February 3 : A Cold Camberley Constitutional

Camberley Scultpure

It was one of those cold winter’s days. The sun was nowhere to be seen. There was a coldish breeze blowing, and the clouds were periodically producing light drizzle.

Not the most inspiring day to go cachimg, so we chose somewhere local to us, Camberley Town Centre. About 1.5 miles from where we live, this seemed ideal. If the weather got slightly worse, we could shelter in shops; if the weather got really bad we could retreat to the car and get home very, very quickly.

Fortunately we didn’t need either escape route as we undertook the Camberley Constitutional Cache. This multi-cache took us to 11 different locations near the centre of Camberley. We started just to the south of the Town Centre and had to acquire information about a Grade II listed building associated with Sir Edwin Lutyens. Now without meaning to disrespect Camberley, it is not one of the places one would naturally associate with Lutyens. A truly unexpected find !

Edwin Lutyens House

We headed North towards the Centre, passing under the railway (waypoint 2), and walked to the Station.
Here we paused, to collect our first cache of the day. Another multi, and one where we had to count bicycle racks, platforms and doors to calculate the co-ordinates for the final hiding place. Although the cache was slightly off our Consitutional route, it was only a couple of minutes out of our way. (We discovered Camberley has an inordinate number of green telecoms boxes.. and this hide was the first of three green boxes we were going to cache behind!)

We resumed our Camberley Constitutional walk by passing the Theatre, Council Offices and Museum (a further three waypoints here). Then our route turned in toward the Town Centre, where we had a store name to verify (here, we almost miscounted the letters on the faded sign).

Up to now our route had been quiet, a bit bustly, but then we had to walk along the A30. A major traffic route, and the noise level increased substantially. We collected another waypoint before crossing to the road to Camberley’s War Memorial.

This stands outside the main gates of the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst). (Interestingly the rear entrance to the RMA is in Sandhurst, Berkshire yards from our house, but the main official entrance is in Camberley, Surrey !). At the War Memorial we had to find the lengths of various names, and derive a set of co-ordinates for our third multi of the day. We made a school-boy error here, as the cache owner had given a checksum for the final co-ordinates for the cache, but we calculated the check-sum on the numbers we had found. We double and indeed triple checked our numbers (to no avail) before heading off to a possible location where we did find the cache! It was only after emailing the cache owner afterwards did he point out our inability to read instructions!

Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst

We had one more waypoint on the Camberley Constitutional to find on the A30. It was at a Church where a standard cache was also hidden (and if truth be told we took a bit too long finding the cache – unearthing cold, wet leaf litter on a freezing day was not our best strategy). The Camberley Constitutional route took us past several churches – some modern, some much older. St Tarcisius Church was erected 100 years ago to commemorate those soldiers trained at the RMA who were killed during the First World War.

St Tarcisius Church

Our Constitutional cache then took us away from the A30 (passing the Sports Centre – another waypoint) and through a park. We took the wrong exit out of the park (we mis-interpreted the term ‘diagonally across’ far too literally) and ended up heading back towards the A30!

Camberley Sculpture

Whoops! We realised out mistake and soon found ourselves collecting the final waypoints on our walk. A swift calculation later and we arrived at the cache! Although the container and its hiding place were not special the tour around Camberley certainly was. Caching really is educational!

We had one more cache to collect. We had solved a puzzle cache before we left home (part of the Surrey School Days series). We correctly identified a person who had been educated in Surrey, before becoming famous in a particular film role, and is still on our TV screens today). We drove 2 miles around the residential streets of Camberley, but a shorter route – had Mr Hg137 turned the car around ! – was only 0.5 miles!

A very entertaining, if cold, afternoon in Camberley. Three multi-caches, one puzzle cache, one standard cache and two very cold cachers! And the rain kept off too!


August 6, UK Mega, Devon, Honiton

Throughout our weekend at the Mega we had stayed in a hotel in Honiton, but we hadn’t found a cache in Honiton itself!

Today we would put that right! Honiton is historically famous for knotted lace making and the eight caches we were going to attempt almost had us in knots.


Sunday Morning in Honiton

There were three caches within walking distance of the hotel, so we attacked these before driving to the town centre. The first was a Travel Bug Hotel, set just off the A30, next to a real trucker’s stop. Not an official service station, but a couple of vans served food, and another provided a loo stop. Nearby was a pleasant copse, and it was on the edge of this copse that the cache was hidden. Our GPS went wild under the tree cover so a covert detailed search took place. Well, as covert, as we could be, as several people stood outside of their vehicles smoking and supping coffee. Eventually we found the Travel Bug Hotel and in a very well crafted wooden container seemingly part of a tree stump. we dropped off the M&S Wedding trackable that we had in our possession.

