December 31 : Sulham (Reading)…including a First-to-Find and our 3000th cache!

Our previous caching trip had left us on 2996 caching finds, and we were wondering where to cache to claim our 3000th find before the year was out.

As we mused, some days previously, we noticed a brand new series published in the area of Sulham just West of Reading. It was an area we had not cached in, so we looked at the caches. They were all mystery caches…and all online jigsaws. 21 online jigsaws varying in size from 80 pieces to 440 pieces.

Here are the pieces…

Lovely pictures, but a little mono-chrome (a sunlit Autumn leaf path, a long view over farmers-fields to a folly). Many contained dogs, or possibly the same dog, so we guessed they celebrated the life of the owner’s dog(s). (One of the dog jigsaws was called ‘In Memoriam’). On completion of a jigsaw the co-ordinates of the associated cache would be displayed.

…. getting there!


These jigsaws were published on the 28th December. We saw them on the same evening and set about trying to solve the myriad of online jigsaws. If we could solve 4 jigsaws we would drive to Sulham, and find the caches needed to reach the 3000 milestone. We may even be the first-to-find (FTF) the caches!

We spent several hours looking at several jigsaws, honing our online skills late into the early hours of the following morning. We awoke, and discovered another cacher had solved many of the puzzles and had already claimed many of the first-to-finds (about 16 of the 21 on offer). We continued our solving realising we might need to solve 5 or 6 jigsaws to give us a couple of caches as contingency (to allow for a did-not-find) in order to reach the magic 3000 finds.

Over the 29th and 30th of December, we solved quite a few jigsaws, and focussed our attention on those where the FTF hadn’t been claimed. Of course as we solved a puzzle, the 5 remaining unfound caches were slowly being found (including the bonus 22nd cache). Until only one cache hadn’t been found….

..so early on the 31st December we drove to Sulham, parking up by 9am. We surveyed the other early morning visitors to the car park. Were they cachers ? Were they dog walkers ? We walked down a muddy, tree-lined path, checking our GPS making sure we were heading as quickly and as accurately as we could.

More people. More dog walkers. A couple of litter pickers. We arrived close to Ground Zero for the unfound cache (cache 19 in the series). We had passed no-one resembling a geocacher. Would we be the first to sign the log?

We headed to a likely looking host. No cache to see, then we espied another a better example … wandered over to see a tell-tale pile of sticks guarding a container.

With trepidation we opened the cache, a cute dog to reveal….


…a blank log! We were the first to find!!

Hooray!

(our last First-Find was way back in November 2017, and before that, spookily, exactly three years ago on 31st December 2016!)

We took copious photos and left the cache grinning. We now had 3 caches to find to reach 3000 caches.

Of the puzzles we had solved cache 17 was the next nearest. We had plotted the coordinates on a map (somewhere between two footpaths and a road) and headed there. Suddenly the path became very, very muddy and a field of 19 horses looked on as we slipped and slithered our way past. The cache was still not any closer so we walked along the road and then we turned around to walk back along the second muddy footpath..the cache was still 60 yards away. We gave up..we couldn’t see how to get to the Cache 17.

Good job we had a few caches in reserve!

Our next cache was number 5. (We’re quite sure if we had solved all the jigsaws our route to the caches would have been in a better sequence). We trudged through more muddy paths and arrived a large grassy field. Here a stile/gate guarded the entrance to a large wooded area, and the cache was quickly found. (Our only delay was caused by a dog walker with 4 dogs going by). That was cache 2998.

We were going to attempt cache 3 and cache 1 to reach 3000 finds, but as our contingency had disappeared looking for cache 17, we realised cache 14 was quite close. More mud. But a quick find. 2999.

So we headed for cache 3. In the middle of woodland, and probably where the GPS would wobble. We followed tracks as best we could, but eventually went ‘cross-country’ jumping minor water-courses until a very large hint item came into view. There a pile of sticks and piece of stone shielding a camouflaged bag. We undid the bag.. there was cache 3000! Hooray !

Then the fun started! It was a maze cache! To open the container we needed to slide the upper and lower part around a maze. It took us some time to do this but once opened we signed our names for the 3000th time!

We’ve encountered maze caches before, so we drew the maze out on a sheet of paper, and followed it in reverse to close the cache! A fantastic puzzle cache – first the jigsaw, then the cache container. What a way to reach 3000!

