February 4 : Shanklin Town, Isle of Wight

St Paul’s Church, Shanklin

Our plans for the morning were thwarted by light drizzle, a gusting wind and a high tide.

We had intended to spend the morning revisiting a multi-cache placed just above the high water tide. But the wind and rain meant the sandy beach was narrower than we would have liked so filed the cache away for a future visit.

Instead we focussed on three town centre caches.

We drove away from the hotel, and found – after several circuits of the local roads – a parking place and headed off for our first cache. It was only 200 feet away, and we were very surprised to find when we arrived it was ON church property. We thought we could see the cache from the pavement, so we entered through the gates of St Paul’s Parish Church. Of course, what we saw from the roadside wasn’t the cache, but we did then spot a nearby piece of camouflage and delightful watertight cache container. We dropped off the Blue Lamb Proxy Geocoin here, as we weren’t sure what other size containers we would find.

Good solid container

We then walked about 1/4 of a mile passing by many a Shanklin house, and more infuriatingly a small supermarket where we could have parked without angst for an hour or two. We took a small footpath between houses and arrived at a piece of woodland. This was the Sibden Hill and Batts Copse Nature Reserve, and hidden just inside was our target. The hint was quite curious “at the base of pipe tree”.

Sibden Hill & Batts Copse

Clearly the cache was near the ground so we searched behind various trees, in roots, in fallen trees all to no avail. Then we saw a tree growing around a metallic pipe. Why the pipe was there, we don’t know, but this was the tree we needed. A small brick covered the cache, and once removed we wondered how we had not see the pipe on our initial inspection.

How did we miss this ?

Another 1/4 mile walk followed, retracing our steps in part but we soon turned off to follow the wonderfully named ‘Red Squirrel Trail’. This is a 32 mile cycleway/footpath primarily following the route of an old Isle of Wight railway. The route starts in the extreme North of the Island at Cowes, and loops round both Sandown and Shanklin in the South East. Such a long trail to follow and we walked about 300 yards!

Red Squirrel Trail


The path should have been tranquil, but waterjet-cleaning was going on in the neighbouring caravan park, which made it quite noisy. This time a hollow tree formed the host, but in our haste to bypass a large puddle we walked right by GZ !

Last cache of the day!

So three caches found, and with time ticking and a ferry waiting, we headed back to car (via the supermarket to buy some sandwiches) for the journey home.

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January 18 : BlueLamb Geocoin

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
While finding caches in the woods near Ottershaw, we came upon this tiny little thing:

Mr Hg137 said it couldn’t possibly be a trackable, it was too small and didn’t look right, but it had all the right words and numbers on it, so we took it home with us. Arriving back at home, I did a little research on what we’d found and what it had done in the past.

The first anomaly was that it shouldn’t have been where we found it … its last recorded location was three weeks and six miles away, in Lightwater. No matter, the last cacher who had it must have failed to record that it had been moved.

Having sorted out the ‘where’ and the ‘when’, it was on to the ‘what’. It turns out that this little scrap of laminated card is a proxy for a trackable called the ‘BlueLamb Geocoin’. The owner has chosen to send out a proxy for the trackable, rather than the original, as lots of trackables go missing (we know, it’s happened to us too). We come across theses before, though the others we’ve come across have been pictures of the original trackable. And here is what the original looks like:

The geocoin, or its representative, started off in Alabama, has travelled to all corners of the main part of the USA, then crossed the Atlantic to travel round France and Germany, and has now hopped over the English Channel where it has visited Worthing, on the south coast, before moving to the area south-west of London. We’re not sure where we will take it. Hampshire, maybe, or the Isle of Wight?

January 4 : PT Le pays du Der

This trackable – found in our cache during a maintenance visit – is named after an area of France in the Champagne region, and wishes to visit lots of countries. So far, since June 2017 it has visited France, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Spain (Canary Islands), Ecuador, Canada and Britain. It has travelled over 47,000 miles and visited nearly 2400 caches… not bad for 18 months travelling!

