May 26 : Farewell to Chester

Before we left Chester for our drive home, we had some unfinished business in Chester.

“An Elephant Never Forgets..and you have some unfound caches near the zoo”

Within yards of the hotel was a cache we had not attempted all week. We had walked past it several times, but had never loaded it in our GPS. Our gut instinct was that the cache was one side of the road, perhaps magnetically attached to a sign. On the same side of the road were some small bushes and trees, again, ideal hiding material.

Imagine our surprise when the GPS locked onto the bus stop furniture on the other side of the road. No-one waiting, so we quickly furtled in and around the bus stop (Ed : are we the only people that use the word ‘furtle’, meaning to ‘poke around’ – its not in any online dictionary!!!) . After a couple of minutes Mrs Hg137 found the small magnetic nano. Then we read the title and description ‘OTB3 Olive Rudge’. The cache owner had set a mini series of 7 caches based on character from the 1960s/1970s ITV Comedy ‘On The Buses’! The bus stop made perfect sense.

Farewell hotel, hello cache!

Our last three caches in Chester were near the Zoo. We parked in the zoo car park, ahead of many of the Saturday morning visitors. Our first target was a 6-stage multi we had investigated 5 days previously. We had the first 4 clues correct, but the other two, in a small nature reserve nearby were baffling. One of the stages needed a sign, which had recently been removed (we could see the groundholes), and the other asked us a question for which the answer was not obvious. So with two unknowns we weren’t fancying our chances. However a bit of reasoned logic, discounting obvious arithmetic anomalies (anything above eleven minus two will not yield a one digit number!) we gave ourselves 4 coordinates to try.

The first was in the warthog house.. unlikely ! The second was promising as it was in the zoo car park by some trees. Nothing there. The third location took us to somewhere where the hint made sense…we just had to be the correct side of a fence! And there it was… a large cache hidden in an apt container! Even with two unknown answers we had found the cache! Yippee!

“The Zoo is Open” and so is the cache!

We crossed the car park to a footpath – actually a cycleway called the Pink Route – as it is one of 11 cycleways emanating from Chester each named after a colour.

The Pink Route.. is very Green

Our success at the previous cache had gone to our heads as the very descriptive hint ‘Half way down the slope on a large tree trunk with some regrowth covered in ivy , at head height’ made no initial sense. We clambered around until we found the tree in question. Even with two pairs of eyes our search of the tree was fruitless. Then, as many caches are, we looked at a very specific angle and saw the cache wedged in its hidey-hole.

We signed the log, took photos, and headed back towards the zoo.

We went underneath the zoo’s train lines and drew level with the rhinoceros enclosure. We could just see, through two types of fence a small baby rhino… the one that was born just a week before! Just as we were about to search for our last cache of our holiday Mrs Hg137 realised she was no longer wearing her sun hat. (One she had owned for over 30 years). She was wearing it earlier, but where was it now ? We quickly found the cache, signed the log and retreated our steps carefully.

Found the cache, but can we find a missing hat?

We were about halfway back along the Pink Route when a man said he had seen our hat a bit further on.. Phew! We walked on, a little faster, and saw the hat… and another man approaching it. Fortunately he also realised it was Mrs Hg137’s hat and gave it to us. We chatted and as it turned out he was also a geocacher so had an inkling as to what we had found !

We could have driven home at that point, but we wanted one more look at the zoo. The entrance to Chester Zoo is staggered, after buying a ticket there is a wide concourse – where presumably large parties gather – before reaching the actual turnstile. We could wander into this concourse, and look into the first exhibit…the ELEPHANTS !

Spot the one week old elephant!

We had a great view – without paying remember – of all the elephants including the week-old elephant which no doubt will appear in the next series of Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Life of the Zoo’ . We were also entertained by zoo keepers parading dressed up as a giraffe! A fun end to a great week!

