February 3 : A Cold Camberley Constitutional

Camberley Scultpure

It was one of those cold winter’s days. The sun was nowhere to be seen. There was a coldish breeze blowing, and the clouds were periodically producing light drizzle.

Not the most inspiring day to go cachimg, so we chose somewhere local to us, Camberley Town Centre. About 1.5 miles from where we live, this seemed ideal. If the weather got slightly worse, we could shelter in shops; if the weather got really bad we could retreat to the car and get home very, very quickly.

Fortunately we didn’t need either escape route as we undertook the Camberley Constitutional Cache. This multi-cache took us to 11 different locations near the centre of Camberley. We started just to the south of the Town Centre and had to acquire information about a Grade II listed building associated with Sir Edwin Lutyens. Now without meaning to disrespect Camberley, it is not one of the places one would naturally associate with Lutyens. A truly unexpected find !

Edwin Lutyens House

We headed North towards the Centre, passing under the railway (waypoint 2), and walked to the Station.
Here we paused, to collect our first cache of the day. Another multi, and one where we had to count bicycle racks, platforms and doors to calculate the co-ordinates for the final hiding place. Although the cache was slightly off our Consitutional route, it was only a couple of minutes out of our way. (We discovered Camberley has an inordinate number of green telecoms boxes.. and this hide was the first of three green boxes we were going to cache behind!)

We resumed our Camberley Constitutional walk by passing the Theatre, Council Offices and Museum (a further three waypoints here). Then our route turned in toward the Town Centre, where we had a store name to verify (here, we almost miscounted the letters on the faded sign).

Up to now our route had been quiet, a bit bustly, but then we had to walk along the A30. A major traffic route, and the noise level increased substantially. We collected another waypoint before crossing to the road to Camberley’s War Memorial.

This stands outside the main gates of the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst). (Interestingly the rear entrance to the RMA is in Sandhurst, Berkshire yards from our house, but the main official entrance is in Camberley, Surrey !). At the War Memorial we had to find the lengths of various names, and derive a set of co-ordinates for our third multi of the day. We made a school-boy error here, as the cache owner had given a checksum for the final co-ordinates for the cache, but we calculated the check-sum on the numbers we had found. We double and indeed triple checked our numbers (to no avail) before heading off to a possible location where we did find the cache! It was only after emailing the cache owner afterwards did he point out our inability to read instructions!

Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst


We had one more waypoint on the Camberley Constitutional to find on the A30. It was at a Church where a standard cache was also hidden (and if truth be told we took a bit too long finding the cache – unearthing cold, wet leaf litter on a freezing day was not our best strategy). The Camberley Constitutional route took us past several churches – some modern, some much older. St Tarcisius Church was erected 100 years ago to commemorate those soldiers trained at the RMA who were killed during the First World War.

St Tarcisius Church


Our Constitutional cache then took us away from the A30 (passing the Sports Centre – another waypoint) and through a park. We took the wrong exit out of the park (we mis-interpreted the term ‘diagonally across’ far too literally) and ended up heading back towards the A30!

Camberley Sculpture

Whoops! We realised out mistake and soon found ourselves collecting the final waypoints on our walk. A swift calculation later and we arrived at the cache! Although the container and its hiding place were not special the tour around Camberley certainly was. Caching really is educational!

We had one more cache to collect. We had solved a puzzle cache before we left home (part of the Surrey School Days series). We correctly identified a person who had been educated in Surrey, before becoming famous in a particular film role, and is still on our TV screens today). We drove 2 miles around the residential streets of Camberley, but a shorter route – had Mr Hg137 turned the car around ! – was only 0.5 miles!

A very entertaining, if cold, afternoon in Camberley. Three multi-caches, one puzzle cache, one standard cache and two very cold cachers! And the rain kept off too!

