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The 2017 Mega had arrived.
Actually the UK Mega event had been going on all week. Many hundreds of geocachers had camped at Bicton College, just outside of Otterton, for many days and had taken part on a variety of activities including letter-boxing on Dartmoor, and early morning swim and lots of local trips and excursions.
But Saturday was the big day. The day, when people like us, would attend for one day only. And nearly 2000 people did too!
A giant convoy slowly drove into Bicton College passing the huge camping site. Lots of large tents, small tents, campervans. Somehow we squeezed into a car park space and walked, to the main building. Without really trying, and despite arriving at 9:50, we found ourselves pretty close to the front as the Mega doors opened. A local towncrier pronounced the event ‘Open’ and with that Signal the Frog welcomed everyone.
Inside the Bicton Park building were a variety of stall holders, and we were first at the Garmin stand to find out what went wrong the previous day. It seems that may have been a ‘duff’ cache which caused the problem, but with over 70 caches loaded its difficult to work out which it was.
Other exhibitors included Aberdeen Geocachers selling wares for their Mega in 2019, various stands selling geocache containers and trackables, a demonstration of http://www.project-gc.com and also UK Cache Mag.
We’ve met Adam, the editor, a few times, and he asked us to take a few photos for the magazine. We were able to help him, and we were really pleased that several of our photos appeared in the latest issue.
Outside there was also a hive of activity. 10 lab caches had been set up.
These were short ‘games’ – perhaps solving a mini-jigsaw, decoding a series of flags, hanging up some ‘washing’ or tipping water into pipes with a large number of drainage holes. As each activity was completed the name of a previous Mega location was spelt out. (Or at least spelt, similar to, a Mega location. Many of the Os had become zeroes, many of the Is had become 1s, many of the Ls had become (s. ). To claim the lab cache one had to enter the answer online. We solved 9 out 10, failing only on the puzzle which required a QR code reader which we did not have on our phone. Great fun!
A marquee on the campsite had activities going on in the day, including lock-picking!
With hindsight we should have taken a look in the marquee, but somehow it slipped off our radar.
We instead undertook some of the geocaches laid out near the site. Many of these had been undertaken by those camping all week, but it gave a set of close-by caches for the day visitors too.
2 series caught our eye : an Animal series and a Roadside Rubbish series. Between them they formed a circular trip of just under 20 caches.
Caching at a Mega event is easy. Stand roughly near a cache site, and someone will soon arrive and find the cache with you. Surprisingly though we did have several caches to find and replace on our own. Some times we struggled and another cacher would appear from nowhere, stick their hand in a bush and retrieve the cache seemingly without trying.
At one cache, “Lizard”, probably 20 cachers were gently fondling tree roots desperately trying to find an elusive toy. (As it turned out, the toy Lizard had been replaced by a Tupperware container).
The caches in both the Roadside Rubbish and Animal series were imaginative. Toys were predominantly used for the Animal series – though the porcelain cat was a scary exception.
The ‘rubbish’ containers were cats’eyes (how they were acquired we still don’t know), number plates, plastic bottles and most unexpectedly a small plastic dustbin!
The only exception to the Rubbish and Animal series was a wooden box (similar to, if not made by, local Berkshire cacher, JJEF). We arrived at this cache with another pair of cachers who performed the appropriate magnetic trick with a coin.
We found all the caches we attempted on the circuit and arrived back at Bicton College as the closing ceremony approached. Drum Majorettes were performing, a presentation to the next UK Mega (Yorkshire 2018) took place, and the Geocaching awards took place in the evening. We were really pleased to see that Washknight – See blogroll left for his blog – won in the Special Caching Achievement Award category.
Well done to him, and well done to all the organisers of the Devon Mega – a truly fantastic event.