September 1 : Isle of Wight : Freshwater Bay

Our walking holiday was at an end. We had packed our bags and loaded the car. But…

Freshwater Bay

… we had yet to find the three nearest caches to where we were staying. We had a couple of hours before our ferry home, so this was the ideal time to find these caches.

It was early morning (0910) as we walked along the foreshore at Freshwater Bay. (We made a tentative, rockpool scramble towards a terrain 4.5 cache – we had no intention of finding it, as access is only possible at the lowest of low tides) and then headed towards the lifeboat station. Unlike many lifeboat stations around the UK, it is NOT run by the RNLI but independently run and independently funded. As we headed across the beach, we noticed several early morning swimmers. One man charged into the sea, and his dog obediently and joyfully followed. A trio of ladies walked in but their dog was afraid of the waves, and barked incessantly from the dry shore edge.

Beyond these rocks and in some caves lies a difficulty 4.5 cache…


The cache (lifeboat view) was a relatively straightforward find. The hint ‘WD3’ had our minds racing, and since all the footpaths on the Isle of Wight were numbered, we assumed it was attached to a footpath sign. How wrong we were!

We then walked up the grassy slope onto Tennyson Down (for either the third or was it fourth time that week?), to arrive at a fence line, a stile, and some trees. We could see these from our hotel room, and knew the cache (Tennyson’s) was close by.

Up there, at the top of the hill, near the trees. is a cache!

We circled round the small copse (Mrs Hg137 somehow managed to find the largest, heaviest branch to hit her head against!)

Where ‘ouch’ moments occur!

and then a few minutes later found the elusive container we could almost see from our room.

Our final cache was called Julia Margaret Cameron, the 19th century photographer. She lived and undertook much of her pioneering photography at her house, Dimbola Lodge, now a museum.

Dimbola Lodge

We had been fortunate to visit the museum one evening and seen examples of her work. Her style, was very ethereal, Ancient World classical, and involved her subjects being dressed up representing Shakespearean characters as well as Ancient Greek and Roman gods/goddesses. The museum also housed some pictures and accounts from the first three Isle of Wight pop festivals (1968 – 1970). Outside the museum stood a statue of Jimi Hendrix, whose last live performance was at the 1970 festival venue less than a mile from the museum.

Jimi Hendrix

The cache was a multi, and during the week we had collected information about the museum, Julia and Jimi and we discovered that the cache was on the route down from the Tennyson’s cache. A simple find, and a great way to finish a walking holiday – with a bit of geocaching thrown in – on the Isle of Wight.

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August 29 : Quarr Abbey, Fishbourne and Tennyson’s Monument

Quarr Abbey

We were on week’s walking holiday on the Isle of Wight, but, as most of the walks were with largish walking parties, it wasn’t easy to cache as we walked.

Our day off enabled us to choose our own route, and select a few interesting caches.

We were staying at Freshwater Bay (on the South West of the Isle of Wight), and we had identified a small number of caches near the ferry terminal at Fishbourne (at the North East of the Island). We had originally thought about finding these while we waited for our homeward ferry, but we brought the expedition forward.

Our first target was at Quarr Abbey (useful free parking). Quarr Abbey is still a working Catholic Benedictine Monastery, but visitors are allowed to wander the grounds, and visit the stunning brick church. The Abbey was originally built in the 12th century, and destroyed during Henry VIII’s Reformation. Monks returned to Quarr in the early 1900s from a temporary home elsewhere on the Island, and over 25 years had the current monastic buildings erected. To enable a level of self-sufficiency there are vegetable plots, fruit trees, chickens and pigs. The monastery layout was shown on a numbered information board, which was the start point for the first multi-cache of the day. (Not many multis start with ‘Orchard – Church’ and ‘Abbey – Pigs’ !)

One of the many Quarr Abbey pigs


A quick solve and fortuitously enough the cache was in the direction of a couple of other caches we had come to collect.

