November 3: Trackable : Great Britain Rocks

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Great Britain Rocks

Great Britain Rocks

The fifth of the five trackables (FIVE! They are like buses, they come along in groups!) that we found on our caching trip around Lightwater was Great Britain Rocks.

This is an old and well travelled trackable. It has been around since April 2011 and has travelled 36,000 miles – that’s one and a half times round the earth – there was a very brief trip to California, early on, but the rest has been in Europe, including the fringes of the continent such as Finland and Cyprus, and also including musical events, like a Linkin Park concert.

Here’s why this trackable was sent out to travel:
I was inspired to release this patriotic guitar as a travel bug after finding The Tin Pan Alley cache in Denmark Street London – GC2C1NN if you’re caching in London, its a must do! This travel bug would like to visit as many caches and places with a musical connection as possible.

Tin Pan Alley cache

Tin Pan Alley cache

We’ve visited the Tin Pan Alley cache, back in December 2014
It’s one of the caches we’ve visited with the most favourite points – over 1,000. The logbook for the cache was hidden on a noticeboard where hopeful musicians pinned up notices to say what kind of instruments they could play. Our cache logs says I signed up to be 2nd violin, while Mr Hg137 wanted to be the manager! Sadly, the cache was archived in mid-2015 as building work in the area had made it inaccessible.

July 13 : The South Bank, London

July 13th is a special day for us. (Our caching name is hg137). To celebrate this year, a trip to London was planned.

The Globe

We had tickets to see ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Globe Theatre. The Globe is about 3/4 mile from Waterloo Station so it seemed a good excuse to find a couple of London caches too.

Welcome to the South Bank

On our last visit to London, way back in December 2016, we had started a multi-cache, but never finished it. The multi required finding a paving stone on the South Bank, near Waterloo, locating a particular engraved key word, and using it to convert to numerical co-ordinates.

We scoured our photos before we left, and worked out the co-ordinates and discovered the cache was hidden on our route to the Globe.

Great views across the Thames

The South Bank, on a hot Saturday in July is busy. Mainly tourists, but a good mixture of Londoners out and about.

A large second-hand book market, a group of morning joggers, another group of cyclists. An array of street performers, from singers, to bespoke poets, to a floating Yoda.

A Selection of Street Entertainers

Ordinarily caching is hard when people are watching, but with so many people around – all doing their own ‘unusual’ thing, leaning over a parapet to find a magnetic nano is natural.

Its Busy !

Our second cache, closer to the Tate Modern, was similarly easy. A well defined hint and cache title ‘Squeezed in at the Tate’ and we could see GZ well before we arrived. A quick swoop down (well an exaggerated shoe-lace tie), and we were soon signing the log.

The area around the Tate Modern was particularly busy as a new exhibition had opened days before , and many people were crossing the Millennium Bridge and not walking along the South Bank.

A few yards further on, we arrived at the Globe. The Globe was opened in 1997, and founded and built by actor/director Sam Wanamaker. The names of many of the project’s contributors can be seen as paving stones around the theatre concourse. (Technically the theatre complex is known as Shakespeare’s Globe, to differentiate it from the original Shakespearean building pulled down by the Puritans in the 1640s.). We had a multi to complete which would take us between the two Globes.

The Original Globe was here!

While the modern building is busy with people, the older building, or rather a few information boards and a cobbled pavement was much, much quieter enabling a quick find.

We still had an hour before our matinee performance so we headed back to the Tate Modern. We ate lunch on one of the many seats, and wandered inside. We were expecting to see some artworks in the ‘hall’ area, but all the free/paid for exhibits are now on various different levels.

Turbine Hall, Tate Modern

Instead of heading back to the Globe, we hatched a plan. We would sit on a seat, near to, but not overlooking the cache ‘Squeezed in at the Tate’ which we found earlier. Would anyone visit it while we watched ? Typically this cache, especially on a Summer Saturday, has 5 or 6 finders so we might be lucky.

