September 4: A Victorian Farm and a couple of Welsh caches

As we mentioned on our previous blog, we were on a week’s holiday with HF Holidays in Shropshire. HF Holidays organise walks (generally a choice of 3), on 5 days, but the sixth day is a rest/free day. Today was our free day!

Whilst many of our walking companions spent the day in Ludlow or Ironbridge, we had two different targets. The first was to visit the Acton Scott Farm just outside of Church Stretton. Our second target was to cross the border into Wales and collect a couple of Welsh caches. We had never found a cache in Wales, and as we were so close to the border, it seemed opportune to undertake such an expedition.

Acton Scott Farm was featured in the BBC’s “The Victorian Farm” broadcast about 10 years ago. The three presenters simulated how Victorian Farmers worked, coped and how advances in technology during the Victorian era changed their lives. Although much of the filming was done in nearby fields, some filming was undertaken in the ‘Visitor’/’Museum’ part of the farm.

Before we went round the farm we had a cache to collect just outside of the car park, and as we had arrived 20 minutes before the official farm museum opening time we were uninterrupted in the finding and logging process.

Acton Scott Farm Smithy


The farm museum is well worth a visit. As well as seeing how ploughs developed and blacksmiths operated, there were many species of farmyard animal to admire.
Geese and ducks ran about, pigs rootled in their sties. One-day-old chicks were handled by a visiting school party (and it must be said, Mrs Hg137 too!). A great morning’s visit!

Our next target of the day was some Welsh caches. We could have driven for about 5 miles to cross the border, but as the roads and the borders overlap a great deal, we wanted to collect a cache that http://www.geoecaching.com stated was in Wales.

We opted for the tiny village of Caerhywel (a definite Welsh name!), just outside the town of Montgomery. We parked in a small layby and went searching ‘behind metal box’. An obvious box was in the layby, but the cache was not behind it! Instead, some 3 yards further on was another ‘box’… and the cache was soon found. We had made the schoolboy error of trusting our eyes not the GPS!

Our first Welsh cache!


The second cache was part of the Side Tracked series near railway-stations. In this case, Montgomery’s now disused station. So the cache was part of the REALLY Sidetracked series, which celebrates the old, forgotten stations.

Our second Welsh site

…and our second Welsh cache


A longish walk from the layby, but soon we were at the old Station House, and a quick find. Well it should have been. but for the high level of muggles which appeared from nowhere just as we approached GZ! How often does this happen ?!

Two simple finds, but more importantly two Welsh caches.

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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.

Honiton

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.

Honiton

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

May 23 : Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd

Our previous day’s caching had been quite long with lots of sightseeing and a double caching trip. We therefore decided to have a more restful day… in the car.

Rye

Rye – Mermaid Street

We would drive to Winchelsea, wander around, grab a couple of caches. Drive to Rye, do likewise. Similarly in Lydd. If time permitted we would even visit Dungeness. And, unusually for us, we more or less, stuck to this plan!

So first stop.. Winchelsea.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Church

Winchelsea lays claim, or so its says on Wikipedia, to being Britain’s smallest town and with only 600 inhabitants, it must be jolly close. The town is now about 4 miles from the sea, but up the 13th century was on the coast. Sadly two very large storm waves destroyed the (old) town, and the new town was rebuilt on a grid system from 1281.
We had three caching targets in the town, the first being a Church Micro. We knew from the description and the hint, it would be on a seat just outside the churchyard. But as we arrived, on both sides of the road there were two long bus-queues of people. Muggle central! We took evasive action by visiting the Church. Unusually more ‘square’ than an oblong cross, but full of beautiful windows and tapestries.

Winchelsea

Spike Milligan’s Grave and (back right) the John Wesley tree

Outside in the churchyard we had two more attractions. The first, the grave of Spike Milligan, which we only found by asking a churchwarden. (Interestingly the famous quote on his grave… “I told you I was ill”, is almost an urban myth. Yes, it does include the text, but it is written Gaelic, as the Church wouldn’t allow it in English!.) The other attraction was a tree planted to commemorate John Wesley’s last outdoor sermon in 1790. Sadly the tree was uprooted in the 1920s but another now stands in its place.