We didn’t try to find any other caches. We had achieved a First-to-Find (only the fourth time we had done this), and found four caches including a fabulous cache for 3000. Why find another? It would wait for another day!

PS If you are wondering why we went wrong at cache 17. we mis-transcribed the co-ordinates when we solved the associated jigsaw. We had to redo the jigsaw to get the correct coordinates!

December 28 : Tilford

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Frensham Little Pond

Frensham Little Pond


Tilford is just south of Farnham in Surrey, where the two main branches of the River Wey meet. The Tilford Traipse cache series had been on our to-do list for a little while, but parts of it had been inaccessible (aka flooded) after heavy rain earlier in the month. After a quite dry week we decided it was a good day to go and cache.
Wey Bridge East - somewhere under the scaffolding

Wey Bridge East – somewhere under the scaffolding


Wey Bridge West

Wey Bridge West


The ‘road closed’ signs on all routes to the village were slightly worrying, but the reason was that Wey Bridge East is closed for some months for major maintenance https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks-and-maintenance/our-major-maintenance-projects/repair-of-tilford-east-bridge-on-tilford-street and in the meantime that branch of the river can only be crossed on a temporary footbridge – and that had just reopened after the floods.
Tilford Village Hall

Tilford Village Hall


Before starting the cache series, we walked down to the village green/cricket pitch (the boundaries are VERY short!). A man was out for a run, crossing the green. Was he Sebastian Coe? (we think he lives in Tilford). But no – definitely not him. We wanted to find a Church Micro, another multicache based on the church, and a third multi centred on the large, impressive, Lutyens-designed Village Hall. http://www.tilfordinstitute.co.uk/?page_id=56 After some hiccups with counting the number of chimneys on the Village Hall, we worked out three locations for the final caches and visited the “other” bridge over the Wey, a location on the edge of the village, and a track leading to Hankley Common, used in 2012 as a location for the Bond film Skyfall https://markoconnell.co.uk/a-day-on-the-set-of-skyfalls-titular-lodge-at-hankley-common-surrey-march-2012/

Eventually we set out on the Tilford Traipse. Our route was all to the west of the village, so we weren’t bothered by bridge closures. We set off on a track, soft and damp and sandy, through pine woods and farmland, heading south and west towards Frensham Little Pond. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/frensham-little-pond We were watched by curious cows, somnolent sheep, and perky pigs, and had to jump smartly off the track several times while groups of four or five off-road motorcyclists rushed by (you can hear them coming, it’s not a problem, you just have to be far enough from the track not to get splashed). We crossed a ford, and stopped to watch bikes (pedalled and motorised) and 4x4s negotiate it; all got across safely (well, no-one fell in while we were watching).


We arrived at the car park for Frensham Little Pond and collected the numbers we needed for the single multicache in the series. It wasn’t strictly part of our route, but we walked down to the edge of the lake and ate our festive ham / turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches (yum) on a bench overlooking the water. It’s a pleasant spot and very popular with walkers and especially popular with dogs, who all like to get in the water; they clearly haven’t read the extensive list of “don’ts” on a nearby sign: no camping, swimming, barbecuing, paddling, boating …

Lunch over, we set out on our return leg, looping to the north of our outward route. One of our first tasks was to cross the River Wey at another ford (there’s a bridge) and it was here that we hoped to find the multicache container. Alas, we failed, undone by bottomless, slippy mud; we have since found out that the cache coordinates are approx. 55 feet out, and we normally search a radius of about 40 feet, so we don’t feel so bad about that. Annoyingly, the cache is probably hidden by one of the fence posts visible in the photo below!

River Wey (South Branch)

River Wey (South Branch)


Up a slight slope from the river, we walked through Pierrepont Farm https://www.countrysiderestorationtrust.com/properties/pierrepont-farm/pierrepont-project/ It already has a brewery (yum) https://www.craftbrews.uk/gallery, it will soon have a cheese factory (yum, yum) https://www.cheeseonthewey.co.uk/ and it has information boards everywhere, about all sorts of random things. One of the most interesting was about two horse chestnut trees, grown from seeds collected from the battlefield at Verdun https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdun_tree

Climbing away from the farm, we emerged onto a track across sandy heathland at Tankersford Common. We weren’t expecting this, such a contrast to the woods we had walked through earlier. We heard voices and jingling metal behind us, and stepped off the track yet again as a group (herd?) of about ten horses and riders went by, slowing as they passed, then cantering away into the distance.

