Our Cornish holiday was at an end, and with the exception of our drive home, we have yet to blog about our adventures on the Cornish Compass Series.
As we have remarked on earlier blogs, the series comprises of 360 puzzle caches. Each cache has a puzzle to solve to yield the final co-ordinates. On the map, the puzzle route looks circular, and although the solved co-ordinates produce a continuous loop, it is definitely not circular. The puzzles are easy to solve, and with a little help from Excel the final co-ordinates can all be derived before attempting the circuit. (We plotted every 20th cache on a map, before we left, we strongly urge plotting a lot more than this to give a very clear driving route).
This is a very popular series. When we were in Cornwall two joint teams from the Lake District and the Midlands were attempting the series. Although the series is barely a year old, it already seems to have reached iconic status.
Some cachers attempt the series in a 24 hour period, others take their time, perhaps 20-30 caches a day. It really is a huge undertaking. Many of their exploits can be found at Cache 001.
Other than the sheer size, the Cornish roads hinder progress. Much of the journey is on very narrow lanes with passing places. Many of the caches are in/near these passing places, but at busy times it doesn’t seem right to hold up traffic whilst looking for tupperware!
We found caches on 4 days in Cornwall. These were never our primary targets for the day, but because of our pre-plotted map we had a good idea when we were close to the series.
Our first day – on Bodmin Moor – we found 6 hides all very traditional ie under stones, by fences. Width-wise the roads were ok, and there were opportunities to park a car, and walk to find 2-3 caches in safety. With most caches about 1/10 a mile apart, this meant about half-a-mile of road walking.
Our second day – near Liskeard – was harder. The roads were narrower and by the time we started to cache, evening peak-time was approaching, which meant there were more vehicles trying to use the narrow lanes. The parking spaces were not quite so convenient, our best pull in was just feet from a farm house. This section also yielded our only DNF – probably more of a Did Not Attempt as had blocked a resident’s drive to park our car within seconds of the resident returning! One cache which Mrs Hg137 had to find was 12 feet up a slippery bank. The nearest parking area meant we had to leave a person with the car… we really should have reversed roles here!
Another was very cunningly hidden in some street furniture (and we not going to tell you how!). That day we found 5 Compass Caches, but must have driven past many more with no easy means of safely stopping. We eventually gave up, when a huge tractor came bearing down on the spot we had chosen to leave our car for a brief moment! All too stressful!
Our third day – on the way to Tintagel – we found one cache. We had hoped to find more, but our route (and we are still not sure if it was on the Cornish circle) was so narrow at one point Mr Hg137 had to reverse (slightly ineptly if truth be told) to allow a van and three other cars to squeeze past with inches to spare. Once free of the congestion, we paused to collect our thoughts in a very large layby. Turned on the GPS and we were 17 feet from a cache! An easy find.
After two days of squeezing the car through seeming smaller and smaller lanes, we only returned to the Cornish Compass series three days later.
We weren’t really planning to undertake any of the Compass caches that day… but we realised after finishing the ‘Drive on the Moor’ series we were just a few finds short of some personal records. Mrs Hg137 remembered passing a road sign which bore a strong similarity to one of the cache hints… so that’s where we went to first! We needed just three finds to break our daily record of 29 caches. The first in the road sign was simple. A busy road junction, and a muggle listening to the cricket in a nearby car.
The next cache up a slight bank and attached by various wires to a telegraph pole… and so to our record breaking 30th cache of the day. A very simple find, with thankfully easy parking opposite! Thirty caches in a day .. our new record.
So in the end we only found 15 Compass caches.
If you like driving – and stopping every 1/10th of a mile – around narrow, sometimes high-banked, Cornish lanes this route is for you. Preparation though is key. Work out all the co-ordinates beforehand, drive the route (using Googlemaps) to ascertain parking spots and to experience the narrowness of roads. If you don’t like narrow lanes (and we had our moments of dislike) you can still enjoy the route, but you may need to selective where you drive.
It is fun…but hard work! Our hearty congratulations to those that success in finding all 360 caches… you have far better stamina than us!