December 8 : Les Géopotes à Chausey

The beautiful geocoin was found on our morning’s caching in Farnham, Surrey.

It is a souvenir coin from the Islands of Chausey, Northern France. From a geographical perspective they are part of the ‘Channel Islands’ but the Les Iles Chausey are French and approximately 30 people live there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chausey.

This geocoin is owned by several cachers, Maroliv, SergeLB, Les Trolls, Les Pinsons, JLL50 , and La Team P’Tits Del. The first cache the geocoin visited (Autumn 2017) was on mainland France, Maroliv took it to Chausey shortly after.

Since then the coin has circled Northern France (mainly the Cherbourg Peninsula), before a very short visit to Washington DC and then to Southern England.

It has no mission so we will try to place it somewhere that it hasn’t visited.

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December 8 : TravelDog

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

TravelDog

TravelDog


Early on our caching walk round Farnham Park, we found this trackable. Once we’d got back home, we logged the trackable and did a little research on what it has been doing.

• It’s a border terrier.
• It set off from Worthing, very close to the south coast of England, in April 2016.
• It wants to travel to its ancestral home in the Scottish Borders. And then back home again.

Well, the dog has certainly travelled. But not much in the direction of the border with England and Scotland. Leaving Worthing, it was off to Trafalgar Square in central London, then to Sofia, Bulgaria, back to Sussex, then Lefkas, one of the Greek islands, then the Netherlands, then Germany, then on to Sweden by late autumn 2017 (none of this is heading for Scotland, is it?). By September 2018 it was back in England, at a cacher’s meet in Essex, then went on another tour of southern England, ending up in Farnham Park, where we found it.

We can’t promise to move it to Scotland, but we shall aim for a dog-friendly place north of where we found it, and it can (maybe) progress from there.

December 8 : Farnham Park

Farnham Park

Just over 2 years ago, we attempted our first geocaches in Farnham. We attempted the Farnham Ramble, a series of 30+ caches, many of them multis, most of them interconnected to another so the series had to be completed in order. We struggled with the first few caches, and gave up but pledged we would return.

Sadly for us the series was archived shortly afterwards.

So, with fresh eyes we headed to another part of Farnham and undertook a completely different set of caches – this time placed in and around Farnham Park. Farnham Park is a mediaeval deer park of 320 acres and contains secret dells, streams, sports pitches and panoramic views.

Farnham Castle just visible in the tree-line


It is situated just outside the town, near Farnham’s Castle (now a training centre) and has free car parking! We could spend as long as we liked caching and not worry about a ‘ticking’ car park ticket!

The previous days had been wet, and this was the main reason we chose Farnham Park – many of the paths were tarmac. Apart from stepping off to search for a cache, we wouldn’t get too muddy!.


So at 845 am we parked up. The car park was already busy – dogs were being exercised, runners were stretching legs. Our first cache was almost in the car park. The hint did say ‘park side not car park side’…but hey.. our initial investigation yielded nothing.. so we went to the car park side anyway! After a few minutes, we corrected ourselves – stood where we stood before, and glinted at a slightly different angle and of course found the cache! Placed by a local Beaver group and in very good order.

Our caching route was to be relatively short (about 3 miles, including a couple of cul-de-sacs) and contained 9 caches. Each one had been set by a different person or team! How very unusual!

A great place for a cache

The first cache was easy to get to, but hard to spot. Our second cache was the complete reverse! Each to spot – scarcely any camouflage – but we had a stream to jump across with slightly slippery banks. Here we found a travel bug (TravelDog) which we will blog about soon. We tried to remember the last time we found a travel bug, without much success.

One of the many streams that criss-cross the Park

Stream jumping was a feature of the next two caches.

The first was hidden in a small outlying copse of trees; the next – Ancient Oak – was some way from the tarmac path. Fortunately the drainage ditches had done a good job, and the walk was pleasant with the ground being ‘damp’ rather than ‘squelchy’. Our eyes were drawn to an imperious tree in the distance, and we headed there, jumping another drainage ditch, and then realising we were still 50 feet away! We clambered around some undergrowth and arrived ‘behind’ the imperious oak, where the cache was an easy find. All we had to do was retrace our steps back to the tarmac.

The path was much busier now as, almost every 25 yards or so, a runner or dog walker went by. We were slowly climbing about 50 feet, and as we did so we had a lovely view over the park and the Farnham locality.

Is there a cache here ?

As we approached the Northern outskirts of the park, we walked parallel to the village/town of Hale/Upper Hale, and houses could be seen on our right. On the left, were the fine views and two more caches. Both quick finds, one in tree roots and one 5 feet up in a stump. It was at the first of these we found our second travel bug of the day, a delightful geocoin called ‘Les Géopotes à Chausey’. (Having struggled to remember our last time we found one trackable, we struggled even more to remember the last time we found two in one day!).

The tarmac path soon came to an end, and one of the best viewpoints of the day, and it was here we could have headed South, back to the car. But.. there were 2 nearby caches just outside the park.

