August 19 : Farley Forage

Our plans today were the Farley Forage series and a couple of other caches on route. The caches were ‘squeezed’ between two other series we had completed recently – the Hampshire Drive By, and the Cache-as-Cache-can series in Farley Hill.

Passports at the ready!

The Farley Forage series was wholly in Berkshire, but due to quirkiness of the roads – and a troublesome (vehicle) ford crossing of the River Blackwater, we parked in Hampshire. Indeed this closeness of the county boundary was celebrated by our first cache of the day called County (Re) Boundary. This cache was a replacement for a previous one, and we suspect hidden in the same place. In a tree bole, 6 feet above a muddy bank.
Mr Hg137 scrambled up, located the cache and passed it down for Mrs Hg137 to sign the log and retrieve 2 trackables : Monkey Magic and a World Geocoin. What a good start to the day!

Farley Ford, standing in Berkshire, looking into Hampshire

We then started on the Farley Forage route, crossing the River Blackwater not by the ford but via a small concrete bridge and arriving very quickly at Farley Forage #1. We had read that the previous finder had reported the cache container was broken so we had taken along a film canister to provide a further layer of protection. It wasn’t needed as the cache owner had been out and fixed the cache before 9 o’clock!

The cache owner, Twinkandco, places small caches, generally nano sized, sometimes a film container, but nearly always connected to a piece of rural camouflage. Sometimes the container is inside some bark, or a log, sometimes with a ‘tail’ inside a tube.. but always great fun!

All of the caches are easy (ish) to find, but sometimes a bit of bank scrambling is needed for retrieval.

This series had been advertised as ” … very wet and boggy in places after rainy weather and WELLYS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED“. We had worn walking boots, and we were grateful we had, as shortly after cache 4 came the mud. Two hundred yards of it. The path was one giant mudslide. We picked our way between the soft, squelchy mud, the really slippery mud and the much-easier-to-walk-on shaly mud. In fact while we were traversing the mud we almost forget to see how close the next cache was, and nearly walked by it.

Mud, mud..glorious mud!

The Farley Forage series consisted of 16 caches and we had two others to find on our 4 mile walk. The County (Re) Boundary was one, and we were soon at the other, Sandpit Lane. We had several host trees to search here, and it was only after a few minutes that we managed to find the cache.

The Farley Forage series contained one multi, and due to some over-zealous navigation on Mr Hg137’s part we approached the first part from the wrong direction thus meaning we had to retrace our steps for the final find.

We had walked uphill, away from the river and the paths were much, much drier.

Except at cache 7.

We had rounded a blind corner on the footpath, and discovered the cache was hidden behind a tree the other side of a large stretch of mud.

(We knew the cache was there, as a plethora of muddy bootprints pointed towards the tree!).

Mrs Hg137 ventured across, and retrieved the cache at the second attempt. It was just as the log was being signed when 2 people came round the blind corner.

We’d been rumbled!

But no! They were cachers too. Penwood Plodders – another husband and wife team. We made sure they endured the mud by asking them to replace the cache! We walked on with them for a cache or two, chatting about the Devon Mega, the mud and caching in general. It became apparent that their walking pace, and cache administration, was quicker then us, so we allowed them to speed ahead. Nice meeting you!

(Ed: in case you are wondering why it takes longer to write ‘hg137’ on a log rather than ‘Penwood Plodders’, its because we scribble down a brief note about each cache, our experience at it, as well as taking a photo for this blog).

That’s better… a bit drier here !

The next section of the route was relatively uneventful, the cache containers maintained their uniqueness. As we re-approached the River Blackwater we crossed a few stiles (always good hiding places) and well as a cache hidden deep in a nettle bush.

Somewhere.. near to this stile’s signage .. may be a cache!

Several times we thought we were catching up with Penwood Plodders, but every time they were returning to the footpath having left it to find a cache.

Penwood Plodders in the distance

For much of the day we could hear the sound of farm machinery, and as discovered caches 12-14 we were walking alongside the farmer’s field. What he thought of two pairs of ‘ramblers’ walking along the footpath and both pairs stopping mid-field, in the same spot, we shall never know.

I wonder whether he spotted us…

We were expecting more mud on this section as the river was only feet away, but the paths were dry and meant the mud layer on our boots was quickly being walked off.

We found all the caches on route – a very enjoyable 4 mile walk – full of interesting finds and varied countryside. If you are in the areas of Farley Hill.. we recommend the series to you!

Other Caches we found included :

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June 10 : Blackwater River Path

Yateley, Sandhurst

One of the many Fishing Lakes

It is quite unusual to find new caches, indeed high quality caches, within 2 miles from home.