We emerged from the heathland onto a narrow, but quite busy road; maybe the traffic flows are all different because a bridge is closed? Stopping in a gateway, we realised that we had found all but two of the Tilford Traipse series, and had amassed enough clues from the series to be able to find the bonus cache. Luckily for us, as the grey day was turning steadily darker, it was very near where we had parked the geocar, so we returned to base and found the cache at the same time.

And, as we removed our muddy boots, some of those off-road motorcyclists were packing up. We asked where they had been, and were told that about 150 of them had converged on Haslemere, from all directions, to have their own Christmas meet of mince pies and coffee. They, and us, had spent an enjoyable post-Christmas day out in the country!

Postscript: after logging the caches, we realised that our all-time total was 2996. The 3000-cache milestone was close. Maybe we could get there by the end of the year?

And here are some of the caches we found:

December 21 : Wellesley Woodlands

Wellesley Woodlands are on the border of Farnborough and Aldershot on former Army land. Named after the 1st Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley), the woods comprise 110 hectares of mixed woodland (https://thelandtrust.org.uk/space/wellesley-woodlands/?doing_wp_cron=1577458134.5638270378112792968750).

Welcome to Wellesley Woodlands

There are many woodland trails named after the various trees (Oak Trail, Sycamore Trail etc) and our route would follow these around the woods, passing a large monument to Wellington and returning to the car. The woods also extended to, and beyond, the Basingstoke Canal where after moving our car we would look for two more caches.

Various wood walks


That was the plan.

We got off to a very inauspicious start as we made a couple of navigational errors driving to the car park (‘We were never lost …just not sure of where we were”). We eventually booted up and strode away from the car, and headed for our first cache – a travel bug hotel. We had just entered the woodland when it started to rain. Now, common sense would have said..’head back to the car and wait for it to pass over’.

Nope. Let’s continue.

The rain stopped. Clearly we had made the right decision. Onwards.

Then the rain started again, heavier, colder this time. Almost hail. Aaargh! The bare winter trees provided no shelter at all! We got absolutely soaked.

No shelter here …


… or here !


The footpaths became quagmires, and the dog walkers we passed were all wrapped up and their dogs were more like bundles of fur covered in mud. They all had the right idea…head to the car. We seemingly had no sense whatsoever.

We arrived the travel bug hotel, and found the log almost too wet to sign – not due to the prevailing weather, but months previously the cache had let water in, and had still not dried out. We etched our signature and headed back to join our main target, the 5 cache Wellesley Woodlands series.

Travel Bug Hotel


Some distance away a few park runners/fun runners jogged by (how protective their Santa hats were we weren’t sure) and one lone dog walker passed us. The rain had eased slightly, but we were still very cold.

We joined the Wellesley Woodlands series at cache 4 and it should have been a simple find. The GPS took us the correct tree, but we decided to overthink the hint, and walk 10 yards further to examine a different, and better looking host. (What does ‘double tree’ mean ? Two adjacent trees or a twin-trunked tree ?)

Eventually we trusted the GPS and found the cache under its tell-tale pile of sticks.

We were cold, wet, and bordering on the irritable. The car was relatively close by so we adjourned for some coffee and took stock. After surveying different options, we decided on abandoning the Wellesley Woodlands series (we had numbers 1,2,3 and 5 left which formed a good discrete mini-series for another day) and drove the mile or so to another car park to find two caches by the canal.

Footbridge over the canal…


…and the peaceful canal underneath


The first of these caches was a Challenge/Mystery cache with a Beatles theme. Qualification for finding the cache was depending on finding 20 caches each with a word with a Beatles connection. (There were over 60 words to select from and we had spent some time the night before validating our 2950+ finds against this master list. We subsequently discovered there was a Challenge Checker on https://project-gc.com/ which would have saved us time.) The words we had in our cache finds included ‘John’, ‘George’, ‘Beatles’, ‘Liverpool’, ‘Help!’, ‘Lady’ (Madonna), ‘Yellow’ (Submarine), ‘Abbey’ (Road).

The cache was hidden next to the canal towpath next in, according to the hint, some silver birches. This is quite an old cache (January 2014), and since then various silver birches have been cut down. It took us some time to locate the correct location and then several prods of the geopole to find the superb, and apt, cache container.


We walked along the towpath to our final cache. As we did so, we saw a couple of geese, and couple of runners, and some speeding kayakers.