The first called ‘Read’ had well over 30 favourites. (It acquired another from us too). The cache was hidden in a micro-library ! It wasn’t just books in the library ! A visitor’s book, lego cards, doggie treats and much more besides.

Have you seen a library like this ?

How many libraries contain these ?

The remaining non-Farnham-Park cache was part of the old Farnham Ramble series. This cache has been re-introduced as is now called ‘Farnham Series Remembered’. As one of the easier caches on the original route, it was easy to reinstate without previous multi-cache knowledge. We wanted the cache name in our portfolio as the final letters of the cache name spelt ‘RED’. A colour which we would add to list of ‘colours’ we would need for a caching snooker challenge. (We need to find 15 REDs and we are a little short!)

On the way to the Farnham Ramble Remembered cache


The cache itself was hidden IN a tree stump. But, in front of the tree stump was a lot of bark. Placed to look like ‘barkoflage’ we dismantled it first to no avail. Then we looked in the tree stump, and with a bit of poking and prodding in the Autumn leaf pile, we were able to find the cache.

And so we returned back to the Park. The morning had become greyer, and we one cache left to do. Part of the ‘Hole in One’ series, situated near golf course. (Farnham Park includes a 9 hole par 3 course). When we arrived at Ground Zero, we couldn’t find anywhere where a cache could be hidden. The hint said ‘In the title’, and the penny dropped. We had about 12 items to check, and after checking 7 or 8 of them, we discovered a small bison.

A hole-in-one!


In summary this was a great morning’s caching, not too strenuous, not too wet, and more importantly some good reasonable sized containers all of which were in good order. Well done to the 9 different cache owners!

Other caches we found included :

November 5 : No fireworks in Farnham!

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

In the four years we’ve been geocaching, we’ve found just 26 caches in November. Well, that month had now come around again and it seemed a good idea to increase that total.

Go geocaching and meet 'fun guys'!

Go geocaching and meet ‘fun guys’!


We’d selected a route not too far away, Farnham Rally Ramble, a 34-cache, 8-mile route. A read through of the descriptions suggested that this series would require collecting clues, solving puzzles (and sums), use of tools and other cunning stuff if we were going to find those geocaches, so we decided to split the route into sections and to make this a kind of ‘winter caching project’.

We duly assembled the equipment needed – here is the list as given :

– 2 litres of water (or the means to collect that quantity from local water sources).
– A weedling tool to get the logs out of small caches.
– Some Tape – Gaffer or Duct or PVC Electrical Insulating tape will do
– A few feet of String
– A piece of stiff wire, about 9” long, capable of being bent to form a hook.
– A print out of this cache page is recommended
– A Farnham area OS map would be very useful
(Editor’s note: at least it didn’t mention canoes or climbing equipment – phew!)


Parking near the busy A325 on the outskirts of Farnham, the first cache was almost within touching distance, quickly found, and contained a handy clue for later. So far, so good. But … we needed to find a nearby object with a number on it for us to use later, and we couldn’t find it. Not so good. It turned out that, with a bit of thought, we could derive the numbers. So no problem after all.

A track led away from the road, and almost immediately we were in open fields, close to the River Wey. Stopping to work out some numbers, and solve a bit of code, we used that information to find the site of the next cache, in a large old oak tree next to the river. We couldn’t find the cache, though, but as a large chunk of the tree had fallen off quite recently, we thought that the cache might have disappeared either then or in the subsequent clear up.

Our next mission was to cross the A31 to reach Bishop’s Meadow, heading towards Farnham. Crossing dual carriageways with fast traffic is never on my list of favourite things to do but it was OK and we picked up the riverside path again on the other side of the road.

Another cache was retrieved from a tree, some more numbers, for future use, were noted from a small sign, and we walked on, with the river not far away on one side, and the A31 not far away on the other. We diverged slightly to find another cache, the third of four attempted, stuck with a magnet to the side of a metal footbridge over the A31. And here things began to unravel…

Our next target was supposed to be hidden in a fence, somewhere, but we couldn’t find it (hindsight says that we got the right spot, at least once, but couldn’t work out what we needed to do). Time passed while we wandered fruitlessly up and down, giving up after a while and crossing the river and a side channel to arrive in Bishop’s Meadow ( http://www.bishopsmeadowtrust.org/ ) There were more numerical clues to be found here, somewhere in, on, or under the bridge, and another chance for us to not find them. More unavailing searching went on here, and we got very frustrated, as we couldn’t proceed much further without knowing those numbers to use to find the next cache. Mr Hg137 descended to river level to look for the clues, couldn’t find them, couldn’t get back up the slippery bank, and had to be hauled back up to the path. It was not going so well now.

Bishop's Meadow, Farnham

Bishop’s Meadow, Farnham, on a grey November day


Having found an intermediate stage for the next cache, which gave us a clue, but still without those numbers that would supply the coordinates, we tried to work out roughly were the cache ‘could’ be – somewhere along the edges and hedges of the meadow, and then tried a number of locations without success. The most likely location was by a large, rotting log, but the only thing we unearthed was a medium-sized rat, which scuttled off.