These were part of the Ferry Distraction series of puzzle caches. (Each cache had a puzzle to solve with an Isle-of-Wight twist.) For one of the puzzles we had to find 32 Isle of Wight placenames and match them to pseudo-cryptic clues (‘Oriental Bovines = East Cowes’), another involved solving an online jigsaw puzzle and a third a logic puzzle involving five families, the places they visited and how they got around during their mythical holiday. These puzzles were supposed to be time-fillers for the ferry journey across to the Island, but we solved them before leaving home…(in much longer time than the ferry journey!!!).

Our first puzzle find was deep in a footpath near the Fishbourne Ferry terminal. A path we had driven by many times, and never spotted. The second was near the shore edge, and which took us some minutes to locate. The hint was very clear, and there was only one place to look, but the presence of a mother, a child and a dog made searching tricky. Most people turn right after leaving the Fishbourne Ferry terminal, but turn left and a very tranquil shoreline emerges. A place we would never have found without geocaching.

Fishbourne Ferry Terminal


We returned back to Quarr Abbey, to look around. Many other people were doing the same – the café was full – the stunning brick church was solemnly quiet (once a young family had left), and of course some very friendly pigs !

Our next cache – a relatively rare, standard cache was yards from the Abbey – but we failed to read the instructions and gleefully followed the GPS to a cacheless tree, rather than ‘walk 10 paces from the railings’ mentioned in the hint!

Our route then took as away from the 12th century ruins to the last of the puzzle caches (after vaulting a non-existing stream). An easy find.

One of the puzzle caches

Not so at our final Quarr cache. In an oak tree, in the middle of a field. A huge hole was checked and nothing found, then we spotted, high up at the rear of the tree a narrow hole with the cache poked inside.

Can you see the cache ?

It was 10 foot up with slippery bark as our only means of approach. Then we remembered the geo-pole! We extended it, and with great caution hooked it underneath the Tupperware container. Slowly, slowly we inched the container out until it fell to the grass.

Success.. now how to get back up!

A quick sign of the log and then… how to get it back up there? We sealed three side of the container, and balanced the geo-pole end into the fourth end’s locking mechanism. We slowly raised the pole until we were level and in the hole. Success!

Our caching at Quarr and Fishbourne were complete, so we headed back across the Island to find Tennyson’s Monument. We had the ‘Bee’ (Birthday Buzz) trackable to place, and we had told the trackable owner we would place it somewhere scenic on the Isle of Wight. We knew we would be passing the Monument in one of our walks, but wouldn’t have to time to undertake the multi set around it.

Tennyson Monument


We located a free car park at the foot of Tennyson Down. A steep, stepped ascent led us to the Monument – and the grassy slopes surrounding it. The views were well worth the climbing effort – they were stunning. We could see right across the Solent to the mainland, the tip of the Needles on the Isle of Wight and to the East much of the Island itself.

Looking West to the Needles (Chalk Cliff)


Looking East across the Isle of Wight


The poet Alfred, Lord, Tennyson lived for many years very close by and the monument was placed to commemorate his life. The hill we had climbed was also renamed in his honour too!

We had a quick look round for the necessary information for the multi. A strangely worded set of instructions and we couldn’t find anything matching the clues at all. We waited for a seat to clear, and we imbibed a coffee (at this point Mr Hg137 somehow angered a wasp and it fought back stinging him on his hand). The sting must have caused an adrenalin rush, as when we looked again at the monument the instructions for the multi became clear.

Was it a coincidence we had a ‘Bee’ trackable in our hand and a ‘Wasp’ attacked ? Who knows!

We discovered that the final was close to the car park from where we started so down we went and a quick find at GZ. Farewell ‘Bee’ – hope you enjoyed the view!

To the North : Fishbourne, the Solent, and the Mainland

August 25 : Isle of Wight : Arreton

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On the Saturday before the August Bank Holiday, we set off for a week’s walking on the Isle of Wight. We’d mostly been to the island in the winter, when the roads are quiet, the ferries half-empty, and there are not many people about. The number of people heading for the island, and already there, came as a shock …

Garlic ...

Garlic …


... and a vulture!

… and a vulture!


