July 29 Simons Wood, Wokingham

This was week 3 of the Mary Hyde challenge. This week to gain the Mary Hyde souvenir one had to find or deposit a trackable. Finding trackables can often be tricky, as frequently caches are listed as ‘containing a trackable’ but due to various reasons, the trackable is missing. We were therefore grateful we had a trackable in our possession, Annerschter (aka Henry’s Cat). But where to place it ? The weather was forecast to very wet so a short caching trip was planned in Simons Wood on the border of Wokingham/Crowthorne/Finchampstead. Fingers crossed we would finish before it rains!

Simons Wood is owned the National Trust, and is a heavily wooded, and in places heavily rhododendron-ed. The National Trust are slowly removing many of these large invasive plants, but it will still take some time until Simons Wood loses its ‘jungle’ feel.

Is it a jungle or is it Simon’s Wood?


We’ve cached here before – way back in July 2014 when we found one the UK’s oldest geocaches, first hidden in 2003.
Today would be on the other side of the Wood and we would circumnavigate a property known as ‘The Heritage Club’.

Our first find, was well hidden under a fallen tree. We quickly discovered though, it was not a simple find. The cache had been procured from cache maker JJEF, and we had to work out how to open the cache! Like many of JJEF’s caches, it only takes a minute or two..but it gave our ‘little grey cells’ a light work out. As the cache was quite big, it was here placed Annerschter in.

No prizes for guessing where the cache is …

…here!

The second and third caches were harder to find. The hints were ‘near a circular clearing’ and ‘in the roots of a silver birch’. Well, woodland is always changing. Clearings are not clearings for long, silver birches tend to form a mini forest of their own.

For both caches we spent 10-15 minutes looking at a myriad of hiding places, and came close to DNFing both.

Amost a DNF !


Fortunately persistence paid off, and we were successful at each.

Our route back to the car passed the gates of ‘The Heritage Club’, a grandiose title which can easily be mistaken. It is not some 17th century building, or 19th century steam railway.. it is in fact a nudist holiday camp.

The Heritage Club

The Heritage Club

This accounts for the very high, prison-like fences surrounding the property. Given our struggles to find the last two caches we probably wouldn’t have seen anything if the fences weren’t so high!

Last cache of the day

The skies were darkening and cars had headlights on (at 11 am on a July morning!) we had a quarter of a mile yomp along a pavement back to the car. One cache to find – magnetic behind a road sign – and we would have finished. Yards from the car park, the first raindrops fell and we reached the car without getting too wet but having gained another Mary Hyde souvenir.

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July 22 : Teddy the Hamster

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On a short (just four) caching trip, we acquired a trackable as part of the prize for solving one of the devilish caches.

Teddy the Hamster

Teddy the Hamster


This trackable has a simple mission, and I can’t possibly comment on whether this is a good mission!

“Out of Bracknell and as far as possible! “

The trackable started off in autumn 2015, but became inactive around the end of the same year. It was relaunched, with a new owner, in June 2017, and was then placed in a cache somewhere in Bracknell. Wherever that was, it wasn’t where we found it, and we’re uncertain how it got to the Green Hill cache series in another part of Bracknell.

No matter, we have hold of the trackable now, and it would be churlish of us not to help it with its mission, so we plan to take it to the UK Mega in Devon in early August.

July 22 : Green Hill, Bracknell

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Caution: this blog contains some pictures that may spoil your enjoyment of these caches if you plan to do them yourself!

“The Lost Treasure of Mary Hyde: Spanning the globe and the seven seas, we introduce you to the infamous Captain Mary Hyde. Her ship, The Golden Cache, was the fiercest, and the bearded buccaneers and sea legged sailors reported to her. Legend has it that she ruled the high seas for many years, and found no shortage of riches throughout her reign.

Avast ye! Join us for a swashbuckling geocaching adventure through daring feats and stormy seas. Make yer way through a four week souvenir journey to find the lost treasure of Mary Hyde.”

I was on standby for work, which meant I couldn’t venture very far from home. Normally we would stay at home and catch up on domestic things. But the geocaching people had launched their summer challenge, ‘The Lost Treasure of Mary Hyde”, and our caching trips of the weeks before had qualified us for the first part of the challenge.

Green Hill, Bracknell

Green Hill, Bracknell


Week 2 of said challenge was to find some geocaches which had been nominated as favourites by many previous finders. We pondered … where could we go to find a group of these … not too far from home … who places caches that are much liked by others? A-ha! Light dawned. The local cacher JJEF places interesting caches with nifty puzzles, often built from wood. We looked around for some of those caches, and found a small series of four, ‘Green Hill’, on the edge of Bracknell.
Maybe there's a cache in here?