Graceful and slow…


…graceful and fast

The cache was called for some reason ‘Yesterdays Onions’ and was again hidden in a silver birch. We hadn’t learnt any lessons, as for the third time in as many caches, we looked at the most obvious location first, oblivious to a better host nearby.

Still find it we did, which brought our finds for the day to 4 out of 4. Although the weather had brightened, we were still damp and slightly cold, and had left a mini-series for better caching weather.

November 30 : Woosehill/Sindlesham

For some reason, November is our lowest caching month by a distance. This year has been different, as we were on our fifth November caching trip, this time primarily in woodland which separates the Wokingham districts of Woosehill and Sindlesham. It was an area that both of us had some knowledge of, as Mr Hg137 used to live in Woosehill, and Mrs Hg137 worked in the Sindlesham area and often frequented the woodland paths on a lunchtime walk.

Welcome to the Woods!


Mr Hg137’s experience counted for nothing at our first cache. A DNF near to Woosehill’s supermarket and part of the ‘Off Yer Trolly’ series. We were looking for a cache in a bole of tree (of which there were surprisingly few) next to the pedestrian walkway known as Smith’s Walk. A busy thoroughfare, given its proximity to the supermarket and doctor’s surgery, and after a few minutes feeling freezing cold ivy leaves we abandoned.

We parked the geo-car at the furthest part of Woosehill next to a Tennis Court. We had parked here a few years ago, when we were the first to find (FTF) the very first Counting Vowels cache. On that occasion (see our blog entry https://sandhurstgeocachers.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/november-10-ftf-wokingham-chestnut-avenue/ ) we drove there twice as the cache owner had made a mistake with the coordinates, and we walked miles to register a DNF in our quest for the FTF.

What is it about that Tennis Court and our caching ability ? Our second cache of the today’s walk was at the Tennis Court (part of the ‘Anyone for Tennis’ series) and having studied the hint we believed we were looking for a magnetic bolt. We searched all ends of the tennis court, but our reward was nothing. Two caches attempted..two DNFs.

We were somewhat demoralised as we walked to ‘The Stones’ – we didn’t want three DNFs.
We didn’t get three DNFs as we found the cache quite easily as a large stone hid the cache.
Phew ! We were away!

Third attempt… first find of the day!

Our route around the woodland had been worked out before we left home. There were three parallel roads/tracks (Chestnut Avenue, a woodland path and Sadler’s End). Our route would weave its way from Chestnut Avenue through minor tracks to the main woodland path, a couple of caches on or near that path, before more minor tracks to reach Sadlers End. Here we would attempt a few caches on its length, before heading back via minor tracks to the main woodland path, then more tracks back to Chestnust Avenue. Of course the route wasn’t a perfect circle, so some backtracking was needed to find the outlier caches.

By and large the tracks were very good, if slightly muddy to walk on. The overnight frost had caused a fresh leaf-fall so many of the muddy bits were covered in leaves. It also meant there were times when we couldn’t see the footpath at all as the whole forest floor was covered in leaves.

Holly


Many of the caches or hints described the nearby foliage (‘Rhododendrons’, ‘Holly’. ‘The Gnarled Old Tree’) which narrowed down the search area considerably. Most of the caches were surviving well in the wet Autumn, with one exception, ‘Power Lines’. Here the cache lid had been broken and the log was only just dry enough to etch our name.

The majority of the caches were small, disappointingly so, as we had a trackable we wanted to drop off. It was at our third cache ‘Come and Disk Over Me’ that we were able to do so and pick up a new trackable in its place (Sawyer Koala Bear).

The woodland paths eventually came out close to Wokingham Tennis Club, and here we found our only seat of the morning – so we sat and drank coffee watching a junior coaching session. The trainer was lobbing balls over the net to about 4 children who had to forehand return the ball back. If they succeeded four times they could award themselves a ‘token’ and we saw differing piles of tokens mount up between the trainees.

Setting up for the training session


Next to the Tennis Court is Wokingham Cricket Club, the home of one of our longest searches. The previous cacher, Amberel, hadn’t found the cache and we were concerned we would get our third DNF of the morning. There really was only one structure to search given a hint of ‘magnetic’, but the cache was not in the obvious place. We then read the logs from previous finders, and these told us to look for a piece of wire. We found the wire..but no cache! It was only after a little more searching did we find a SECOND wire…and then the cache came to hand. Phew!

