Wellesley Woodlands are on the border of Farnborough and Aldershot on former Army land. Named after the 1st Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley), the woods comprise 110 hectares of mixed woodland (https://thelandtrust.org.uk/space/wellesley-woodlands/?doing_wp_cron=1577458134.5638270378112792968750).
There are many woodland trails named after the various trees (Oak Trail, Sycamore Trail etc) and our route would follow these around the woods, passing a large monument to Wellington and returning to the car. The woods also extended to, and beyond, the Basingstoke Canal where after moving our car we would look for two more caches.
That was the plan.
We got off to a very inauspicious start as we made a couple of navigational errors driving to the car park (‘We were never lost …just not sure of where we were”). We eventually booted up and strode away from the car, and headed for our first cache – a travel bug hotel. We had just entered the woodland when it started to rain. Now, common sense would have said..’head back to the car and wait for it to pass over’.
Nope. Let’s continue.
The rain stopped. Clearly we had made the right decision. Onwards.
Then the rain started again, heavier, colder this time. Almost hail. Aaargh! The bare winter trees provided no shelter at all! We got absolutely soaked.
The footpaths became quagmires, and the dog walkers we passed were all wrapped up and their dogs were more like bundles of fur covered in mud. They all had the right idea…head to the car. We seemingly had no sense whatsoever.
We arrived the travel bug hotel, and found the log almost too wet to sign – not due to the prevailing weather, but months previously the cache had let water in, and had still not dried out. We etched our signature and headed back to join our main target, the 5 cache Wellesley Woodlands series.
Some distance away a few park runners/fun runners jogged by (how protective their Santa hats were we weren’t sure) and one lone dog walker passed us. The rain had eased slightly, but we were still very cold.
We joined the Wellesley Woodlands series at cache 4 and it should have been a simple find. The GPS took us the correct tree, but we decided to overthink the hint, and walk 10 yards further to examine a different, and better looking host. (What does ‘double tree’ mean ? Two adjacent trees or a twin-trunked tree ?)
Eventually we trusted the GPS and found the cache under its tell-tale pile of sticks.
We were cold, wet, and bordering on the irritable. The car was relatively close by so we adjourned for some coffee and took stock. After surveying different options, we decided on abandoning the Wellesley Woodlands series (we had numbers 1,2,3 and 5 left which formed a good discrete mini-series for another day) and drove the mile or so to another car park to find two caches by the canal.
The first of these caches was a Challenge/Mystery cache with a Beatles theme. Qualification for finding the cache was depending on finding 20 caches each with a word with a Beatles connection. (There were over 60 words to select from and we had spent some time the night before validating our 2950+ finds against this master list. We subsequently discovered there was a Challenge Checker on https://project-gc.com/ which would have saved us time.) The words we had in our cache finds included ‘John’, ‘George’, ‘Beatles’, ‘Liverpool’, ‘Help!’, ‘Lady’ (Madonna), ‘Yellow’ (Submarine), ‘Abbey’ (Road).
The cache was hidden next to the canal towpath next in, according to the hint, some silver birches. This is quite an old cache (January 2014), and since then various silver birches have been cut down. It took us some time to locate the correct location and then several prods of the geopole to find the superb, and apt, cache container.
We walked along the towpath to our final cache. As we did so, we saw a couple of geese, and couple of runners, and some speeding kayakers.
The cache was called for some reason ‘Yesterdays Onions’ and was again hidden in a silver birch. We hadn’t learnt any lessons, as for the third time in as many caches, we looked at the most obvious location first, oblivious to a better host nearby.
Still find it we did, which brought our finds for the day to 4 out of 4. Although the weather had brightened, we were still damp and slightly cold, and had left a mini-series for better caching weather.