August 21 : Coombe Catastrophe!

Just to the South West of Wokingham is a heavily wooded area known as the Coombes. There are footpaths through the wood, but the main footpath forms the edge of the wood. The path adjoins some houses, and a golf course so on a warm Sunday afternoon it was quite busy.

Coombes Lane- Arborfield Ford

At the end of the Coombes – Arborfield Ford

We set off with 7 caches to attempt, all mainly within yards of the path.

In fact we parked within 20 yards of our first destination, a small tree climb. It only required a small 3-4 foot heave, a careful balance, a reach and the cache was ours. A very nice basket holding a film container. We undertook our normal arrangements of the climber throwing the cache down to the ground for the other to sign. All easy enough, but there was a car parked under the tree, making the tree climb just that little bit harder. Even so, an easy enough start… (Ed : We so cramped for space, the photo of the retrieval didn’t do it justice, so please paint your own picture)

Our next find was a little fortunate. As we arrived at GZ, the GPS swung wildly and pointed over the other side of the path to a youngish sapling. Surely its not there ? We dithered about and just as we were about to cross the path a horse and rider came by, followed by a family with a dog. This gave us a bit of time to check out the better looking tree on OUR side of the path. There the cache was! Never trust a GPS!

Our next cache, Liam and the Coombes was in a clearing, just off the path. We were looking for reasonably sized container somewhere near a dead tree. Guess what! There were loads of dead trees! We searched them all and found….nothing! However we consoled ourselves that today’s walk was linear so we would be passing this area on the way back. We could search again later on. (Ed: famous last words).

After a DNF it is always nice to find the next one. Here we made a quarter of a mile diversion from the main path to Lily and the Coombes. An easy find, mainly as the barkoflage wasn’t quite doing enough to hide the cache in a tree trunk – we did our best to hide it better. We dropped off the trackable (Estonia Mega) here, and signed one of the three log books inside. (Why three ?)

Back to the main Coombe track to look for At the Beech. An ammo can, hidden in tree roots. Or so we thought! Lots of fallen trees, lots of roots, few places for an ammo can. (The only real place we found was huge – so big we could both lie down in the space…no sign of the ammo can though!). That’s 5 caches attempted and 2 DNFs. Oh dear!

Our next cache we didn’t attempt. We only loaded into our GPS to admire the handiwork of setter, AmayaTom. He had climbed 20 feet up a tree to place a cache. We could see how to climb to the 12 foot mark, but the last 8 foot…no way!

Tree climb

20 feet up … but not for us!

And so we arrived at our terminus of the day, Arborfield Ford. The Coombes had now given way to farm land, and we were now much closer to the small town/village of Arborfield (no longer an Army Garrison town). The cache was hidden not too far away, but could we find it ?…. no!

Sheep at Arborfield

Baaa ! Baaa!

So our catastrophic caching trip ended with just 3 finds out of 6 real attempts. Time was pressing as we’d spent for too-long looking for each of the DNFs, and so we decided not to re-visit them on the return walk to the car. We could save those caches for another day…maybe…or maybe not!


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