July 20 : Penarth to Cardiff – plus an encounter with the RNLI

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was Saturday 20th July, the first full day of our weekend break in Cardiff. We caught the train to Penarth, planning to walk back to Cardiff, see the bay and the barrage, take in the city centre, and find a cache or two along the way.

After a short walk downhill from the station through pleasant parkland (they like their topiary and flowerbeds here!) we arrived at the promenade. It was high tide, with no beach visible, so we set out along the pier https://piers.org.uk/pier/penarth/ The pier is great and there’s lots to say about it:

Penarth pier

Penarth pier


– We saw the Penarth All Stars netball team in pre-season training on the pier https://www.penarthtimes.co.uk/sport/17757201.national-success-penarth-allstars-netball-club/ and a few years ago, Gareth Bale was spotted playing football there https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-28029379 And there’s a plaque commemorating a lady from Penarth who swam across the Bristol Channel to Weston-super-Mare http://www.dai-sport.com/91-years-ago-woman-porthcawl-made-swimming-history/

– It’s 658 feet long; it can’t be longer, or it would protrude into the shipping channel for Cardiff Bay. Paddle steamers – the Waverley and Balmoral – still dock at the pier.

– It was ‘Pier of the Year’ in 2014.

– There used to be another pier at the other end of the esplanade but that was destroyed by fire.

– When there are especially high spring tides, the water is almost up to the decking on the pier.

Having lingered on the pier, we started on the caching. The first cache we attempted was a multicache, ‘Penarth Prom’. To find it, we needed to collect and count numbers from signs and plaques from various places along the seafront. Having done that, the coordinates we derived led us to a plausible place and to a spot which matched the hint (and which looks correct now we have viewed other photos). But could we find the cache? NO! Not a good start. At this time there was sudden activity at the far end of the promenade; the road closed, briefly, as the Penarth lifeboat was launched and went zooming out to sea; more about this later.

Penarth lifeboat

Penarth lifeboat


We gave up on the unfound cache and began to walk back to Cardiff, arriving at a viewpoint at the top of the cliffs with a big view back to the pier and beyond to Flat Holm and Steep Holm islands. The boundary between Wales and England runs between the islands; Steep Holm, the farthest one, is English, while Flat Holm is Welsh. Here, also, is a cache, newly placed, somewhere around a wall at the lower end of the viewpoint. That gives littles away as the concrete wall has various lumps, bumps, cracks, and fixings, and ivy trailing over and through it. We had ample time to consider all of those as we searched up and back and along the wall, sticking our fingers in myriad places, and we were just getting downhearted when I spotted something ever so slightly different, which was the cache. Hooray, a find to get us going.

There was a short, winding descent and we emerged at the locks at one end of the barrage. After crossing the three locks, each with their own lift bridge, we were about to walk away when we saw “boats” approaching the locks. Ooh – a chance to see the locks work and the bridge lift! We went back to the locks to see what would happen. And “boats” was a yacht roped to a RNLI lifeboat. Another yacht roped to another lifeboat soon followed, and then a smaller lifeboat, keeping watch. The two pairs of yachts/lifeboats manoeuvered into the lock, leaving the littlest lifeboat outside. What was going on, and why do many lifeboats? As the lock filled, the lock-keeper told us that a yacht had broken down in the Bristol Channel and was taken in tow by the Weston lifeboat. The Penarth lifeboat, which we saw leaving earlier, went to collect it to return it to Cardiff, but was called to another broken-down yacht on the way. All yachts and lifeboats then returned to Cardiff and made their way into the bay, with a bit of RNLI crew swapping as the Weston RNLI crew weren’t familiar with the locks. What excitement! Read all about it here: https://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/weston-rnli-tow-yacht-to-cardiff-1-6174628

Once across the locks, we were in Cardiff. Croeso i Caerdydd! We stopped almost immediately to find the Southernmost Point of Cardiff cache, hidden on the end of the breakwater; this one was hard to find, with fingertip searches of every likely hiding place. Then followed a cacheless walk of about a mile along the barrage and the shores of Cardiff Bay. It was now warm, but quite windy, and the waves in the bay were sparkling, though doubtless the water was cold.