We struggled with the next cache (Mad Meany’s Wedding Cache) so much that we decided that after 15 minutes fruitless searching to abandon and go looking for cache 3. Cache 3 (Not Connected) was our easiest Honiton find of the day. It was attached to a lamp post and made to look like some electrical circuitry – excellently hidden in plain sight.

We returned to Mad Meany’s Wedding Cache, and of course found the cache almost immediately. How we missed the magnetic nano on our first pass we still don’t know. Still three caches down… five to go.

It was a Sunday, and Honiton Town Centre was relatively quiet. A few people out buying papers, going to Church, window shopping. Three of our targets in the Town Centre were multis. Regular readers of this blog will know we occasionally fail with multis so this was a big challenge.

Especially as the first multi (Historical Honiton) had 11 (ELEVEN) pieces of information to find. We had to walk up and down Honiton’s High Street and collect numbers and dates from various buildings in the Town Centre.

High Street, Honiton

High Street, Honiton

We learnt that not only is Honiton is famous for lace, but pottery too. There was a Great Fire and William III stayed in the town on his travels. The co-ordinates for multis can sometimes be entered directly into a GPS, but with 11 numbers we resorted to pen and paper. (High tech finding in Honiton!)

Part way through collecting the 11 numbers we needed, we arrived at the start of our second multi (Church Micro 6449 Honiton St Pauls). Here we had to find words on Honiton’s War Memorial, translate the word lengths to numbers and hence to co-ordinates. We discovered that the final was further down the High Street (another sheet of paper) so we continued to collect the Historical Honiton numbers on our way.


Multi-cache number 3 starts here!

We were reaching the end of our collection when we reached the start point for our third multi (A Fine Pair #470 Honiton). Here the numbers were calculated from the phone box and to our surprise the final destination was yards from where we were standing. So our first multi found, was the last one we started. (No paper needed! – Hurrah!)

We continued collecting more of the Historical Honiton numbers until we arrived at the final destination for Church Micro. We put away one piece of paper, retrieved another, read our notes for the Church Micro and made an easy find.

Of course we still hadn’t quite got all the co-ordinates for the Historical Honiton and after a few more minutes, we had them all. The final hiding place was 2 miles out of town! So, the now-slightly-ragged piece of paper with our notes was filed away (again).

We had two standard caches to find in Honiton – one near the station (Side Tracked Honiton). Our retrieval of this was made harder as we tried following the compass direction and not the main roads! Eventually we arrived and found the magnetic container.

Then a standard cache with an adventure! Splash & Cache involved us walking into a park, Mr Hg137 lowering himself down a slightly slippery bank into a stream and walking ankle deep along it. Ducking under trees until a small weir was reached.

In the stream, under the trees

Water, water, everywhere…now where’s the cache?

Descending the weir the water was now knee deep, cool but not too fast moving. But where was the cache ? The compass pointed to a upward sloping drainage channel … really up there ?

The drainage channel was slippery but soon the cache was located, head height. Held in with clips, it was difficult to extract and even harder to put back! (The cache had a difficulty rating of 3, and a terrain rating of 3.5)
It probably took 10 minutes to locate the cache, but Mrs Hg137 was getting a wee bit anxious while she waited in the park. A fun adventure for Mr Hg137!

Our drive home from Honiton, was via our last uncollected multi-cache (Historical Honiton). We parked up in a layby, walked 60 yards and grovelled in a hedge for a few minutes. A straightforward find, after a less-than-straightforward morning which had our caching brains tied up in knots!

A final look at Honiton

November 30 Day 336 Caches Found 4 Cumulative Total 393 (+1 bonus, 2 cacher’s meets)

Ambarrow Court is an 8.7 hectare (21.5 acres), Local Nature Reserve located in Little Sandhurst between the A321 and the Reading to Guildford railway line. Much of the site was once managed as a Victorian country estate, although the original house of 1855 has since been demolished, parts of the foundations are still visible. This site contains many habitats including ancient woodland, hazel coppice, marshes, ponds and pools, birch coppice and meadow. Notable plants include bluebells and associated spring woodland flowers, cuckoo flower and yellow rattle in the meadow.

Of course on a dreary November afternoon much of the above isn’t there but it was an enjoyable stroll nonetheless!

