February 4 : Shanklin Town, Isle of Wight

St Paul’s Church, Shanklin

Our plans for the morning were thwarted by light drizzle, a gusting wind and a high tide.

We had intended to spend the morning revisiting a multi-cache placed just above the high water tide. But the wind and rain meant the sandy beach was narrower than we would have liked so filed the cache away for a future visit.

Instead we focussed on three town centre caches.

We drove away from the hotel, and found – after several circuits of the local roads – a parking place and headed off for our first cache. It was only 200 feet away, and we were very surprised to find when we arrived it was ON church property. We thought we could see the cache from the pavement, so we entered through the gates of St Paul’s Parish Church. Of course, what we saw from the roadside wasn’t the cache, but we did then spot a nearby piece of camouflage and delightful watertight cache container. We dropped off the Blue Lamb Proxy Geocoin here, as we weren’t sure what other size containers we would find.

Good solid container

We then walked about 1/4 of a mile passing by many a Shanklin house, and more infuriatingly a small supermarket where we could have parked without angst for an hour or two. We took a small footpath between houses and arrived at a piece of woodland. This was the Sibden Hill and Batts Copse Nature Reserve, and hidden just inside was our target. The hint was quite curious “at the base of pipe tree”.

Sibden Hill & Batts Copse

Clearly the cache was near the ground so we searched behind various trees, in roots, in fallen trees all to no avail. Then we saw a tree growing around a metallic pipe. Why the pipe was there, we don’t know, but this was the tree we needed. A small brick covered the cache, and once removed we wondered how we had not see the pipe on our initial inspection.

How did we miss this ?

Another 1/4 mile walk followed, retracing our steps in part but we soon turned off to follow the wonderfully named ‘Red Squirrel Trail’. This is a 32 mile cycleway/footpath primarily following the route of an old Isle of Wight railway. The route starts in the extreme North of the Island at Cowes, and loops round both Sandown and Shanklin in the South East. Such a long trail to follow and we walked about 300 yards!

Red Squirrel Trail


The path should have been tranquil, but waterjet-cleaning was going on in the neighbouring caravan park, which made it quite noisy. This time a hollow tree formed the host, but in our haste to bypass a large puddle we walked right by GZ !

Last cache of the day!

So three caches found, and with time ticking and a ferry waiting, we headed back to car (via the supermarket to buy some sandwiches) for the journey home.

February 3 : Shanklin Chine, Isle of Wight

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We were in Shanklin to play in a Scrabble tournament (20 games over 3 days). The tournament had finished, but our losses had continued to outnumber our wins, and neither of us won any prizes. After the prizegiving, we left the hotel just after sunset, as the light began to fade, heading for – we hoped – the final location of the Smuggler’s Path multicache, based around Shanklin Chine https://www.shanklinchine.co.uk We’d had a look along the beach at lunchtime, and had decided that the tide would be OK to make an attempt on the cache.

Passing the end of the esplanade, and the beach huts, we continued along the beach, hopping over the groynes and skirting large puddles of seawater. It was still dusk but it became much, much darker once we left the beach to scramble into woodland to our destination, an ammo box chained to a tree. We needed to undo a combination padlock to get into the box/cache. And we couldn’t manage it. We put in what we thought was the correct combination (we checked later, yes, it was OK) but we could barely see the numbers on the lock in the gloom, and we couldn’t wrestle the lock open. After a few minutes we gave up and came out onto the beach again.

It was much, much darker now, and the light had faded by the time we returned to the entrance to Shanklin Chine and climbed up to the top of the cliffs, overlooking the beach. There’s a good path along here, and we walked along the clifftop, passing the cliff lift, which is shut in February, and shut anyway at night. There’s another cache along here, and we attempted it in almost total darkness, stopping as muggles loomed out of the night, and getting well scratched by brambles, and before Mr Hg127 finally grabbed the object we were looking for.

Night caching ...

Night caching …


We returned to our hotel, down the steps by the cliff lift, which are ‘interesting’ at night, as they aren’t well lit all the way down, and back onto the seafront for a chance to reflect upon our efforts.

Postscript: if conditions were suitable, we intended to go back to that cache we had failed to unlock. But they weren’t. Next morning, a gale was blowing, and the tide was being pushed high up the beach.

