January 4 : PT Le pays du Der

This trackable – found in our cache during a maintenance visit – is named after an area of France in the Champagne region, and wishes to visit lots of countries. So far, since June 2017 it has visited France, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Spain (Canary Islands), Ecuador, Canada and Britain. It has travelled over 47,000 miles and visited nearly 2400 caches… not bad for 18 months travelling!

Many of those caches were accrued in undertaking a large series that the trackable is named after ‘Le Pays du Der’. This is a series of 1300 caches (predominantly drive-bys) set out as a series of figures of eights centred around Longeville-sur-la-Laines.
The series seems to be a ‘rite of passage’ and reading some of the logs, cachers come from all over Europe to undertake the full 1300 caches in 3-5 days ! Phew!

We don’t have such large series in this country, but we will try to place the trackable in a series rather than an isolated cache miles from nowhere!

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January 4 : Berry Bank cache : maintenance needed

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The first weekend of 2019 was approaching, and we had a caching circuit in mind. But first … a visit to our own cache, Berry Bank cache, to collect a trackable. It’s a Womble, which has been resident in our cache since early 2018 and which we planned to move on in a few days. But – disaster – there was water inside the cache, the Womble was wet, and the logbook was soggy. This was not good, and some cache maintenance was needed. The cache was marked as ‘needing maintenance’ on the Geocaching website.

Cache and contents were transported home and spread out. We found a second trackable – PT Le Pays du der – so now we had two trackables to take on to our caching trip. On to the cache maintenance: most of the cache contents could be wiped dry, leving just three wet things. These were: the camo bag containing the cache container, the logbook, and Shansi the Womble. All three spent the night on the kitchen radiator, drying out.

Come the morning, the dry clean cache was reassembled and returned to its home, Berry Bank, and re-enabled on the Geocaching website. All was now well and the two trackables were coming on an adventure with us!

December 31 : Caches of the Year 2018

Its a been a varied year, we walked from Sandhurst in Gloucestershire to Sandhurst in Berkshire, found caches close to home, in Chester, Liverpool and the Isle of Wight. Here, in no particular order, are some of our favourites. We hope you’ve enjoyed our caching experiences this year and happy caching in 2019!

December 28 : Guildford – The Chantries

The excesses of Christmas needed to be walked off and the Chantries seemed an ideal circuit.

The Chantries (or Chantry Wood) to give it is proper title is situated a few miles South East of Guildford and comprises 78 hectares of mixed woodland. It is also an Area of High Ecological Value within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The North Downs Way runs in its Northern boundary.

There are lots of paths (mainly running West/East) and plenty of hiding places for geocaches. Indeed there are just under 20 geocaches in the area, we chose to attempt 14 of them. We omitted a couple of terrain 4/5 tree climbs, a couple of puzzle caches we couldn’t solve and two quite detailed Earthcaches.

This left us a Compass series set by ===sgb (8 caches had been placed at strategic compass points around the wood) and 6 caches placed by The Perkins Family.

The wood is served by a smallish free car park, and at 9am it was already half-full. Our first cache (NORTHWEST) was hidden in a small hollow just off the main path. In order to get to the cache we had to walk past it on the path, and then pick up a small track and walk back. This was a recurring feature of our walk : get a good fix on the location, and then find the sometimes indistinct cacher’s path a short distance away.

We hadn’t got into this routine at cache 2 (WEST) as the GPS pointed straight up a steep bank. Armed with geopole, Mrs Hg137 hauled herself up the bank, grabbing tree after tree as she climbed. Meanwhile Mr Hg137 scoured the footpath just in case the GPS was wrong. It wasn’t .. and soon the ‘Found it !” cry was heard. This gave Mr Hg137 the opportunity to see if there was an easier route to descend. There was ! A few yards further on, a set of steps yielded easy access to the cache site.

Our next cache was our first failure of the day. Located in a wooden Den.
We lifted every log we could. We sat in the Den looking up, down, left, right. We walked around the Den but all to no avail. A great place for a cache, but clearly too clever for us.