Total Wipeout, Cardiff-style

Total Wipeout, Cardiff-style


Part way along, we came to a floating assault course – think “Total Wipeout”! – and we watched a party of exhausted participants drag themselves from the water while the next group rushed excitedly in https://www.aquaparkgroup.co.uk/cardiff/
Norwegian Church, Cardiff

Norwegian Church, Cardiff


We passed the Norwegian Church (Roald Dahl was baptised here), and next reached outer space – the “Doctor Who Experience” had been located here until recently, and our next pair of caches had Whovian themes – “Bigger on the Inside” and “Don’t Blink”. Passing Britannia Quay, we found two more caches (at last, the total was beginning to build now, after a slow start to the day). We’d reached the Senedd, the National Assembly for Wales http://www.assembly.wales/en/visiting/senedd/Pages/senedd.aspx and decided on a quick look inside. Mistake! We had to go through security: Mr Hg137 almost had to disrobe (??!?), while I had to hand in my weapons (a Swiss Army knife and a torch): we had a look around but we didn’t feel especially welcome.
Senedd, Cardiff, outside ...

Senedd, Cardiff, outside …

... Senedd, Cardiff, inside

… Senedd, Cardiff, inside

Weapons reclaimed, we returned to the shores of the bay to look for “Goldfinger Revisited”. We weren’t quite sure what this was going to be, and were surprised to arrive at a large sculpture, the Celtic Ring http://harveyhood.blogspot.com/2011/11/celtic-ring-cardiff-bay.html The other surprise (to us, anyway) was that the area was incredibly busy, but it was a sunny weekend afternoon, down by the water, with a nearby funfair, so maybe (a few!) people are to be expected … We thought for a bit, read cache logs, hint, and description, and soon found the cache, without any of the crowd spotting us.

Celtic Ring

Celtic Ring


We continued into an area now called Cardiff Bay, but which used to be called Tiger Bay, which was a very … umm … vibrant area of the city. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Bay We stopped to find the Sidetracked cache at Cardiff Bay station. After the quick find, we stopped to regroup, around the corner, for a moment, then stepped back into the sunshine to find … some other cachers replacing the cache! Nice to meet you, new-dawn and two mini-cachers! They said they had come into town for the day, and that they had found a new cache on the barrage called “Captain Fartypants” … we had walked right past it … and the cache hadn’t been placed when we loaded the caches for this weekend. Curses!
Cachers, caught red-handed!

Cachers, caught red-handed!


A little further on, there was another cache for us to find, outside St. Mary’s Church, called “Tiger Bay Girl Was Here” – Shirley Bassey, the girl in the title, was baptised there.
St Mary's Church, Cardiff Bay

St Mary’s Church, Cardiff Bay


Then we reached the southern edge of the city centre – almost back now! – to do two earthcaches, close to each other, in quick succession: these require you to gather geological information from items in the area. So close to each other, so different in aspect: Callaghan Square was a breezy open space with fountains and skateboarders: St. Mary’s Street was party central, and maybe 5pm on a sunny Saturday wasn’t the best of times to attempt this cache. The area was quite … lively! We sat on a bench and assembled the answers, unnoticed, while hen parties, stag parties, and party parties all passed by.

And that was it – back to the hotel. A little later, after a rest and a superb Chinese meal in a restaurant where we were almost the only Europeans, there was one final cache to attempt, the Sidetracked at Queen Street station, opposite our hotel. We finished the day as we had started, with a failure. The cache is hidden somewhere along a wall around a private car park. Mr Hg137 decided to search inside the car park (foolish), but became trapped when the automatic gates shut on him (oops); luckily, he got a concierge to let him out through the foyer of some nearby apartments. A quirky end to a fascinating, but tiring day, and we had seen a huge variety of what Cardiff has to offer.

(Editor’s note: if you are in the area, the restaurant is No. 23 Chinese Restaurant 金满楼 in Churchill Way)

Here are some of the caches we found:

Advertisements

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 https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/olafur-eliasson , 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!

