September 26 : Abbotsbury and the swans

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On a sparkling bright Saturday, we were out to do touristy things in delightful Dorset. There would be a few caches too, of course!

Abbotsbury Swannery opened at 10am, and we were in the village earlier than that, with time for just one cache before opening time, the appropriately named ‘Swans’ – a puzzle cache that we had solved at a few days earlier. There was a cryptic paragraph of text to consider, then some sums, which made little sense at first. An ‘aha’ moment followed, and the equation below made sense:
N50 Young Swan . Cygnet/4 (Mute Swan + 1)
W002 (Mute Swan * 2) . (Young Swan – Eggs – Cygnet/4) (Swan&Cygnet – Cygnet/3)

Then it was off to see some swans. I’ve been to the Swannery before, most recently in the late ‘90s when I helped with the Swan Census. It is just such an extraordinary experience to be handed a live, wild swan. Here’s a video of the swan census

We spent a couple of hours at the Swannery, going around the swan-shaped maze (Covid restrictions have made it into a labyrinth, but it’s still good), then the swannery itself, the duck decoys, and the prototype bouncing bomb recovered from the Fleet.

Socially distanced maze

Socially distanced maze

Bouncing bomb

Bouncing bomb

As we watched the swans, I wondered if I had seen any of them before: wild mute swans can live almost 20 years and where they are looked after (as here) it can be longer. It’s possible that some of the swans here now are children (or grandchildren) of the ones I helped to count. Or … if they were very young at the time of ‘my’ census, and quite old now, swan-wise, some of the very same swans …

Next on our pre-booked list of things to do was the Abbotsbury subtropical gardens , but we had a little while till our timed ticket, so we headed for the beach.

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach

It was Chesil Beach – where we sat on the shingle, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and watched the sea anglers. And then, just up the road, were the gardens, which were lush and jungly, with a walk out to a superb viewpoint over Chesil Beach, over to Portland to the east, and, in the distance, Start Point in Devon to the west. We went round twice just to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

Next, in mid-afternoon, we made our way back into Abbotsbury for a bit of geocaching. First of all: a Church Micro cache: the church is adjacent to the village car park so it was a very short walk into the churchyard to locate the answers to the coordinate clues, then another very short walk to the final location. Once there, the GPS didn’t seem to point to the correct place, and nothing very close by matched the hint, but widening the search a little and a ‘cacher’s eye’ soon spotted the hiding place. (Editor’s note: as you find more caches you get an idea of the kinds of places that caches might be hidden and tell-tale signs to look out for).
Abbotsbury Church

Abbotsbury Church

Abbotsbury village

Abbotsbury village

Our next cache lay along a disused railway line, the Abbotsbury branch line Who’d have thought it – a disused railway line in Abbotsbury! And we doubted it, too, as we walked up a farm track leading to the cache. Then we turned a corner, and were unmistakeably on an old railway line, flat and straight, a shape of a platform on the right and a railway shed ahead. A short distance further along the old line was the cache, cunningly hidden amongst some old railway items.
Railway shed - where are the trains?

Railway shed – where are the trains?

Our day in Abbotsbury was now done. On our way back to the hotel in Dorchester we climbed Portesham Hill onto the Wessex Ridgeway, topped by the Hardy Monument (Editor’s note: it’s not a monument to Thomas Hardy, the writer, but instead Thomas Masterman Hardy, one of the commanders at the Battle of Trafalgar.)
Hardy Monument, Black Down, Dorset

Hardy Monument, Black Down, Dorset

We had one final cache to find, Blackdown, named after the hill on which the monument stands. We parked a little way away from both monument and cache and walked along the top of the ridge, with wide views to both north and south, and belted Galloway cattle grazing on the heathland. We came upon a structure; at first I thought it was a ruined building, but I was wrong; it’s a new artwork, the Black Down stone circle
Black Down Stone Circle

Black Down Stone Circle

Arriving at the monument, we surveyed the view out to sea, past Weymouth and Portland to the dormant cruise ships parked in Weymouth Bay, and then worked out the coordinates for the cache from items nearby. From here, we set off downhill to the cache (everything is downhill from the monument, so that’s not much of a clue!) Arriving at our calculated position, we located the cache, then slogged back uphill to the road and our geocar.