Many of those caches were accrued in undertaking a large series that the trackable is named after ‘Le Pays du Der’. This is a series of 1300 caches (predominantly drive-bys) set out as a series of figures of eights centred around Longeville-sur-la-Laines.
The series seems to be a ‘rite of passage’ and reading some of the logs, cachers come from all over Europe to undertake the full 1300 caches in 3-5 days ! Phew!

We don’t have such large series in this country, but we will try to place the trackable in a series rather than an isolated cache miles from nowhere!

January 4 : Berry Bank cache : maintenance needed

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The first weekend of 2019 was approaching, and we had a caching circuit in mind. But first … a visit to our own cache, Berry Bank cache, to collect a trackable. It’s a Womble, which has been resident in our cache since early 2018 and which we planned to move on in a few days. But – disaster – there was water inside the cache, the Womble was wet, and the logbook was soggy. This was not good, and some cache maintenance was needed. The cache was marked as ‘needing maintenance’ on the Geocaching website.

Cache and contents were transported home and spread out. We found a second trackable – PT Le Pays du der – so now we had two trackables to take on to our caching trip. On to the cache maintenance: most of the cache contents could be wiped dry, leving just three wet things. These were: the camo bag containing the cache container, the logbook, and Shansi the Womble. All three spent the night on the kitchen radiator, drying out.

Come the morning, the dry clean cache was reassembled and returned to its home, Berry Bank, and re-enabled on the Geocaching website. All was now well and the two trackables were coming on an adventure with us!

December 8 : Les Géopotes à Chausey

The beautiful geocoin was found on our morning’s caching in Farnham, Surrey.

It is a souvenir coin from the Islands of Chausey, Northern France. From a geographical perspective they are part of the ‘Channel Islands’ but the Les Iles Chausey are French and approximately 30 people live there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chausey.

This geocoin is owned by several cachers, Maroliv, SergeLB, Les Trolls, Les Pinsons, JLL50 , and La Team P’Tits Del. The first cache the geocoin visited (Autumn 2017) was on mainland France, Maroliv took it to Chausey shortly after.

Since then the coin has circled Northern France (mainly the Cherbourg Peninsula), before a very short visit to Washington DC and then to Southern England.

It has no mission so we will try to place it somewhere that it hasn’t visited.

December 8 : TravelDog

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

TravelDog

TravelDog


Early on our caching walk round Farnham Park, we found this trackable. Once we’d got back home, we logged the trackable and did a little research on what it has been doing.

• It’s a border terrier.
• It set off from Worthing, very close to the south coast of England, in April 2016.
• It wants to travel to its ancestral home in the Scottish Borders. And then back home again.

Well, the dog has certainly travelled. But not much in the direction of the border with England and Scotland. Leaving Worthing, it was off to Trafalgar Square in central London, then to Sofia, Bulgaria, back to Sussex, then Lefkas, one of the Greek islands, then the Netherlands, then Germany, then on to Sweden by late autumn 2017 (none of this is heading for Scotland, is it?). By September 2018 it was back in England, at a cacher’s meet in Essex, then went on another tour of southern England, ending up in Farnham Park, where we found it.

We can’t promise to move it to Scotland, but we shall aim for a dog-friendly place north of where we found it, and it can (maybe) progress from there.

December 8 : Farnham Park

Farnham Park

Just over 2 years ago, we attempted our first geocaches in Farnham. We attempted the Farnham Ramble, a series of 30+ caches, many of them multis, most of them interconnected to another so the series had to be completed in order. We struggled with the first few caches, and gave up but pledged we would return.

Sadly for us the series was archived shortly afterwards.

So, with fresh eyes we headed to another part of Farnham and undertook a completely different set of caches – this time placed in and around Farnham Park. Farnham Park is a mediaeval deer park of 320 acres and contains secret dells, streams, sports pitches and panoramic views.

Farnham Castle just visible in the tree-line


It is situated just outside the town, near Farnham’s Castle (now a training centre) and has free car parking! We could spend as long as we liked caching and not worry about a ‘ticking’ car park ticket!