The queues had gone, so we headed out of the churchyard, passing a large group of German hikers as we left.

We wandered to GZ, a seat, and as we were about to search we were aware that three of the German party were ‘looking for something’ the other side of the churchyard wall.

Was it Spike Milligan’s grave? No.
Was it John Wesley’s tree ? No.

They were cachers. Or at least one of the was. We quickly signed the log, and re-hid the cache for her to ‘re-find’ it, before rejoining her party. Nice meeting you Schatzhasi!

So a cache that should have taken 5 minutes, somehow had stretched to 30 minutes…

We decided to omit our second Winchelsea target cache, as the pavement away from the town disappeared and we didn’t fancy the road walk. So instead we drove to Winchelsea station (some way from the town), and did a quick cache and dash! Or should have been! Two workmen were busy nearby, so some stealth and diversionary activity was called for. Log signed, we drove to Rye.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Station

Winchelsea had been busy, in a ‘quiet busy’ sort of way. Many people, but everyone going about their business.

Rye, though, was completely different. It was heaving. Rye residents shopping, tourists walking around (we counted at least 8 50 seater coaches), and a plethora of car parks for tourists like us. Rye is only a small town (population 5000), but somehow manages to squeeze 8 caches within its town centre. All the caches were film canisters, but most led us to places of interest. (The one exception being a car park in the centre of town). The remaining caches had been placed near the fishing quarter, a town gate, a church, a tower, a watchbell, a quay, the railway station and a windmill. Rye’s most scenic road, the cobbled Mermaid Street, was devoid of caches but as we were walking down the cobbles, we saw the same group of German walkers we had seen in Winchelsea walking up! Without the caches to guide us around the town, we are fairly certain we would have missed seeing some of Rye’s rich history. All were easy finds apart from one, under a seat, where we had to wait patiently until several people had finished eating their fish and chips on the very seat we wanted to search under!

Rye

Rye – Fishing Quarter

Rye

Rye – Ypres Tower

Rye

Rye – Watchbell

Rye

Rye – Windmill

Rye

Rye – Landgate

All our caches so far had been in Sussex, but our final destination, Lydd, was in Kent.

We drove there, passing Camber Sands Holiday Park, and then some very imposing Army Ranges.

These Ranges straddled the Sussex-Kent county boundary, where a cache had been placed. Sadly nowhere to park a car satisfactorily. So Mrs Hg137 got out to search for the ‘County Boundary’ cache. Mr Hg137 sat parked in the roadside thinking every car was passing just a bit too close, and with only the concrete blocks and barbed wire surrounds of the range to admire – it was definitely not ideal. What wasn’t ideal either was the length of time Mrs HG137 was away…. she searched, and she searched and she searched.. all to no avail. So a wasted 20 minutes all round.

We had two target caches to find in Lydd. One a Church Micro, hidden in a street sign.

Lydd

Lydd Church

The other was at the far end of the village green. Lydd Village Green is huge, well over half a mile long. And we were the wrong side of the half mile!
This was our hardest find of the day, as there no hints, and at GZ was a prominent tree. We searched it at length, before we noticed some nearby park furniture. Success!

Lydd

Lydd- Village Green (part of)

So we had found caches in Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd. We looked at the watch and decided Dungeness was just a bit too far. So instead we drove back to our hotel via (Old) Winchelsea (ie the settlement now actually by the sea). We stopped for our fourth Church Micro of the day (again, far too long a search), before spending a relaxing 15 minutes overlooking the sea.

We were bemused by a line of fishermen standing at the distant shore edge. What were they doing ? Fortunately as we sat another fisherman went by… he was off to collect lugworms.

