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 :

October 27 : South Hill Park, Bracknell

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

South Hill Park

South Hill Park


Saturday had been dark and grey, and then very wet, dark and grey. But Sunday was a completely different day, cold and bright and sunny. We just wanted to get outside … but where to go that wasn’t too soggy? Some quick research by Mr Hg137 flagged up South Hill Park https://www.southhillpark.org.uk as a good place – it has parking, good paths, lots to see plus a newish cache series, JNGC, placed this year, plus a multicache too.
Bull at the Gate

Bull at the Gate


From the entrance to South Hill Park, we admired the sculpture, part of a trail around the building and grounds https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/south-hill-park-sculpture-trail.pdf , then set off across the grounds, alongside South Lake, admiring the fountain, and across the footbridge. (Editor’s note: the bridge was due to close for maintenance the next day and scaffolding was already in place, so we were just in time!) Our first cache for the day wasn’t far from here.
South Lake

South Lake


From here we followed the path down the other side of the lake to find our second cache on the edge of the formal gardens surrounding the house, and we remembered sitting here one summer afternoon a few years back watching an outdoor performance of ‘House’ and ‘Garden’ (and we got wet when the cast splashed us with water from the fountain). This autumn morning was much quieter and we found the well concealed cache after a bit of rummaging in firm, well clipped greenery.



So far it seemed as if we had been doing caches in a random order, but we had a plan: the clues for the multicache are intertwined with the JNGC cache series and we had been assembling the clues for the multi as we walked round the lake in the ‘wrong’ direction. Having worked out the final coordinates for the multicache, we walked a short way into trees and found that our workings were correct. We dropped off the trackable ‘Avon Traveller’ here, to continue its journey; we generally try to place trackables in out of the way caches or in oft-found multicaches, as we think they are less likely to go astray that way.

We climbed a short, steep slope and left the grounds of South Hill Park, with the path winding through an area where all the road names began with H … Hillbery … Herondale …Haywood. The next cache was somewhere in here. We arrived at Ground Zero (GZ), where the cache should be, circled it, didn’t spot the cache, took the hint too literally and went off to study the fence near No. 31, didn’t find it there either, then returned to GZ. As the GPS indicated the final location, we realised what the hint meant … doh! And in our passing back and forth through the area we passed a little bit of the South Hill Park estate, the ice house, now not quite as glorious as it once must have been https://www.flickr.com/photos/bracknellforest/8536104515

Autumn colours ...

Autumn colours …


... and autumn fungi

… and autumn fungi


We crossed a road, admiring the autumn colours, and started our return by turning onto a cycle path that looped back towards South Hill Park. In this area, all the road names began with G … Greenham Wood … Gainsborough … There were two more caches along this wooded path, both hidden a little way off the path, among the trees. It was very busy with muggles, all out, like us, enjoying the sparkling clear morning. We found one of the two caches quite easily, but spent a while on the other one. We tried two places, within a few paces of each other, that matched the descriptions in other cache logs in both cases, and which the GPS said was correct in both cases (the curse of tree cover, the GPS can’t see the satellites though the leaves). But only one, the second, contained the cache. And there was one final sting in the tail; on returning to the path, Mr Hg137 impaled himself on a tree branch and cut his leg. (Editor’s note: readers, he said a naughty word, beginning with ‘F’. Editor’s note 2: he’s fine now.)

We returned to the grounds of South Hill Park, and North Lake came into view. Between the lake and the main road, there’s a wildlife area with a reedbed crossed by a boardwalk. Hidden somewhere here, unobtrusively, was our final cache of the day. Neither of us had ever been here, so close to the road, but so different. And from here it was just a short walk in the sunshine along the side of the lake (come here when there’s a fishing competition and admire the myriads of large carp that live in the lake); then back to the geocar. A great morning’s caching.


Two final comments:
– What does JNGC stand for? It’s Jae and Nate’s GeoCache series. The cache owner has been in touch – and we asked.

– Apart from the usual N xx° xx.xxx W xxx° xx.xxx coordinates supplied with caches, this cache series is also identified using What3Words e.g. JNGC6 can also be located using tuck.popped.Friday This is great and more caches should do it!

Here are some of the caches we found:

October 19: Sonning

Sonning is a small picturesque town by the River Thames.

The River Thames, near Sonning

A delightful church, olde-worlde cottages, shops and narrow streets. But it has one serious drawback. Its bridge. There is a bridge at Sonning over the River Thames, a narrow, single-carriageway, traffic-light-controlled bridge. As a result this beautiful village is choked with traffic trying to cross the river.