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May 25 : Liverpool (part 2)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Liverpool - Cathedral View

Liverpool – Cathedral View


We’d spent the previous day in Liverpool – travelled on the Mersey ferry – walked along the dock frontage – visited Chinatown and the Anglican cathedral – but we had hardly started on the sights and the geocaches that Liverpool had to offer. So we went back …

Arriving – by train this time, not ferry – we set off once again for the Anglican cathedral. We’d failed to find the cache based on the cathedral the day before, which had occupied most of the afternoon. And we DID NOT want to be beaten, not after all that time and effort. Reader: we were successful, and the cache log says it all:

Our second day in Liverpool, and our second attempt here. Yesterday we had the correct co-ordinates but somehow the checker said ‘no’. We had wandered close to GZ yesterday, but gave up as we thought GZ too impenetrable and as we had not had reassurance from the checker – gave up.

However, after verification from the checker, we set off again. But how to reach GZ ? Yesterday we had eliminated one way, and another. Today it took us another 2 attempts before we were on the correct path. We of course walked past GZ, but eventually the GPS settled and we were staring at something to search. We initially searched the side indicated by the hint…. and of course it was on the other!

So after three circuits of the Cathedral yesterday (two inside, one outside) and a reasonable number of half-circumnavigations yesterday and today, we were there!

(Editor’s notes: geocaching terms: GZ=ground zero= the location of the cache : checker/geochecker=a check supplied with some puzzle caches that lets you know if your calculations are correct.)

Found it!  At last!

Found it! At last!


Brimming over with (false) confidence, we – of course – failed to find the next cache on our list, but its name, ‘Cathedral View’, was correct, and we had a grand view. Slightly miffed, we continued into the Georgian quarter of the city, to find another cache, ‘Almost Famous Falkner Street’. The explanation for this name is that one house in this street was the subject of a recent BBC2 series, ‘A House through Time’, which told ‘the story of Britain spanning a period of seismic social change from the 1840s to the present day, told through the prism of a single terraced house in Liverpool’. (Editor’s note: I borrowed that quote, I didn’t write it myself!) Anyway, we found the cache, we gawped at the house, and it began to rain…

Having seen one cathedral, it behoved us to look at the other. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King Liverpool is also nicknamed ‘The UFO’ and there is a cache of that name close by, which we found. We were curious about the cathedral and went inside for a short visit, as a service was about to start; it’s much more modern than the other cathedral, but much dimmer inside, though it was quite a gloomy day by now.

The drizzle was thickening now, as we found ‘Harry Potter series no 19 Ministry of Magic’, a big long name for a tiny cache hidden close to the church of St Andrew. The magical connection (I think) comes from the unusual pyramidal tomb visible through the railings in the spooky graveyard http://www.urban75.org/blog/the-curious-pyramidal-tomb-of-william-mackenzie-in-liverpool

St Andrew's church

St Andrew’s church


Out in the rain, we set off to find ‘Train Driver’, which involved answering a question based on railway stations, then going to find a final location with a related theme. Oh, how we wished we had done our research they day before, as we had a wet walk through the city that took us very close to several of the locations we had visited the day before. Doh!
We've been here just yesterday...

We’ve been here just yesterday…


That lack of research had left us soggy and sullen, so we decided we would do just one more cache, then head hotel-wards. The cache, ‘Gizza Job’, was in Williamson Square. And in between us and the square lay Mathew Street, one of THE places to visit in Liverpool. The name meant nothing to me. But I’d heard of the Cavern Club, and that’s in Mathew Street. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathew_Street



The whole street is a shrine to the Liverpool music scene: there’s a statue of John Lennon, and another of Cilla Black, herds of tourists, even on a wet Friday, and a Wall of Fame where each brick carries the name of a band associated with Liverpool. (Editor’s note: there’s a cache associated with this, but it’s a large wall, and there are a LOT of bricks and we didn’t think we had the time/patience/skill to spend over an hour here.)