We had been collecting film canister caches near churches, windmills, and stations all day and the fishermen were collecting lugworms to be sold as bait for other fishermen. Isn’t life strange!

May 21 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Tidebrook to Stonegate Station

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

May 21st … the start of a week’s holiday in Hastings. We planned to look round the area, do some of the ‘tourist stuff’ was planned, and also to finish off our unofficial, self-made long distance path from Sandhurst (just in Berkshire) to Sandhurst (just in Kent).

Our journey to Hastings allowed us to complete another short section of the walk, just over five miles from Tidebrook to Stonegate Station. Setting off along a lane south from Tidebrook, we were looking for the footpath that would set us on our way. The hedge seemed impenetrable. Where was it? We asked a passing runner. She pointed to a tiny opening in the hedge. There was just room for a stile, and then we were off the road and walking through a field of sheep and lambs. Mr Hg137 tried to chat with them. They were underwhelmed. (Sometimes I worry about him …)

Lunch spot

Lunch spot

All our caches for today, except the last, were to come from the ‘Tidebrook Trail’ series. We found the first, then stopped for lunch in a pretty patch of woodland near a stream – yes, I know we had just set off, but it had been a long morning, lots of packing to do – and then set off again through fields and woods in the sunshine. My, it was getting quite hot now!

Enchanted forest

Enchanted forest

The path led on through a plantation of trees, planted in rows, upright in growth, with silvery leaves. We didn’t know what they were, but a passing muggle said they were poplars, and that she could remember them growing up over the last 30 years, and that it was like an enchanted forest.

The second cache was easy to find, though surrounded by angry stinging nettles, and then it was on to the third, in a tree overlooking a (dry) ditch. I excelled myself here (twice), first because I failed to spot the cache even when I was a hand’s distance away from it, and then because I dropped the log into the ditch. Mr Hg137 nobly retrieved the log, then spent much of the rest of the walk remarking on my ineptitude and his altruism. Pah!

We went on in the sunshine (it was quite hot now), through a mixture of fields and woods, finding more caches from the series as we went. The path went through Wadhurst deer park – the giveaway is the very high fences – I wonder why there are so may deer parks around here (there is one less than 10 miles away, near Frant). Another cache was found at the far edge of the deer park, then another at the edge of the woods. Here we turned left the Tidebrook Trail to head for the station. This cache series is excellent, one to try if you are in the area. It passes though beautiful countryside, has a variety of caches, both in hiding place and type of container, and is also well maintained by the owner, with clean/dry/not full logs.

Nice geocache!

Nice geocache!


More excellent geocaches

More excellent geocaches

From here it was just a walk downhill along a track and a mixture of quiet country lanes and tracks, more woods and fields, before we emerged onto a busier road close to Stonegate station. “Busier” meant that there was traffic, but not much, and most of it travelling to or from the station. The station itself is in the middle of the countryside, at least a mile from Stonegate village. It has quite a large car park, so I guess it is mostly used by commuters in the week. Being a station, it had its own geocache, one of the ‘Sidetracked’ series placed near current/disused stations. We took quite a while to find this cache, as we didn’t understand the hint, couldn’t work out exactly where it was, and generally behaved like two tired, hot people. Eventually we found it, behind some nettles. Ouch! And those nettles must have done a lot of growing in the week since the cache was last found, as they didn’t even get a mention then!

So that was our walk/caching done for the day, and only about 15 miles to drive to the hotel where we were staying, on the northern edge of Hastings.

March 11 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Beare Green to Horley/Gatwick Airport

Newdigate Church

Newdigate Church

This year we have been fairly lucky with our caching. We have found nearly every cache we have attempted.

Today…well today..

…was DNF DAY !

It started badly and never really recovered.

The village of Beare Green, as we noted in our last Sandhurst to Sandhurst post, has several caches hidden in its boundaries. We attempted three and failed on each one !

A muddy path.. but will it lead to a cache ?