Picturesque Cottages


Unusual Street Furniture

Sonning also has a collection of caches and our intention was to find as many as we could. Many though were multis with several stages. The multis criss-crossed the town, so we would have to be exceedingly careful to record information as we went. (We remembered a bad day in Chester about 18 months ago, when we circumnavigated the City twice as we got thoroughly confused by the City Centre caches). We would be better prepared today. Each multi was printed out on its own separate sheet of paper; we had reviewed the ‘broad’ route the waypoints took so we knew when to stop one multi and start another.

Sonning does have some standard caches too (a series called ‘Swanning around Sonning’). Within minutes of parking the car we had found Swanning around Sonning #1, a lovely little cache hidden in plain view, and easily accessible by cachers and non-cachers alike.

An easy start, before we embarked on the first of the multis – Sonning Village Trail – a 12 stage multi.
At first the questions were simple as we counted reflectors, ‘pins’ and ascertained that Green Cottage isn’t green!

St Andrew’s Church, Sonning


As we approached the rear of the churchyard, we started the multi connected with the Church Micro. Here we had to find two memorial stones, extract some dates and also find the time of one of the Church Services. Relatively straightforward to calculate the final cache destination – once we realised we had entered the churchyard by a different gate from one we had planned ! The final was some way off, so we filed the Church Micro as ‘Calculated but not Found’.

Before we could continue with the 12 part multi, we found a Victorian Post Box. This was the start of another multi (and a series we were unfamiliar with). We peered at the letter box, extracting key information and soon we added the coordinates to the ‘Calculated but not Found’ pile.

Victorian Post Box


We were heading closer to the river, and the notorious bridge crossing. The roads were becoming more and more clogged and the stages in the 12 part town trail were becoming harder to spot. Spot them we did, including a blue plaque commemorating Terence Rattigan. We were lucky here, as a high-ish wall impeded the sight line to the plaque, but as we approached the property a gentleman left through a large gate and we could see the plaque quite clearly. We chatted with the gentleman (well, we had too, as we were peering far too indiscreetly over his shoulder), and discovered the property was owned by a famous, international celebrity. Opposite we were advised the property was owned by a well known Rock Musician. Sadly we saw neither of these famous celebrities on our travels.

The next waypoint involved a third well known public figure, Theresa May (she too lives in the village). Here, we were misled by the question ‘when did she turn on the lights?’ – expecting to find a plaque stating when she turned on the Christmas lights. However the lights she turned on, were far less ephemeral !

By now we were by the river. We had found one cache early on, 9 stages of a 12 stage multi and calculated the final coordinates for two other caches. We saw a seat on the South Eastern bank and sat there and drank some welcome coffee as we collated our notes. We discovered we were at the start of yet another multi, part of the Counting Vowels series.

The waypoints in this series, take you to noticeboards, plaques, memorials, and you count each of vowels, so that as you have reach the last waypoint you have a cumulative value for A, E, I, O and U.

Lots of vowels to count here…


… and here too – but don’t look at the sign!

Feeling refreshed from our coffee we started this 5 stage multi. A peaceful walk along the riverbank taking us further and further away from the traffic choked approach to Sonning Bridge. As we progressed the path became a bit more muddy, and a bit more slippery – we were grateful for our walking boots. We were a little surprised to discovered that the final co-ordinates we yet further on, as typically having found the last waypoint, we were expecting to turn round and head back from whence we had come. Instead a quick find further away from Sonning.

As we were walking back, we got a good bearing on where the solved Church Micro and Victorian Post Box were. We headed off in that direction but on our way we got very lucky.

A rare boat braves the Thames


Back in 2015 we walked the Thames Path and passed through Sonning during the July of that year. One of the caches we failed to find was hidden behind a noticeboard near the river. We were about to pass that same noticeboard on route to the two multi-finals. We hadn’t loaded this ‘unfound’ cache into our GPS, but we both thought we ought to give the noticeboard host a quick scan… and there was the cache! A brand new log too! Was this a brand new cache we had accidentally become the first-to-find ? Sadly no. We discovered on our return home, that the cache was disabled, as the previous cache had gone missing. A recent cacher (undertaking much the same route as we were taking), had noticed the cache was missing, and knowing who he thought the cache owner was, replaced a cache for him. Sadly the cache owner had changed so a relative stranger now has a new cache placed for them! And of course we got an unexpected find!

A new log, but sadly only a replacement cache


In our excitement of finding a cache we hadn’t even loaded into our GPS, we almost forgot about the two multis we had come to find. Both took a bit a bit of finding, as they we well hidden with differing types of camouflage!

