“Keep persevering…but sooner or later Lady Luck will desert you”
It was a hot day, and a short circuit in the country was planned. The Loddon Loop series looked so short, and so simple (14-18 caches) that Mrs HG137 even suggested NOT taking lunch with us. A good job she was overruled… this circuit was to be an ongoing saga…. (We don’t normally blog about every single cache in turn…but this time…. well, read on to find out more – cache numbers relate to the Loddon Loop series, not the running total for the day)
The primary targets were 15 caches in the Loddon Loop series numbered 1-15. Number 5 has been withdrawn from the circuit, but along the way there were another five caches that were either on route or just off it.
We should have realised it was not going to be plain sailing when at cache 1 it took us three attempts to locate a bison attached to the top of a footpath sign. (Our excuse, dear reader, is that the footpath sign and its surround was covered in brambles and stinging nettles.)
The first part of the route was on a very minor road, very quiet, very peaceful. We even passed a house selling unwanted plants. The colour was spectacular. We thought about buying some of the plants, but it was early in our walk and we’d have to carry them around with us.
Cache 2 in the series presented more problems … the GPS was 40 feet out! So two caches down, and two longer-than-expected-searches.
Cache 3 – An easy find ! Phew! Ground Zero was a narrow, metal bridge and here we almost witnessed a slapstick moment as a golfer, heading to the nearby course, clattered his golf bag (and clubs) into the handrails causing him to slip… and only just remain above the wet stream below!
Cache 4 – Sometimes the hints for caches are very clear, others very ambiguous but accurate. This was the latter. The hint was ‘metal’ and there in front of us was a ‘metal’ gate. Was the cache attached to it ? No ! But it was in plain sight and so obvious to see after 10 minutes looking.
After these long searches we wanted to speed up our progress to the next cache. A brisk walk was needed, but the footpath really tested our perseverance skills. It was barely visible under 6 foot brambles and stinging nettles. We inched past them, we swatted many down with the geo-pole, but we ended up being thoroughly scratched and stung.
With no cache 5, our next target, cache 6, yet again proved a tad elusive. The hint and co-ordinates pointed to a fallen log just a few yards in front of a bush. Sadly after walking through the stinging nettles to get the fallen log, we discovered the log was not the right place. Instead the cache was hidden in a log BEYOND the bush! Oh what fun!
It was here we decided to regroup. To re-focus our activities and more importantly have a cup of coffee. (If in doubt, stop, think and have a coffee).
We tried to set the GPS for cache 7. Where was it ? Not in the GPS, that’s for sure… somehow Mr HG137 had failed to load caches 7 (and 9) into the GPS. We then spent some time getting an internet connection from our phone to manually enter the missing caches to the GPS. How to stretch a 10 minute coffee break to 30 minutes without really trying. (Ed : It’s all going rather well isn’t it?)
When we did get to Cache 7 it was clearly visible but under brambles. Oh joy!
Our first bit of favourable luck on this route came shortly after. A huge, brand new wooden bridge. Apparently the winter storms had destroyed the previous bridge and crossing the Loddon was impossible. We strode purposefully over the bridge and headed away from the Loddon Loop series, to an old cache (placed March 2003). Here a familiar scene greeted us, lots of stumps to hide the cache in, lots of stinging nettles, lots of brambles. And lots of time spent looking in the wrong place. We were about to give up, when we saw a stump we hadn’t looked at (in 13 years it was no longer a stump of course!) and there was an ammo can! Phew!
It was by now time for an early lunch and we were barely half-way round. We paused and ate lunch on a seat just-a-bit-too-small for two of us, but we had a good view of the Loddon – we even saw a tiny froglet inching its way through the grass. (Ed : spotting tiny frogs seemed a lot easier than finding a large ammo can).
We surveyed our heavily stung, scratched bodies and hoped that the second half of the Loddon Loop would be easier. Although we had found every single cache we had attempted, it had been a battle at every location. We decided to just finish the route and not stray away from circuit finding extras.
A rarity at cache 8. A simple find, by a scenic ford, and more importantly no nasty plants attacking us. Indeed our remaining journey had far fewer brambles and nettles. Phew!
Cache 9. Hint : Stile. Instead of a stile there was a BRAND NEW GATE! The STILE AND CACHE had been removed and replaced with a gate! Lady Luck was just starting knock our perseverance.
Cache 10 : On or near a bridge – hint : hanging. Obvious.. its hanging from the bridge. We searched the bridge from above, and where possible below. Suffice to say, and I’m sure you’ve guessed by now… it wasn’t on the bridge! But we found it.
Our next cache – an easy find (probably because it wasn’t a Loddon Loop cache) then cache 11…
Roughly where a cache should be hidden.
First we found an unusual plastic toy … then a cache lid … then another piece of plastic… then the cache base… , but no piece of paper to sign. We had a scrap of paper with us so we rebuilt the cache as best we could, hid it in a ‘reasonable place’ and moved on.
Then we made our big navigational error of the day. We were lured (well Mr HG137 was) by a bridge and footpath near the cache… and failed to read the cache route description about keeping near a field boundary. After about a quarter of a mile, the next cache wasn’t getting closer so we returned to the rebuilt cache 11, and started again.
Cache 12 easy enough (although we did walk past it), and cache 13 was found surprisingly easily in ivy. Woohoo.. we’ve nearly beaten the series!
Then the sting in the tail. Cache 14.
Near to a ‘private fishing sign’.
Near to a herd of cows that didn’t like our presence.
Near to a spiky looking bush.
But what made us not really search for the cache was the huge pile of wood chippings at Ground Zero. Yes, the cache was either not present or under a huge pile of chippings. We didn’t even try. Lady Luck had thrown bramble, nettles, gates instead of stiles, broken caches and dodgy navigation at us.. but we decided that this fresh pile of chippings was one obstacle too many.
Our final cache of the day, cache 15 in the series, was thankfully an easy find.
So we finished with 14 finds, 2 DNFs because of replacement stiles/chippings and a thousand and one scratches and stings! An caching adventure we may well remember for some time!
Here are some of the caches we found :