A grand day out! And here are some caches:

September 25 : Weymouth

Our first full day in Dorset was spent exploring Weymouth.

Weymouth Harbour

There was much to see from a bird-sanctuary, Weymouth’s olde-worlde streets, the harbour, the maritime history and of course the beach.

Our day started at the Bird Sanctuary at Radipole Lake. The RSPB had given permission for 4 caches to be placed around the lake, and a swift walk around before most visitors arrived, meant we had 4 trouble-free finds. As we walked from cache to cache we kept our eyes peeled for unusual species such bearded tits and kingfishers..sadly all we saw were relatively common birds such as swans and ducks.

“Do you have food ?”

On one occasion a swan blocked our path and we wondered how we would pass it without being attacked. Fortunately as we neared, so did an elderly couple approaching from the other direction. They had been given permission to feed the swan…and this was its regular time and location. So as seed was thrown, we sidled by socially distancing from the swan and the elderly couple.

After completing the 4 caches we headed towards the Marina part of the town. We walked down a couple of streets including one where a bus station/bus garage was overlooked by a block of apartments. We were aiming for a seat overlooking the bowling green. Here there were two benches, one of which was a memorial bench with names and dates we needed for a multi-cache. We chose not to sit on that bench, but on the drier one close by. We quickly extracted the dates and performed the final coordinate calculation over a coffee. The final seemed slightly further away than we might have expected, but since Weymouth is a compact town, with many caches, it didn’t seem too implausible.

We walked towards the calculated coordinates, passing the marina and crossing the town bridge. We climbed some steps to arrive at… a place that was nothing like the cache hint! Whoops ! We had miscalculated the coordinates… (Ed : actually in our haste to secure the dry seat for coffee we misread a 3 for an 8 causing us quite a long walk…we subsequently discovered the cache was hidden near to the apartments and bus station!)

The saving grace of our miscalculation…a fine view of Weymouth

The only saving feature of our ineptitude was that we well placed for other caches in Weymouth. Weymouth Harbour has two long ‘spits’ flanking it to the North and South. We walked along the Southern spit, first finding a cache in the brewing quarter, and then finding a cache outside Nothe Fort. We hadn’t tickets to go round the Fort but even from the outside it is an impressive defensive structure. We paused for lunch, finding an excellent spot out of the chill, Northerly wind prior to retracing our steps along the Southern spit to the Town Bridge.

We paused just short of the Town Bridge to find an Earthcache hidden in the harbour walls. Weymouth is on the Jurassic Coast and the harbour walls are made from stone containing small organisms from the Jurassic era. We sat awkwardly on the sea wall, measuring, counting, investigating the tiny fragments many visitors to Weymouth barely notice.

Jurassic Creatures

The Northern Spit also yielded a cache, this one a multi which we got right ! It helped that many of the questions and waypoints we had googled first and knew exactly where the final cache was. Under a seat at the far end of the spit. Sadly there were 3 seats to check, and despite our best efforts, it took several passes of the seats before we found the tiny nano. Unlike our previous multi, this multi was educational as it took us to locations based on Weymouth’s history notably the Civil War, an alien invader and an historic voyage.

At least 2 cannon ball hits during the Civil War !

Another Plaque, a different War

Normally the end of the spit is quiet, save for some fishermen, but this year many more people have walked to the far end as it gives a view of the many cruise ships moored, with nowhere to go, waiting for Covid-19 pandemic to end.

How many cruise ships can you spot ?

We too looked at the ships, and then turned left and headed to Weymouth’s tourist area, the beach. A long sandy beach overlooked by hotel after hotel. (Ed : we would like to apologise to Weymouth’s Tourist Agency… we forgot to take a picture of the lovely beach! ). We found a cache on the seafront before heading into the narrow streets behind the hotel.

We were looking for a Church Micro, but unusually it was another Earthcache. We are again asked questions about Jurassic creatures, but this time they were less plentiful in the Church Walls and it took us several minutes to find the swirls and curls of the ancient creatures.

Weymouth’s Anzac Memorial

Our final cache of the day was near the ANZAC memorial on the Esplanade. Injured Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in WWI (notably Gallipoli and the Western Front) were brought back to Weymouth to recuperate. The memorial was erected in 2005.