We headed back to Sonning Bridge, the air was full of the Saturday lunch being cooked at The Mill Theatre (Roast Beef, Roast Chicken and some kind of fish).

The Mill at Sonning, Theatre and Restaurant Venue


As the day was going so well we decided to undertake another multi, another Victorian Post Box – this time in a very small village of Sonning Eye. Of all the multis we undertook, this was the quickest. A quick review of the postbox (counting vowels to generate the co-ordinates for the second time today) and a quick walk to GZ. We were grateful for two pairs of eyes for the vowel counting as it took some time for us to both agree the total for E and I !

Back over the river to complete the 12 stage multi, our only remaining unsolved multi of the day. We had to collect more dates – one connected with the adjacent Blue Coat school, the others at Sonning Lock.

Sonning Lock


Here we were lucky enough to see two boats passing through. We sat and performed the calculation for the final coordinates. Unsurprisingly it was back along the river, closer to the Bridge. We filed the coordinates, as we had two, simple, caches to find. Swanning Around Sonning #3 and #4.

We didn’t find #3. Apparently it was a ‘stick cache’ hidden at ground level behind some railings. We searched for some time, and noticed that the previous three cachers hadn’t found it either. Our search was hampered as GZ was a ‘turnround spot’ for a running race. We discovered afterwards, it was wasn’t a distance race, but an endurance race organised by Saturn Running. Runners were undertaking a 7 Hour event, running presumably from Reading to Sonning numerous times in a 7 hour period. No wonder they looked exhausted.

Swanning around Sonning #4 was a lengthy find (coordinates were slightly off) and then back to the lock and to find the final for the Sonning Village Trail. We had several large trees to search, and eventually found the cache in the third one! Phew ! All 5 multis undertaken, and all found successfully !

We had one last cache to find, Swanning around Sonning #2 – close to our car. A tricky find, but a great finish to quite a complicated day !

Caches we found :




October 4 : Stretton, Warrington

A Wedding Guest Arrives at St Matthews Church, Stretton

Many readers of this blog may know that both of us, that is both Mr and Mrs Hg137, play Scrabble relatively competitively as well as geocaching.

During the weekend of the 5/6 October the National Scrabble Championships were being held in Stretton, just outside Warrington, and Mrs Hg137 had qualified for the main finals. (Mr Hg137 had only qualified for the more minor plate competition).

We travelled up to Warrington the day before which gave us time to settle into our hotel, locate the playing venue and find a couple of geocaches (whilst dodging the showers).

Our first cache was a puzzle cache we had solved before we left home. The start co-ordinates were based on/in/near St Matthews Church, Stretton. A large church (given the size of village) which had been rebuilt a couple of times since 1800. The latest structure was designed and built by George Gilbert Scott and the Gothic Revival style for which he was famous oozes from the building. Sadly we couldn’t go in the building as a wedding was due to start when we arrived…(we almost made it into the wedding photos as the official photographer was snapping anyone who approached the church!)

A pleasant walk to the cache


The cache was a short walk away hidden in a bush. This gives nothing away, as this cache hint alludes to this, but the number of bushes at GZ, were quite numerous and very prickly. We searched the bushes for a long time, impeded only by a muddy track surrounding each bush (had we brought walking boots to a Scrabble tournament?… no!). After 20 minutes we gave up. We couldn’t see the cache at all.

The Stretton Fox



We moved to what should have been an easier cache. Called ‘Foxy’ it celebrates the nearby pub called the Stretton Fox. The cache though was up a 10 foot wet, slippery, grassy slope with little space for manoeuvring, near to a busy roundabout. The cache was hidden under tree bark, but at GZ, there wasn’t one piece of bark there were a dozen! Each one was meticulously picked up, checked and replaced until the cache was found! They don’t make caches easy in these parts!

Thank goodness, we didn’t have to search for a magnetic nano here!


So we returned back to the hotel via the prickly hedges we surveyed earlier. We gave ourselves another 5 minutes. Of course this time we found the cache. Visible, but almost unapproachable. (Why hadn’t we brought the geo-pole ?!). So while Mr Hg137 found some long (over 6 foot) sticks, Mrs Hg137 took off her coat, folded it as a cushion and performed the yoga ‘child’ pose (or Balasana). Reaching further and further, she eventually grasped the box, and retrieved it from deep in the bush. Of course we still had to replace it back again…but those 6 foot sticks were useful for that!


So 2 caches found, in about an hour, we’d mixed with a wedding party, and got entangled in various hedges…lets hope its less trouble at the Scrabble tournament!