Maybe there’s a cache in here? Maybe not!


Parking the geocar in a handy spot near a park, we crossed a busy road and were immediately in woodland. At intervals there were metal pipes, each with a padlocked cap; this was a reclaimed landfill site, and the pipes were venting points. We knew that the first cache we were looking for was close to the way into the woods, but we couldn’t get our GPS to give us an accurate fix, and we spent a while investigating those metal pipes. A rethink had us looking elsewhere and we were soon unravelling the first puzzle, and signing the cache log.
Up there?

Up there?


We soon spotted the next cache, up high in a tree. After lowering it, we realised we had to unlock a padlock to reach the cache log. Out came a piece of paper and a pen, and we fiddled about with combinations of numbers until we had the answer. The third cache, too, was amongst the trees. ‘Amongst’ meant just that, and I took a full scrub-bashing, branch-ducking route to the cache, while Mr Hg137 … took an easier route around the back. Once again, we had to hunt around for something nearby which would give us the method of opening the cache; another few minutes, has another cache log signed.

The fourth and final cache of this little series also needed us to find a tool to unlock the outer cache container to get to the inner cache container to sign the log. This time, the cache container was chained to one tree, while the other part of the cache was chained to another. Shenanigans ensued, and we managed to get the two close (enough) to each other.

That was the series complete, and it had been a good and thought-provoking morning. Before going back, we had just one other thing to do. A little way on, we emerged onto the A329. Mr Hg137’s father used to work just here, at Polysius, and we crossed over the road to look at the site. It’s closed now, and surrounded by fencing. Doubtless it will be converted into ‘executive apartments’ (aka flats) soon. And on that sad little note we returned to the geocar, the next part of our treasure quest safely achieved.

Polysius

Polysius


Here are some of the caches we found (remember the spoiler warning and don’t look if you want to keep the mystery for your caching trip!):

July 13 : Cache number 2000!

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Cache 2000 !!!

Cache 2000 !!!


Somehow we managed to arrange our 2000th cache on a date that means much to us. (the 137 in our caching name and 13/7 is no coincidence).

After some dedicated cache finding we had got close to our 2000-cache milestone. The previous day we had gone out for a short evening caching trip and had found three caches, taking us to a total of 1,999, and we had carefully chosen another, which was due to be THE milestone cache. (Editor’s note: and we had also carefully checked it was there, because we didn’t want our one milestone cache on a special day to be a failure, definitely not!)

Because of work and social commitments, we didn’t stop being busy until the late evening … the very late evening. At around 23:00 we parked just a short distance from our target, armed ourselves with a torch and a pen, and headed for the cache. Luckily, it was just where we thought it would be (phew, relief!) and we signed the log, celebrated, and returned to the car. We hadn’t even attracted the attention of the people still drinking in the pub garden opposite …

July 12 : Sandhurst

Time was running out for us to reach 2000 caches by July 13th.

Our schedules had been usurped by work commitments, and the grand plans we’d had for the 13th had been scuppered by various employers.

Yet, we were still 4 caches short.

We devised Plan B. To find 3 local caches on the 12th, reconnoitre the Ground Zero for the 2000th cache, so in what little time we would have on the 13th, it could just be a cache and dash.

Sandhurst

One of the many bridges and football pitches at Sandhurst Memorial Park

Sandhurst Memorial Park is an area of about 28 hectares and includes numerous football pitches, a cricket pitch, tug-of-war practice area, a children’s playground, tennis courts, and most importantly is centrally placed in Sandhurst. Until recently there was only one car park, but another, Pyes Acre has just been built. From the road, the car park looked like it would hold about a dozen cars, but when we drove in, it took more like 50!

This was good news as our 2000th cache was just feet from the car park…but not today!

Instead we wandered around the perimeter of the parkland, crossing a couple of the football pitches and one of the many tiny bridges that criss-cross the park. (One of the reasons for it being such a large park is that the park forms part of the flood plain for the River Blackwater, so is tricky to build on. The tiny streams that the bridges cross are used as drainage channels.)

We arrived at our first cache, deep in a copse well away from the plethora of people enjoying the evening sunshine. Our GPS wouldn’t settle, but with the aid of the hint ‘In the roots of a cut down ivy covered tree stump’ we located our target.

Sandhurst

Somewhere..under there..