We had arrived at Sadlers End and we had a longish walk to our next cache. We passed a few houses, and nearly got run down by the parents driving their ‘tennis trainees’ home. Our next cache was called ‘Motorway View’. As our walk had progressed, the distant hum of the M4 had become more noticeable, but it was only as we approached the cache did we see the motorway. The hint for this cache was ‘Stand to right of drain cover. Five paces towards motorway, then look right’. There were two things wrong with this very explicit hint. Firstly we couldn’t see the drain cover! The whole path was covered in leaves – we eventually found the metal cover after some prodding with the geo-pole. Secondly ‘paces’. Our stride lengths are different. Was the cache setter long-strided, medium-strided or tiny-strided ? We both paced a distance and after a little search found the cache. And the view of the motorway.

Motorway View


After finding another cache in Sadlers End we made our way back to the woods. Our shortest, and probably less-legal route was to climb over two 5 bar gates, and walk around a farmer’s track. We were at the furthest point from our car, and felt quite cold. The weak winter sunshine had barely permeated the woodland, so we opted for the quick, over-the gate escape route and followed a series of very minor tracks arriving at our next cache hidden under a decaying log.

We had just a couple more caches to find – including a very old cache – originally hidden in 2004. Hidden under a fallen tree, we spent some time looking at the first fallen tree near Ground Zero, rather than walking on a little further to find a larger tree shielding the cache.

Our penultimate cache was hidden in the Woosehill Estate. Called ‘No Mans Land’ because all the roads in that particular part of the estate are named after battles. The pedestrian walkway which hosted the cache was between all these ‘battle’ roads, and hence was in No Mans Land.

After finding our last cache, ‘Chestnut Avenue’ we headed back to the car near the Tennis Court DNF. As Mrs Hg137 changed from her muddy walking boots to her driving shoes, Mr Hg137 had one final look for the elusive cache. Did he find it ? Of course not!

Still, despite the 2 DNFs we found 13 caches, a variety of cache containers some of which are shown here :

November 16 : Grazeley Gambol

The Grazeley Gambol is a series of 22 caches and a bonus cache starting from the small village of Grazeley.

Along the Footpath near Grazeley


There are few places to park in the village but we managed to squeeze the geo-car into the edge of a rutted lane adjacent to the school. The lane had many puddles – not surprising as there had been a lot of rain recently – and we hoped the full route wouldn’t be too muddy! This was quite an expectation as the geocaching route criss-crossed various tributaries of the River Kennet.

The first two finds of the day were within yards of the car, the first a very simple find, the second under a bridge. Here the cache owner had cleverly attached the cache to the bridge both with a simple clip and magnet! This cache definitely won’t get washed away by a flooded river.

Foudry Brook


We were congratulating ourselves on our speedy finds, when we failed to see a footpath sign which would have taken us across a farmer’s field. We retraced our steps and walked on a straight line between the two footpath signs, but when we reached the far end of the field it was obvious we were some way off the true route. Our progress across the field was not helped by the freshly ploughed ridges, and the slippery mud we walked through.

Across the Farmer’s Field to Grazeley

The destination footpath sign yielded another cache, and by now we were getting the hang of cache owner’s modus operandi. It was similar to the caches we had found the previous week at Jealott’s Hill. Many of the caches were small, very small, and had been drilled into a natural looking container.

The mud of the farmer’s field was forgotten as we headed south picking up a further 5 caches. (At least one we walked straight by, another was hidden by an ash tree which tested our arboreal skills, as we aren’t that clued up on what a leafless ash looks like!) We were able to place one of the trackables we had with us in one of these 5 caches and pick up another in return.

The path was pleasant with trees and hedges just holding onto their Autumn colours, and under our feet a carpet of fallen coloured leaves protected us from a wet path. The main gripe about this footpath was its proximity to the A33. A busy and noisy dual carriageway. Sometimes we were separated from it by a few trees, other times barely any at all.

Our route headed West for about half a mile without a cache, as it passed through several farm buildings. We noticed cars parked alongside the farm and several people nearby. We assumed they were connected with the farm, so we consulted our map, to walk confidently through on the right of way. But they weren’t farmers in the yard.

What is going on ?