Somehow a 5 cache series (BRPW 1-5 – Blackwater River Path Walk) had sneaked under our radar. As had 6 other caches close to them. The series circumnavigates a number of fisherman’s lakes which until a few years ago was private land. Since then a small part of the land has been made into a small car park and also some allotments.

Yateley, Sandhurst

Allotments

Interestingly we looked at placing caches at this location, but never quite got round to getting approval from the land owner, but in all fairness, our caches would have very inferior to those that had been placed.

And so well before 9am, we parked the car, and looked for our first two caches. These were a short distance away from the fishing lakes. One cache camouflaged in a tree, the other, magnetic, overlooking…a sewage plant. Yes ! The wonderfully named Pooh’s Place was a magnetic cache attached to an disused gate, overlooking the ever-turning blades of sewage ponds. Lovely!

Good job you can’t smell photographs!

And so to the lakes. Our first cache was a travel bug hotel. We had two travel bugs with us – a Toy Story Woody (Woody’s Escape) and a metallic Africa. The cache led us a merry dance. The title of the cache included the word ‘Waterside’ but with a lake one side of the footpath, and a fabulous ‘cache friendly’ tree near a river on the other..we looked at the wrong ‘Waterside’ for a very long time.

Eventually we found the cache. Smaller than many travel bug hotels we’ve found and as we couldn’t squash ‘Woody’ in, we deposited ‘Africa’ and walked on.

Yateley, Sandhurst

Onward, onward

The fishing lakes were being well used. Or at least probably were. Many of the anglers were packing up after a night’s fishing, others were slowly waking up and the remainder…well let’s just the snoring would keep the fish away! We tiptoed (in walking boots!) past and in our quietness failed to notice the stump hosting our next find. So we walked back and found the cache just out of what would have been a slumbering angler’s eyeline.

The caches we had found so far were all good, but were not the main event as the next 5 caches were the BRPW series. 4 of these were ‘bird box’ caches, and each had to be opened in a different way. Does the lid move ? What about the pole at the front – does that turn ? What if we press this ? All good fun!

The exception was well concealed cache in a hollowed out branch attached very discreetly to a small trunk.

Away from the road we had the paths and lakes to ourselves and we barely saw anyone for the majority of the walk – but what we did see were hundreds of dragonflies. We stopped several times to take pictures, but taking a picture of a moving dragonfly is very, very difficult.

Yateley, sandhurst

Stay still while we photograph you!

Towards the end of the route, we think our navigation went wrong as the path became narrower and narrower. And nettlier and nettlier. The geo-pole was exceeding useful in cutting a way through to the final two caches. These two were hidden in wood, one found easily. The other, less so. Being the last cache of the day, and no DNF so far for the day, we wanted to find them all and spent 15 minutes looking in totally the wrong place.

Find it we did, and a fine morning’s caching was complete. None of the caches were film canisters under a pile of sticks. Each provided a little moment of euphoria as the cache container was extricated from its natural looking hide. A fine series and well worth the favourite points we awarded.

Here are a few of the caches we found …

Yateley, SandhurstYateley, SandhurstYateley, Sandhurst


One sad note, and one we are very ashamed of.

We took the trackable “Woody’s Escape” out with us. Somehow it didn’t come back. We must have dropped it somewhere on route. We have searched our home, our bags, our car and the car park, all to no avail. Fingers crossed some cacher will find it and re-start it on its journey. To the owner of ‘Woody’ we are very, very sorry.

Christmas Day – Blackwater

A surfeit of Turkey and seven vegetables – many of which were home-grown, and two full stomachs later we needed a walk.

Christmas Day sunset

Christmas Day sunset


We’d noticed a cache very close by we hadn’t found before. It was a short walk away, just the other side of the River Blackwater (and therefore in Hampshire) and even closer to a railway line. We didn’t take the GPS as there was only one place for the cache to be, but armed with the hint we thought it would be a straightforward find.

It did take us a few minutes, as the Ground Zero was on a major footpath, and of course being Christmas Afternoon everyone else was walking off the turkey!

Is there a cache near here?

Is there a cache near here?


I’m not totally sure we blended in with the environment though – as we were both wearing Santa hats!

Merry Christmas!

September 14 Day 257 Caches Found 1 Cumulative Total 334 (+1 bonus, +2 cachers’ meets)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here again.