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January 27 : Wisley – megaliths, butterflies, and churches

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Butterflies at Wisley

Butterflies at Wisley


In January and February, tropical butterflies fly free in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley Gardens, and we went to see them. http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/whats-on/butterflies-in-the-glasshouse We were queuing outside before opening time, were first through the gates, and made it into the greenhouse before it officially opens at 9:30.
A butterfly takes a fancy to my coat

A butterfly takes a fancy to my coat


This gave us about 20 minutes in relative solitude in the warmth – oh, it was so nice and warm! – before the greenhouse began to fill with families and photographers, all there to see the butterflies … and one of the two (grass?) snakes and a robin that have also set up home in there.
Snake!

Snake!


By about 10:30 we left Wisley and, about a mile up the road, stopped to look for the Church Micro cache at Wisley church. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SRY/Wisley/WisleyChurch This is a tiny Norman church tucked away behind farm buildings. It would be easy to pass without noticing.
Wisley Church

Wisley Church


The cache was supposed to be at the back of the church, somewhere along a fence. We arrived at the spot the GPS said was the location, and started looking. And looking, and looking. After a few minutes we had to break off to ‘admire the snowdrops’ as a muggle and dogs passed by. We restarted looking, and looking … there were only a finite number of places along this fence that the cache could be. Where was it? On the third / fourth /fifth pass along the fence we turned something over, and there was the cache after all. Phew, we were about to give up.
Found it at last

Found it at last


Another mile or so along a narrow, twisty lane, over the Wey Navigation at the very narrow bridge by the Anchor pub http://www.anchorpyrford.co.uk and we arrived at Pyrford, another church, and another Church Micro (CM). The small Norman church, St Nicholas, has medieval wall paintings inside and used to be visited by Queen Elizabeth I when she came to see her favourite lady in waiting who lived at Pyrford Place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrford
St Nicholas' Church, Pyrford

St Nicholas’ Church, Pyrford


Wall paintings, Pyrford Church

Wall paintings, Pyrford Church


These two CMs – Wisley and Pyrford – are ten years old, number 53 and 54 in a series that now stretches to over 11,000 caches, and is the largest geocache series in the world https://thegeocachingjunkie.com/2016/05/31/church-micro-the-worlds-largest-cache-series This particular CM was a multicache, where we had to assemble information from items near the church. One stage involved the war memorial, just outside the church gate, and the other was about counting the fish carved on a stone seat, just inside the gate. ‘Cod’ we work out how many fish there were? No, we ‘rudd’y well couldn’t. We came up with some possibilities and took shelter in the church to work out some ‘plaices’ for the cache. We came up with three possibilities and set off up the hill to check them out, striking lucky at our second attempt. ‘Brill’!
Pyrford Stone

Pyrford Stone


By now, we were also halfway to our third and final cache of the day, Lonely Stone. It’s a standing stone, about one Megalithic yard tall, which is about waist height if you aren’t sure about prehistoric measuring systems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalithic_Yard

It was moved in the 1970s when the road was widened, and it is reputed not to be happy about that, and it moves around at midnight, contributing to road accidents. Or so they say. This was another multicache, and we derived various numbers based on the plaque which describes the stone. Another short walk to the final location followed, yielding a large cache where we dropped off the ‘Mr Heyday’ trackable we found just after Christmas.
Mr Heyday moves on

Mr Heyday moves on


That finished off a morning of contrasts – ephemeral butterflies, ancient churches, and an even older stone. Time for lunch!

January 13 : Virginia Water (Part 5) … and few yards of Windlesham

During the Autumn and Winter months we had been visiting Virginia Water to collect the 30 or so caches placed in or around its environs. We had just one more visit planned, and to be honest, we almost didn’t make this our final visit.

Virginia Water – Obelisk Pond


We had cached there just 7 days previously, and thought long and hard about a different location. The dozen or so caches at Windlesham were in top spot, until we realised the paths would be a little on the wet side, and the majority of the paths at Virginia Water had been relatively dry. So Virginia Water… the conclusion – it was!

But, we had solved one of the Windlesham puzzle caches. This was part of the alphabet series set by UncleE. ‘L’ was in Windlesham, and relatively quickly solved… well Mr Hg137 saw what was needed, and Mrs Hg137 applied the maths. We discovered that the cache was on our route to Virginia Water, and had a handy parking spot too!

So well before 845am we had parked up, and located our first cache of the day! Surprisingly it was very dry inside especially as it hadn’t been found for 6 months!