A nearby shelter hosted the cache and with several seats facing the sea (occupied by two men) and several seats roadside. Fortunately the hint said ‘roadside’. We searched, as covertly as we could, to no avail. We read some previous cacher’s comments which included the term ‘string magnet’. We’d never heard of a string magnet, but set about looking for string. Again nothing.

Then we heard a voice.

“Are you looking for that metal box?”

“Eh – pardon ? ” we replied.

“Are you looking for that metal box?” – it was one the two men on the other side of the seat.

“Er, yes” we said sheepishly.

“Its there” – he pointed “its quite hard to get out”.

Apparently the gentleman frequently sat roadside and helped people find the cache. He wasn’t the owner, just a guardian angel. It was though hard to get out.. it wasn’t held by a string magnet but a STRONG magnet !

So an unusual end to a great day – lots to see and do in Weymouth with a variety of caches and locations.

As always here are a few of the caches we found

and also an entertaining quiz that we found in a shop window.

In one of the shop windows was a display of mice with different occupations. Apparently the design changes every year…this year all the mice had masks!! Can you spot each different mouse ?

September 24 : Dorchester in the rain

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Our long weekend in Dorset had not started well. Having left home in bright sunshine, we arrived in Dorchester with rain falling and thunder rumbling, then spent some time struggling at the hotel … how to make the lift work? (key card) … food in the hotel restaurant (no, sorry, we’re closed) … how to make the wifi work (sign in using only Internet Explorer!) … how to get into/out of the underground car park (gates / key card / lift) … how to cope with the Covid measures (aarrggh plus face masks!). After an hour or so or that, all was solved but we were both rather grumpy, so we decided to walk into town, see how things were, and maybe find a few caches too.

After a short walk, we arrived at the war memorial, ready to find the cache associated with it. And it began to rain again. Hard. We decided that inspecting the memorial closely during a rainstorm would be no fun, so took shelter outside a nearby coffee shop. The rain eased after a bit, so we continued on our way, collecting some coordinates for a Church Micro as we went (the cache was a little way away, we’d find it later).

We passed a house where the ‘Mayor of Casterbridge’ lived in the eponymous Thomas Hardy book – it’s Barclay’s Bank now. There are Thomas Hardy related items all over Dorchester, you could spend a weekend just doing ‘Hardy stuff’ – there are statues, a school / shopping arcade / pub / his houses – plus the various locations mentioned in the books

Dorchester High Street in the rain

Dorchester High Street in the rain

We arrived at the High Street to collect more coordinates from another Church Micro, one of many in Dorchester. The heavens opened – again – as we reached the church. We worked out the coordinates on a soggy piece of paper. The rain relented as we walked to the final location, then came down with renewed vigour while we searched for the cache. We took way too long over finding it, getting soaked, but find it we did, before we retreated to a bit of cover to wait for the rain to stop … back at the coffee shop.

This meant we were back at the War Memorial. We didn’t do the cache here before, but it was a bit drier now. We circled the memorial, collecting numbers, did the sums (which matched the checksum – great!) then found a likely hiding place nearby. A feel around, and the cache was located.

Our next cache was at Dorchester South station, so close to our hotel that it’s almost visible in the picture on the cache description. After a few laps of the platforms, bridge, and car park, we had some coordinates, and then the cache. This was the only cache of the afternoon where we didn’t get soaked either while working out the numbers or while collecting the cache, or both!

Maumbury Rings

Maumbury Rings

Just south of the station is Maumbury Rings, a Neolithic / Roman / Civil War earthwork (it’s been re-used several times) The original route for the railway was intended to go straight through it, but was ever so slightly re-routed after a campaign to save it. It’s an impressive place, still used today for outdoor concerts, plays and the like. And a little further on was the final cache of the day – the cache for one of those Church Micros we’d solved earlier on in the rain.
It's stopped raining!
And that was it for the afternoon – we had started off soaked, complaining, under grey skies, and finished in the clear bright sunshine of an autumn afternoon. Apart from the damp pavements, it was as if it had never rained!

Here are a couple of the caches we found:

September 19 : JJEF caches in Berkshire

One of our favourite cache owners or setters is JJEF and we hadn’t undertaken any of their caches in a while. The caches are typically engineered/constructed by the JJ half of the caching team. They are generally easy to spot, but hard to open to release the log for signing.