May 20 : Chester (part 1)

Chester & The River Dee

We had booked a week’s holiday in Chester, as it was an area neither of knew that well, and it would give us a small break from caching the Sandhurst Trail.

Our hotel was about 2 miles outside the City of Chester, and with a station on our doorstep, we took the train. (Saved car parking fees, but didn’t save shoe leather as we later discovered Chester Station was a little distance from our City Centre Caching Targets).

Chester is a former Roman Town, with a 2 mile Roman Wall surrounding the city centre. (The wall has been rebuilt several times since the Romans left!). The station was to the North of these walls, and our target caches was well to the South of the Walls, near the River Dee.

Before we left home we had solved a difficulty 5 puzzle cache called “The Clairvoyant” and we were determined to find it. As its location was some distance from the station, this gave us a chance to find caches on the way.

Can you look into the future and solve this puzzle, before you read whether we discovered the cache ?

We had forgotten that city locations play havoc with the GPS ! Many times we found a cache about 20 feet from its location. The first was attached to some ‘street furniture’ near to the Deva pub (‘Deva’ being the Roman name for Chester).

First Chester Cache

We weren’t so lucky looking for a cache in Grosvenor Park called ‘Park Life’ as we found neither the cache nor the ‘Stump’ alluded to in the clue. We were in a park were squirrels abounded, sadly they didn’t help us.

“Can I help ?”

We even took a ride on the model railway and looked again. Nothing!

Choo-choo !

We did find the other cache in the park, “A Walk in the Park”, and as we sat and completed the logging, a young couple sat on adjacent seat, and fed another squirrel… with a very large chip! To see a squirrel holding and nibbling a chip lengthways (as if a corn-cob) was really cute and funny!

We needed to cross the river, and the Queens Park Suspension Bridge (originally built in 1852, and rebuilt/restored a few times since) provided us with our next cache.

Partway along, we stopped 10 feet after GZ, and looked down. Nothing at our feet. But, as we looked back up… we saw a family of four, 10 feet away, signing a piece of paper! Yes they were cachers! Pleased to meet you Team ELSR, and well done on finding your first 4 geocaches!)

We had a half-mile walk along the River Dee’s Bank to “The Clairvoyant”. Like many puzzle caches, the answer is very obvious when you discover it. Here, a read of the previous finder’s logs, as well as fully understanding every word written about the cache, gave us the solution. (Hint: to solve it will require printing it out, and using at least one tool).

A small, indistinct trail led through knee-high nettles at Clairvoyant’s GZ. An even smaller track lead to a bush which provided excellent camouflage for an ammo can! It is certainly worthwhile to find a large cache when a large amount of brain-power has been used!

As it says on the tin.. “The Clairvoyant”


The flood-plains near the River Dee provided an excellent vantage position for watching a canoe race take place, as well locating one other cache in a very disguised paint tin!

We headed back towards the City, collecting another, much smaller cache, near the former City Mill.

The centre of Chester (ie inside the city walls), has a good mixture of caches. Some standard, easy to find caches; an earthcache based on the former Roman Baths (successfully answered); and two very lengthy multi-caches. It was these multicaches we started work on, as we headed back towards the Station. We realised we didn’t have enough time in one day to complete all the stages, so we stopped about half-way in each, to give us enough stages to make a worthwhile return visit to the City.

Chester’s former Roman Bathhouse

The day was hot, and after several hours wandering around we were tired, so we thought the Chester Cathedral Multicache would give us a chance to relax and cool off. We unfortunately arrived at the Cathedral 20 minutes before the Annual Mayor-Making service was due to start. Seats were named, various several members of the clergy were due to participate, hundreds of guests invited… and we had 20 minutes to find 4 objects and dates to yield the final co-ordinates for the cache. So much for a relaxing few minutes! Fortunately two of the answers were found in a small courtyard adjacent to the Cathedral so we were well away from the pomp and ceremony as it unfolded.

Chester Cathedral


Then we had to find the cache!