In the centre of the island, in the warm late August sunshine, we stopped at the Garlic Farm https://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk Lots to taste, more to buy, and loads more to see. In fact, I tried so much garlic that I could guarantee that the garlic fumes would ward off vampires for some while. (Mr Hg137 ate not a single clove!)
St George's Church, Arreton

St George’s Church, Arreton


Nearby is the tiny hamlet of Arreton, and we stopped there to find a couple of caches. The first was a Church Micro based on the church of St George, set on the hill a little way from the main road. It didn’t take us long to find the numbers associated with the cache, but the garlic fumes must have been affecting us both, as the first attempt at working out a location came out with something way out in the English Channel. Several deep breaths, a rethink, and we came out with new coordinates, much closer, back in the direction we had come from. We strolled back and found the cache after a couple of minutes search.

Back past the church again, up the hill again, we were out in the fields. The views opened out to the south as we climbed up Arreton Down. A few cows lazily chewed the cud as we turned back a large stone and uncovered another cache. What a super little caching trip! But by now we were hot, the hotel pool was calling, and we scooted off to Freshwater Bay, leaving behind a few unfound caches for another day.

Here are some caches:

February 24 – Ryde

Our last day on the Isle of Wight and a very, very cold one. The “Beast from the East”, a cold Easterly wind, blew all day and although there was no rain or snow, the temperature was very low indeed. Lovely late winter sunshine but bitterly cold.

All Saints, Ryde


There are many caches in Ryde. Our plan was to spend the morning on the outer edges of the town away from the sea. Here, we hoped, and indeed it proved, Ryde’s buildings would protect us from the wind.
The afternoon we cached along the sea-front walking East (and into the wind) and when we got too cold to go on we would head back Westwards to warm up.

With hindsight, our first cache of the day should have been our last, as it was inside.

Inside a church.

We were undertaking a Church Micro Multi based inside All Saints Church Ryde. Frequently with church micros the questions (if there are any at all) are based on exterior noticeboards or gravestones. Here all but one of the answers could be found inside the church. And what a church!

Affectionately known as “The Cathedral of the Island”, the church was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott (who also designed many London landmarks). The foundation stone was laid by one of Queen Victoria’s daughters. The multi took us around various key locations in the church – the font, a beautiful stained glass window, various side chapels, the sanctuary and pulpit. At each location there was information to count or find, and after 40 minutes studying the church in detail we had the co-ordinates of the location for the cache. Here we had a quick find – but our memory will be the sumptuous interior of a wonderful church which many visitors to the Isle of Wight probably never know exists.

Our second cache of the day, another church micro was closer to Ryde Centre.

No clues to find this time, just a simple cache hidden in neighbouring street furniture.

Near to this cache was another multi, with clues set, we thought, IN a garden of Remembrance.

However the garden gates were locked so we couldn’t enter. We’ve subsequently discovered we could have found the cache information without entering the garden – doh!

We walked away from the Town Centre for our next two caches. The first was near a Victorian Water Trough. Now Grade II listed, the lamp-post/trough sits close to a road junction with lots of street signage capable of hiding a cache. The cache was hidden behind one such sign, but right in front of a garden with a loud barking dog. We escaped very quickly once the cache had been found!

Our last find in the morning was at one of Ryde’s three Railway stations. The Isle of Wight Railway line runs between Ryde and Shanklin using (old) London Tube Trains as its rolling stock. We found the ‘Sidetracked’ cache quite easily and then waited a few minutes for a train to arrive!

Here comes the train!


Our last cache of the morning we couldn’t attempt. The cache was hidden behind a seat. However the seat was occupied. We waited as inconspicuously as we could for 10 minutes (sheltering from the cold). But no joy, the person didn’t move! Even worse they were joined by a friend as well as a local caretaker! A Did Not Attempt does sound better than a Did Not Find !

A couple of our morning caches :

We adjourned to the sea front and our first two caches were two more ‘Sidetracked’ caches based on two different Ryde Stations. The first, Ryde Esplanade, was a multi. We had to count items from a plaque to a former, and world renowned, Isle of Wight resident. It was a good job there were two of us counting as we frequently ended up with two different numbers. Eventually we agreed on the numbers, and hence coordinates, and marched towards GZ. Here we searched for some time and failed to find the cache. We double checked our findings again from the plaque and discovered we were in the correct place.. just without the cache!