Ambarrow Court (or Ambarrow Woods as it’s locally known) hosts 4 caches of varying types.

Most of the caches we complete are standard i.e follow the co-ordinates and find the container. At Ambarrow there are two such caches including a tree-climb (one of the few successful tree climbs we’ve attempted).

There is also a multi – where the co-ordinates lead you to a location where you write down a number, which leads you to another a location, another number which leads to another location, another number etc… This particular multi was set by the local Scouts using Orienteering posts as the ‘number’ source. It took about 15 minutes to walk the whole route.

The fourth cache we found in Ambarrow Woods was a puzzle cache. Here the co-ordinates are given the form of a puzzle which you have to solve to derive the co-ordinates. This puzzle was based on Thomas the Tank Engine! The puzzle would have been easy to solve if we had been 6 or 7… sadly those days are well past and Wikipedia was a useful reference tool!

A great hour or so caching – and a great variety too!

October 5 Day 278 Caches Found 23 Cumulative Total 362 (+1 bonus, +2 cachers’ meets)

When a new series of caches is published, lots of cachers flock to it. This series, as the day turned out, was no different.

The series – Westoros Walk – was of 22 caches, with every cache named after places from the Game of Thrones series (No – it meant nothing to us either!). We also included a multi-cache which was on our route.

What was odd about this series was that the first 2 caches and final cache were very remote (walking-wise) from the main route. We therefore walked from cache 3 to cache 21 and then drove and cached and dashed to the remaining three.

The cache quality was excellent throughout, although the GPS co-ordinates were a few feet off on a number of occasions. Our ability to find these caches was helped by the 10 or so cachers who had already undertaken the trail in the first week.

Many of the caches were plastic boxes, generally very well camouflaged as well
as a few very small caches embedded in sticks and some others we won’t mention !

One of the smaller caches

One of the smaller caches

Is this a cache ? Or was our GPS wrong ?

Is this a cache ? Or was our GPS wrong ?

The paths were great throughout, and it was very pleasing to arrive at a point called ‘Five Ways’ , which we had passed through 3 years ago when we walked the Three Castles Path (Windsor to Winchester via Odiham). We spent some time here remembering the great walk we’d had on that occasion.

Five Ways

Five Ways

When we paused for lunch about halfway round, we remarked that we hadn’t seen many cachers, which we found surprising given the newness of the series. We spoke too soon!

Shortly after we arrived at cache 15, we saw another cacher (Adrian, Alivemore) at cache 14. We realised we’d left a hat near that GZ so we split up and jointly searched for the hat and the cache. The hat search was successful, the cache less so, and even with the assistance of Adrian we spent 20 minutes searching for cache 15.

Adrian, on his bike, pedalled off but we caught up with him again at the next cache where we saw 2 other cachers, Tadley Trailblazers and Minesweepers. It transpired Tadley Trailblazers had undertaken some of the caches when they were first published, and he was completing the series.

As we continued we saw our fourth cacher of the day, Danes Hunter who was also completing the series.

Our walking route finished at cache 21, something a bit different, where coincidentally Danes Hunter, Tadley Trailblazers and Minesweepers met again and compared notes on a great caching day out!

Fruits and Berries 1

Fruits and Berries 1

Fruits and Berries 2

Fruits and Berries 2

Fruits and Berries 3

Fruits and Berries 3

September 4 Day 247 Caches Found 13 Cumulative Total 333 (+1 bonus, +2 cachers’ meets)

Good-sized cache!

Good-sized cache!

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

September 4th is an important anniversary for us and we always try to do something special. Last year we went to the Paralympics … this year we had a day’s geocaching on what is likely to be one of the last hot days this summer. (Our recollection is that the weather on September 4th is usually fine, warm and sunny).

We chose Ecchinswell, a few miles south of Newbury, and parked in the large car park by the very smart village hall. Our first cache was a multicache, where clues must be solved to collect numbers on which calculations can be done to yield coordinates. Off we went for a mile’s walk round the outskirts of the very pretty village – babbling clear streams, thatched cottages, pretty sunbaked fields, Royal Oak pub, historic church – and counted things and collected numbers as we went. Having done our calculations, we set off on the main circuit of the day – Honey’s Hack – and collected the first couple of caches, plus the multi cache. While hunting for one cache, we emerged from behind a tree, to be met by a lady and her daughter who were out on a bike ride. It turned out that they were cachers too (you don’t generally get four people clustered round a remote tree unless they are all looking for the same thing … ), and this was just their second day out caching. We had a general talk about caching, spotted the cache while we were talking to them, waited while they found it, and we both signed the log. Good luck to Megan and Tracey in their future caching adventures – there are loads out there to be found.