For some obscure reason (probably because all the photos on http://www.geocaching.com were of a water feature), we thought the cache was nearby. Indeed it was – 30 feet away. But, after far too long searching inside the courtyard we concluded (with the help of the gift shop staff – who knew where the cache was) the cache was outside the courtyard walls! Once at GZ… we found a container LOCKED to some gates. The numbers we had found formed the number to UNLOCK to cache! The cache was in a relatively high muggle area.. but will never be lost!

Solve the clues correctly..and you can open the cache


Our last cache of the day was close to one of the towers that are situated on the City Walls. An easy find, and in a lovely location with Roman Walls above, and the Shropshire Union Canal nearby.

We had walked about 6 miles, found 9 caches (including an Earthcache) on our first sortie into Chester. We still had lots more find … watch out Chester…we’ll be back!

August 19 : Farley Forage

Our plans today were the Farley Forage series and a couple of other caches on route. The caches were ‘squeezed’ between two other series we had completed recently – the Hampshire Drive By, and the Cache-as-Cache-can series in Farley Hill.

Passports at the ready!

The Farley Forage series was wholly in Berkshire, but due to quirkiness of the roads – and a troublesome (vehicle) ford crossing of the River Blackwater, we parked in Hampshire. Indeed this closeness of the county boundary was celebrated by our first cache of the day called County (Re) Boundary. This cache was a replacement for a previous one, and we suspect hidden in the same place. In a tree bole, 6 feet above a muddy bank.
Mr Hg137 scrambled up, located the cache and passed it down for Mrs Hg137 to sign the log and retrieve 2 trackables : Monkey Magic and a World Geocoin. What a good start to the day!

Farley Ford, standing in Berkshire, looking into Hampshire

We then started on the Farley Forage route, crossing the River Blackwater not by the ford but via a small concrete bridge and arriving very quickly at Farley Forage #1. We had read that the previous finder had reported the cache container was broken so we had taken along a film canister to provide a further layer of protection. It wasn’t needed as the cache owner had been out and fixed the cache before 9 o’clock!

The cache owner, Twinkandco, places small caches, generally nano sized, sometimes a film container, but nearly always connected to a piece of rural camouflage. Sometimes the container is inside some bark, or a log, sometimes with a ‘tail’ inside a tube.. but always great fun!

All of the caches are easy (ish) to find, but sometimes a bit of bank scrambling is needed for retrieval.

This series had been advertised as ” … very wet and boggy in places after rainy weather and WELLYS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED“. We had worn walking boots, and we were grateful we had, as shortly after cache 4 came the mud. Two hundred yards of it. The path was one giant mudslide. We picked our way between the soft, squelchy mud, the really slippery mud and the much-easier-to-walk-on shaly mud. In fact while we were traversing the mud we almost forget to see how close the next cache was, and nearly walked by it.

Mud, mud..glorious mud!

The Farley Forage series consisted of 16 caches and we had two others to find on our 4 mile walk. The County (Re) Boundary was one, and we were soon at the other, Sandpit Lane. We had several host trees to search here, and it was only after a few minutes that we managed to find the cache.

The Farley Forage series contained one multi, and due to some over-zealous navigation on Mr Hg137’s part we approached the first part from the wrong direction thus meaning we had to retrace our steps for the final find.

We had walked uphill, away from the river and the paths were much, much drier.

Except at cache 7.

We had rounded a blind corner on the footpath, and discovered the cache was hidden behind a tree the other side of a large stretch of mud.

(We knew the cache was there, as a plethora of muddy bootprints pointed towards the tree!).

Mrs Hg137 ventured across, and retrieved the cache at the second attempt. It was just as the log was being signed when 2 people came round the blind corner.

We’d been rumbled!

But no! They were cachers too. Penwood Plodders – another husband and wife team. We made sure they endured the mud by asking them to replace the cache! We walked on with them for a cache or two, chatting about the Devon Mega, the mud and caching in general. It became apparent that their walking pace, and cache administration, was quicker then us, so we allowed them to speed ahead. Nice meeting you!

(Ed: in case you are wondering why it takes longer to write ‘hg137’ on a log rather than ‘Penwood Plodders’, its because we scribble down a brief note about each cache, our experience at it, as well as taking a photo for this blog).