Felix Farm Fishing Lake

We noticed on two mini-series in the countryisde about half-way between Bracknell and Maidenhead that we hadn’t undertaken. (‘Countryside’ is used in its broadest context as one of the caches was next to the M4 barriers!).

The two mini-series would take us on two there-and-back footpaths on two sides of a fishing lake. As we walked by the lake for the first time, the anglers car park was bustling with ‘overnight’ fishermen packing up, and the day fishermen arriving. Boats were being launched for open water angling.

The first series was ‘Twin Lanes North’ and unsurprisingly we were heading North, towards the motorway. We then returned and undertook ‘Twin Lanes West’.

Twin Lanes North

We had three caches to find before arriving at the motorway and the first was accessible from a ditch. We were grateful that the late summer/early Autumn had been dry and we wondered how the cache could be accessed during the wet winter months.

JJEF caches require work at GZ. It is not just a matter of finding a small pile of sticks, unstacking them, opening the revealed plastic box, signing the log and then reversing the process. Having found an object at GZ, JJEF caches require you to ‘open’ a box. The question is ‘How?’

JJEF even creates dummies for you to find!

We won’t spoil your fun by describing each cache in detail but suffice to say we normally go armed with magnets, string, penknives as additional aids.

Twin Lanes West

For one of the caches we required a narrow cylindrical object to open the cache. We dismantled a spare biro to ‘release’ the ink tube, but a nearby stick was far more useful! Another cache needed an air pump (yes, really!) – thankfully provided…but how it was used was ingenious! Sometimes the cache needed rotating or moving, and this technique worked for a couple of caches. Another cache could only be opened by aligning two dials.

But there was one cache we didn’t find, the one by the motorway. Normally JJEF containers are easy to spot, but we found nothing. Whether the weather had damaged it, or the construction of an additional lane of the M4 had dislodged it, we will never know. But we spent 15 minutes looking fruitlessly for a box yards from roaring traffic – not the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday morning!

So 7 caches attempted, 6 found and, more importantly opened – and we saw no-one excepting the fishermen and two horsewomen, so our searching and puzzle-solving skills were uninterrupted.

Here are some of the outer containers we found :

September 12 : Bramley, Shamley Green, and the Surrey Hills – and Apples!

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

During lockdown, a new series of caches, the ‘Apple’ series 🍏 sprang up, located between Bramley (fittingly) and Shamley Green in the Surrey Hills.

But all those question marks mean that these are puzzle caches, with a nominal start point as shown on the map, but with actual coordinates to be found by solving the puzzles posed in the cache descriptions. There are a variety of puzzles – pictures – music – logic – guess the identity – finding connections between things – and many more.

We both set about tackling them. We had mixed success, and we soon realised that we were unlikely to solve all the puzzles within a reasonable amount of time (or maybe ever). Sometimes, an educated guess early on followed by some Google research solved the puzzle. For one of the puzzles, I spent a couple of days muttering …’pirate, wizard, jellybeans’… to myself as I worked on it. There was a Scrabble-related puzzle – we HAD to solve this one as we are both keen Scrabble players, playing at East Berks Scrabble Club – and we solved that one after a brainwave from Mr Hg137.

After about two weeks of hard thinking, we had the answers to about half of the puzzles, and devised a route that included them, plus some on the Downs Link and in Bramley and Shamley Green too. We’d walked in the area about three years before and knew there was lots of lovely scenery and nice caches to be enjoyed

Shamley Green church

Shamley Green church

We parked near the church in Shamley Green, passed the church, and were out in fields. We found one cache and went to follow another footpath to the village green, but a sign said the footpath was closed. Deciding to walk down it anyway, we found that the cause was a large fallen tree, which had been chopped up and moved to the side of the path, so we were OK. The GPS struggled under thick tree cover, but we found another cache before emerging onto the village green.

The green has a busy village shop on one side, a pub on another, a bus stop, a fine village sign, and a cricket pitch. We wandered around the outfield, mostly looking for a seat to have coffee, but also spotting another cache (one of the ‘extras’ on top of the Apple series). Much thought ensued as the cache wasn’t easily reachable, then we made some tentative efforts with a tool of Mrs Hg137’s devising. After modifying said tool, the cache was eventually teased out and signed. Then to replace it … hmm. Mr Hg137 bravely volunteered and managed to replace the cache after deploying some muscles that hadn’t been used for a bit! Then it was off to that bench to recover with coffee and sweets.