L

We arrived at Virginia Water with a full morning’s itinerary : to complete the 21 stage multi and find 11 fairly standard caches.

A sample question from the 21 stage multi (some text has been obliterated!)


We were starting the 21 stage multi at stage 19, and the co-ordinates led us to a very pretty bridge (one seemingly only the locals knew about), and we had to count the planks. There were a surprising number of these, and we both traversed the bridge and fortunately we arrived at the same number. We keyed that into the website and we were presented with the coordinates for another location. We worked out where that was, and decided to find some simple caches on our way there.

“…12,13,14,15,16…”


And, in fairness, the first three caches we found were relatively simple (behind some holly, well hidden in a rotting log, and tucked behind a Redwood (sequoia). The Redwood plantation was tucked away in a part of the parkland less frequently visited, and was very dark and atmospherically gloomy. It was here we found a trackable.

Redwood Plantation


We discovered when we got home, the trackable tag had not been initialised (part of the ‘code’ when the trackable is released). We were unable to (electronically) retrieve the trackable from the cache and, at the time of writing, are awaiting instructions from the trackable’s owner.

Three straightforward caches, three straightforward finds.

Then VW-Stream.

We were expecting something ‘interesting’ as the cache had acquired a large number of favourite points. We were not disappointed.

Across the ‘stream’ was a huge log. We had to cross the log to reach the multi-trunked tree where the cache was hidden. Mr Hg137 nobly volunteered and proceeded to walk/wobble/totter/slip across the log….TO THE WRONG TREE!
Mrs Hg137 pointed this out and Mr Hg137’s return journey was more slip/totter/slip/wobble. After a few minutes searching at the correct tree, the cache has not been found, so reinforcements were summoned. Mrs Hg137 traversed the log slightly better and even with two pairs of eyes the cache took 10 minutes to find! How frustrating a reasonable sized container in a relatively small tree!

Mr Hg137 traversing the log…

“…come back..its the wrong tree”


Then of course we had the return journey. Mr Hg137 decided to crawl his way along the log, but Mrs Hg137 expertly showed her yoga agility by rising from a crouch position to a standing position with no real angst at all.

Both of us re-crossed safely without getting our feet wet! Phew!

We walked on, pleased with our accomplishments and arrived at the location we needed for the 21 stage multi. We knew the question, and speculated on two answers before our arrival – of course, it was neither! A nearby seat did provide an excellent coffee spot, where we could calm the adrenalin pumping around our bodies after our log clambering adventure.

We now had the coordinates for the hiding place of the 21 stage multi and it was (sort of) on the way to our next simple cache. We decide to find it.

We have mentioned before on our Virginia Water trip about the volume of rhododendron bushes. The final was planted deep in such a thicket. We even had a picture of coppiced branches that the cache was hidden in. Deep in the bushes, the GPS is useless, and there must have been a dozen or more ‘coppiced’ trees to check. After 20 multi-stages were not going to fail now! Eventually Mrs Hg137 did find the cache and with it the end to our longest multi – 21 stages! Hooray! (This cache is well worth the effort – set aside a good half/three quarter day and a 5 mile walk.. you will visit places around Virginia Water you know and some you don’t.)

The cache at the end of the 21 stage multi!

Our route then took us North to a number of fairly simple finds – two by the side of fallen logs and third deep in bog and rhododendrons. We gave up on our first attempt here, as the thicket and bog were a bit too unpenetrable, so we skirted round the bushes and eventually (after a stream crossing jump) found an easy route to GZ.

We should then have reversed our route away from the cache, but instead walked forward to our last ‘VW’ cache. We realised a bit too late, we had to criss-cross a few too many streams, and fight slightly too many bushes but we made it eventually to our last VW cache. A simple find tucked in some tree roots.

Most of the VW caches have been black cylinders, room enough for a log book and a small number of swaps. This would be our only negative comment about the series, as we always knew what the container would be. Again for new cachers, most are simple finds, and provides an excellent opportunity to explore the less-visited parts of Virginia Water.