That’s better… a bit drier here !

The next section of the route was relatively uneventful, the cache containers maintained their uniqueness. As we re-approached the River Blackwater we crossed a few stiles (always good hiding places) and well as a cache hidden deep in a nettle bush.

Somewhere.. near to this stile’s signage .. may be a cache!

Several times we thought we were catching up with Penwood Plodders, but every time they were returning to the footpath having left it to find a cache.

Penwood Plodders in the distance

For much of the day we could hear the sound of farm machinery, and as discovered caches 12-14 we were walking alongside the farmer’s field. What he thought of two pairs of ‘ramblers’ walking along the footpath and both pairs stopping mid-field, in the same spot, we shall never know.

I wonder whether he spotted us…

We were expecting more mud on this section as the river was only feet away, but the paths were dry and meant the mud layer on our boots was quickly being walked off.

We found all the caches on route – a very enjoyable 4 mile walk – full of interesting finds and varied countryside. If you are in the areas of Farley Hill.. we recommend the series to you!

Other Caches we found included :

April 22: Fifield

**** PLEASE NOTE : UNLIKE MANY OF OUR BLOGS, THIS ONE CONTAINS A LOT OF SERIOUS SPOILERS ****

April 22/23 has a lot of meaning to us, and we like to undertake some sort of celebration.

Where will today take us?

Our celebration this year … was to go geocaching ! We decided though, not to continue caching on our Sandhurst to Sandhurst trail, but to stay local(-ish) and find some caches set by our favourite Cache Owner, JJEF.

We have often remarked on this blog about the inventiveness of JJEF caches, sometimes a work of art, other times a fiendish puzzle – nearly always made of wood. This would be a great way to celebrate!

We travelled to the small village of Fifield just south of the M4 near Maidenhead. We parked up and headed to our first cache location. This was to be the sole non-JJEF cache of the day…and we made a meal of it! Originally ‘Once a Fine Pair’ had been part of the ‘Fine Pair’ series where both a red telephone box and red letter box are adjacent to each other. Sadly, the telephone box has been removed, but the cache lives on with a slight renaming. Anyway, it was a multi-cache, so we scribbled down some numbers and performed some arithmetic a child of five would be proud of. We strode purposefully towards GZ. We went by a item that matched the hint, but since we were still 200 feet away, we didn’t stop. Sadly that was as close as we got, as we had no means of getting closer than 150 feet, as private property blocked our path. Mmm. Perhaps there is another way to GZ.

We left pondering this (passing the hint item again), tried various side roads looking for non-existent tiny alleyways that would get us to the cache. All to no avail.

Disheartened we embarked on the JJEF series.

6 caches and as JJEF wrote in the description : This series contains all manner of cache types, if you know my MO then you will manage with these hides which are meant to be fun but achievable by everyone.

The first cache hadn’t been found for a while so we were expecting a second DNF of the day. We had about half a mile to walk to start the series; as we walked we watched groundsmen manicuring two polo pitches, riders giving light exercise to their (polo) horses. Red Kites performed balletic movements above us. There was no-one else on the footpath.

Anyone for polo ?

Anyone for polo ?

Until we approached the first cache.

Where had that young couple and two dogs appeared from? Why did they spend several minutes on the footbridge we wanted to stop at ? Why did they furtively look behind as we stopped at the footbridge too ?

Yep, they were geocachers. We chatted to Team VP. They had not found the cache. Our hearts sank, as this meant we were unlikely to either.

Team VP (and doggy helpers)

Team VP (and doggy helpers)

We said we would give the location a good look, and maybe see them later. (JJEF caches really do need to be savoured, and this gave them a 10 minute head start for all future caches, meaning both of us could enjoy JJEF’s inventiveness)

We explored the footbridge in fine detail. Every screw, every plank, and every little ledge. There was however one part of the bridge that was harder to access and (here’s the big hint), let’s just say we were glad it hadn’t rained much! We found the cache…or rather we found a 4 foot long tube. The cache was inside, and to release it we had to solve a mini-maze. JJEF had constructed a mini-maze which had to be solved by means of twisting and turning the outer tube which surrounded a central pole. As we twisted and turned the outer casing more and more of the maze (and its dead ends) were visible. Until, eventually a film canister was revealed containing the log. We’d found the cache… and got to the log! Yay!