Refreshed, we left the green along a narrow lane and across more fields, in the direction of the Downs Link path, finding a few more caches, including that Scrabble-themed cache mentioned earlier (a chance for a free advert for our club in the cache log!).

We also diverted from our main route to find a cache in the Fine Pair series (a location where a traditional K6 red telephone box is close to a red post box). The telephone box is now disused and houses a book and jigsaw exchange. I inspected the contents, there were sooo many things I would have liked to take, but, as I had to carry whatever I took for the rest of the day, I settled for a paperback.

Crossing the derelict Wey & Arun Canal we arrived on the Downs Link path and we had a few caches planned as we walked north to Bramley. The first was ‘AnTs Roundabout’ and we needed to solve a puzzle, involving … ants … to gather some numbers which we could use to undo the padlock on the cache container. We set about solving it at the side of the path but were spooked / distracted by the two large, noisy guard dogs, safely behind a high fence, but who had spotted us and wanted us gone (or to eat us for lunch). So we moved a little way away, found a bench, and restarted solving the puzzle. A few minutes later and, with a click, the container was open. Hooray – and a good challenge!

After lunch on that bench, we carried on to Bramley. We found three out of four caches, though one had us flummoxed for a while. It was called ‘Bamboozled’, and we couldn’t find it; after a bit, we looked around, and noticed we were stood next to a large clump of … bamboo. Doh!

After finding a Church Micro cache at Bramley, we started our return leg, walking south along a bridleway. There were caches from the Apple series spaced along here. Some we had solved (we duly found those), and some we hadn’t, so there were some gaps in our route. But – we surmised that, if the caches were spaced at roughly equal intervals, we might just find an unsolved cache if we looked in the right places in those gaps. Well, we peered behind quite a few trees, looked in quite a few places, and got lucky just once.

We had reached the fourth and last leg of our squarish route, and turned west towards Shamley Green along the Greensand Way We re-crossed the Downs Link, scrambled down the embankment to find another cache, then up the hill to and our start point. That was it for the day – 23 caches attempted, 21 found, including 13 from the Apple series; I’ve deliberately not said too much about the caches from that series so as not to give away locations; the joy in this series is the puzzle solving and the caches themselves are relatively easy finds, and your reward for the mental effort. And, for the route itself: a nice, varied route, some villages, some long distance trails, some countryside, rivers and canals too. On our way we saw tiny Christmas trees, blackberries and an impressive selection of fungi, lots of Harley Davidsons and cyclists, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, cows (Belted Galloways) plus jackdaws, rooks, and a circling buzzard.

Tiny Christmas trees

Tiny Christmas trees

An impressive collection of fungi

An impressive collection of fungi

🍏 🍏 🍏 A ‘Golden Delicious’ day of caching! 🍏 🍏 🍏

Here are a few of the many caches we found:

September 5 : Trackable Great Britain Rocks

Great Britain Rocks

On our walk around Cantley we found this trackable, Great Britain Rocks, in a cache.

We took it out, took it home and checked it out. It looked familiar. Too familiar.

We had retrieved this trackable from a cache in Lightwater, Surrey last November. A few days later we placed it in a cache near Grazeley, just West of Reading. We thought no more of it.

According to the Cantley cache should have been devoid of trackables, so it was a surprise to find a trackable there. But what was even more intriguing was how it got from Grazeley to Cantley.

We don’t know – its a mystery.

Recording trackables on isn’t easy, and we know some people just move trackables around without recording their movements. But normally it is possible to work out that cacher A visited cache X (after the trackable was placed) and then, perhaps some time later, visited cache Y (where the trackable was next retrieved by cacher B). Cacher B then placed the trackable in another cache correctly and there would be single break on the trackable’s chain.

But here, with Great Britain Rocks, the last action was OUR placing in Grazeley, and the next was OUR retrieval from Cantley. Other cachers have visited the two places, but there is no one cacher who visited both.

It remains a mystery who picked it up..who took it 10 miles, and who placed in Cantley.

We guess the guitar is just following a ‘rock and roll’ life-style ! Or perhaps just a Band on the Run!