A person approached slowly…was he a cacher…nope, he was using a nearby rubbish bin.
Hang on.. what about these two. Clearly they are together, they are walking in unison, both looking at some electronic equipment and…what an elegant swoop (far better than Mr Hg137’s shoe-lace tying). We had waited probably 3 minutes and 2 cachers came by! We went over to introduce ourselves and we had a chat. Welcome to London Dombies and Topanga_ugh !

Dombies and Topanga_ugh

They were part of the crew from a Belgian ship moored near HMS Belfast, so we said goodbye to our new Belgian friends to have a look at their ship.

Can you see the Belgian Ship nestling behind HMS Belfast ?

The South Bank had got busier, and it took us longer to walk there than we imagined.. so we just had time to take a quick photo before rushing back to the Globe arriving minutes before the performance started. Unsurprisingly a well acted, very funny production and one that made our day very special.

We couldn’t take pictures while the play was on, so this was the band warming up, the three seating tiers (we were in one of them) and some of the ‘groundlings’ who stood for the whole performance.

Inside the Globe

Welcome to the Band!

A cracking day out…Shakespeare, the Globe, 3 caches and 2 Belgian cachers!

December 16 : London

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

No. 9 London bus

No. 9 London bus

We hadn’t used our Oyster (London travel) cards for some while, and we were worried that they might be disabled, so we set off to London on a caching trip – now there’s a tenuous excuse for a day’s geocaching!

Almost as soon as we left the train at Waterloo we were searching for our first cache, at the entrance to the station. The description said a London landmark would be visible from Ground Zero, the location of the cache. Well, the bottom half of it was, and the top wasn’t; the cloud base was very low, while the Shard is very high …

We made our way down to the Thames, just downstream from the London Eye, with a great view over the river to the Houses of Parliament. Having found the cache hidden there, we signed the log looking out over the river, and got a rare view of much of the riverbed. It was two days after the full moon, and a very, very low spring tide, and the level was lower than we had ever seen it, with the footings of one of the bridge arches exposed to view; even in the few minutes we watched, the tide turned and the riverbed began to disappear.

River Thames - VERY low tide!

River Thames – VERY low tide!

Crossing the river on the Golden Jubilee footbridge, our next target was the Sidetracked cache at the nearby Charing Cross Station. It was tucked away behind a drainpipe close to, but not actually in the station. We did the ‘pretend to tie a shoelace’ mime to retrieve the cache, but we really needn’t have bothered, as everyone in the city is in a hurry, looking at phones, rushing onwards, and not interested in the antics of a couple of oddball cachers.
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square – lion at Nelson’s Column

Our main objective of the day was the ‘No 9 Routemaster bus: cache route’, which involved a bus ride and the spotting of clues on the way to the final cache location. But before that, we wanted to have a go at the caches in Trafalgar Square. And the first cache was … ‘Trafalgar Square’, a cunningly concealed cache hidden in an item around the square. We moved on to two earthcaches, one based around Nelson’s Column, and one around the statue of Charles I which is placed on the original site of Charing Cross, which is regarded as being the centre of London for measuring of distance. Earthcaches are excellent little teaching aids – in each case we learnt something about the places that we couldn’t have guessed beforehand.
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

A number 9 bus duly turned up and we caught it and got prime seats, upstairs, right at the front, where we could watch the route unfold. We were glad that we’d researched the answers to the clues for the cache beforehand so we could concentrate on the travelscape expanding before us. Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square (again), Pall Mall, St James’ Palace, Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, and the Royal Albert Hall … where we got off and crossed the road to one of the ornate sets of gates leading into Hyde Park. Mr Hg137 stopped to chat with a man from British Gas who was maintaining one of the gaslights on the gate. He told us that there are still over 1500 gaslights in London (!) and that they require regular attention The final cache was very close, and found after some very close inspection of park ‘furniture’. We had brought a trackable with us and had been looking for a suitable cache to place it. We decided on this specific cache as it had needed time and effort to solve, and so was unlikely to be found by chance, meaning that the trackable was likely to be picked up by an experienced geocacher.
Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial

Lunchtime: we sat on a park bench, ate our sandwiches, and people-watched, then did a circuit of the Albert Memorial,-fountains-and-statues/the-albert-memorial , to find ‘The Royal Albert Hall’ cache, the 20th most often found cache in the country (the description says) with well over 4000 visits.
Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

From here, we walked down to the Natural History Museum, which had two earthcaches in the grounds that we wanted to visit. We hadn’t really thought about this carefully enough: a skating rink is set up just outside the museum at Christmas time. That meant that the route to one of the earthcaches was through the museum, not through the gardens – and the other cache was within feet of the skating rink, so we thought about the answers while skaters whizzed by very, very close behind us What the earthcaches were about: one is centred on a (very) large fossil, and the other is about details in the memorial stone dedicated to those who were killed in the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.
Natural History Museum ice rink

Natural History Museum ice rink

There was just one more cache left on our list for today, a Church Micro, but where to find it? We walked up to the Brompton Oratory: was that it? No. Our GPS, and the clues to the cache, led us down a path to the side, to Holy Trinity, Brompton. The noise of traffic from the A4 died away as we walked round the church to the garden at the back, and it was peaceful and quiet, with tree-lined paths, and a squirrel frolicking on the grass, overlooked by small mews houses in cobbled streets. What a contrast to the loud, rushing world so close by!

And that was the end of caching for the day; it was getting darker, and colder, and we were getting tired and hungry. We caught the underground back to Waterloo and headed home in the dark.

August – Paddington Bear – part 5

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Paddington - Bear Humbug

Paddington – Bear Humbug at Fleet Library

This isn’t a post about geocaching – it’s about something we came across while in London on a geocaching / Paddington Bear statue spotting trip at Christmas 2014 and which we have followed ever since. (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Paddington story appeared in this blog in December 2014, January 2015 and April 2015, or can easily be found by clicking on the ‘Paddington’ tag associated with this post.)

Late in 2014 the excellent film ‘Paddington’ was released, and 50 statues of Paddington Bear were put on show around London to publicise the film. A few days after Christmas 2014 we went to find some of them (and of course a few geocaches too, but we’ve already blogged about that). The statues were collected up and auctioned to raise money for the NSPCC charity, producing almost a million pounds. One of them, Bear Humbug, was bought by a local town – Fleet – after money was raised via crowdfunding. His name comes from his humbug stripes, very like the colours of Newcastle United, and were devised by Ant and Dec (both from Newcastle). We originally saw him on display in Oxford Street, London, among the busy shoppers in the New Year sales.

In April 2015, he arrived at his new home, Fleet Library Bear Humbug has not been idle since then – he has a presence on Facebook ( @abearcalledhumbug ), Twitter and Instagram. He makes charitable and educational appearances, and when he’s not busy doing that, he can often be found in Fleet Library – he’s increased the footfall in there – and it’s a popular thing to pose with him and then upload the picture #‎humbugselfie‬

Some time had passed since all of the above, and we hadn’t been to see our old friend. One day we were in Fleet, buying new walking boots, rucksacks, and other essential geocaching kit. We had time to drop into Fleet library and make our re-acquaintance.

He looks really at home – right inside the entrance, stood on his packing crate signed by Ant and Dec. Great to see you again!

January 2016 : Single Form

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here again.

In mid January 2016, 40 of the UK’s works of post-war public art were listed by Historic England. The BBC described them all here One of the statues we saw in 2015 was among them. I think that’s excellent – I like good bits of sculpture and occasionally drag Mr Hg137 around sculpture parks.

Single Form - Barbara Hepworth

Single Form – Barbara Hepworth

The statue stands by one of the lakes in Battersea Park, which we visited in October in the later stages of our walk down the River Thames. It’s a Barbara Hepworth sculpture called ‘Single Form’ and it now has a Grade II* listing. Read about it at

It was created by her as a tribute to one of her friends, Dag Hammarskjold, who was Secretary General of the United Nations and who died in an air crash. This one is the original, but a rather larger version stands outside the United Nations building in New York and is described here

How interesting to come across something we have seen on our travels, and which has now appeared in a completely different, newsworthy context.