Sadly the hint did not add ‘…and surrounded by knee-high stinging nettles’. We hadn’t brought our geo-pole (aka machete) with us! A few branches would do the trick. Just. Cache 1997 signed, just before the stinging nettles started to fight back.

Cache 1998 was a little easier as it was under one of the little bridges we had crossed earlier.
But, in full view of a football training session.

Sometimes it is easy to cache in a busy place, as no-one stands out from the crowd. Two adults, pausing every-so-slightly-too-long on a small bridge, perhaps picking something up, drew no suspicion at all.

Our last cache was in woodland again, but much closer to the busy A321 near to a major traffic light junction. We pass by here every day, and within yards of the road is a well concealed cache. We had been a little concerned as many previous finders had said the co-ordinates were slightly off, and with impeding dusk we didn’t fancy our chances in dark woodland. Fortunately the GPS was bang on! And a quick find for cache 1999!

Roll on July 13!

June 24 : M & S Wedding

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Out for a second day’s caching, quite close to home, we found this dinky little trackable in a cache in the Cache-as-Cache-can series in Farley Hill, Berkshire.

M & S Wedding

M & S Wedding


It started its journey in a Church Micro cache at Milton on Stour, on the northern edge of Dorset.  It was placed to commemorate a wedding and the very first cacher to retrieve it, that same day, said that the sound of the wedding could be heard as it was retrieved.  How sweet!

It’s the third trackable of this kind placed by its owner, and the mission for this trackable is for the rings to travel the world together, possibly making it as far as Garden City, New York.  (I wonder if that was the honeymoon destination?)

June 24 : Farley Hill

We have often remarked on this blog that we play Scrabble and that Mr Hg137 gives talks to various clubs and societies. One of these is Sandhurst Horticultural Society of which we are members. Twice a year, as with many such clubs, they hold a flower show. We normally enter something, but rarely trouble the judges.

Show day though is a big time stealer, as by the time one has taken one’s items for show, displayed them, and gone away during the judging hours, and then return later, rarely do we do anything satisfactorily.

Today would be different. We were only entering some photos (our sweet peas, roses, herbs, new potatoes really weren’t that good) so we arrived early, mounted our photos and left to go… geocaching.

Farley hill

The quiet countryside around Farley Hill


We had chosen a series in Farley Hill about 5 miles away. Farley Hill is an odd place – mentioned on maps, has a church and a cricket pitch but very few houses. The rural roads were wide enough for two cars, but there was barely any traffic. A play area with a large grass area was devoid of children. A classic ‘ghost town’.
Farley Hill

Empty Roads


We parked near the play area, and walked to the Church. We had cached in Farley Hill before and as we walked we looked at some nearby woodland remarking that we couldn’t find a cache there … we hoped that we would be more successful this time around.

The now-disused Church (“The Chapel of St John the Evangelist”) was a very simple multi and we discovered we had walked past the cache to get to the Church. Very cunningly hidden in a ….. (sorry you’ve got to find it yourself!). A great start to the day.

The cache series (‘Cache-as-cache-can’) appeared to have been placed in a random order. It wasn’t quite a true circuit, and there were several ‘cul-de-sac’ caches. We completed the caches in the order 8,4.12,5,11,3,7,9,2,6,10 which begs the question where was cache 1 ? (Re-reading the cache description, cache 1 was the Church Micro!)

All the caches were of a high quality. In general the container holding the paper log WAS a film canister, or smaller. However what the cache owner, twinkandco, had done was to attach the film pot to a ‘semi-natural’ object.

We found caches in plastic bricks, in large antler-like branches, attached to half-logs as well as attached to street furniture and gates. One such cache was IN the gate mechanism. A super hide!

The roads were quiet, except of course when we were at a Ground Zero (how does this happen?) On one occasion a horse and three cars went by during a longer-than-average search. We were plagued for about a third of our route by a nearby tannoy system. There was a show-jumping event about 2 miles away, and the loudspeaker system was set to quite LOUD VOLUME!

Farley Hill

Quiet footpath and road


Having completed the cache-as-cache-can series we had three more caches to find. These had been set by cache owner, AmayaTom, who specialises in tree climbs. We were grateful his three caches were all at ground level as our tree climbing skills are almost non-existent!

As we finished the walk cricketers were arriving to start an afternoon’s match, and we settled down to eat our lunch in the still-deserted play area.

We arrived back home in time to log the caches and then discover what prizes we had won in the show. Suffice to say, we maintained our usual standards. Nevertheless a good day’s caching was had!