September 5 : Cantley Park and Holt Copse, Wokingham

A relatively short caching trip today, but one with a mission.

Cantley Park

Each week when we’ve been geocaching we like to look at the statistics provided by which shows lots of information about our geocaching history.

One such piece is the ‘finds by hidden date’. After the Medstead Meander we noticed we had found a cache placed on every day, except one … Christmas Day! So using various search methods we discovered there was a Christmas Day placement in Wokingham, just a few miles away!

So today’s trip was to find that cache…and of course a few other nearby caches too.

We parked in Cantley Park (or at least tried to – as being Saturday morning the car park was full as various youth football teams were playing). We eventually squeezed into a spot near to the Tennis Courts.

Cantley Park is large area comprising open grassland, some sports grounds (football, cricket, hockey, tennis) all edged by well established trees. There are solid tracks around the perimeter allowing joggers to exercise too.

Our first cache was near to the perimeter. In fact we thought it was outside of the park so we started our walk on the pavement before realising our error. A quick find (made easier because we could see the cache from the pavement!)

Cantley also hosts a ‘counting vowels’ multi. We had to visit several signs around the park and count various vowels on various signs to yield some final coordinates. We found a couple of signs and then left the park heading to the Christmas Cache – the aptly named ‘Hope Yule Find It’. A mighty oak was the host, and an apt cache container for Christmas was found (but not for the an oak tree!).
We had completed our ‘finds by hidden date’ grid !!!!

Then we started another ‘counting vowels’ multi. This time in the Nature Reserve at Holt Copse. Here, quite a reasonable amount of woodland has been interlaced with paths and more importantly noticeboards. These boards tell of the different wildlife in the woods, mammals, birds, flowers etc. Using certain words – from 8 different waypoints, we accumulated a large number of each vowel.

We set about calculating the final co-ordinates, and discovered in our haste to leave the woodland
(to have a seating area to do perform the calculation), we went very close to the final location. Back into the copse we went, with a quick find.

Back into the copse

After this we returned to Cantley Park to continue the ‘counting vowel’ multi. By now the park was very busy, and there children riding bikes, families out for a walk as well as a ladies football match being played. We were surprised about the location for the final cache, but a straightforward find.

Our fifth and last cache of the day, was the hardest. Situated near to the car, by the tennis courts, we should have had a short route from finding the Counting Vowels Cache, and this final cache. Instead, for some reason, we chose not to take the slightly muddy path and opted for tarmac thinking it would only be a little longer. It was half a mile longer !! Whoops!

The cache, when we did arrive to find it, was called the ‘Pillar of Cantley Park’. We searched around, looking for pillars…obviously !, but nothing could be found. It was only when we said…’where would we hide a cache’, did we find it and the cache title made perfect sense!

So 5 caches from 5 and a completed grid on – a great morning’s work!

Here are 4 of our finds… (the pillar isn’t shown!)

August 29 : Medstead

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was cool and breezy, more like late October than late August. Where had summer gone? For the first time in a long while, we wondered if we needed coats; we took them but didn’t need them.

We selected a country walk, and set off south and west into Hampshire to Medstead, a small village between Alton and Winchester. There are two interlocking caching series here, and we planned to work our way round both series if we had time. But we take photos and make notes as we go, for both cache logging and for blogging, so we’re not the speediest cachers; it turned out we only had time for only one series of the two.

At the suggested parking for the Medstead Meander 2 series, we were lucky to bag a space as a muggle dog walker was just leaving. We set off down a quiet lane, exchanged greetings with two muggles who were hedge cutting, and soon arrived at our first cache. Our cache-finding skills were not quite warmed up, and we took a long while to find the first cache, which wasn’t really all that hard to spot, we just made a meal of it.

A few yards further on, we turned off the road onto a track; the rest of the series follows paths and tracks. We were even less successful with the second cache. We arrived at (probably) the right place, and spent some time looking at various things that matched the hint, without success. A dog-walking muggle passed and asked us why she saw so many people peering at the trees round here: was there a problem with them? We explained that the trees in the area are all fine, and gave a short description of geocaching. She seemed happy enough (though perhaps she thought we were bonkers) and went on her way.

