Our final full day in Cardiff was to be spent exploring the 2019 Museum of the Year, St Fagans National Museum of History.
The Museum is in the village of St Fagans, a short bus ride from Cardiff. With an hourly bus service on a Sunday we left the hotel in good time so we didn’t miss the first bus!
This extra time gave us the opportunity to look for a puzzle cache we had solved before we left home. The puzzle required us to identify 12 famous Cardiff personalities (past and present) and convert different letters in their names to numbers and hence co-ordinates. They were a motley selection of people including musicians, broadcasters and sportspeople!
We arrived at GZ, and hunted around for the hint ‘X marks the spot’. A typical treasure map reference, but being in the middle of a city centre not much soil to dig up. We spend some time looking for Xs, and eventually found two or three…one of which yielded the cache.
At 930 on a Sunday morning, the roads and pavements were quiet, so little stealth was needed, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the previous evening. A log signed, and then a short wait for the Museum bus just outside the Principality Stadium.
Lots of people were on that bus, including a party of 6 from Hemel Hempstead and three Museum volunteers. It was standing room only by the time we arrived at the Museum – we were in for a busy day.
St Fagans is a free museum. Yes, free. Parking though is £5 all day (or a bus fare in our case).
Surprisingly St Fagans Museum was started back in 1948, and now hosts over 40 different historic buildings spread over 100 acres of parkland. These buildings have been rescued from all over Wales and painstakingly rebuilt at St Fagans. During our visit the Vulcan Hotel was being rebuilt from its former base, just a few miles away in Cardiff.
Unusually the Museum hosts a geocache. A 16 stage multi-cache.
Many of the buildings host objects, dates, numbers which the cache setter has used to yield a set of coordinates and a Welsh phrase.
So as well as exploring each of the 40 buildings we had to explore 16 in detail to yield some additional information. In many cases, the information was obvious to find (the number of wood carvings on an outer door), sometimes the information was difficult to read (a date above a fireplace in a dark room) other times, plain impossible without asking building/room volunteer.
Our search for all the clues was hampered as one of the buildings was off-limits, so our final calculation would be based on guesswork!
The Museum buildings varied from a roundhouse (interestingly connected to a neighbouring roundhouse by a small passage), a bread mill, two churches, a village square with a terrace of houses cleverly taking you through the ages from one house to the next, a post office, a toll booth, shops and of course various farmhouses. We went in them all, and searched high and low where appropriate.
We found 15 of the 16 answers and arrived at reasonable set of Westings. But the Northings we could not get as the off-limit building was key to its calculation. So we guessed. Where would the cache be ?
We had been told that the staff knew of the cache, and if one went to ground zero, and asked, in Welsh (!) for the cache, they would give it to you. We were running out of time before the last bus home so we went to, where we thought, was the most obvious place, the museum reception. Sadly the cache wasn’t there. They did tell us where they thought the cache would be…but we didn’t have time to walk there and collect it. So having visited all of the buildings St Fagans had on offer and collecting 15 clues, we left emptyhanded.
A fine day out exploring and well worth a visit. To all readers of this blog who want to attempt this cache, we recommend two things… visit midweek, when there will be less people and access into the buildings isn’t so cramped, and secondly buy a guide book (some of the answers we believe are in there!)
Since our visit we have been informed we made a couple of errors with the answers we did find…including the mis-counting of objects in a bible scene, and the mis-dating of one of the cottages. So even if all 16 buildings had been open to visit, we still would have left empty-handed!
The bus journey back to Cardiff was even fuller than our outbound journey (no surprise, as it was the last bus of the day). As well as the same 6 people from Hemel Hempstead, and the three volunteers we saw earlier, half the bus was taken up by overseas students from Argentina! How we all squeezed into the bus was an achievement in itself.
We left the bus at the entrance to Cardiff Castle. We had visited the Castle on Friday (no cache to find), but the heavens had opened just as we were leaving and we hadn’t visited the nearby Stone Circle. It was now late Sunday afternoon and Gorsedd Stone Circle was busy. The Circle, is not an ancient stone circle, as it was built in 1978 to mark the Welsh National Eisteddfod being held in Cardiff. We had to interpret the various stones in the circle. and answer a question on a nearby plaque. Both tasks were tricky as a yoga class was going on within the circle, and the plaque formed a convenient mound which four people sat on before we could read the inscription.
Questions answered we returned back to the hotel passing Cardiff’s Animal Wall, built in late 19th century, but has had some renovations and re-placement since then. As we only found one physical cache container all day, please enjoy these Animals from the Wall! Farewell Cardiff! Ffarwel Caerdydd !