Undoing the Mini-Maze

Undoing the Mini-Maze

Of course such a contraption has to be put back together again, fortunately this was easier as the maze was visible prior to being twisted back into its tube.

We didn’t see Team VP at cache 2 of the Fifield series. This required a pencil to spring open a bird-box. Unfortunately the spring didn’t work, so we set about dismantling the bird-box with a Swiss Army knife. Another log signed.

Birdbox 1

Birdbox 1

We did see Team VP at cache 3. They hadn’t found it. They left us to search GZ. Three or four fallen huge tree trunks. Lots of bramble and prickly bushes. We scoured the area, but failed to find the cache. Most other cache owners would have hidden a cache in one of the many trunk holes, we searched those too, even though JJEF caches tend to be ‘out in the open’.

We moved on. The next cache was the easiest find of the day, in a sawn off log.

Easy -  as falling off a log!

Easy – as falling off a log!

We caught up again with Team VP at cache 5. We had to find a padlocked box, and nearby a number to unlock it. Before we tried to search Team VP realised that they had hidden the ‘number’ in an incorrect way. They told us this and what the correction should be. All very well, but this assumed we would find the box and the nearby number. Fortunately we did!

Here's the cache..now where's the code number ?

Here’s the cache..now where’s the code number ?

The last cache in the series was another bird box, and again opened in a way only a JJEF cache can!

Birdbox 2

Birdbox 2

So we walked back to the car, and then remembered the multi-cache from earlier. We re-checked our calculation! Whoops! So much for a simple sum a five year old could do.. we failed miserably! The corrected sum took us back to where we had been before…and who was ahead of us … Team VP ! We both signed the logs, and parted. Farewell Team VP .. happy caching in the future.

Stumped by our arithmetic!

Stumped by our arithmetic!

Arguably that was the last cache, but we knew of one more JJEF cache a short drive (sort of) on the way home. As we drove, we tried to remember the last time we had seen geocachers ‘on the cache’ (excluding meets) and decided it was October 2015. We wondered whether it would be another 18 months before we saw another cacher.

The cache we were driving to was called ‘Mini Elevator’ set on the junction of a footpath and a small one-car layby. As we approached the layby we saw a car already parked in it. Plan B. Park in the nearby cricket club. How can we bluff our way past the over-officious groundsman to park our car ? Since we had travelled in Mrs HG137’s car, that would be her problem. Meanwhile…back at the layby, what are those two ladies doing ? Are they looking for something?

Yes, they were.

They were looking for the cache we had come to seek. Foxscout and Doggwalker had come all the way from Essex to cache for the day, and attend a cacher’s meet in Windsor the day after. They had 30 or 40 caches ahead of them for the day, and we joined them in the search. Doggywalker found JJEF’s (non-wooden) construction and we both signed the log.

Having gone 18 months between seeing geocachers out and about, we had barely gone 18 minutes! Amazing!

So a really fun morning, we met 4 geocachers (and two dogs), found 6 JJEF caches, and got sent to the bottom of the class for some really poor arithmetic!

Bluebells to finish!

Bluebells to finish!

January 30 : Crocked in Camberley

One of the advantages of blogging about geocaching, is that our blogs are read, in the main, by geocachers and we in turn read their blogs.

Would this Swan help us to find a cache ?

Would this Swan help us to find a cache ?


We follow with interest the adventures of Robbinn (and CockRobin) whose blog you can link to at the side of this panel. Although we’ve never met them, we know that they live locally to us and when they blogged about a great new mini-series in Camberley – we knew we’d like it too!

The series CDW (Camberley Dog Walk) consists of 5 caches in a residential part of Camberley just north of the M3. We were expecting the M3’s noise to spoil the walk, but in fact it was barely audible at all.

