We have mentioned before on our blog that both of us are keen Scrabblers, and every year we attend a weekend event on the Isle of Wight. Most of the other competitors arrive a couple of hours before the tournament and leave almost immediately afterwards. But we are, geocachers, too. And so we arrived Friday lunchtime on the Isle of Wight to undertake a few caches on the East of the Island before the forecasted rain set in.
Our principal target was a cache set by Robb Inn (whose blog we follow, see left panel). This was apparently hidden in, or near to, a building known as “The Wonky Café” in Whitecliff Bay. Easy enough so far… but there is no public road access to the Café! The recommended parking is high on the cliffs above, and then a short (probably half-a-mile) down a narrow footpath.
(The fact that we failed to find the footpath from the car park for 10 minutes, and squeezed our way over and around a locked gate when we did gives some indication that the footpath really didn’t want to be used)
The British Winter had not treated this footpath well. It was very muddy indeed. In some places logs had been placed to be used a ‘tightrope’ to traverse long patches of mud.
As we neared the end of our tricky descent, Mrs Hg137 slipped and went down. Mud all over her clothes! Some nearby grass cleaned some of the mud off, but it was of little use.
Fortunately there were few other muddy sections to pass and we arrived at a glorious beach, and in front of us stood… The Wonky Café. (www.wonkycafe.com)
We were greeted by the two owners (whose names sadly have escaped us). They were busy painting steps and picnic tables ready for a March 1st opening. They were hard at work pretty close to Ground Zero!!
Fortunately they knew about the cache. They knew where it was hidden, but gave little away. We searched in a few obvious places – being fully aware that 2 pairs of eyes were watching our every move. Our searching concentration was broken periodically by the owners’ dog wanting to play ball, so we obliged.. still the search went on.
And on! It took us ages. Our excuse, if indeed one is needed, is that any task is harder when people are watching you. Our task was also made harder as those people owned the property. One feels a lot more cautious at pulling/tugging etc at objects when the people who own the structure are watching!
Eventually we did find it! But to this day we are still trying to understand the hint “Aye, Aye Captain!”.
We had lunch on one of the (now dry) picnic tables and checked out the beach. We were told that some circular wooden struts had appeared, we surmise that they may have been fish traps.
Anyway the clouds were beginning to thicken and we had more caches to find (not to mention a climb back UP the cliff).
Our next cache find, just a tenth of a mile from the Wonky Café was in a bush, in a caravan park. Very easy to find and definitely large enough for us to deposit one of the trackables we had brought with us. Farewell “Set Sail”, enjoy your view of the sea and your future adventures!
Before climbing the muddy path up to the cliff, we decided to consult the map. We could construct another way back to the car, and avoiding the slipping and sliding of the morning. However we didn’t realise we had to walk through a private road (through the camp site – luckily no-one noticed) and then along another muddy footpath.
Its amazing how different muddy footpaths can be! The morning’s footpath was wet and greasy. The afternoon’s path was the oozy type of mud that sucked boots in, and left tidemarks around the ankles. Every step meant lifting our heavier and heavier boots out of gloop and into more gloop. We chose the wrong path back!
Eventually we neared the car and another cache. A fairly easy find of a camouflaged container where we placed our two remaining trackables , “Connie the Crab” and a Pirate Geocoin. Good luck both – we’ve enjoyed your company!
Arriving at the car, the rain and wind had set in. Our boots were caked in mud. We were getting cold. Fortunately our thermos of coffee revived us enough and provided us with the sustenance to go for our fourth cache of the day near Bembridge Fort. (We had intended walking to it, but as the weather really was worsening, we drove car to its Ground Zero, and made it a very simple cache and dash.) We’re quite sure the cache owner would have wanted us to have stayed longer and admire the Palmeston Fort built in 1860, but the weather was deteriorating rapidly and the lure of a warm hotel room beckoned.
So three easy finds and another where our caching skills were definitely ‘Wonky’.
Here are a couple of our finds :