We arrived in Williamson Square, and several things struck my senses: there was:
– what looked very much like a Banksy, against one edge

– an oh-so busy shop in the square, a Liverpool FC football merchandise shop, doing a great trade https://store.liverpoolfc.com/stores/finder/show/id/5
– and an inflatable installation of a blue whale https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/50ft-whale-williamson-square-mann-14706804

We wandered damply about the square – the GPS just wouldn’t give us a location – we were about to give up when we (again) visited one of the most likely locations, touched something, and it moved … we’d found it!

Triumphant, we went back to the train and set off back to Chester. But there was a sting in the tail: two stops short of our destination, at Hooton station, which is not especially close to the place of Hooton, the train came to a halt, and was going no further. ‘A problem with the points…’ We were turfed out onto the platform in the rain, along with all the other passengers, while the train returned to Liverpool. Some creative phoning, and we were sharing a taxi with a wet postman back to Chester. Not what we’d planned, but an ‘interesting’ end to a caching trip!

May 24 : Liverpool (part 1)

“So ferry ‘cross the Mersey’
Cause this land’s the place I love
And here I’ll stay
And here I’ll stay
Here I’ll stay”

If its good enough for Gerry and the Pacemakers.. its good enough for us.

Liver Building

Neither of us had really ‘done’ Liverpool – Mr Hg137 had worked there for about 2 days, 15 years ago, but that was it. Chester, our base for the week, was a 40 minute rail trip to the Centre of Liverpool. We had been advised not to take the whole journey by rail, but break it before reaching the Mersey and catch the iconic ferry.

“Ferry Across the Mersey”

We arrived well before the first ‘tourist’ sailing of the day. (With hindsight we should have walked the 1/4 mile to the nearest cache and returned with time to spare). Instead we saw a lady arrive with 4 children in tow, who informed the ticket seller…there would another 84 (EIGHTY-FOUR !) schoolchildren arriving shortly. We shuddered. 84 children talking excitedly in the ticket hall, then queuing to board was to say the least, an experience. The noise from the children meant some of the ferry’s announcements about Liverpool’s history (famous dockyards, the Liver building etc) were almost inaudible – but somehow we survived and escaped onto dry land as the children continued back to the far shore.

Liverpool’s frontage on the Mersey is spectacular. Famous buildings, the Albert Dock (and other docks too) were festooned with bunting, as there was to be a ‘Tall Ships’ Festival in 2 days time. The hustle and bustle was going to make caching very difficult.

Titanic Memorial

Fortunately for us – our first cache was a virtual. All we had to do was find 2 plaques, read some information off them (about the ill-fated Liverpool-registered Titanic) and email the cache owner. Our first true find of the day was called ‘Pink Floyd’. It seemed odd having a cache in Liverpool named after a London band… but the cache was hidden in an object mentioned in probably their most well-known single. How we retrieved it, without being noticed we still don’t know!

Which one is the cache ?

No such luck at our next cache. All along the riverside, were padlocks, placed there by “Anyone who had a heart”. Many of the padlocks had messages… one contained a cache log! But with hundreds of padlocks to search, and lots of people on seats watching us… The Searchers searching… we gave up.

We walked away from the docks and headed towards Chinatown (via a small garden near the main Albert Dock building where Mr Hg137 has worked all those years ago). The small garden had been designed for ‘blind and disabled persons’. Raised beds were at chest height and full of herbs, and highly perfumed flowers and bushes. We rummaged in the borders for some time looking for a cache, and after five minutes all we could smell on our hands and arms was lavender, thyme and rosemary ! And no cache!

Another less crowded park was a short distance from Chinatown. No tourists here, just builders and we were seen (we think) by a JCB driver. There is much redevelopment going on in Liverpool, and the former dockland dwellings are being demolished and being turned into swanky bungalows and apartments. After the previous two failures, we did have success here!

