pushed out of the car, while Mr Hg137 found a car park space. Cache found, log signed ! Phew!

Last cache of the day!

So a mixed day’s caching in Ryde – three DNFs, ten straightforward finds, and a magnificent Church multi. (And two very cold cachers!)


February 23 : Swiss Mountain Cow

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Swiss Mountain Cow

Swiss Mountain Cow

We found this perky little cow in an ammo can in a quiet spot near a cemetery near Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. But as travelling trackable cows go, she is quite mature, having left Switzerland just over seven years ago, in February 2011, to undertake the following mission:
“I was born in the Swiss mountains at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level. The place I come from is the paradise on earth. My education is not very high but I am sure that I am very intelligent. So please show me the world.”

The little cow has travelled over 30,000 miles in the last seven years, visiting Germany, extensive travels in the USA, including the East Coast, Alaska, up to the Arctic Circle, and Hawaii), also the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Isle of Wight was the first time this trackable had ever made landfall in the UK, having just returned from New York. A globe-trotting little cow indeed!

February 23 – Havenstreet, Isle of Wight

Havenstreet Church

Every year we play in a weekend Scrabble tournament on the Isle of Wight. Like previous years our plan was to undertake a few Isle of Wight caches before the tournament started, and find a few more on the way home after the tournament had finished.

So much for a plan!

We were within 20 minutes of the ferry crossing when we received a phone call telling us that the tournament had been cancelled due to illness at the hotel. We had to decide whether to turn round and head for home or cross to the Isle of Wight, find an alternative hotel, and find more caches than we had anticipated.

We chose the latter alternative!

Our original itinerary included a couple of caches in the small town of Havenstreet. We had cached (unsuccessfully) there before and wanted to turn a DNF to smiley face on the geocaching map.

Havenstreet station, on the Isle of Wight steam railway – was our destination. We parked the car and wandered over to GZ.

Its not a film canister is it ?

We were expecting to search for a film canister but very visibly on show was a clear plastic container.

Matching the hint.

Containing swag.

Containing a notebook.

But nothing that said “this is a geocache”.

We read the logs on http://www.geocaching.com and saw nothing that said the container had changed. We took photos, signed the notebook and claimed the cache.
There is still a chance our log will be revoked, but it looked and felt like a cache but we had the niggling feeling it wasn’t right. Time will tell!

Our next cache was the Havenstreet Church Micro. This was a multi and required us to find two objects with dates and ages on. We stumbled around a bit too long looking for the first object. But it did give us the opportunity to go inside the church and marvel at the spiral staircase leading to a small bell-ringer’s platform. (If this platform had been in a house, it would have been called a minstrel’s gallery). Eventually we did find the numbers we required to calculate our final destination…a short walk back into the village. Here we saw a few shops, a pub and a bus-stop-turned-book-swap-shop. Mrs Hg137 had to be dragged bodily away from the myriad of titles on display and reminded that she was supposed to be looking for a cache! We did find the small nano … but much more unexpected was the bus stop! Caching does take you near to interesting buildings!

Stop reading – we’ve got to find a cache!

A short distance on was our third Havenstreet cache. This was one we hadn’t prepared for (as – based on our original schedule – we didn’t think we would have time). However we soon discovered the route to “Little Bridges 1140 Blackbridge Brook” was muddier than our footwear would bear, so we retreated. We did though make friends with four horses: Jack, Ginger, Olly and Nagona all of whom came over to check us out for food. Jack even stood on Mrs Hg137 shoe and almost removed it from her foot!

On the outskirts of a cemetery on the Isle of Wight …

Our final cache was a puzzle we had solved from home. The solution was near to Havenstreet next to a cemetery. We spent 10 minutes scouring the trees and undergrowth until Mrs Hg137 caught sight of a good-sized cache. How we hadn’t tripped over it in our searching up to then we shall never know! We even found a trackable in the cache – a Swiss Cow!

So an eventful day – we had got over the tournament cancellation by finding three caches, making friends with four horses, finding a plastic cow, and reading book titles in a bus stop ! Isn’t geocaching surreal!


February 22 : Cache maintenance with the Wombles

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.



On a cold afternoon in late February, we visited our cache, Berry Bank cache, to do some owner maintenance. We planned to replace the camo bag, which had fallen to bits some while before, with the nice strong new bag we had bought months before when we were at the Mega in Devon.

Having found the cache – which moves around a few feet from its original location – we opened it up to check that the cache contents were all dry and in good condition, which they were. Imagine our surprise when we peeled back the lid … hiding in the cache was a Womble! Attached to the Womble were two tags. One was the usual trackable tag, with the trackable number. The other was a keyring with half of a set of coordinates on it. We were intrigued …

We returned the Womble, packed up the cache, and stowed it away in its new bag. After getting home, we did a little bit of research on the Womble. He/she (maybe Madame Cholet from the dress, but we’re not sure), contains half of the coordinates for a cache in Wiltshire, placed way back on January 1st 2004 by cachers The Wombles (obviously!). If you can find another Womble with the other half of the coordinates, you can locate the cache. We shall wait and see what turns up in our future caching adventures!