Two girls, immaculately dressed in riding uniform dismounted from their horses, and chatted with their parents. A food van tempted us with aromas of beefburgers and coffee….and then we finally understood. There was a dressage arena and a competition was going on. We chatted quietly to a previous rider who had recently finished her round. She told us every rider had a fixed time slot…they took part and had coffee, and then went home.. It was 10am and we were aware of at least three competitors who had taken part, and a fourth was being scrutinised (‘trot to A…turn right to E … walk to G’ ) as we stood and watched.

Dressage in Progress


Eventually we walked on and found a couple more caches (one was so far off its co-ordinates we are sure it was in the wrong tree) until we reached a road. Our route should have continued Westwards, but just a short distance South was another cache on a bridge over Foudry Brook. A quick find in ivy, and another container that would take another trackable we had brought with us. The bridge provided us with an ideal place to stop for a coffee (our thoughts of coffee had of course been initiated by the burger van).

Throughout the Grazeley Gambol series a number of the caches would contain letters/numbers which help us find the final bonus cache. Up to this point, few of the containers had yielded a number, but the most of the remaining caches gave us all the information we needed. Our next two caches, using oak trees as hosts, provided welcome respite from a slightly muddy grassy field boundary.

And then we had a problem.

The footpath ahead us was closed. A bridge on the footpath ahead was in a state of disrepair and dangerous.
We decided to proceed anyway. However the closure sign had disrupted our caching skills and we failed to find cache 13 ! Unlucky for us! Cache 14 was straightforward and then we saw the rotten bridge.


We found the cache by its side, and then gingerly crossed. Fortunately the handrails were safe-ish and the central plank under the bridge was safe-ish.. so we made our way across.

Carefully does it!



Shortly after we had logged our caches, the cache owner visited the site, and temporarily discontinued the caches on the closed footpath. Fingers crossed it won’t be too long before the bridge is fixed!

Danger lurked at the next cache too as the footpath crossed the Reading Basingstoke/Southampton railway line. Passenger trains and goods trains seemed to go by every 5- 10 minutes so, and on every occasion we were in the wrong position to take a good photo!

The route resumed a familiar feel. Autumnal trees overhanging a leafy path with a stream nearby. The caches came quite quickly too, including a great fun cache hidden in a children’s toy (sorry no spoiler here…but maybe on our caches of the year post!).

We crossed the railway line again (this time under a bridge) and then a rarity – a multi-cache. A simple enough multi (in fact Googlemaps had been of great assistance before we left home) and an imaginary hide too.

Grazeley village was back in sight, the Church Spire beckoning us to the start. The final two caches took slightly longer than expected (the first was magnetic… (yes really! in the middle of a field too!) and the other was hidden amongst the leaf litter.

We could see the car from this final cache, but the bonus (a quick find) took us away from the school and nearer the Church. We discovered the Church was built in 1850 but in 2017 was converted as a holiday let and is listed on Airbnb ! https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/21676937?source_impression_id=p3_1574781488_tEwFjk7u05x8YoyT

Grazeley Church

An interesting end to a great walk and a wonderful selection of caches!

PS We discovered afterwards that the 24 caches was the highest number of caches we had attempted in a day this year, and one of few caching circuits we had completed too. (And we’ve found just under 400 caches in 2019).

Here are some of the caches we found :

November 9 : Jealott’s Hill, Bracknell : tweezers required!

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Saturday started cold and still, with the rising sun peeping through the mist. The weather forecast said it would be wet later. It didn’t seem likely just then, but we decided to go out early just in case.

Not long after, we were at Jealott’s Hill, in the countryside just north of Bracknell. A horse and trap clip-clopped by as we turned off the road into Hawthorndale Lane, an enclosed track between hedges, running parallel with the road. We were looking for the four caches in the Lunchtime Walk series, spaced out along the track. Four different caches, all different sizes and shapes, all hidden differently: we found them all with various degrees of head-scratching and searching, and once, by Mr Hg137 simply picking up a random object, which turned out to be the cache. Two more horses sneaked up behind us, only the voices of their riders giving them away; they passed by, turned a corner, and the sound of drumming hooves receded into the distance on a wider section of track. One of the caches was a little bigger than the others, and we dropped off Maman Souris, one of the five (yes, five!) trackables we had with us; this one is in a race with two other souris (deux autre souris, peut être?) and wants to go home to France. And the tweezers came out several times to extract the cache logs from some of the fiendish containers.