The first was a Sidetracked Multi. We had collected the information on our prior visit, and set off down a muddy footpath, and arrived at two likely hosts (and since the hint was ‘multi-trunked-tree’) we split up and searched both.

And searched.

And searched.

To no avail. This cache hadn’t been attempted since last October, so maybe the Autumn and Winter had been unkind to it. Sadly the cache would have contained the co-ordinates to another cache..so a double-DNF-whammy!

We moved our car to where we had parked previously on our walk and set off. Our last cache of that walk was ‘Mad Hatter’ and our next three caches were to be part of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ series. Sadly our attempt to find ‘Caterpillar’ or the ‘Queen of Hearts’ resulted in DNFs. (Both have since been archived as they had both been DNFed by many cachers for the last 8 months!)

It was therefore with some trepidation that we arrived at Ground Zero for ‘White Rabbit’.

Hidden in a camo bag, in a pile of mud was indeed … A WHITE RABBIT. We pulled the rabbit out of the hat, sorry bag, and gratefully signed the log.

White Rabbit

White Rabbit

Our route then took us away from the ‘Alice’ series, and after walking through some very muddy woodland, jumping over a deep drainage ditch onto a lane, walking across a field and then realising the footpath we wanted wasn’t signposted, we somehow found ourselves on a farmyard track. (As well as failing to find caches, we were failing to find footpaths too!).

After a somewhat poor start, we decide to stop for coffee. Compose ourselves, and say..’caching can only get better’.

And it did.

Our next 3 finds were fortunately straightforward. These three caches were part of a 10 cache series between the villages of Newdigate and Capel. There is also a 10 cache series, using different paths back from Capel to Newdigate. What a great idea!

On a late Saturday morning, the village of Newdigate was quite busy. Farm vehicles sortied slowly up and down the main street; parked cars narrowed the road to single line traffic; people were scurrying about their business.

We had two targets in Newdigate. The first a simple Church Micro multi. We ascertained the final cache was on our route out of Newdigate, so went in search of the other cache – (hint : ‘magnetic’). Here the GPS gods decided not to play ball with us. The GPS led us to a metal sign, roadside, in a bush, next to the busy and congested highway. We searched, and failed to find. What we couldn’t see from our ill-chosen and dangerous position that behind a line of trees surrounding the bush was another metal host object which is where the cache was. We only discovered this on our return home.

Churches are great places for lunch. Normally there are seats outside, and here we ate lunch before finding (yes, really!) the Church Micro cache whose co-ordinates we had calculated a few minutes previously. We were grateful for the find, as we had about a mile and half walk before our next cluster of caches.

Newdigate Church

Newdigate Church Micro.. Found!

The mile and a half was predominately tarmac walking, mainly on small lanes. We passed modern barns, a variety of ponds, and a mobile home park before arriving at a grassy field. Here we were met by horses, so we paused while we were sniffed and checked all over.

Modern Barns along the way

No mud here…no caches either

We were eventually allowed to pass by, and we arrived our first (of four) Star Trek themed caches. We had mixed results at these caches as we found two quite easily, but the other two completed eluded us. The cache owner has subsequently told us what we missed, but with the DNF day we were having, we would have missed seeing a red-double-decker bus as well as the minute nanos hidden in both bridge and stile.

Somewhere on or near this stile is a cache! But we didn’t find it!


Charlwood was our last major town/village before the mass sprawl of Gatwick. Here there were plenty of caches for us to try. The first was a Church Micro multi. However the final coordinates, were half-a-mile back in the direction we had just come ! We both decided not to walk back! (More of a Did Not Attempt, rather than Did Not Find, but it still hurt our egos)

The next cache was a pleasant find, part of the ‘Poppies on Parade’ series where the cache was (just about) visible from the war memorial. We continued through Charlwood and then found a long distance footpath that would be the backbone for much of our remaining route to Sandhurst: The Sussex Border Path.