We parked, as most people do, at CDW#1. The cache was hidden at a road junction, and the obvious hiding place was quickly scanned for the cache. We were expecting a small nano from the description warning “take tweezers” and thus is was a shock to eventually something much larger!

First cache of the day!

First cache of the day!


We walked on to CDW#2 passing some expensive looking houses arriving at a salt/sand bin, which given the warm winter is rather a superfluous piece of street furniture. The cache hint mentioned ‘sticky sand’, so we went looking for a stick near the sand bin. Lots of sticks lay in the nearby hedgerow. We picked each of them up, looked all over, trying to find the cache. Sadly we didn’t! The bin was close to several houses, and after 15 minutes searching we thought it best to move on, before suspicions were aroused. Clearly we missed the cache, but we’re sure on another day we’ll find it within seconds.

We then had a longish walk to CDW#3. The properties we passed were slightly less salubrious, but the wood and lake (Watchetts Pond) we arrived at were well worth the walk.

Surrounding the lake was a footpath and quite mature trees. There were two caches lakeside, one either side of the lake. The first CDW#3 was in a clearing. There was a fallen log/trunk, several trees with hidey-holes, several trees with no holes at all. There were also two concrete cubes which provided useful seating. (Most people we think sit on these cubes and feed the swans, which incidentally didn’t help us… I guess because we had nothing to feed them with!). We searched the trees, we searched the logs, we searched the cubes. Again to no avail. The clearing was not overlooked by houses, so we could search to our hearts-content.. poking here, prodding there, peeling bark here, lifting leaves there… where was this cache ? Eventually, and reluctantly, we gave up.

Watchetts Pond

Watchetts Pond

CDW#4 was a delight for several reasons – firstly we found it! Secondly the container was special. If you read RobbInn’s blog, and our title, and the cache hint, you know what to look for… but the moment the cache is found makes it very special. We, like RobbInn are not going to post a picture…you’ll have to wait for our end-of year caches for that!

We returned to CDW#3 and another look in the clearing. Had we missed anything ? After another 5 minutes fruitless searching we abandoned and headed for CDW#5.

CDW#5 should have been easy. It was in an alleyway in a bush. Quite straightforward. However, the bush was adjacent to a house and garden… and the lady of the house was gardening (in January ! Really! ) right next to GZ. No point searching – we moved on.

Last cache of the day!

Last cache of the day!


Our journey back to the car took us past the Camberley Cricket Club where another cache awaited us. Fortunately a quick find to raise our flagging spirits at the end of a disappointing morning’s caching trip. (3 of 6 caches found)

The only advantage, if there is one, to so many DNFs, is that we have a small cluster to come and re-attempt on another occasion.

That’s 2 poor caching trips in a row.. are we losing our caching skills or will February bring better luck. Lets hope so.

October 10 : Richmond to Barnes Bridge

Some days are good days, some days are …

The journey started well enough as we caught the train to Richmond – Mr Hg137 even got chatting to someone he recognised on the train (but only remembered her name as we left (tsk, tsk)).
We passed through a deserted Twickenham station and knowing that the Rugby World Cup was on, remarked “It’ll be a lot busier this afternoon”. A short walk through Richmond town centre, in that early morning when shopkeepers haven’t quite got set up, but customers are buying to avoid the queues later.

The river on arrival was quiet. The summer was definitely over, hire boats were out of the water, being sanded, varnished and re-waterproofed. We wandered along the path, dodging the usual array of keep-fit enthusiasts to arrive at Richmond Lock.

End of Season maintenance

End of Season maintenance


To many people this lock is a surprise, as the river is tidal at this point and why would a lock be necessary? Apparently, about 100 years ago, the boat owners complained that the ebbing tide also took more river water out with it, leaving a very shallow body of water. A lock and weir was built to trap river water at low tide. For two hours either side of high tide, boats can ‘ride the weir’ in safety, but for the remaining time boats must use the lock (and, unusually, pay for the privilege!).
Richmond Lock - tide's out .. please pay!

Richmond Lock – tide’s out .. please pay!