It got better after this, and we started to find caches more quickly. Our tree-lined route meant the GPS was sometimes slow to settle on a location, or never decided on an exact location at all. We got quite good at interpreting the cache hints (mostly a variation on ‘it’s in a tree’ / ‘it’s under a log’!), sometimes split up to separately search two equally likely objects, or widened our search if our first efforts weren’t successful – all normal caching behaviours. We’d brought a container with us and did some blackberrying as we walked, which is also a good disguise if you meet muggles! And there was a steady stream of said muggles – walking, running, with dogs, farmers out checking their land …

It got brighter as we walked and then the sun came out, filtering through the trees. Summer had returned! We were in a kind of tree-lined tunnel, sheltered from the breeze, with not much view out to the surrounding arable fields, though, at intervals, we heard a distant whistle, as steam trains made their way up and down the Watercress line; there’s a station at Medstead/Four Marks In spring, when the bluebells are flowering, and in autumn, when the trees turn, it must be especially pretty.

A couple of caches were more memorable – one was oddly heavy for its size, which was because there were some metal hook-shaped things inside (and a face mask). Apart from the face mask, we couldn’t guess at their likely use so we left them both behind for others to identify – and, on another, the memorable thing was the wasps which appeared as if from nowhere and paid us much too much attention, we hadn’t spotted a nest anywhere, or disturbed anything. We kept walking and they gave up after about 100 paces.

What's in this cache?

What’s in this cache?

We arrived at a junction of footpaths and a small lane, with just a few hundred yards plus two caches left to find. At that moment we realised that we’d forgotten to load them into the GPS. Doh! Instead, we picked blackberries all the way back to the car, while pausing to look (unsuccessfully) at possible cache locations. By the time we got back to our start point we had collected about a pound of fruit; and the berries around here are large and soft and luscious.

Here are some of the many caches we found:

August 22 : Langley Park

Langley Park is an area of parkland on the outskirts of Langley and Slough. It should have been an area Mr Hg137 knew well (he was born in the nearby hospital, and worked for some years in Langley). But he didn’t.

Langley Park

He also somehow forgot the turning into Langley on route to the Park and we ended up, somewhat confused, circling a supermarket car park on the fringes of Slough Town Centre (not recommended).

After some route re-planning we found ourselves near to the Park and approaching from the North (rather than the South). We drove by the pay-and-display car park and headed to a small layby the cache owner had suggested for free parking. Despite our tardiness, the layby was empty…we would find out why later.

Around the park are 22 caches. Two routes of 10 caches and two standalones.

We started on the Langley Park series which would take us around the Southern Perimeter of the park. Cache 1 was hidden yards from the car. Two trees to hide a cache in, and Mr Hg137 was lucky his tree yielded the cache.

One of the many noticeboards around the park..packed full of information!

We walked on and arrived at a noticeboard outlining the paths and features of the park. Our caching trip would ensure we would see quite a lot of them! As we checked the map, three dog walkers came by, and the dogs came over to sniff us out.

Our new friend

We continued on relatively quiet paths, finding caches at regular intervals. We had a distant view of the hotel (surprisingly to be found in the middle of the park) and also some friendly donkeys. The caches were relatively quick finds, but unusual containers or hiding places. None of the caches were a film pot hidden under a small pile of twigs!

The caches in this series were named after a close by feature (Deer Fence, Mansion House) or someone associated with the park. At ‘The Brook’ the previous cacher had logged a DNF, but the hint was explicit enough that we managed to find the well hidden container.

Somewhere near this bridge is a cache…

One of the caches (number 7 in the series) had gone missing, so it gave us the opportunity to step out the park into the village of George Green, finding a cache there before returning to the park. The George Green cache would probably make our ‘worst caches of the year’. It was a plastic bag under some sticks. The sort of container that gives geocaching a bad name.

Designed by Capability Brown

We returned into the park closer to the centre and almost immediately arrived at a lake. The nearby cache was named after its designer – Capability Brown. As we searched for the cache we were accosted by a passer-by – we explained about geocaching, she had heard about it, and we showed her the tiny nano we had just found.

A distant view of The Langley Hotel

We found cache 9 of the series (close to the grand drive to the hotel) and then started on the second series (LPN). (Cache 10 was close to the car and we set it aside at the last cache of the day).