Perhaps we won't go and get that cache this morning?

Perhaps we won’t go and get that cache this morning?


The cache has been added to our ‘caches with a good idea of the solution’ list for a future attempt: perhaps when we return next year?

February 2 : Shanklin, Isle of Wight

On our previous blog we mentioned that we were going to Shanklin to play in a Scrabble Tournament. (20 games over 3 days).

Shanklin Sea Front

Sadly, by Saturday lunchtime, our Scrabble losses far outweighed our wins, so we decided to break off for a few minutes and locate a simple cache just 300 feet from the hotel.

The day was fine, and the warm winter sunshine had brought people flocking to the sea-front. Our plan of a quick ‘cache and dash’ was thwarted by a family at Ground Zero.

We paused.

Admired the view.

We noticed a plethora of plaques nearby.

We read that Shanklin pier was destroyed in the Great Storm of October 1987.

Remnant of Shanklin Pier

We read that from where we stood PLUTO left the UK during WWII. (PLUTO stands for PipeLine Under The Ocean and was used to pump fuel from the UK to France to support the D-Day landings).

PLUTO left the UK here

We read that a time capsule had been placed here in 2000. Not to be opened until 2050.

Although less than 20 years ago, the year 2000 was a different place.
Most people didn’t own a home PC, even less an internet connection.
GPS technology hadn’t been turned on. (And no geocaches had been placed!)
And a mobile phone was.. just a mobile phone.

Where would you hide a cache here ?

As we reminisced (2000 was a special year for Mr and Mrs Hg137 too) GZ had become free.
We stood around – looking as innocent and nonchalant as only geocachers can – grabbed the cache, signed the log, replaced the cache in unseemly haste – and headed back to the Scrabble hotel!

February 16 – Isle of Wight – Lake and Shanklin

After the rigours (and success) of the 18 game Scrabble tournament, it was back to the caching before catching the ferry home.

Heavy rain had been forecast so we selected 5 caches all within a short distance of each other (aka a quick run back to the geocar!).

Our first, Sidetracked – Lake Station – was probably our hardest find of the day. A small magnetic nano somehow tucked into an underleaf of a railway sign. Many people don’t realise the Isle of Wight has a railway, but the line runs from the Ryde PierHead in the North to Shanklin in the South. The rolling stock consists of 1930s London Underground Tube Trains!

This way to the Station! (and the cache!)

This way to the Station! (and the cache!)


Lake is one of many misnomers in the Isle of Wight. The village of Lake, has NO Lake!
(The Isle of Wight also has Needles you cannot thread, Ryde where you walk, Cowes you cannot milk amongst others).

Our search at Lake station was not helped by 2 railway workers checking out the station forecourt as we arrived. A bit of decoy action, and after they drove away, we had the cache in hand.

We drove on further into Shanklin and picked up 3 caches in a circular walk. Two of them were part of the “Nostalgia” series, we had found caches from before (see February 14’s blog). Indeed one of the caches was next to the school the friends were taught at all those years ago. Another cache was near the sea wall, newly built when our cache owners were at school. They were escorted, as a school trip out, to see the new wall – the trip was memorable as one of their school-friends fell off the wall and bumped his head!!

Cache dangling from the lifebuoy.. but its not the GZ!

Cache dangling from the lifebuoy.. but its not the GZ!

Our last cache was near the railway line. Another cunning hide, and given the amount of metal at Ground Zero, we were surprised that the cache wasn’t magnetic!!

We arrived back to the car just as the rain started – giving just time for one more cache. Last year, when we visited the island, we failed to find the cache at Beautiful Beaches – Shanklin. Our reason for our failure – driving wind and torrential rain – we were soaked within 10 seconds arriving at Ground Zero. Today, even though it was gently raining, the find was easy especially as the hidey-hole was just a little exposed. Its amazing how much harder caches are to find, when the weather conditions are against you!

Wind, Rain, Tides..cachers in the dry!

Wind, Rain, Tides..cachers in the dry!

A bit better this year!

A bit better this year!

So our expedition to the Isle of Wight was over, 2 winners cheques, and 9 caches. A pretty good weekend’s work!