December 29 – 5 Freunde: Dick

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It’s been a while since we found a trackable – the caches in central London tend to be quite small, so most trackables just won’t fit into them. Hence it was both good, and unexpected, to find a trackable inside the very last cache we visited in 2015.

5 Freunde: Dick

5 Freunde: Dick

Now this is a very interesting little trackable with a cool mission. He is called ‘5 Freunde: Dick‘ and he is one of five famous friends, the others being Julian, Ann, George, and, of course, Timmy. These Famous Five are all taking part in a race to get to Corfe Castle station in Dorset. All of them seem to have chosen different methods on transport for their journey; Dick is on a motorbike, but there are also boats, bicycles, feet, etc

All of them set off from Seesbach in Germany in July 2015. Dick is well in the lead and is the only one so far to have made it to England. Julian is nearing Strasbourg, but is still in Germany, Anne is still in Germany but appears to be travelling east, George has done a sort of irregular circle and is not very far from his starting point, and Timmy, having been on a brief trip to Morocco, is now back in Germany, near Dortmund and close to the Dutch border.

We think this is a super idea for a trackable race and we will move Dick on to a place nearer to Corfe Castle in early January. Lovely trackable!

December 29 Thames Path : Canary Wharf to the Thames Barrier

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Mission accomplished! Thames Path walk complete! Apologies in advance for quite a long post.

Thames Barrier

Thames Barrier

With Christmas gone and 2016 approaching fast, we had just a few days left to complete the Thames Path before our self-imposed deadline of December 31st; we had been keeping an eye on both our social diary and the weather forecast and had decided that December 29th was the day for the final section of the walk.

So we arrived bright and early at Canary Wharf station and exited the Jubilee Line into … a sharp shower of rain. Oh dear! That wasn’t in the plan. But it cleared within 5 minutes, leaving clear air and winter sunshine.

We turned south onto the Thames Path and set off past the skyscrapers and oh-so-expensive apartments overlooking the river. We had lots of caches loaded, but didn’t have high hopes of the first few, as they hadn’t been found for a while. And so it proved. We couldn’t find them either, though our cache searching gave us a chance to inspect various bits of dockland hardware, such as the chains and hydraulic ram at Millwall Old Dock.

By now we were in the Isle of Dogs, and a sudden change in feel; the houses were smaller, the people weren’t all business folk rushing about; London is very curious for this: completely different areas can be just a few yards from each other, or on opposite banks of the Thames. But – we had started finding caches at last. Our first success was cunningly concealed under a post box, and the next was at another unusual feature on the riverside – a ‘park’ made out of planks. Reading the cache notes and the noticeboard, we discovered that this was where IK Brunel had built the Great Eastern, then, and for some time, the biggest ship in the world . It seemed an odd spot to have chosen, very close to some tight bends in the river and without much space around it – but we’re not brilliant inventors.

We found another couple of caches as we walked through Tower Hamlets, though we had to abandon the search for another as a traffic policeman stopped nearby. Oh dear, we really couldn’t risk being stopped by the police twice in three weeks! Then suddenly we entered a small park with a panoramic view across the river to the Cutty Sark and to the old Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Here, too, is the end of the northern bank section of the Thames Path. (Three and a quarter miles to the barrier, said a sign.) The rest of it is on the south bank, though it is not at all a straight line to the finish!