Once again, we gave up – it really wasn’t going so well now – and moved on to our next target. This time we had a location, which was in one of several large willow trees by a ditch and surrounded by … very large and very angry nettles. We tried several approaches, but couldn’t face the pain for long enough to get to the area, let alone search lots of trees. We returned to the other side of the ditch, and realised that we could see the cache, in view in a tree on … the other side of the ditch. Oh well – into the ditch we went, up the bank on the other side, and the cache was retrieved.

Into the ditch!

Into the ditch!


Seven caches attempted, four found, and three hours had gone by. The wind was getting up, and we were getting fed up. We decided to abandon our quest, as we were missing quite a bit of the information we needed to proceed further. We returned home, logged the caches, then contacted the owner, Kitey, to seek more help with the caches and clues we hadn’t found. He got back to us the next day, and it was not good news for our ‘winter caching project’. This cache series isn’t attempted very often, and a number of the caches and clues have gone missing. Kitey has decided to archive the series, and has suggested that we try another one of his series, also based around Farnham but starting in a slightly different place.

A new quest beckons!

PS Here are a couple of the other caches we found:

June 26 Day 177 Caches Found 0 Cumulative Total 205 (+1 bonus, +1 cacher’s meet)

… we attended a Cacher’s Meet !

Many counties near us have a ‘Monthly Meet’, generally in a pub in the evening, and tonight we attended the Monthly Surrey Cachers Meet in Farnham.

The organiser, Kitey, had arranged with the pub, the Shepherd and Flock, that the cachers would use the garden area. When we arrived there were several people in the garden area, everyone chatting to each other. It was not obvious to us who were cachers !

Eventually we joined a group of cachers, and we joined in the discussion of caches found, and caches set. Many people produced trackables, and most of the other cachers spent time recording the cache number of the dozens of trackables on the tables. We left ‘Percy and his Fan Club’ and replaced it with ‘The Penguin of Death’ and ‘Whiskers the Ginger Nut’.

Over time we met several other cachers, and there was a real mix of people there. Many were in their twenties, but there were people present who were probably in their Seventies!

It was very interesting that no-one gave their real names just their caching identity.. so as well as Kitey we met Spooney15, BaSHful, RiddleMeBis, PoisonParis, fredsdad, bassetthound14, DTJM and bleachedwestie to name but a few.

The meeting counts as a ‘found cache’ on the http://www.geocaching.com statistics. We will list such meetings separately so our ‘caches found’ total are ‘actual caches’.

PS For the roundabout geeks who read this blog – the Shepherd and Flock is in the middle of the largest inhabited roundabout in Europe (10 acres) featuring several houses, a pub and some allotments.

April 3 Day 93 Caches Found 11 Cumulative Total 120 (+1 bonus)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here again.

The Tuesday after Easter was a bright sunny day and we assumed that Wednesday would be the same. How wrong we were. It was cloudy and just above freezing, with a bitter wind, thus giving us yet another chance to get mild hypothermia while out caching …

Our target this time was the ‘Hampshire Milk Round’, a series of 23 caches starting/finishing in the attractive small village of Binsted, a few miles from Farnham. We had also loaded up the ‘Church Micro’ cache for this village as it was on our route, and this was our first cache of the day. We hadn’t realised that the churchyard is the burial place of Montgomery – he of ‘El Alamein’ fame – who moved into the nearby Isington Mill in the late 1940s.

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Next, we moved on to tackle the ‘Milk Round’, finding the first 10 caches in the series. Most were easy to find. Some would have been easier if only we had read/understood the hints … there was a lot of futile scrambling up and down banks for caches at ground level … never mind, we got them. The track turned into a stream for part of the way, and I nearly fell into said stream when a piece of rotting wood gave way while shinning down a bank to reach a cache; no harm done except loss of dignity.

We found a geocoin – our first – in one of the caches. It was first placed in March 2009 in Henley on Thames and has travelled 12,800 miles since then, including a trip to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

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It all went wrong (for us) at cache no. 9 in the series. It took us AGES to find this cache, and the GPS kept pointing to a spot some way out in the field. We must have been there 15 minutes, and had examined every twig and leaf in about 10 trees, before finding it just before we were going to give up and move on. Our hands were now rather cold, as were most of our other bits. By the next cache we were really, really cold, and this was the one place on the circuit where we could break off and take a short cut back to Binsted: so we did. The rest of the series can wait till a (warmer) day; it’s an excellent series in lovely countryside.

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We didn’t see much wildlife on our way, other than birds – maybe they were all sheltering from the icy wind. The cache notes mentioned hares, though we didn’t see any, or the snakes that are warned of, and there must be deer in the area as we saw lots of hoofprints. But there is an interesting range of rare breed farm animals – pigs, geese, chickens, sheep, ducks and cattle – adjacent to cache 10 in this series.