Our first cache was on the bridge over the weir. The description mentioned both a key-safe (a slim magnetic playing card type cache) or a magnetic nano. Lots of metal, lot of of muggle dodging, lots of looking. Not a cache to be found. Not a good start!
Low tide

Low tide


We did notice that the tide must have been at low when we were at the lock as various sandbanks were visible in the river. Further down the path the tide was coming in quite quickly as many a rowing crew were being whisked upstream with barely an oar in the water.

We paused close to our next target ( Oh Deer! ).

A terrain 4.5 cache.

A tree climb.

After our success on the previous walk we had thoughts of at least looking at it. But to get to it there was a 6 foot drainage channel to cross. There was a bridge… made of uneven logs. We couldn’t even work out how to get onto the logs! We gave the cache a miss ! (And also realised some time after that neither of us took a photo of this obstacle!). Two caches sort of attempted, none found. Its going to be one of those days…

…and it didn’t improve at the next cache, Swamp Cache. Somewhere in the trees, down a bank, in a slightly muddy, overgrown area was a cache the size of a tennis ball. Was it on the half a dozen trees we examined ? Was it really in the swamp area with indeterminate depth of water just beyond ? We never found it. Three failures out of three – our caching trip was going very well indeed.

A rare success!

A rare success!


Our next two caches were remnants of an old 20-cache series set in October 2009. Now only two remain, numbers 16 and 19. Both, fortunately for us, easily found. But one was in desperate need of maintenance that it can’t be long before only one cache will remain from this series. Looking at logs for the other 18 archived caches, the owner has been negligent with cache maintenance with the whole series. Such a shame the cache owner didn’t maintain them, as the Thames Path does lend itself to lots of good hiding places !
Lots of good hiding places along here

Lots of good hiding places along here


The Thames Path passed behind Richmond Deer Park (hence the ‘oh Deer’ cache earlier, and Kew Gardens. On the other bank Syon House, was clearly visible. Syon House has been in the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland) since 1594. Although it is still in private hands, it is open for visiting 3 days a week during the Summer.
Syon House

Syon House

One other great moment of interest (well to Mrs Hg137, a canal buff) was where an arm of the Grand Union of Canal meets with the Thames. From here one can travel all the way to Birmingham by boat!

Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal


The South Bank of the Thames was devoid of caches for some distance (presumably the 20 cache series had caches on this stretch), so we crossed to the Northern Bank. We had two objectives – firstly to see and photograph the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Finishing Post. Second to find the cache yards from it!

We failed with both!

The Boat Race Finishing Post SHOULD be here!

The Boat Race Finishing Post SHOULD be here!


Firstly the finishing post had been removed and replaced by a temporary banner for that weekend’s (non-University) racing. Secondly we didn’t find the cache.. but we did find another cacher signing its log!

When we arrived at Ground Zero, the few people that were around were all connected with rowing. They were engaged with packing up, cleaning boats and the like. Except one lady, sitting on a stump, crouched over a piece of paper.

We enquired whether she was a geocacher and whether she was holding a geocache! We were right! A lovely Spanish lady with caching name of doways. Welcome to the UK – and hope you enjoy your caching adventures here!

Doways with the cache

Doways with the cache


So really we didn’t find that cache either!

We completed our walk on the North bank crossing back to the South bank to catch a bus back to Richmond. The bus was late (we think due to Rugby traffic on its outbound route), and we just missed a train home. This gave us plenty of time on Richmond Station to watch hundreds of Welsh and Australian rugby fans descend on the platform, squeeze on the next train, and depart.

Arrive, squeeze, depart.

Arrive, squeeze, depart.

Suddenly the whole station reverberated with the singing of “Cwm Rhondda” – a huge sound got closer and closer. then just six Welshman arrived and they were responsible for the huge sound ! Amazing!

Our train arrived, and like all the others was jam-packed, so much so we could barely get on it! Get on it we did but we were so squashed on the 10 minute journey to Twickenham station we could barely breathe.

An unpleasant end, to a rather poor day’s outing! Still there’s always next time!

Thames Path statistics :
Route length : 5.3 miles
Total distance walked : 161.75 miles

Caches found : 3 (or was it 2.5?)
Total caches found : 289