A typical VW container…and contents

We had two more caches to find. These were not part of the VW series, but were situated in close proximity to the entrance to Savill Garden. One was very close the Obelisk, the other in the car park. Both in very muggle-heavy areas, so a bit of stealth was needed here.

These caches completed a great half-day, we’d found a puzzle cache, completed a 21 stage multi, and found 10 other caches too. The other Virginia Water caches that remain are three challenge caches for which we don’t qualify and 20 foot tree climb. Time we think to give Virginia Water a rest… you’ve been a great source of winter caches.

January 6 : Virginia Water (part 4)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.


During October, November, and December 2017 we visited Virginia Water and each time attempted a small number of the 30 or so caches placed in the parkland surrounding the lake. Today we were going back to attempt some more of the caches, also to re-attempt a cache that we had failed to find on a previous visit.

Arriving deliberately early, there was space in the layby opposite the entrance. It is popular and fills quickly. If that had been full, we would have had to use the official car park, which would have cost us £10. (Editors digression: I’m divided on whether that is an extortionate price or not. From one viewpoint, that is a LOT to pay for a car park near a lake. From another viewpoint, Virginia Water is well maintained, has surfaced, solid paths, seats, toilets, rangers, signs, noticeboards, refreshments, maintained gardens etc etc, and it’s churlish to expect all that to come for free. OK: end of digression.)

Just what is a "fooway"?

Just what is a “fooway”?


But, before entering Virginia Water, we had two caches to attempt. The first was ‘But just what is a “fooway”?’, and we had tried and failed to find it a few weeks before. This time was different; we spotted it and signed the log within seconds. How could we have missed that? Next was ‘X’, one of a series of 26 alphabet caches set by Uncle E. Few clues with this one, and a ban on entering information into the cache logs. We arrived at the likely location and had a little bit of a look around, but couldn’t spot anything suitable. Oh well, another time…

And then we were into Virginia Water, past the visitor centre, and turning left along the lakeside. It was not long after dawn, still, slightly misty, quite cold. Not far from the entrance is the cascade, where the River Bourne flows down a man-made waterfall, under the A30, and out of the park https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cm7TWr5DVs

Very close by was ‘VW – Cascade’, a multicache. These are set out with one or more stages, each giving clues to the coordinates of the final cache location. This multicache had a single stage, and the coordinates were determined by collecting numbers from assorted signs near the falls. As we had come to expect, the coordinates led us to a nearby rhododendron thicket. We needed to find a rock, the cache was beside it … we found a rock, but it was not the right one… We went deeper in, and repeated the process at least once more. Eventually, bent double among the branches, we found the cache.

Virginia Water - the cascade

Virginia Water – the cascade


While collecting information for the previous cache, we were also searching for numbers for our next target, a two-stage multicache, ‘Border Crossings #1 – Surrey/Berkshire’. We were, only just, in Surrey, and had two stages to check before going, only just, over the county border into Berkshire to reach the cache container. Some numbers had been found by the waterfall, and there were yet more to be found at the next stage, amongst the ruins of Leptis Magna https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTAf0W9cD0M The location confirmed, over the border we went before diving into yet more woodland to locate the cache. It was an old cache, placed in 2007, and the cache container was very wet, but with a dry logbook in a plastic bag.
Virginia Water - Leptis Magna

Virginia Water – Leptis Magna


And that was as far into Berkshire as we were going on this visit. We turned and retraced our steps along the lakeside, back into Surrey, and past the ruins. As we passed a few minutes earlier, collecting coordinates for one multicache, we were also collecting numbers for another, ‘VW – Leptis Magna’. (Editor’s note: yes, there were a lot of overlapping multicaches going on here. A copious set of field notes, assembled by Mr Hg137, helped a lot here.) Yet again, we had an extended blundering about session in rhododendrons to find the cache.
So many people!

So many people!


We returned to the main path around the lake, now very busy (where had they all come from?), and passed our start point, walking in the direction of the Totem Pole. Walking in a loop back to the visitor centre, we found another four caches from the VW series, Base, A30, Plantations, MTT, and Coppice Growth, to bring our total for the day to nine out of ten.
Grebe

Grebe


And while we were juggling all those coordinates and finding the other caches, we were collecting still more coordinates. We are gradually working our way around the ‘Virginia Water’ multicache – yes, another one – so far we are on stage NINETEEN. We are well over halfway! I wonder what the final cache will be like?