The Den


Somewhat frustrated we walked on and were grateful for an easy find (SOUTHWEST). Then a longish walk leaving the wood to find SOUTH (stopping only to admire three roe deer as they ran within yards of us).

We didn’t find SOUTH.

It was hidden close to a stile, now very unused as it was surrounded by brambles and branches. The hint made little sense (‘Raccoon’) and after 10 minutes of being attacked by thorns we left defeated.

Five caches attempted, and only three finds. Several cuts and grazes accumulated. Time for a coffee, on one of the few seats we saw all day.

A fine view from a rare seat

Our next caches, set by the Perkins Family, were on ‘An Impassable Path’. Over time an official path had become very overgrown. This did not stop the Perkins Family placing three caches on its route, with a view that if cachers walked the path, the brambles, nettles would be cleared and the footpath usable again. This plan had worked as the path was very clear and not impassable at all. Our only problem was locating the start of it, but once we found the middle, we went up and down it quite quickly collecting three caches.

The Impassable Path


We returned then to the Compass series and found SOUTHEAST. Initially our GPS swung from tree to tree but we found it lodged between stones. Broken and with a gnawed logbook. We reported as needs maintenance, but this cache has had several such comments since August 2018. (Ed : It is always slightly disappointing if cache owners don’t respond to ‘needs maintenance’ requests – even adding a note stating when the maintenance will happen at least proves the maintenance request has been noted).

We were at the furthest point from the car park and this meant there were fewer people. In fact we probably went 45 minutes or so without seeing anyone. Our solitude was broken as we headed to EAST (straightforward once the cacher’s path was located), and then onto NORTHEAST.

Here we the cache was seemingly placed between two footpaths. We, of course, took the wrong one and had to walk back and find the cache (easily) from the other direction. Our last cache in the Compass series involved another longish walk to NORTH found under a very heavy log, which needed one of us to lift as the other grabbed the cache.

We then had a couple more Perkins Family caches to attempt.

The first was just off the North Downs Way. Up a slope. A fearsome slope. The tree cover caused the GPS to wobble. We precariously went up and down the slope, searching trees and logs until the GPS finally settled. The distance dropped from 24 feet (a major achievement after 10 minutes searching) to 20 feet, to 16 feet..to 12 to 10. We were there! Phew!

One cache left, and our longest and hardest walk yet.

The Chantries is riddled with dry river valleys. Several of these valleys are the subject of one of the Earthcaches we decided against so we were slightly annoyed at having to climb up a valley slope, down to the valley bottom and re-climb again to reach our final cache.

Exhausted we made our way back to the car. We’d found 12 out of 14 caches, walked nearly 4 miles and climbed 750 feet. Not bad for a post-Christmas workout.

Many of the caches were 1 or 2 litre food containers… two notable exceptions will appear in our ‘caches of the year’ which will be published in a day or so.

December 22 : Buckler’s Park : Crowthorne and the TRL

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was the Saturday before Christmas, and we had loads of things we *should* be doing. So – obviously – we found ourselves in Crowthorne, parking the geocar for a morning’s geocaching. As the December days are short, the paths are now muddy, and we had (ahem) loads to do, we chose somewhere local, and likely to have good paths. The venue was Buckler’s Park, a new housing development in progress on the site of the old Transport Research Laboratory http://www.landghomes.com/developments/bucklers-park The houses are/will mostly be on the side of the site where the TRL buildings were, and a large part of the rest of the site, where the test track was, has been turned into a country park. (Editor’s note: The name comes from Buckler’s cars, which were made in Crowthorne in the 1950s-1960s.)

Buckler's Park

Buckler’s Park


There’s parking here, overlooking the new houses on one side and the park on the other, and we started the morning by finding a puzzle cache based on the history of the TRL, which we had looked up before setting out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_Research_Laboratory After reading some well put-together noticeboards telling us about the history of the site (among many other things, part of the film ‘Quadrophenia’ was filmed here), we set off along a well surfaced and unmuddy path into woods.