Our next ‘Sidetracked’ cache was also fruitless. This was at Ryde Pier Head, and is at the end of a half mile walk along the pier. Ryde Pier is one of Britain’s longest piers, but probably the only one which allows road traffic as well as rail traffic. Ryde Pier Head is the disembarkation point for the Portsmouth – Ryde catamaran, and the cars and rail link save the island visitors a half mile walk into Ryde. As we walked along the pier the hovercraft also left from Ryde… this pier is real transport hub!

Catamaran Arriving

Hovercraft Leaving

And so to the cache.

A bolt hidden 2 metres high.

Easy ! Nope!

We looked at every object looking for a bolt, all to no avail.

An interesting, but cacheless walk along the pier!

It was lunchtime.

We hadn’t found a cache for some time and the wind was just beginning to bite. The bus station (again next to Ryde Pier), provided shelter and a bit of warmth (Ed : by ‘a bit of warmth’, we mean ‘less cold’).

Lots of space on the beach!


Suitably refreshed, we found several caches in quick succession as we headed East along the sea front.

Sometimes the caches were attached magnetically, sometimes in flower borders.

Is there a cache here ?

The sea front was busy as despite the bracing wind, people were bravely playing on the beach, dogs were being exercised, kites were being flown. The boating lake was though devoid of people and it was here we had our next failure. The GPS bounced around, and the hint didn’t help much either – and so our rapid finding spree was at an end.

We had arrived on the outskirts of a park where two caches were hidden. One was a puzzle cache we had solved quite quickly at home (It took us longer to find the cache than solve the puzzle!). The other cache was near a small stream, which had to be crossed. Mr Hg137 jumped across, found the cache, but couldn’t open it. He threw it to Mrs Hg137 to try. Our cold, numb hands couldn’t turn the lid. Eventually we opened it, and the contents fell into the stream. We then spent a few minutes ‘fishing’ the items out of the cold water ! An easy find, but 15 minutes to open the cache and replace contents!

Can you open this ?


These should have been our last caches of the day. We wandered back to Ryde – now with the wind at our backs – and re-searched our DNFs. Still no caches to be found. We drove out of Ryde, following an odd one-way system and discovered we were driving along a road we had cached along earlier. Look ! There’s the seat! The one with cache we didn’t attempt! Mrs Hg137 was pushed out of the car, while Mr Hg137 found a car park space. Cache found, log signed ! Phew!

Last cache of the day!


So a mixed day’s caching in Ryde – three DNFs, ten straightforward finds, and a magnificent Church multi. (And two very cold cachers!)

February 23 : Swiss Mountain Cow

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Swiss Mountain Cow

Swiss Mountain Cow


We found this perky little cow in an ammo can in a quiet spot near a cemetery near Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. But as travelling trackable cows go, she is quite mature, having left Switzerland just over seven years ago, in February 2011, to undertake the following mission:
“I was born in the Swiss mountains at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level. The place I come from is the paradise on earth. My education is not very high but I am sure that I am very intelligent. So please show me the world.”

The little cow has travelled over 30,000 miles in the last seven years, visiting Germany, extensive travels in the USA, including the East Coast, Alaska, up to the Arctic Circle, and Hawaii), also the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Isle of Wight was the first time this trackable had ever made landfall in the UK, having just returned from New York. A globe-trotting little cow indeed!

February 23 – Havenstreet, Isle of Wight

Havenstreet Church

Every year we play in a weekend Scrabble tournament on the Isle of Wight. Like previous years our plan was to undertake a few Isle of Wight caches before the tournament started, and find a few more on the way home after the tournament had finished.

So much for a plan!

We were within 20 minutes of the ferry crossing when we received a phone call telling us that the tournament had been cancelled due to illness at the hotel. We had to decide whether to turn round and head for home or cross to the Isle of Wight, find an alternative hotel, and find more caches than we had anticipated.

We chose the latter alternative!

Our original itinerary included a couple of caches in the small town of Havenstreet. We had cached (unsuccessfully) there before and wanted to turn a DNF to smiley face on the geocaching map.

Havenstreet station, on the Isle of Wight steam railway – was our destination. We parked the car and wandered over to GZ.

Its not a film canister is it ?