Extrance to ChinaTown

Liverpool’s Chinatown is much diminished. Predominantly a single 100 yard street with Chinese Restaurants. We paused to admire the ‘Entry to Chinatown’ gateway and to collect answers to a multi. How many roofs ? How many lions ? How many dragons ? And more questions besides. We were counting for far too long, and we were assailed by a cab driver who told us, in years gone by, there was much, much more to Chinatown. The Chinese restaurants have spread around the city and diluted this area. Eventually we got away… calculated the final co-ordinates and discovered we had to walk back down the 100 yard road to the final. And what a cache container it was! The cache owner had made a real effort… the log for the Chinatown cache was hidden in a Chinese Fortune Cookie wrapper !

Liverpool’s Chinatown Cache


From Chinatown it is only a short walk to the (Anglican) Cathedral. A huge imposing building that took well over 70 years to complete, funded predominantly by public donations. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott it takes an hour to walk round! We had to find the answer to ten questions. We had to count numerous items from stained windows, to letters on the foundation stone. We counted lions on the war memorial, and snails (yes, really) on a door in the Ladies Chapel. The designer of the Cathedral, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott also designed the iconic red telephone box.. and yes there was one on those in the Cathedral too!

Hotline to God ?

We needed to find the number of hedgehogs on the main exit door… but to our dismay we couldn’t reach the door to count. A large moon was suspended from the ceiling! A Festival of the Moon was going on all week, to coincide with the Tall Ships gathering – and it meant our hedgehogs were out of bounds. We needed “Help!“. And “With a little help from our friends” – well a friendly churchwarden we got the required answer.

Moon Festival

We retreated outside and performed a large calculation. It was hot, we were tired, we did it three times and agreed an answer. Then we couldn’t get the geo-checker to work. It said ‘no’ – our answer was wrong. We went around the Cathedral again …and confirmed all our answers. Yes they were correct. We re-did the arithmetic. Same answer. Oh well lets try and get there!

We walked first one side of the Cathedral and then the other finding ourselves in a sunken, former graveyard. Somehow we were still 40 feet away, and no obvious signs of the cache. We retreated, with a view to checking our numbers overnight.

Is the cache down here ? Really ?

So a somewhat long day in Liverpool with just three finds. We’d seen some of the iconic sights … and much, muxch more to come!

PS We only found 3 caches, one of those a virtual, so sorry… we didn’t want to put in pictures of two caches!

May 23 : Llandudno and the Great Orme

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

After three days in and around Chester, we ventured further afield for a day at the seaside at Llandudno, and the geocar was soon parked on the seafront. We perambulated pleasantly along the promenade to our first geocache of the day, based on information to be found around the war memorial. Coordinates gathered, we moved off to the cache location, retrieved the cache, and were just signing the log, when we were interrupted … by a bird (a juvenile jackdaw?) who clearly thought that our rucksacks might contain food. They most certainly did, but it wasn’t on offer!

But our main objective for the day wasn’t at sea level, but higher up, on the Great Orme. By the way, the name comes from the Vikings, and means ‘sea serpent’. Mr Hg137 knows that I’m easily swayed by quaint modes of transport, and there’s a tramway up the Great Orme if you don’t fancy the walk http://www.greatormetramway.co.uk We queued up with throngs of other people, then set off in a striking Edwardian tram carriage up an incredibly steep track.


Actually, it’s not one tram, but two, with a halfway station where you change trams. Maybe it’s not possible to string a single cable all the way to the top round some sharp twists and turns. We got at the changeover point and took a short walk to Great Orme copper mine http://www.greatormemines.info How many Bronze Age mines can you visit? Not many – but we didn’t have time and contented ourselves with finding the earthcache based on the rocks around the entrance to the mine.

Great Orme Mine

Great Orme Mine


Great Orme Mine

Great Orme Mine


Back at the tram station, we re-boarded and took the shorter ride to the summit on a much less crowded tram. We emerged from the station almost at the top, almost 700 feet above sea level. It was cooler here, and much windier. Up here there are expansive views, an old observatory, now a café, a playground, the terminus for the cable car, and much more. Just outside the tram station is a statue of a Kashmiri goat; they roam on the Great Orme, keeping scrub in check, and I was hoping to see the real thing, but it wasn’t to be, and I had to content myself with some distant views of sheep. Never mind.
Kashmiri goat - but a statue, not a real one

Kashmiri goat – but a statue, not a real one


We had thought it might be difficult to search for caches up here, as there were many, many people around, but there was anonymity to be had among so many people, and we didn’t get even one curious glance. Of the two caches at the summit, one is a traditional cache, close to the summit cairn, which was a little dilapidated when we visited (it’s been repaired since) and another earthcache, which needed us two find two kinds of geological information and have a look at the medieval ridge and furrow part way down the hill.