Here are some of the caches we found:

December 28 : Virginia Water (part 3)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Virginia Water

Virginia Water


During October and November 2017 we visited Virginia Water and each time attempted a small number of the 30 or so caches placed in the parkland surrounding the lake. Today we were going back to attempt some more of the caches, also to re-attempt a cache that we had failed to find on our previous two visits. (Editors note: that’s re-re-attempt, then.)
Which way?

Which way?


We parked at the roadside in Wick Lane. It was early, and very cold indeed (minus 5C!), so there was lots of space to park as most people must have stayed snuggled up in bed. Well wrapped up, we passed the Bailiwick pub http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/bailiwick and went through the gate into the park. Just past the entrance, the GPS needle pointed off into the undergrowth and we followed it. Crossing a small stream on slippery logs, we arrived at GZ. Carefully reading the hint, we poked and prodded in likely hidey-holes. Nothing. After checking everything once, we went round again, and Mr Hg137 found the first cache of the day in a place I thought I’d already searched. Grrr.

We continued along Wick Lane through the almost empty parktowards our next target, VW – Totem Pole. Our previous two attempts at finding this cache had failed, but this time we had (re)done the calculations, had done much more research and were armed with what we thought were perfect coordinates and a map with a large ‘X’ in a suitable spot. We knew to the leaf where that cache should be! Inevitably, that was right in the middle of a rhododendron thicket. As Mr Hg137 was wearing a rucksack, I nobly volunteered to fight my way in. My running commentary went something like this:
“I see a pile of sticks….I’ve got the cache…opening the cache… ooh there’s a trackable inside..I’m signing the log…I’m coming out now…where are you ?”

The next couple of hours were taken up by collecting more clues for the 21-part multi Virginia Water (yes, twenty-one). For each part, there is a clue to be found at a given location, you answer a question based on that using an internet connection, and are then supplied with the co-ordinates for the next stage. In no particular order, we looked at tree tags, found memorial plaques, counted things, and worked out the colour of various structures, going to places in the park that we already knew, and places we never knew existed, stopping at regular intervals for warming cups of coffee and snacks of jelly babies, chocolate, and toffees.



By late morning, it was much, much busier, and runners, cyclists, and walkers were out in numbers. On our return leg, we passed a cottage called the Flying Barn. A recently erected memorial stone explained the unusual name … this was an airfield for about 25 years in the early 20th century.
Flying Barn

Flying Barn


Skirting Smith’s Lawn polo fields, we entered woodland, with regularly spaced obstacles that would be used for horse trials. One of these, VW – Jump, was to be our next cache. But there was a snag. ‘Our’ jump was already occupied by a family of six, three adults, three children, so searching was going to be tricky.

Mr HG137 asked if they had heard of gecoaching. They hadn’t – he explained it was a ‘treasure hunt’. and there was ‘treasure here’. The three children were excited and searched every piece of timber for us. Nothing, of course, as we had failed to see the smaller jump nearby. The three children charged over and very quickly Martha had the cache in hand. We had described the cache perfectly, and it had a few bits of swag in it too. Martha was really, really pleased. We signed the log “HG137 + Martha”. Maybe we did enough to convert them!

Leaving the family behind, we walked to our next cache, VW – Smith’s Lawn. We most definitely didn’t take the best route to the cache and walked about half a mile in a sort of death spiral, before arriving at yet another impenetrable rhododendron thicket. This time, we both pushed our way into the centre, and blundered around for some little while before finding the cache and emerging, somewhat dishevelled and grubby.

Our final cache of the day was to be VW – Holly, just off the path leading to Obelisk Pond. We came, we saw, we looked up the tree, but couldn’t spot the cache. Mr Hg137 climbed up a branch or two, but we still couldn’t spot anything, and we retreated. We should have read the cache description first:
“I don’t really know what came over me, I was going to put it at the bottom but somehow or other it ended up at the top. It’s a horrible climb, with loads of branches close together making it difficult to squeeze through. And the bigger you are, the harder it will be. And it’s a holly tree, it’s going to be prickly. If you have any sense you will just walk on past this one.”