Thames pedestrian tunnel

Thames pedestrian tunnel

The way to the south bank of the Thames is through a 1,215 foot long pedestrian tunnel under the river, and this is also a virtual geocache, one of only 193 left in the UK. Down the stairs, through the tunnel, and up in the lift we went, both of us separately counting away at geocache clues as we went; luckily, our answers matched. It was a well-used walk under the river, but a slightly odd and eerie place; I wouldn’t really want to be down there alone, and it is said that it’s haunted. And all of a sudden we were back out in the light, only yards away from the Cutty Sark and surrounded by crowds of tourists. (Three and a half miles to the barrier, said the next sign; curious, we should be getting closer.) We set off along the Thames Path again, pausing to eat our lunchtime sandwiches on a seat in the sun overlooking the river, looking back at Canary Wharf and watching the tide rushing in.
After lunch we set off again down the south bank of the Thames. As soon as we had cleared the naval college the crowds melted away and we were almost alone once more, amongst wharves and industrial areas. (Four miles to the barrier, said the third sign; this really didn’t seem right as we knew we were going in the right direction, though fortunately the distances dropped after that!) Every so often we passed an old pub – the Trafalgar, the Cutty Sark, the Anchor and Hope – but, cache-wise, there was little to stop for as almost all the caches between Greenwich and the Thames Barrier are challenge caches, and we haven’t qualified for any of them. So on and on we walked, following a big loop north and then south around the Greenwich Peninsula, better known to most as the home of the O2, formerly the Dome, and where we went to watch the gymnastics during the 2012 Olympics. It was just a little dispiriting to look back across the Thames to Canary Wharf and to realise that we were now only about a mile from where we had started that morning… Part way around the loop in the river we reached a sign telling us that we were now on the Greenwich meridian; we had to check that, so out came the GPS; that was correct, so the rest of our journey would be in a whole new hemisphere! As we rounded a bend in the river and passed under the cable car, the Thames Barrier came into view and in not many more minutes, we were there. Journey’s end!
Greenwich Meridian

Greenwich Meridian

Appropriately, there’s an earthcache, the Tide Lord, to mark the spot. I think our cache log says it well enough:
“ We did it!!! Finally at the Thames Barrier … and an earthcache to puzzle over. The item that forms the puzzle gave us the chance to reflect on our whole journey … which has been very varied indeed … including multiple tree climbs, paddling through icy water, being stopped by the police … and so much more. “

But we weren’t finished yet; we needed to return to Canary Wharf to catch a train, and we had some more caches planned for the return leg. A bus back to the Cutty Sark, transferring to the Docklands Light Railway and back under the Thames, and we were almost there. We stopped part way back to find a picture puzzle cache, ‘1 Canada Square’ The idea is simple, the finding less so; the cache description is a panoramic view of Canary Wharf, and the cache is located ‘within 20 metres of where the picture was taken’. Again, I’ll let our cache log tell the tale:

”Our Thames Path mission complete, we were making our way back from the Thames Barrier to Canary Wharf station and we thought this should be somewhere on the way. (Well, Mrs Hg137 thought it should be, as she had spent hours … and hours … and hours inspecting assorted electronic views of the area to come to a likely location).

And so we pitched up in the likely place in the gathering gloom. A short search found us this cache. Woo hoo! “

Canary Wharf at night

Canary Wharf at night

Just one more cache to do now, and it was pretty dark by now. On our last caching mission/walk we had tried, and failed, to find a Church Micro based on the floating church in Canary Wharf. But we didn’t give up. A short message session with the cache owner and a slight readjustment of coordinates suggested we had been close, but not that close. So back we went, and ten minutes searching in the dark behind concrete pillars and underneath railway lines found us the cache. The last cache of the year, and a warm sense of achievement at getting this one. Unusually for an urban cache, this one contained a trackable, ‘Dick’. It has an interesting mission but that’s a topic for another blog.

Apart from the satisfaction of completing the Thames Path, today was another landmark caching day: only the second time that we had found five cache types in one day: a traditional, puzzle, earth, virtual, and multi cache. A good note on which to round off our caching for 2015, and time to wish all our long-suffering readers best wishes for the year ahead.

Here are some of the caches we found :


Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 6.75 miles
Total distance walked : 184.75 miles
Caches found : 8
Total caches found : 337