There was another cache not far from the summit, giving us a chance to step away from the crowds. Almost immediately we were on our own, walking across springy turf dotted with sheep, with a wide-ranging view out to the north and a large wind farm. We got close-ish to the cache site. Where was it? Mmm: we were stood at the top of a small cliff, and the cache was doubtless at the bottom of said cliff. Oh dear: I really didn’t fancy some hardcore rock climbing. We looked around and found a steep path, fortunately on dry grass, that made its way round to the base of the cliff. Once there, we still couldn’t find the cache. Where was it? Mmm: where would the sheep shelter from showers? Aha! That was where the cache was concealed.

Return tram journey

Return tram journey


It was well into the afternoon by now, and we had spent three or four hours up on the Great Orme, enjoying ourselves as the time flashed by. We returned to the tram and took the trip back down into the town. The school day was now over and there were lots more children about, cycling on the promenade, down on the beach, having a fine time. We looked at the beach, and the sea, and decided it was time for a short paddle before returning to the geocar. The shoes came off, trousers were rolled up, and in we went – and – it wasn’t cold!
Llandudno West Beach

Llandudno West Beach


We prepared to return to Chester, an hour’s drive away. But first: one more cache, on the other side of town, sort of on our way back. It was a puzzle cache, solved by completing an online jigsaw showing the view from the cache; as the jigsaw is completed, the coordinates are revealed. I like jigsaws and this one was a few minutes fun to solve. The cache is at Llandudno West Beach, overlooking Conwy Sands. It’s a much quieter, less brash side of the town, with a beautiful sheltered beach and gently breaking waves, plus a glorious view along the Welsh coast … just as the jigsaw promised.
Conwy Sands from Llandudno West Beach

Conwy Sands from Llandudno West Beach


This was a perfect cache to end the day: it had a good puzzle, a great location and a good cache container at the end of the hunt. We returned to our hotel tired but well pleased.

Here are some of the caches we found:

May 22 : Fearless Traveler !

During our second visit to Chester we discovered this delightful trackable ‘Fearless Traveler! ‘

Fearless Traveler!

As you may guess from the title, it emanates from America. It started its journey in Illinois back in April 2015 and quickly galloped to the Western side of Canada based in and around Vancouver. It also visited caches not too far from the American border, before heading to Ottawa where it pranced for some time from cache to cache. Interestingly the trackable never made it back into America, but instead headed for the UK.

The first British cache it was placed in, was one we had found back in March 2015 when we walked the Thames Path. It had been placed in a cache called ‘Mosaic Trail – Fishes’ at Newbridge. (Interestingly the cache, if our memory is correct, is a 35mm film canister..so how the horse got into its British Stable, we are not sure).

Thereafter its British journey headed North West to the Chester area where we found it!

We will release it when we find a suitably large cache for it to enjoy the British Countryside!

May 22 : Chester (part 2)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Chester city centre

Chester city centre


Tuesday already, and we returned to Chester to complete our caching mission from two days earlier. Taking the bus from outside the hotel, we arrived on the north side of the city at the smart new bus station https://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/watch-take-ride-round-chesters-13073745
Fearless Traveler

Fearless Traveler


Before going right into the city, we attempted a cache hidden close to a nearby underpass … we must have tried every exit from that *!?* underpass, and looked at a lot of brick walls and signs, but we eventually got ourselves into the right place, finding the cache and a trackable of a little horse, ‘Fearless Traveler’.
Captain Morgan's cannon