Well, that had been a good and inventive little series, and we were going to extend it by tackling another series by the same setter, called Countryside Walk. Crossing into Pendry’s Lane, we began a gentle downhill walk on a track leading to a ford over a stream. There were four more caches along here, again all different, and some, again, requiring tweezers and other implements to remove the logs.

Is it a cache or simply a stick?

Is it a cache or simply a stick?


One was well enough concealed that I handed the cache container to Mr Hg137 and he STILL couldn’t spot it! (Editor’s note: I was beginning to wonder if the cache owner spent their spare time collecting hollow objects and containers, or, failing that, sitting at home making holes in solid things – sticks, stones, fence posts, paving slabs, logs, posts, rocks – it was certainly making for an interesting walk, and I admire the determination of the owner to create holes in so many different things!)
Something with a hole drilled in it?

Something with a hole drilled in it?


Another quirky thing we found was a series of painted stones, each titled ‘Bracknell Rocks’. We swapped them around between the larger caches, and brought one home to display in the blog, then move on elsewhere,
Bracknell Rocks

Bracknell Rocks

We reached the Cut, a small tributary of the Thames, crossed the ford on a footbridge, and emerged on a very minor road by some stables. More horses!

Westley Mill Ford

Westley Mill Ford


The Cut

The Cut


We were planning a one-cache diversion from our circuit to look for Pick ‘n’ Mix. We chose the diversion to this cache because it has loads of favourites, and the reason is here in this extract form the cache description:

Find the real cache log amongst a selection to choose from!

The cache contains a variety of cache types … Only one of the containers has the log inside it. The others have a message saying “This is not the cache you are looking for”!


The outer container was easy to find, and then the fun began. We opened the box and there were a host of cache containers. Readers, we tried every single one before we found the log in the very last container – grrr! And we dropped off another trackable here – I’m GROOT – we hope he has a good time amongst all those caches and moves on soon.



We returned to the ford and commenced our return journey along Hazelwood Lane. The sun was still shining weakly through the mist, but a bank of dark grey cloud was visible near the horizon and that weather forecast was now looking accurate. We found yet more devious containers along the lane. For one of them, I had my nose within a finger-length of the cache, but still failed to spot it – Mr Hg137 reached forward and grabbed it, to my chagrin. But for another cache, Mr Hg137 failed to spot it before I bent down and retrieved it from beside one of his footprints. Funny how you can just spot things sometimes, but fail to spot the completely obvious at other times !


For the final part of our walk, we turned into Goughs Barn Lane and headed for the car. The sun had gone by now, the wind was getting up, and it was suddenly a cold, bleak winter’s morning. Yet another horse went by, decked out in high-vis, and we found another two deviously hidden caches. That was thirteen out of thirteen, a very lucky morning for us.


Postscript one: it started to rain about 30 minutes after we finished. That weather forecast was spot on after all!

Postscript two: after logging the caches, and allocating favourite points to the best – it was hard to choose – we were contacted by the cache owner, profstuart, to thank us for our logs. That was good; we put a bit of effort into writing something more than TFTC (thanks for the cache) on our logs and it’s great to be appreciated.

Normally, we include lots of pictures of the caches we find. Not so today – it would be unfair to give away the cunning and secret ways in which the caches have been hidden. So here are a couple of pictures of caches, carefully chosen to not give too much away …

November 3 : Lightwater

The 2019 Autumn is fast becoming a damp squib, every day seems to have rain forecast, or if not sullen grey skies. Planning a geocaching trip is like playing poker with the weather – and frequently being on the losing side.

Today though we were lucky. We were in Lightwater, a small town in Northern Surrey. It is surrounded by the M3 on one side, a busy dual-carriageway on a second side and a cut-through fast single carriage-way on a third. The fourth side is the edge of MOD Army Ranges. With all these outside influences, we were very surprised how quiet the village is.

We planned on attempting 9 caches, and we parked near the first – a Travel Bug Hotel. We were lucky with our parking, as there were spaces for just 6 cars – we were the fifth – and before we had even left the car two more cars arrived which overfilled the car park.

Most of our route was on pavements but the first half mile or so, was in a bridleway (get the mud out of the way at the beginning). Not unsurprisingly, given the cars in the car park, this bridleway was busy. Dog walkers and toddler walkers all out for a welcome walk in the sunshine. Three dog walkers stood and chatted near to the first cache. We swiftly picked the container from behind a tree and walked on to a side path.