On the route

On the route

Scary snake

Scary snake

The next three caches were new additions to the series, and harder than the rest. Two involved creatures – remember the ducks, frogs, and snails in earlier caches? And two involved a bit of gymnastics to reach. Mr Hg137 volunteered for the ditch scramble and I (Mrs Hg137) went for the tree climb; I’m not over-tall and am built for comfort, not climbing, so I was very proud of myself for this one. We finished the rest of the series, and made our way back to the car; it was a really hot day by now and we were beginning to flag, although we’d only walked five-and-a-half miles – the geocar claimed 29C and it felt at least as hot as that.

Another excellent day out on September 4th – and another where we ended up tired but happy!

June 28 Day 179 Caches Found 14 Cumulative Total 221 (+1 bonus, +1 cacher’s meet)

We were basing our break in Hordle, just a few miles from the New Forest Park Boundary. Our intention was to cache on arrival at the hotel for some local caches before dinner. However we quickly discovered that if we ate before 18:30 it was cheaper – so we ate first and cached in the early evening light.

Our route took us away from Hordle, through farmers’ fields, through woodland, more fields and woodland, until we arrived at the village of Everton, where we were on pavements through the village and returning to Hordle. This was fortunate, as by the time we had finished our 5 mile walk, the light was definitely fading and we were grateful we were not in the dark wooded areas we encountered earlier. The caches were fairly traditional 35mm canisters, small Tupperware containers, magnetic nanos and a very small cache hanging over a bridge. There were 2 unusual containers : a plastic snake’s head (that’s 2 plastic snakes in one day!) and an Everton blue container.IMG_6134We found 14 caches, though we did DNF one, as it was very well hidden in an ivy stump. I’m sure we’ve noted before (and if we haven’t, we should have) we STRUGGLE with IVY. To understand what I mean, imagine a black 35mm film canister wedged into a thick ivy bush. It becomes TOTALLY invisible. Sometimes the only way to find the canister is to push and pull the ivy, a natural habitat remember (!), just to find a small bit of plastic. Not easy – which is why we often fail!

We had one narrow escape when a herd of cows were exceedingly interested in us and followed us to one of the cache sites, where we hastily signed the log and departed.IMG_6135At another GZ, we were held up replacing the cache when a muggle (non-cacher) family took their time to walk past us dawdling by a road sign.

A pleasant stroll, made slightly harder by the failing light on the walk.

May 4 Day 124 Caches Found 10 Cumulative Total 162 (+1 bonus)

Up to now, many of our routes have been following a laid out geo-caching series. For a change, and because we wanted to stretch our legs a bit more, we followed a Walking route, published in Country Walking magazine, and found the caches near to it.

The route started in the small Hampshire village of Ashmansworth, followed some roads and footpaths to Crux Easton, then onto Woodcott before rising to the top of a chalk ridge and following the Wayfarer’s Walk back to Ashmansworth.

We discovered that were 10 caches over the 9 mile route – so it meant we really could stretch our legs between caches.
Of the first three we found, 2 were part of the National Church Micro series. These are small caches, placed near churches. Frequently they are multi or offset caches, where the published co-ordinates take you to point A, where you must find out a piece of information, use the numbers in the information to find a new set of co-ordinates at point B. The cache is generally within 200 yards of point A! At the first cache, the main co-ordinates had to be derived from a date on a gravestone. This gravestone stood out as it had a shamrock carved on it.
While we were deriving our final co-ordinates for the cache it rained, so we were grateful that the church provided us with shelter.

Crux Easton church

Our walk continued, at one point almost being run down by a set of speedy cyclists, and we found an extremely large cache as well as the small Tupperware containers we have become accustomed to.

Large cache

As we climbed up to the ridge, we espied a group of walkers who stopped part way along the Wayfarers Walk. Our GPS indicated that where they had stopped was in the vicinity of our next-but-one cache…. were they cachers ? We walked hurriedly to our next cache, found it and replaced it but could not escape from Ground Zero (GZ) quickly enough before the other cachers arrived! We said ‘hello’ and they had retrieved the cache before we were out of sight.

The Wayfarers walk yielded all our remaining caches, including using a spent cartridge as a container! High on the chalk ridge there were splendid views and in the distance we could just make out Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey).

View from ridge

Unusual building!

A great day out, and all 10 caches found!