Captain Morgan’s cannon


Then it was through Northgate in the city walls, and another cache, near a sculpture of a broken Civil War cannon. We would spend much of the day diving on and off the walls, eventually completing the 2-mile circuit, my ‘must do’ item for the day. It’s a walk well worth doing (and free!), with great views of the city streets, the cathedral, the racecourse, the river … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_city_walls

It was a short walk to the city centre, with more statues (there are loads and loads of sculptures in Chester), including this one of a baby elephant http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/8569557.stm – there is a similar statue at Chester Zoo …
Janya

Janya


Apart from statues, there is unofficial ‘art’ advertising local businesses (and another elephant) …

It was a short walk to Eastgate, close to the city centre, where the clock on the bridge over the gate is, so they say, the second most photographed clock in the world. There’s a cache here, too, though muggles swarm around the bridge, and you must pick your moment to find it.
Chester, Eastgate clock

Chester, Eastgate clock


Further on round the walls we climbed down to pass the Roman amphitheatre, where a group of schoolchildren were being trained to be Roman soldiers and having lots of fun doing it, being ordered about with shields as large as they were.
Attention!

Attention!


Having diverted from the park, we went further on and back into Grosvenor Park, where we’d had a cache DNF (did not find) two days before. We had a slightly amended set of cache coordinates, and we were hopeful. We approached, only to find a muggle asleep on the grass nearby. We retreated to eat our sandwiches and to watch a muggle carrying a large, opened bag of monkey nuts through the park. And we found some of those nuts wedged into the trees when we started our search (so THAT’s why the squirrels are so tame and brazen!) We looked around for a bit – we thought we’d searched here before the coordinates were changed – then a chance look down revealed the cache lying on its own in the open, in a small dent in the dirt. We signed the log and tried to replace it as the hint said it should be. Good to find one of our earlier failures.
Chester city walls

Chester city walls



We returned to the southern section of the walls, overlooking the River Dee, then around the corner to the western walls, overlooking Chester racecourse, the Roodee. http://www.d2architects.co.uk/a-brief-history-of-chester-racecourse-730.html It’s the oldest racecourse in England, and one of the smallest, tightest circuits, with one lap being just over a mile, but this means that you get a good view of the whole of each race from either the grandstands or the walls. The course was being prepared for a race meeting the next weekend, and it was quite busy even then: it must be heaving on race day itself! There are a couple of caches along this section, too, and it was again a struggle to find the caches and sign the logs without attracting the attention of the many passers-by.
Chester racecourse - the Roodee

Chester racecourse – the Roodee


We arrived back at Northgate with our wall walk completed. But we still had another mission to complete … we had started on two multicaches on our previous visit, but had failed to finish either. Each had multiple stages: one involved looking up at various items above head height around the old city, and the other required us to glean information from some of the many blue plaques dotted around. So far so good: we reviewed what we had done two days before, then went off to complete the rest. We checked our answers, but we STILL hadn’t finished them. Grrr! We’d got our looking up confused with our plaques and had missed things. We sighed, and set off on another couple of laps of the city, to check all the clues again, some for the third/fourth time. I was getting a bit fed up by now. Eventually we had some answers and set off for the allotted locations. We thought we’d walked along every single street in the city centre but we found two we hadn’t tried, one in a pleasant residential street, and one in a less salubrious service area behind shops.

Phew! We were finished for the day. We returned to the swanky new bus station and went off for a rest and a meal.

Some of the caches from our previous visit remain resolutely unfound (by us, anyway). But here are some of the caches we did find, some fresh for today, and some at the second try from two days earlier:

May 21 : Chester Zoo

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Today we went to the zoo! Yes, there are caches around Chester Zoo, but we spent soooo long looking round the zoo that we didn’t even get around to completing all the stages of a multicache or finding any caches. Maybe we will return for another try?


So here are some pictures of animals instead. There was a baby rhino, all bouncy, baby meerkats, following the adults around, penguins in their new pool … oh, and a baby elephant, just three days old, so small, so cute, so well protected by his mum …