Today was a very short caching trip as we were out to pick blackberries. We like them, they are free to pick, and they cost a lot to buy! On our way to the blackberry groves we stopped off to find ‘Florence’, a cache we had tried and failed to find at the end of 2012 when we were newbie cachers. We were luckier today and found the cache almost straight away. Maybe we’ve got better at finding caches, or maybe there were less muggles and muggle dogs around this time? Then off we went to garner almost exactly 2 pounds of blackberries.

September 14 – Vinny the Vampire

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Vinny the Vampire

Vinny the Vampire


We collected Vinny the Vampire on our sundrenched, hot and not even slightly vampirish walk around Ecchinswell on September 4th . He wants to do lots of night caches and then make his way to Transylvania. We’ve not had great success with night caching and we don’t have a trip planned to Romania so we have dropped Vinny off at a local cache while we were out blackberrying. Good luck, Vinny, and have a ‘fangtastic’ time!

July 28 Day 209 Caches Found 5 Cumulative Total 243 (+1 bonus, +1cacher’s meet)

CACHERS SAVE PARKLAND FROM RAGING INFERNO

(Well more of a smouldering pit, rather than inferno… but more of that later!)

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Next weekend we are hoping to visit the UK Mega Meet at the Gaydon Motor Museum where over 1500 cachers will be attending. We realised it would be a great opportunity to swap trackables, with other cachers …. but we had none to swap !

We reviewed http://www.geocaching.com to see find some nearby caches containing trackables. We discovered 3 good candidates and 3 other caches near them, so we went on a driving route starting in South Farnborough and heading North back to Sandhurst. All caches were predominantly caches and dashes.

(We say candidate caches, as some cachers are slow at updating their records on http://www.geocaching.com so the trackables may not be there after all!)

The first three caches we attempted yielded one Trackable (ES-CAR-GO 5 – a snail, racing 4 other snails) and one Did Not Find! (In fact we were about to DNF another cache, but eventually found it after 15 minutes of searching. One of these caches was a 'Trackable Hotel' where cachers can deposit their trackables.

The Trackable Hotel

The next 2 caches were in Queen Elizabeth Park, Farnborough. Both caches were found easily (including another trackable hotel), but one of the caches had a special ‘mechanism’ for opening which needed resolving ! (Two caches found and two trackables : a Pontiac and A Clown Fish).

Here's the cache.. but how to open ?

Here’s the cache.. but how to open ?

It was on our way back to the car when the fun started….

WE SMELT FIRE !
WE SAW SMOKE COMING FROM THE UNDERGROWTH !

Could we put it out ourselves ? We decided not, as the smoulders covered a large area. Should we phone the Fire Brigade ? We had no mobile phone with us, so enquired of various parents at the play area to borrow their phones. The 6th person we asked, a Polish lady, lent her phone and we summoned the Fire Brigade.

We were told to wait for them so they could be escorted to the fire. Just as we waited a Local Warden appeared, so we split up with Mrs Hg137 accompanying the warden to the fire, and Mr Hg137 awaiting the Firemen.

After about 10 minutes a Fire Engine arrived (would have been sooner, but it couldn’t get under a low bridge!) and 4 firemen filled half-a-dozen buckets and canvas bags with water. Although these doused the fire, the underlying ground was peat, and this was what was alight! We left them undertaking a further ‘bucket’ run and no doubt a couple more were made too.

Dousing ...

Dousing …

All a bit stressful, but we felt we had done our civic duty.

Our 6th cache (remember we were caching?) was closer to home, on a bridge over the River Blackwater where we secured our 4th trackable, a Grasshopper ! (Nearby there were fishermen trying catch American Signal Crayfish which were causing environmental damage to banks and other river creatures).

The peacefulness of this location seemed far away from the drama we’d experienced at the previous cache.

So 5 caches found, 4 trackables acquired, and a major fire averted … all in a morning’s work for SANDHURST GEOCACHERS !

Blackwater Bridge

Blackwater Bridge

June 18 Day 169 Caches Found 1 Cumulative Total 201 (+1 bonus)

After we failed to find the “Blackwater #12” cache, we received an email from the cache owner, Chilli Pipers, telling us that the cache was still safely in position, so it was our poor finding skills that were the problem.

Early on Tuesday morning Mr Hg137, suited and booted, was on his way to a business breakfast, passed by the cache site and had another look around. Still no joy.

On Tuesday evening Mrs Hg137 was heading off to her yoga class – got to keep supple for all that caching! – and both Mr and Mrs Hg137 parked up near the spot and had yet another search. After searching almost everything at the site, and nearly getting our fingers stuck in a crack in a tree, we found it … we might even have laid hands on it earlier when we were searching. The lesson here is to stick at it and you will find it!