Ever year we both like attending the Isle oF Wight Scrabble tournament, and if we can, we also like to squeeze in a few geocaching finds. This year, the event was held in Shanklin, but unfortunately for us…we had found all the nearby caches! So on the day after the tournament, we headed for a different part of the Island, just a few miles North of the main Island town, Newport.
Our target was a series called ‘Letterbox Loop’. We managed to park nearby to the start – a relative straightforward multi. All we had to do was extract some details from a postbox, derive the final co-ordinates and go find. But, what made this multi special, was the postbox. It stood proudly outside the Isle of Wight Postal Museum. The museum holds over 200 postboxes and other postal equipment. Admission is by prior arrangement.
As we walked to the final destination to the multi, we glimpsed into a garden and espied row after row of postboxes. These photos don’t do it justice!
We were a little flummoxed at our final destination as we were looking for a ‘post’ (obviously !), and we tried several places before we saw the slightly rusty, broken pole hosting the cache.
The ‘Letterbox Loop’ series is broadly rectangular, and in parallel to one of its sides is a smaller series based on the Gruffalo story.
We set off on our first side of the Letterbox Loop rectangle, and only just saw the footpath we needed to follow.
Normally footpaths on the Isle of Wight are well maintained.. this one had suffered from some heavy rain. Water cascaded in the narrow footpath gully.
Sometimes we jumped from ‘bank’ to ‘bank’, other times we ploughed upwards through the moving water. Eventually we arrived at ‘First Past the Post’. Again we took the hint a bit too literally and moved away from GZ to check out the nearby trees. Of course the cache (another post box !) was hidden inside a broken trunk, right next to the water-filled path.
We climbed, and slithered, and in Mrs Hg137’s case slipping down, towards the second cache. Our progress was slow, painfully slow. At the back of our minds was our lunchtime ferry. We had another 7 caches to find in the ‘Letterbox’ series and three ‘Gruffalos’. We decided to abandon the ‘Letterbox Loop’, hack across to a better path, attempt one more ‘Post’ cache before undertaking some of the ‘Gruffalo’ series.
Our spirits fell even further, when we had to DNF ‘Pillar Box’. Many of the logs said the GPS was out by 30 feet, so we had a wide area to search. Again, with the lunchtime ferry time ticking ever-louder, we gave up after a 10 minute search.
We headed for the Gruffalo series and noted a very muddy path we would have had to use had we continued the ‘Letterbox’ series. Instead we arrived at a disused railway line, between Havenstreet and Newport. The going was flat, and more importantly…not muddy. A little wet in places with large puddles needing supreme care to negotiate.
The three ‘Gruffalo’ caches were reasonably straightforward finds: under a pile of sticks, wedged in a multi-trunked tree. The third one necessitated a scramble up a small bank. Here the cache was exposed so we hid it better.
The former railway line eventually gave way to a short muddy stretch (overlooking the postal museum), and brief walk back to the car.
We were muddy, and a little disappointed with a haul of 5 finds, when we had planned for at least 10, but ferries don’t wait for cachers, so we left the Isle of Wight promising to return to the postal series, as despite the terrain, and the DNF, it looks a great series to undertake.