Obelisk Pond

Obelisk Pond


Then there was time for lunch, and yet more warming coffee, on a seat overlooking Obelisk Pond and a short walk back to the car park. This was not so deserted now, there were cars and people abounding. Another part of the VW mega-multi has been completed, and we are over halfway now. There should be more instalments in 2018!

November 10 : FTF – Wokingham – Chestnut Avenue

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

FTF - First To Find

FTF – First To Find

Unusually for a Friday, neither of us was working, and we (naturally) had some caching planned, on the North Downs south of Guildford. The GPS was loaded, a map was prepared, a thermos of coffee was made, and we were all set to leave.

Just before setting off, we paused to check emails, and … there was a new cache less than 10 miles away, that was still unfound, despite having been published for two days. We ditched our previous plans, loaded the new cache, and set off at speed for Woosehill, on the north-west edge of Wokingham. (Editor’s note: that is incredibly rare, new caches are usually snapped up within minutes or hours of publication. Some cachers make a point of searching out new caches to get that coveted FTF – first to find – and a signature on a blank logsheet. )

Both of us know the area very well, as Mr Hg137 used to live in Woosehill, and it’s close to where I work so I walk there at lunchtimes. (Editor’s note, again: this was what swayed our decision to attempt a FTF on this cache.) We parked close to the likely target, and set off into the woods. The coordinates of the cache could be determined by visiting three noticeboards, counting the vowels on them, and doing a little sum with the answers to get the final coordinates. We did that. We checked the answers, and double-checked just in case. It seemed quite a long way to the final location, over a mile, but hey-ho, sometimes you have to strive to be the first … we set a waypoint in the GPS and set off across Woosehill.

It's a noticeboard - but not the right one!

It’s a noticeboard – but not the right one!


It was a pleasant walk on a sunny late autumn day, and a trip through memory lane for Mr Hg137. We walked through streets, crossed the main road, through Morrison’s supermarket, past the takeaway and the surgery, across a green area, across the Emm Brook and on into Wokingham. We arrived at the given coordinates, by a household hedge, which bore no resemblance whatsoever to the hint on the cache. We checked our arithmetic again. We checked the derived coordinates on the GPS. It all matched. Something had gone wrong, but what? Chastened and disappointed, we trekked back to the geocar and went home.
On the way - to the wrong place

On the way – to the wrong place

Still going the wrong way ...

Still going the wrong way …


Once at home, we logged a note for the cache and sent a note to the cache owner, describing our travails. While doing this, we were thinking about our arithmetic and workings and we wondered if the coordinates in the cache description were maybe wrong. We played around with Google maps, typing in coordinates that were slightly different to the published ones. Eureka! There was a typo in the westings of the published coordinates, which should have read W000 52… instead of W000 51… And that led to a spot not very far away from the noticeboards we had visited earlier.

Back into the geocar, and back again at speed to Woosehill. This time we could park really close, and we scampered across to our destination. And there it was! A new cache and an empty log and we had achieved the coveted ‘First To Find’.

Back home, we reflected on our morning while eating a very, very late lunch. Forty miles, two visits, several miles of walking. Was it worth it … yes!

PS To round off the story, we sent another message to the cache owner explaining the above (or a summary of it, anyway). He was most apologetic and amended the mistake in the cache description almost instantly.

PPS We never did drink that flask of coffee that was made at the start of this post. By the time we rediscovered it, a day later, it had gone cold.

PPPS Here are some more pictures of the cache. They weren’t taken right at the final location, so they show what it looks like, but not where it is!

October 21 : Virginia Water (Part 1)

Virginia Water is an area of parkland with a large lake at its centre. It is part of Windsor Great Park, and thus is a Royal Park.