Lovely woodland walk

Cache 5 of the LPN series was our starting point of this new series and we proceeded to walk the route in reverse. (Meaning : hints that referred to left or right, needed reversing too). These caches had been set by the same cache owner as the previous series and again were of the same high quality of well thought-out containers. The main difference in the two series is that this second series seemed harder. Whether the GPS was a little out, or we were getting tired – but we struggled with several caches.

Our first struggle was at ‘Stumped’. Our GPS took us to a a group of trees surrounded by ferns, with barely a stump to check. Try as we might we couldn’t see the stump. It was only when we decided to emulate the walk from the correct direction did we see the cacher’s path…and the appropriate stump.

A couple of caches later (actually the first cache in the series – ‘Starting Point’) we struggled again. A very, very explicit hint – ‘third post from the end – look for the fishing wire’.

We looked and rummaged to no avail. We double counted posts (did the third post include the main end post or not ?). As for fishing wire … nothing to be seen. What made this cache harder, was that it was very close to an entry gate into the park. Fortunately no-one asked what we were doing. We were just about to give up, when the sun pierced the tree cover and a shaft of light reflected from some fishing wire! It was there the whole time. The line was connected to a well-submerged container and a gentle tug released it from its semi-buried state. How we didn’t find it with our hands – we still don’t know!

3rd Duke of Malborough, one of the previous owners of Langley Park

The Northern area of the park has more attractions than the Southern end. The footpaths took us through some rhododendrons – sadly being mid August not in flower. We had somehow climbed a few feet and we able to pause (eat lunch) with a distant view of Windsor Castle. Originally a temple/folly had stood here so that it could be seen by the monarch of the day FROM Windsor Castle!

Just below the horizon…is Windsor Castle (honest!)

With so many features, and the close-by car park, the paths were busier, and were more circumspect at our cache finding. The hints were getting more inventive : ‘so many yards in direction X from tree Y’, ‘what else would you expect to find on a Christmas tree’ .

We found all 10 caches with little trouble, occasionally making sure we avoided horses, family picnics, games of cricket, and children running around haphazardly.

We had two caches left – one hidden in/near/on a Japanese bridge in the Arboretum. Here we were watched from afar as we first located the cache, signed its log, and replaced it. Fortunately we weren’t asked what we doing.

Finally, our last cache of the day, cache 10 of the original series. We had found every cache so far…but this cache we failed on. Two obvious hosts, a hint that was obvious.. but no cache. We circled around for about 10 minutes, and then two youngsters appeared. Both looking at their mobile phones. They wandered over to a third tree we had searched. We got talking – they were cachers too…so the four of us, socially distancing of course, looked again. Nothing. Good luck with the rest of your caching Danj93.

So 22 caches attempted 21 finds. not bad. We approached the edge of the park, and near the entrance gate a family on bikes, were consulting their phones too. Guess what ? They were cachers and they went to find our first cache of the day some 5 hours after us. Good luck Kwai14 on your future adventures.

So a pretty good day’s caching….until we arrived at the car.

In our befuddled haste at parking the car we failed to notice ‘no parking signs’ on various trees and lampposts half a mile either side of our parking spot. Buckingham County Council fined us for parking – whoops!! We let the cache owner know, they hadn’t seen the signs and they parked in the same spot 2 days before us. The free parking for the caching series has sadly disappeared…as did some money from our bank account!

Here are some of the caches we found :

August 21 : Kennedy Memorial Landscape, Runnymede

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Kennedy Memorial Landscape, Runnymede

Kennedy Memorial Landscape, Runnymede

In August 2020, twenty post-war landscapes were listed by Historic England. Here is a full list of them Among them was the Kennedy Memorial Landscape at Runnymede, Surrey, which has been Grade II listed.
We visited this spot twice in 2015, once on Magana Carta day on June 15th and once in early September, when we walked through Windsor and Runnymede

A confession is that we remember the spot, but it didn’t make much of an impression on either visit: on Magna Carta Day it was so busy, with all sorts of things going on, hordes of people, Gloriana floating along the Thames, the Red Arrows flying overhead: in September, we had a day’s walking ahead of us, it was early, and we didn’t linger. But it is a nice, peaceful, and historic place and it would repay a third visit when it is not busy and we don’t have a destination to get to.

It’s thought-provoking to come across something we have seen on our travels, and which has now appeared in a completely different context.