Where have all the dog walkers gone ?


It was a travelbug hotel, but the geocaching website, said there were no trackables inside. This was borne out by an empty large plastic container, marked ‘TBs’ inside the cache. But there was something else in the cache that caught our eye – in fairness we couldn’t miss it. A giant morass of keys! Was this a ‘key cache’ where finders were expected to ‘add a key to the ring’ ? We mused on this for a minute or two, until we noticed that the giant key ring was a trackable!

Cache with keys!


We decided to remove it from the cache and take it on our travels. Unusually we didn’t have a haversack with us, so rather than carry the 1lb key ring on our 3 mile walk, Mr Hg137 returned to the car and left it there.

We continued on the bridlepath, the November sun picking out the Autumn leaf colours. At the far end of the path, there was another cache – part of the National Postcode series. This was cache 89, for the GU18 post area. A quick find, once we saw the hint object, and negotiated a holly tree sapling!

The rest of walk followed a clockwise pavement walk around Lightwater. Our next cache has been marked with a DNF by the previous cacher. We were therefore pleasantly surprised to see the cache in silhouette behind some street furniture yards before arriving at GZ. (We later discovered that the previous cacher had found just 1 cache, so presumably was expecting something more exciting that the magnetic nano).

One of the many copses in Lightwater


Up to now the caches had been easy, but the fourth cache led us a merry dance. Called ‘The Truth is a Lemon Meringue’ it was hidden in one of the many end-of-road corner copses we saw on our walk. The GPS wouldn’t settle and we assumed it would be in the middle of this copse. Fighting our way through branches and rubbish, we couldn’t see the hint item at all (‘Tri-Tree’). Mrs Hg137 left the copse and tried to get an accurate distance and bearing with Mr Hg137 battling his way trying to match Mrs Hg137’s outstretched hand. Still nothing. Then Mr Hg137 saw the tree, on the outside of the copse yards from where Mrs Hg137 was standing ! She managed to retrieve the cache before Mr Hg137 had left the copse! So much for believing it would be hidden deep in the woods!

We were deep in Lightwater’s housing estates now, and the bright Sunday morning had brought several people out busying themselves in their gardens. A surprising number were cutting and trimming trees and hedges.

Our next cache was in a tree – or so we thought. ‘Ivy covered tree’ as the hint, and two trees to search (one each). We groaned. Ivy hides are hard. Mr Hg137 got lucky as the cache was hidden not in the ivy, but close to his tree. Inside … our second trackable of the day – a Lego Man! Considerably smaller than the trackable keys, so we were able to place in a pocket.

Lightwater is criss-crossed by streams


We had a long-ish walk to the centre of the town. Or should that be village ? Because Lightwater has a beautiful village sign (number 1493 in the National Series). Nearby were two seats, and our next cache was under one of them. This should have taken no time at all, but somehow it took two circuits of the seats to find the cache!

All Saints Church, Lightwater


Our only failure of the day was at the nearby All Saints Church. Unusually for a cache in the Church Micro series, it was a standard cache, rather than a multi based on service times or gravestone dates. Yet, we couldn’t find the cache. We read that this cache does have a chequered history as it seems to got missing more often than it is available to be found. It has been replaced twice in the last 2 months ! Reluctantly we moved on to our final caches of the day.

As we did so, we noted that the brilliant sunshine of earlier had been replaced by ever-darkening clouds. Fortunately we were headed towards our car. Our penultimate cache was in another roadside copse. Lots of trees, and a familiar story, of taking far too long to find the tell-tale ‘stickoflage’. It was so well hidden Mr Hg137 stood within a yard of the cache and didn’t notice it!

Cache containing 3 Trackables


A pleasant surprise awaited us … there were three trackables inside. We had found 7 caches, and 5 trackables. What a haul!

The imminent threat of rain had eased slightly but even so we hurried to our last find of the morning – this time hidden behind a road sign. In fact it was so well wedged in the roadsign, Mrs Hg137 used her trusty penknife to release it, and remove the log from the tiny container.

A short walk back the car, laden with trackables, and we drove off. Not a moment too soon as raindrops appeared on the windscreen as we reached the centre of Lightwater. We looked at Village Sign one last time, and noticed by the roadside, waiting to cross the road, in broad daylight was a fox. Great to see …and so unusual to see in the middle of the day. A fantastic end to a morning’s caching in Lightwater.

Some of the caches we found :