There are two new cache series here, ‘New Buckler’s Forest TRL Series’ parts 1 and 2, both placed during the autumn of 2018. The caches are set at regular intervals, close to well surfaced paths, and all are made of/hidden in materials derived from the site or chosen to blend in with the places they are hidden; there are no ill-disguised film canisters or out-in-the-open plastic boxes to be found here; I’m trying not to spoil it by giving away exactly what we found, or where. The country park has retained some parts of the old test site, and there are loads and loads of newly planted trees, lots of varieties, several ponds, and streams newly unearthed from being culverted under the concrete. On this morning, at probably at many other times, this park is hugely popular with walkers, runners, cyclists of all speeds, and dogs in all sizes, shapes and muddiness; it’s hard to find a quiet moment to search for a geocache!
The Pan

The Pan


Hill Start Hill

Hill Start Hill


We walked past the site of ‘The Pan’, which makes for both interesting signposts and some old and obvious jokes, past ‘Hill Start Hill’, and on to a section of old tarmac which must have been an experimental cycle lane junction, complete with road signs (they were tested on this site), and on towards the northern edge of the park.
Out of position road sign?

Out of position road sign?


The trees thinned, and we emerged onto a wide section of tarmac which turned away from us, the ‘Banked Curve’. This is part of the test circuit from the TRL, where cars used to hurtle around at very high speeds. It’s 10m from bottom to top of the banking, and we both tried, and failed to climb it, though, annoyingly, dogs have no problems. Around the edges of the banking are small green boxes (a bit like telecoms boxes), monitoring boxes left over from testing days, and these have all been kept, some re-used as minibeast hotels, some to become mini-museums or libraries.
Banked Curve

Banked Curve


Minibeast hotel

Minibeast hotel


Bird box?  Bat box?

Bird box? Bat box?


Turning back towards the car park, we passed the old fire ponds and fire tower, plus a relic of something automotive … a winner’s podium … strange.
No races near here recently!

No races near here recently!


After a few more minutes we were back at the car park, and two hours had vanished in a flash. Ten caches attempted, ten found, and an interesting country park. It’s good now, though very, very new. Come the spring, with new growth, it’ll be lovely, and even better with a few year’s maturity, a good place to return to as it develops.

And here is just one of the caches we found (but every single one was special):

December 8 : Les Géopotes à Chausey

The beautiful geocoin was found on our morning’s caching in Farnham, Surrey.

It is a souvenir coin from the Islands of Chausey, Northern France. From a geographical perspective they are part of the ‘Channel Islands’ but the Les Iles Chausey are French and approximately 30 people live there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chausey.

This geocoin is owned by several cachers, Maroliv, SergeLB, Les Trolls, Les Pinsons, JLL50 , and La Team P’Tits Del. The first cache the geocoin visited (Autumn 2017) was on mainland France, Maroliv took it to Chausey shortly after.

Since then the coin has circled Northern France (mainly the Cherbourg Peninsula), before a very short visit to Washington DC and then to Southern England.

It has no mission so we will try to place it somewhere that it hasn’t visited.

December 8 : TravelDog

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

TravelDog

TravelDog


Early on our caching walk round Farnham Park, we found this trackable. Once we’d got back home, we logged the trackable and did a little research on what it has been doing.

• It’s a border terrier.
• It set off from Worthing, very close to the south coast of England, in April 2016.
• It wants to travel to its ancestral home in the Scottish Borders. And then back home again.

Well, the dog has certainly travelled. But not much in the direction of the border with England and Scotland. Leaving Worthing, it was off to Trafalgar Square in central London, then to Sofia, Bulgaria, back to Sussex, then Lefkas, one of the Greek islands, then the Netherlands, then Germany, then on to Sweden by late autumn 2017 (none of this is heading for Scotland, is it?). By September 2018 it was back in England, at a cacher’s meet in Essex, then went on another tour of southern England, ending up in Farnham Park, where we found it.

We can’t promise to move it to Scotland, but we shall aim for a dog-friendly place north of where we found it, and it can (maybe) progress from there.