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 …

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:

July 6 : Longhill Park, Bracknell

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

First, a disclaimer: this blog post is mostly about caches which are great fun to solve, but which take time and ingenuity, patience and problem solving. We *could* show you pictures of how the caches work and how we managed to open them, eventually, but this would spoil the fun for others, so all you will see, picture-wise, are some bland pictures of wooden boxes, of trees, and parkland.

Longhill Park, Bracknell

Longhill Park, Bracknell


We wanted to test our new GPS. Our old GPS had stopped working during our last caching trip, so we had mourned it – see the previous post – then bought a near-identical replacement. Hello to our new Etrex 10, all new and shiny, with crisp edges and clicky buttons!

A while ago, we had done the ‘Green Hill’ series in Bracknell, set by JJEF, a local cacher who has a talent for devious and clever caches, often made from wood and always worth finding (Editor’s note: he sells them, too! https://www.quirkycaches.co.uk/apps/webstore/products ) Mr Hg137 had noticed that the series had been removed, but had been replaced with six new caches from the same setter. Now, the point about JJEF’s caches isn’t that they are especially hard to locate – the challenge is to get inside the pesky things once found – so we were prepared with tools … notebook, Swiss Army knife, magnet, piece of string, torch, etc, etc … so that we hoped we could cope with most challenges the caches would throw at us. And many of those tools were put to use at some point. (Editor’s note: we’d checked the map and decided we wouldn’t need wellies or a canoe, and fortunately, we were right.)

After crossing the road by the car park, we were soon looking at an anonymous brown box fixed to a tree. Having examined all visible surfaces, Mr Hg137, being the taller, was delegated to do the opening of the container and managed it after a little while. Aha! A good start. We continued amongst trees grown up over a reclaimed landfill site (much, much nicer than the description suggests). The second cache was near one of the fences; this one was much easier to open, but corresponding much harder to spot; JJEF has a knack of placing things, often wooden things, that look as if they belong where placed, but aren’t …

An anonymous wooden box

An anonymous wooden box


The path continued through hollies and rhododendrons. This was unfortunate,as the next cache was behind an impenetrable leafy, bushy wall. We backtracked and found a way round the back, to find another anonymous wooden box. Safely hidden from muggle eyes, we needed a few minutes to think. How to get into this one? We looked at the box, we thought, we surveyed the tools we had, and an idea came to us. After a few more minutes, we worked the mechanism to open the box, and out popped the cache container. Result! (Editor’s note: and then we tried the mechanism a few times more to admire its cleverness.)
Another anonymous wooden box

Another anonymous wooden box


The next cache was also hidden in the bushes, which was good for us as it took us about Thirty minutes to solve. It’s called ‘Trio of Fun’, and the ‘Trio’ bit indicates that there are three parts to the puzzle. We arrived at yet another anonymous wooden box – aha – we’d seen one of those before – we thought, so set about trying to open it. We turned, we twiddled, we pushed, we pulled, we passed it between ourselves for more turning, twiddling, pushing, pulling, and slowly, slowly, we got it open. Maybe twenty minutes had elapsed, and we were glad to be concealed in bushes. The end of the first part gave us a clue to part two, which we achieved after a few attempts, and this in turn helped with part three, and another few minutes had us triumphantly holding the cache log. Now to put it all back together; we turned, we twiddled, we pushed, we pulled, even drawing some pictures for ourselves to help with reassembly; and, another few minutes later, all was back as it was before. Phew! (Editor’s note: sorry that this is all a bit vague, but it would spoil the puzzle if we said exactly what we did.)

We had just one more JJEF cache to find. It was under thick tree cover so it took a while to locate, as the GPS didn’t settle, so spent a while wandering in the general area before spotting the cache, within fifteen feet or so of where the GPS said it was. Other finders have mentioned that the cache contains a surprise, so I was prepared for (almost) anything and only let out a little squeak as all was revealed.

And yet another anonymous wooden box

And yet another anonymous wooden box


We retraced our steps to the geocar, parked near the skate park in Longhill Park. This, too, is a reclaimed landfill site, but there’s little to see except a few ventilation cowls and patches of bumpy ground. There are two caches in the park, so we decided to find those, too. The first, ‘That Special Club’, was a puzzle cache, which we had solved at home, had checked the answers, and taken due note of other logs which said that some aspects of the hide have had to change. So – we approached GZ and found what was likely to have been the original home of the cache, now no longer standing. We then cast around the general area, looking at possible hiding places, but didn’t spot the cache. Oh dear, a failure to add to our list of successes for the day.

It was not going to improve: our final cache attempt for the day was a cache from the ‘Counting Vowels’ series. The clever idea for this series is that you count the vowels on (some or all words on) signs and noticeboards in the area and derive the coordinates for the cache from the answers. This one was number 21 in the series; in the past, we were the first to find number 1 in the series, having a lively discussion with the cache owner when there was a problem with the coordinates. Anyway, we counted the vowels, checked that the number we had derived was correct, and set off to the final location, a short walk away. We arrived, and … there was nothing, nothing that could house a cache, except for signs of very recent path maintenance; we speculated that the cache could have gone missing. Back home, we got in touch with the cache owner for another lively discussion (we bet he was glad to hear from us again – not!), described the cache location in detail and supplied him with a photo. He has since been out to check; the cache had indeed vanished and he has replaced it nearby, adjusting the vowel counting suitably.

