April 9 : FLAB in Maidenhead

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

FLAB – not an especially nice term … But FLAB : Footpaths, Lanes And Bridleways is a series of 17 caches over approx. 3.5 miles, sandwiched between the A4, the Bristol-London main railway line, and the A404M. And that description does it no justice at all – it is really easy to get to, has good, free (!) parking, and is in a rural little patch of country.
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First of all: why did we choose it? We had an appointment between home and the cache series, and our plan was to keep the appointment and then move on to the geocaching. And, like all good plans … it went wrong. As we completed our appointment, Mr Hg137 realised he did not have his wallet; it is normally welded to his person when he is not at home, so he began to worry. Thus we returned home, retrieved the wallet, and set off again, passing the venue of our appointment (that saved some mileage, didn’t it?) before arriving at the excellent little parking place at the start of the caching series. At this point I realised I had forgotten to pack my walking boots, so I had a choice of another, much longer, round trip to collect them, or going round the route in my wussy, soft, non-waterproof trainers. I chose the latter. Actually they performed much better than that, so I had no need to worry.

Wussy driving trainers

Wussy driving trainers


Leaving our start point, we set off in the April sunshine into light woodland. The caches were easy to spot in the dappled shade (no rootling in thick undergrowth or head-high nettles needed at this time of year), and after five quick(ish) finds, we emerged from the path onto a country lane. We came upon a seat, placed next to the village noticeboard for White Waltham. It was the first seat we had seen, it was lunchtime, so it was a good spot to sit in the sun, eat our sandwiches, and watch the world go by. After lunch, we went further on down the lane, before turning off the road onto a track across fields. Suddenly it wasn’t so sunny, and the wind was getting up. We dawdled as a muggle family passed, then dived behind a telegraph pole to retrieve a cache; we expected the cache to be on the ground, but it was at head height, so we spent a while in the right place, but looking in the wrong direction. At the end of the track, we were back on a road, this time with a pavement, and pleasant flower-strewn verges, heading towards the railway line and a business park close to White Waltham airfield. Just before the railway, we diverted down a path across fields, accompanied by frequent trains in the shallow cutting alongside, and watching light aircraft practising take-offs and landings. Just here we found another cache – nothing very unusual about it, exactly where the GPS said it should be, and not very hard to find – but the previous logs said that it had not been found for some time and must be missing – that was most definitely wrong!
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On we went, along a quiet section of dead-end road and onto another path. By now, we could both feel occasional raindrops. We tried to ignore them, but had to admit we were likely to get wet. Very soon. And so it proved. Our next cache was hidden amongst bushes and trees on a sheltered section of path, and it began to rain, hard, as we retrieved the cache. But it was a good place to be at that moment – possibly the most sheltered part of the entire walk – so we skulked in relative dryness under the trees while the rain pelted down and gusty winds swirled about. And then the rain was gone, almost as soon as it had arrived. A little further on, we emerged into a residential road, then turned onto a more major road which took us back to the geocar. I was quite happy for the paths to be paved by now, for my wussy driving trainers would not have fared well on those rural paths, once they were wetted by rain.The last two caches took us a while to find, as they weren’t where the description said they should be, but we got them eventually – a full house of 17 caches.

So, a roundup of the 17 caches. We found them all, which is quite rare for us; actually, very rare for us, there is usually something we don’t find. Most were very easy to find (as the description says they should be) though there were a few that weren’t quite where they should be (e.g. one hint said ‘in armpit of tree’ while we found it ‘in toe of tree’) or which needed some attention(e.g. container lid missing). We made notes on those and sent a detailed list out to the cache owner afterwards; as they said, the series is often done by beginner or inexperienced cachers, which might well explain some of the problems. We felt like grizzled old lags at that point!

Here are a selection of the caches we found, in no particular order:
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