We were expecting to search for a film canister but very visibly on show was a clear plastic container.

Matching the hint.

Containing swag.

Containing a notebook.

But nothing that said “this is a geocache”.

We read the logs on http://www.geocaching.com and saw nothing that said the container had changed. We took photos, signed the notebook and claimed the cache.
There is still a chance our log will be revoked, but it looked and felt like a cache but we had the niggling feeling it wasn’t right. Time will tell!

Our next cache was the Havenstreet Church Micro. This was a multi and required us to find two objects with dates and ages on. We stumbled around a bit too long looking for the first object. But it did give us the opportunity to go inside the church and marvel at the spiral staircase leading to a small bell-ringer’s platform. (If this platform had been in a house, it would have been called a minstrel’s gallery). Eventually we did find the numbers we required to calculate our final destination…a short walk back into the village. Here we saw a few shops, a pub and a bus-stop-turned-book-swap-shop. Mrs Hg137 had to be dragged bodily away from the myriad of titles on display and reminded that she was supposed to be looking for a cache! We did find the small nano … but much more unexpected was the bus stop! Caching does take you near to interesting buildings!

Stop reading – we’ve got to find a cache!

A short distance on was our third Havenstreet cache. This was one we hadn’t prepared for (as – based on our original schedule – we didn’t think we would have time). However we soon discovered the route to “Little Bridges 1140 Blackbridge Brook” was muddier than our footwear would bear, so we retreated. We did though make friends with four horses: Jack, Ginger, Olly and Nagona all of whom came over to check us out for food. Jack even stood on Mrs Hg137 shoe and almost removed it from her foot!

On the outskirts of a cemetery on the Isle of Wight …

Our final cache was a puzzle we had solved from home. The solution was near to Havenstreet next to a cemetery. We spent 10 minutes scouring the trees and undergrowth until Mrs Hg137 caught sight of a good-sized cache. How we hadn’t tripped over it in our searching up to then we shall never know! We even found a trackable in the cache – a Swiss Cow!

So an eventful day – we had got over the tournament cancellation by finding three caches, making friends with four horses, finding a plastic cow, and reading book titles in a bus stop ! Isn’t geocaching surreal!

 

February / March : Duck Pound II

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

At the end of February, we were just starting a day’s caching high on Winterfold Hill, in Surrey, and came upon the first cache of the day, which was quite large, and contained a small white rubber duck, with red lips. A trackable, we thought.

Winterfold Hill - the duck is found

Winterfold Hill – the duck is found


On returning home, we looked again at our latest trackable find, so we could register it on http://www.geocaching.com But it didn’t have a trackable code written on it, so it wasn’t a trackable. Instead, it had a geocache code – so was it a cache? Hmm, this was out of the ordinary. A little research showed that the cache number belonged to ‘Duck Pound II’, a cache which is some miles away, north-east of Welwyn Garden City. We weren’t sure what the duck should do next, so we messaged the cache owner for suggestions. Should we return it? Or take it on our forthcoming trip to the Isle of Wight?
We soon had a reply, saying:
“How exciting and thank you for letting us know about one of our ducks. They’re not trackables, they’re more like advertising for our cache. When we placed the cache we filled it with these ducks, I also dropped a few off in caches I found to try to spread the word. We have heard about a couple of other ducks, but never one that has travelled so far. I’m sure the duck would love a trip to the Isle of Wight. Would you reply to this just to let us know if you do drop it off please, it would be interesting to know where one of our ducks has got to.
Spread the ducky love.”

The duck won't fit in here!

The duck won’t fit in here!


So the duck came with us on the ferry to the Isle of Wight, and we thought we would place it (hard to tell the sex of a rubber duck!) in a cache next to a creek close to the ferry port. That didn’t work, as the cache was hidden in a snail shell – no room for a duck there! As the weekend went on, we found other caches, but nothing duck-sized. Finally, on the last morning, we came upon a cache that was big enough, overlooking the sea on the steep southern shoreline of the island, close to Ventnor Botanic Gardens, and here we released the duck.
Ventnor - the adventure continues ...

Ventnor – the adventure continues …


Good luck, and keep on advertising your cache!