No cache here any more!

No cache here any more!


Summary of the day:
– We tested our new GPS, it worked perfectly, a slightly updated model from its predecessor
– We found all the caches that JJEF has placed
– We still have a reason to return, to find those two caches in the park

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!):

October 23 – Bracknell Industrial Estate

Some geocaching adventures are in really scenic places.

Some places are scenic all year round – for others seasonal colour makes the place attractive.

And yet, Bracknell – a 1960s/70s New Town, with an industrial area right next to the Domestic Refuse Site (“The Tip”), should not have been scenic… and shouldn’t have yielded good caches… and yet, surprisingly, it did!

Bracknell, Pond

Bracknell’s Lake in an Industrial Estate


Firstly we had good reasons for being in the area, as we were visiting a local DIY emporium. (Trying to get what we wanted from the shop is a different story completely and worthy of at least three blog entries).

Secondly there were five caches all within a short distance of each other.

The weather was fine, and being a late Sunday afternoon, no-one was around.

We parked next to a surprisingly large, attractive fishing pond/lake and headed towards our first cache. (Ed : what is the difference between a ‘pond’ and a ‘lake’ in an industrial setting?)

We passed the local tip, some over-protective fencing and arrived at a narrow footpath (another one of those footpaths we didn’t know existed).

Bracknell

Between a high fence and a railway line

On one side an industrial unit, on the other the London-Reading railway line.
Partway along, in one of the easiest finds ever, was a broken clay pipe, and shining like a beacon was the geocache.

Bracknell, geocache

An easy find

We retraced our steps back to the car – but we passed another cache on the way back. We had speculated about its location as walked on our outbound journey … “I bet its a nano hidden behind that road-sign”, “No, look there’s a roadside cabinet it’ll be there”. Of course it was in neither!

We had noticed the tiny copse nearby, but not noticed the small footpath running alongside it. Following the GPS led us straight to the cache in the roots/bole of the tree ! (In an industrial estate remember!)

We arrived back at the lake and started our circumnavigation around it. Hidden partway round, behind an object only found near water (hint … “its ring shaped”) we found our next target.

Cache, Lake, Trees, Industrial Estate

Cache, Lake, Trees, Industrial Estate

All three caches so far had been surprisingly big – we were expecting nanos, and each one could comfortably hold a little swag. A fisherman was just packing up as we walked passed, and then we walked through a ‘private car park’. During the working week this might have been difficult, but on a Sunday afternoon the 200 yards were troublefree. Ahead was our fourth cache this time hidden more on a cycle path than footpath. It was hidden well over 6 foot high, so as always, we sent our shortest team member (Mrs Hg137) in to retrieve. The retrieve went well until the falling cache landed on Mrs Hg137’s head! Whoops! It was decided that Mr Hg137 should replace it!

"I think we're going to need a bigger cache"

“I think we’re going to need a bigger cache”

So one cache left and a longish walk, back through the ‘private car park’, around the rest of the lake, and then a further quarter of a mile to a solicitor’s office. It looked like private land. But the cache owner had said it wasn’t, and the solicitors knew about the cache. Given it was a Sunday afternoon no-one was around so we could undertake a really good search. The cache was called “LegalBeagles” – and next to the solicitor’s office were a few ‘doggy’ items. We are not going to tell you where the cache was hidden, suffice to say a third of the finders give the cache a favourite point. We did too!

So five surprisingly good caches, in what should have been a dour landscape. It wasn’t for us…so fellow cachers, don’t ignore the bleak locations near you as they may just contain hidden jewels!

February 29 – Just Ducky

February 29th started early as we had found our way into the JJEF cache The Bridge House (Tool Required). In this cache we found a squashed soft toy trackable, Just Ducky.

Just Ducky

Just Ducky


We held onto it during our caching adventures that morning, and had it in our possession at the lunchtime Leap Year’s Day meet (just yards from where we had found it). During the meet, JJEF remarked that he had placed Just Ducky in his cache late the night before and yet it gone ! We knew where it was and showed the assembled crowd.

Being a duck, the trackable really wants to visit rivers and ponds so what he was doing in a pub car park is a little strange! Just Ducky has had quite a journey since April 2006 when it was first placed in a cache in Northern Wisconsin, USA. Early on it visited Iceland, and then Switzerland before returning to the States where it criss-crossed from coast to coast from Los Angeles to Washington and much besides. Occasionally it has been in a cache for many months without moving and has on at least one occasion been declared ‘Lost’. Found again relatively recently, it was taken to Northern Ireland, where JJEF found it before placing in his cache.

We will move it on fairly quickly to prevent it being ‘lost’ once again.