The previous days had been wet, and this was the main reason we chose Farnham Park – many of the paths were tarmac. Apart from stepping off to search for a cache, we wouldn’t get too muddy!.


So at 845 am we parked up. The car park was already busy – dogs were being exercised, runners were stretching legs. Our first cache was almost in the car park. The hint did say ‘park side not car park side’…but hey.. our initial investigation yielded nothing.. so we went to the car park side anyway! After a few minutes, we corrected ourselves – stood where we stood before, and glinted at a slightly different angle and of course found the cache! Placed by a local Beaver group and in very good order.

Our caching route was to be relatively short (about 3 miles, including a couple of cul-de-sacs) and contained 9 caches. Each one had been set by a different person or team! How very unusual!

A great place for a cache

The first cache was easy to get to, but hard to spot. Our second cache was the complete reverse! Each to spot – scarcely any camouflage – but we had a stream to jump across with slightly slippery banks. Here we found a travel bug (TravelDog) which we will blog about soon. We tried to remember the last time we found a travel bug, without much success.

One of the many streams that criss-cross the Park

Stream jumping was a feature of the next two caches.

The first was hidden in a small outlying copse of trees; the next – Ancient Oak – was some way from the tarmac path. Fortunately the drainage ditches had done a good job, and the walk was pleasant with the ground being ‘damp’ rather than ‘squelchy’. Our eyes were drawn to an imperious tree in the distance, and we headed there, jumping another drainage ditch, and then realising we were still 50 feet away! We clambered around some undergrowth and arrived ‘behind’ the imperious oak, where the cache was an easy find. All we had to do was retrace our steps back to the tarmac.

The path was much busier now as, almost every 25 yards or so, a runner or dog walker went by. We were slowly climbing about 50 feet, and as we did so we had a lovely view over the park and the Farnham locality.

Is there a cache here ?

As we approached the Northern outskirts of the park, we walked parallel to the village/town of Hale/Upper Hale, and houses could be seen on our right. On the left, were the fine views and two more caches. Both quick finds, one in tree roots and one 5 feet up in a stump. It was at the first of these we found our second travel bug of the day, a delightful geocoin called ‘Les Géopotes à Chausey’. (Having struggled to remember our last time we found one trackable, we struggled even more to remember the last time we found two in one day!).

The tarmac path soon came to an end, and one of the best viewpoints of the day, and it was here we could have headed South, back to the car. But.. there were 2 nearby caches just outside the park.

The first called ‘Read’ had well over 30 favourites. (It acquired another from us too). The cache was hidden in a micro-library ! It wasn’t just books in the library ! A visitor’s book, lego cards, doggie treats and much more besides.

Have you seen a library like this ?

How many libraries contain these ?

The remaining non-Farnham-Park cache was part of the old Farnham Ramble series. This cache has been re-introduced as is now called ‘Farnham Series Remembered’. As one of the easier caches on the original route, it was easy to reinstate without previous multi-cache knowledge. We wanted the cache name in our portfolio as the final letters of the cache name spelt ‘RED’. A colour which we would add to list of ‘colours’ we would need for a caching snooker challenge. (We need to find 15 REDs and we are a little short!)

On the way to the Farnham Ramble Remembered cache


The cache itself was hidden IN a tree stump. But, in front of the tree stump was a lot of bark. Placed to look like ‘barkoflage’ we dismantled it first to no avail. Then we looked in the tree stump, and with a bit of poking and prodding in the Autumn leaf pile, we were able to find the cache.

And so we returned back to the Park. The morning had become greyer, and we one cache left to do. Part of the ‘Hole in One’ series, situated near golf course. (Farnham Park includes a 9 hole par 3 course). When we arrived at Ground Zero, we couldn’t find anywhere where a cache could be hidden. The hint said ‘In the title’, and the penny dropped. We had about 12 items to check, and after checking 7 or 8 of them, we discovered a small bison.

A hole-in-one!


In summary this was a great morning’s caching, not too strenuous, not too wet, and more importantly some good reasonable sized containers all of which were in good order. Well done to the 9 different cache owners!

Other caches we found included :