February 17 : FAST morning in Farnborough

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

FAST - English Electric Lightning

FAST – English Electric Lightning

On a sparkling bright morning, we set of for Farnborough, not very far away, for a morning’s urban caching.

Our starting point was ‘The FAST and the Furious’, a very popular cache with clues to the coordinates based on numbers on the planes on show outside the FAST aircraft museum in South Farnborough. http://www.airsciences.org.uk You could probably find all the answers for the cache coordinates by peering through the fence in various places. But you would have a much more enjoyable time if you visited the museum and looked round properly. There are loads and loads of things to see and enthusiastic volunteers to explain what you are seeing. There’s a well-stocked shop, parking, refreshments, flight simulators (ever fancied piloting Concorde?) and the chance to climb into the pilot’s seat of iconic aircraft such as the Harrier. The museum is open at weekends and Bank Holidays and it is FREE!

Climb into a Hawker Harrier ...

Climb into a Hawker Harrier …

... or the cockpit of a helicopter

… or the cockpit of a helicopter

Emerging from the museum … you could spend hours there … we worked out the coordinates and walked the short distance to the cache location, finding it just where we had calculated. Result!

Just outside the entrance to the museum is a quite new statue of Samuel Franklin Cody, who made the first heavier than air flight in the UK in 1908 a very few yards from where we were standing. Mr Cody had an eventful life, read about it here http://www.sfcody.org.uk/aero.html

Samuel Franklin Cody

Samuel Franklin Cody

Cody's Flyer - so fragile ...

Cody’s Flyer (a replica) – so fragile …

We had obviously spent too much time looking at aircraft and aviators, or we were distracted by the aircraft whizzing low overhead as they came in to land, as our cache finding skills now vanished. Our next FOUR attempts at cache finding yielded nothing – two DNFs (did not find), one set of coordinates some distance away in the wrong direction, and one complete failure to spot the item which would have directed us to the cache. We decided to finish our morning’s caching and return home. Of course, our finding skills miraculously returned at this point, and we found three caches, including two Church Micros, on our way back to the geocar.

So, a mixed morning, with only four caches found out of eight attempts. At least that means there are still a selection of unfound (unfound by us, anyway) caches in the area for us to find on a second visit!

Church Micro

Church Micro

...and the location of another Church Micro

…and the location of another Church Micro

PS The pictures of the aircraft at the museum are reproduced with the kind permission of Mr Brian Luff from FAST.

PPS And here are some of the other caches we found.

February 3 : A Cold Camberley Constitutional

Camberley Scultpure

It was one of those cold winter’s days. The sun was nowhere to be seen. There was a coldish breeze blowing, and the clouds were periodically producing light drizzle.

Not the most inspiring day to go cachimg, so we chose somewhere local to us, Camberley Town Centre. About 1.5 miles from where we live, this seemed ideal. If the weather got slightly worse, we could shelter in shops; if the weather got really bad we could retreat to the car and get home very, very quickly.

Fortunately we didn’t need either escape route as we undertook the Camberley Constitutional Cache. This multi-cache took us to 11 different locations near the centre of Camberley. We started just to the south of the Town Centre and had to acquire information about a Grade II listed building associated with Sir Edwin Lutyens. Now without meaning to disrespect Camberley, it is not one of the places one would naturally associate with Lutyens. A truly unexpected find !

Edwin Lutyens House

We headed North towards the Centre, passing under the railway (waypoint 2), and walked to the Station.
Here we paused, to collect our first cache of the day. Another multi, and one where we had to count bicycle racks, platforms and doors to calculate the co-ordinates for the final hiding place. Although the cache was slightly off our Consitutional route, it was only a couple of minutes out of our way. (We discovered Camberley has an inordinate number of green telecoms boxes.. and this hide was the first of three green boxes we were going to cache behind!)

We resumed our Camberley Constitutional walk by passing the Theatre, Council Offices and Museum (a further three waypoints here). Then our route turned in toward the Town Centre, where we had a store name to verify (here, we almost miscounted the letters on the faded sign).

Up to now our route had been quiet, a bit bustly, but then we had to walk along the A30. A major traffic route, and the noise level increased substantially. We collected another waypoint before crossing to the road to Camberley’s War Memorial.

This stands outside the main gates of the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst). (Interestingly the rear entrance to the RMA is in Sandhurst, Berkshire yards from our house, but the main official entrance is in Camberley, Surrey !). At the War Memorial we had to find the lengths of various names, and derive a set of co-ordinates for our third multi of the day. We made a school-boy error here, as the cache owner had given a checksum for the final co-ordinates for the cache, but we calculated the check-sum on the numbers we had found. We double and indeed triple checked our numbers (to no avail) before heading off to a possible location where we did find the cache! It was only after emailing the cache owner afterwards did he point out our inability to read instructions!

Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst

We had one more waypoint on the Camberley Constitutional to find on the A30. It was at a Church where a standard cache was also hidden (and if truth be told we took a bit too long finding the cache – unearthing cold, wet leaf litter on a freezing day was not our best strategy). The Camberley Constitutional route took us past several churches – some modern, some much older. St Tarcisius Church was erected 100 years ago to commemorate those soldiers trained at the RMA who were killed during the First World War.

St Tarcisius Church

Our Constitutional cache then took us away from the A30 (passing the Sports Centre – another waypoint) and through a park. We took the wrong exit out of the park (we mis-interpreted the term ‘diagonally across’ far too literally) and ended up heading back towards the A30!

Camberley Sculpture

Whoops! We realised out mistake and soon found ourselves collecting the final waypoints on our walk. A swift calculation later and we arrived at the cache! Although the container and its hiding place were not special the tour around Camberley certainly was. Caching really is educational!

We had one more cache to collect. We had solved a puzzle cache before we left home (part of the Surrey School Days series). We correctly identified a person who had been educated in Surrey, before becoming famous in a particular film role, and is still on our TV screens today). We drove 2 miles around the residential streets of Camberley, but a shorter route – had Mr Hg137 turned the car around ! – was only 0.5 miles!

A very entertaining, if cold, afternoon in Camberley. Three multi-caches, one puzzle cache, one standard cache and two very cold cachers! And the rain kept off too!

January 27 : Wisley – megaliths, butterflies, and churches

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Butterflies at Wisley

Butterflies at Wisley

In January and February, tropical butterflies fly free in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley Gardens, and we went to see them. http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/whats-on/butterflies-in-the-glasshouse We were queuing outside before opening time, were first through the gates, and made it into the greenhouse before it officially opens at 9:30.
A butterfly takes a fancy to my coat

A butterfly takes a fancy to my coat

This gave us about 20 minutes in relative solitude in the warmth – oh, it was so nice and warm! – before the greenhouse began to fill with families and photographers, all there to see the butterflies … and one of the two (grass?) snakes and a robin that have also set up home in there.


By about 10:30 we left Wisley and, about a mile up the road, stopped to look for the Church Micro cache at Wisley church. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SRY/Wisley/WisleyChurch This is a tiny Norman church tucked away behind farm buildings. It would be easy to pass without noticing.
Wisley Church

Wisley Church

The cache was supposed to be at the back of the church, somewhere along a fence. We arrived at the spot the GPS said was the location, and started looking. And looking, and looking. After a few minutes we had to break off to ‘admire the snowdrops’ as a muggle and dogs passed by. We restarted looking, and looking … there were only a finite number of places along this fence that the cache could be. Where was it? On the third / fourth /fifth pass along the fence we turned something over, and there was the cache after all. Phew, we were about to give up.
Found it at last

Found it at last

Another mile or so along a narrow, twisty lane, over the Wey Navigation at the very narrow bridge by the Anchor pub http://www.anchorpyrford.co.uk and we arrived at Pyrford, another church, and another Church Micro (CM). The small Norman church, St Nicholas, has medieval wall paintings inside and used to be visited by Queen Elizabeth I when she came to see her favourite lady in waiting who lived at Pyrford Place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrford
St Nicholas' Church, Pyrford

St Nicholas’ Church, Pyrford

Wall paintings, Pyrford Church

Wall paintings, Pyrford Church

These two CMs – Wisley and Pyrford – are ten years old, number 53 and 54 in a series that now stretches to over 11,000 caches, and is the largest geocache series in the world https://thegeocachingjunkie.com/2016/05/31/church-micro-the-worlds-largest-cache-series This particular CM was a multicache, where we had to assemble information from items near the church. One stage involved the war memorial, just outside the church gate, and the other was about counting the fish carved on a stone seat, just inside the gate. ‘Cod’ we work out how many fish there were? No, we ‘rudd’y well couldn’t. We came up with some possibilities and took shelter in the church to work out some ‘plaices’ for the cache. We came up with three possibilities and set off up the hill to check them out, striking lucky at our second attempt. ‘Brill’!
Pyrford Stone

Pyrford Stone

By now, we were also halfway to our third and final cache of the day, Lonely Stone. It’s a standing stone, about one Megalithic yard tall, which is about waist height if you aren’t sure about prehistoric measuring systems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalithic_Yard

It was moved in the 1970s when the road was widened, and it is reputed not to be happy about that, and it moves around at midnight, contributing to road accidents. Or so they say. This was another multicache, and we derived various numbers based on the plaque which describes the stone. Another short walk to the final location followed, yielding a large cache where we dropped off the ‘Mr Heyday’ trackable we found just after Christmas.
Mr Heyday moves on

Mr Heyday moves on

That finished off a morning of contrasts – ephemeral butterflies, ancient churches, and an even older stone. Time for lunch!