Virginia Water

Back in July, 24 caches had been placed in the grounds of Virginia Water, and these seemed to be excellent caching targets. The caches were of various types – a couple of challenge caches (for which we didn’t qualify), a couple of puzzle caches (which we ought to be able to solve), a couple of multis, but the majority were simple straightforward hides. There were also a few other older caches too, so we had well over 30 caches to attempt.

Virginia Water is a busy attraction. There are runners, dog walkers, cyclists, young families – so finding caches could be tricky. The terrain is broadly flat as the main feature is the 130 acre Virginia Water Lake, and the paths are very good to walk on. To walk around the lake, a well known charity-walking circuit, is 4.5 miles. (Often rounded up to 5 miles for charity purposes!).

Beautiful Autumn Colours

We decided rather than attempt all 30 caches on one visit, we would use Virginia Water as our ‘Winter’ project, and find 6-8 caches per visit. We also decided to utilise the layby on the nearby A30 rather than pay £10 for the (3-hour) car parking.

Dotted around Virginia Water are various attractions. These include ruins, a cascade and today’s target, a totem pole. This is about a 20-30 minute walk from the main entrance, and is probably the most visited attraction in the park. (20-30 minutes being an ideal distance for youngsters to walk with the expectation of seeing something special).

Our first caches were based on the totem pole. Both were of a similar genre, though for some reason were classed as two different types of cache (a puzzle cache and a letter box hybrid). Both required us to read information from the totem pole’s information boards, and derive a BEARING and DISTANCE. (Note, not a set of co-ordinates). Fortunately for us, both bearings were similar, and the difference in distances was less than a quarter of a mile.

Totem Pole on our sunny arrival

We strode purposefully to the first area. Checked our distance and bearing from the totem pole, and searched. A large hole under some tree roots looked inviting, especially as we were looking for an ammo can. Not there.
We searched in the nearby rhododendron bushes (there are a lot of rhododendron bushes in Virginia Water, and we suspect these will be a common feature in our caching quest). Not there. After 20 minutes searching we gave up. We convinced ourselves we must have got some of the calculation wrong, so abandoned and attempted the second totem pole BEARING/DISTANCE hide.

We arrived at a meeting of various footpaths. With the hint of ‘base of large tree’ this should be easy. Nope.
We looked at many of the trees we could see, most of them in rhododendron thickets, all to no avail. Again we doubted our ability to derive the correct BEARING and DISTANCE so we abandoned. (We did give ourselves a further excuse here as the totem pole distance was calculated in metres, and our GPS was measuring in tenths of miles.)

Lovely Leaves

So we had abandoned our first two Virginia Water caches. But we knew we’d be back, and we could double-check our calculations before our next visit.

We decided to attempt a further four caches, as the weather was worsening. Our first find of the day, in a broken stump, was tricky to extricate, made even harder as we were underneath a chestnut tree dropping nuts in the ever-quickening wind.

Our second find was, not unexpectedly, deep in a rhododendron bush. We were looking for an ‘X’, which Mrs HG137 saw, but as the GPS indicated that we were still 60 feet away, we ignored…until of course the GPS settled and we had to burrow our way into the bush a second time.

Our third find, the smallest cache so far, was relatively easy, apart from the slightly damp grass we walked across to find it.

Then the rain started. Cold, autumnal rain. Most of the park has well established trees, but as luck would have it, we found ourselves in an area of 7-10 year old saplings. No cover at all! Eventually we found a suitable tree to use as cover, precariously overlooking a stream. We took great care not to slide downwards!

Totem Pole – after the rain

Eventually the rain cleared, and with even blacker clouds on the horizon we attempted one more cache before leaving the Park. This time in a tree stump, and quite exposed, so we found some leaves and bark and hid it better.

Environmental Checking of the Water

As we had entered the Park we had noticed that a proportion of the car park had been sealed off with TV/Film vehicles inside. Being nosy we ascertained from a ranger that scenes from a forthcoming episode of ‘Silent Witness’ were being shot in the nearby village. Something to look out for!

‘Silent Witness’ filming caravans

We also discovered Virginia Water has been used in many TV programmes and films (including Harry Potter and Tarzan!), so if our photos look familiar its because you’ve seen them in film!

A couple of a caches we found :