Martlets, Sussex

Martlets, the symbol for Sussex, mark the Sussex Border Path


The path broadly follows the Sussex county boundary, weaving in and out of adjacent counties on its journey of 111 miles. Charlwood is still in Surrey, our destination car was parked in Surrey, but the path would take us today on a short half-mile section into Sussex.

But first we had a few more Charlwood caches to find. The first on a footpath..in a tree, rather too close to a dog-poo bin for comfort. (Definitely a poor day, when caches are either DNFed or next to dog-poo bins.)

We passed on another Church Micro multi as yet again it led us away from our route. However as we left Charlwood we found two caches in the pudding series (we found ‘Mums Apple Pie’ and ‘Rhubarb Crumble’ !). One of which needed careful extrication from under a water trough and through a hedge.

Gatwick

Getting close to Gatwick!


Our last mile of walking took us close to the flight path of Gatwick Airport. Although the noise level had increased, we were pleasantly surprised to find the noise level was not too imposing.

Our last cache of the day was near the car. This was quite a sneaky hide, as the hint mentioned ‘tree roots’. There was a huge fallen tree with a large hole with roots showing. But no cache visible. Next to the fallen tree was a smaller bush, with intricate roots, and hidden amongst it was our final find of the day. We released the ‘Hamburg’ trackable here, as given its proximity to Gatwick Airport, it might get back to Germany quite quickly.

We covered well over 10 miles on our route, but probably just as many miles wandering the pathways looking for a myriad of DNF caches. Roll on next time… when hopefully we will fare a little better.

Surprisingly, given it was a DNF day… we did find these caches :



January 21 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : North Camp to Wanborough

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Today we had the crisp, sunny winter’s day we had hoped for on our last day. It was a beautiful morning, but, my oh my it was cold!


Starting at North Camp station, we set off south along a diversion from the official Blackwater Valley path. We saw a notice on a post about unauthorised change of use of the land by the rivers, and have also heard (but can’t confirm) that the landowner closed the riverside path around then. Anyway, that meant a walk along a bumpy track, with many an icy puddle, sandwiched between the A331 and some gravel pits. Soon we returned to the river, and went to find out first cache, a puzzle cache called ‘Follow you, follow me’; luckily, we’d got the puzzle correct and were the first to find the cache since September 2016. Like us, most geocachers find fewer caches in the winter than the summer because the weather is darker, colder, and wetter.

The start of the walk - near North Camp

The start of the walk – near North Camp


We went on along the river, enjoying the sunlit morning, seeing mist rising from the river, and watching the local birdlife – ducks on the river and, once, a jay. We stopped to watch a heron – I was so engrossed in taking pictures that I failed to spot a cyclist coming along and nearly got run down… The next two caches were along the riverbank, among trees or a sign overlooking the river (just a bit of creaking from the fence as Mr Hg137 climbed up to collect it). Soon after we left the Blackwater path to climb up onto the Basingstoke Canal. At last our direction was altering, and more in line with our quest; thus far we had been going south, to skirt the nearby, off-limits, army ranges. Just as we reached the foot of the canal aqueduct there was a flash of turquoise, then another – a kingfisher! What a great farewell to the river!

Once up on the aqueduct, we turned aside a few yards to look for the first of three caches in the ‘Oddballs 1st Mission series’. We found it, but it was leaky and the log was frozen stiff, and we couldn’t remove it from the cache, let alone sign it. We did little better with the next two caches, also from the same series, which we couldn’t find at all – some TLC is needed for those caches methinks.
A new friend for Mr Hg137!

A new friend for Mr Hg137!


A coffee break was taken. It felt pleasantly warm in the bright sunshine, though the ground was still frozen and the canal icy. Almost immediately a robin appeared and took a fancy to Mr Hg137. I thought it was the red bobble hat which was the attraction … We succumbed to its blandishments and fed it part of our lunch. Leaving the canal soon after, we walked down through Ash, passing the striking church (why isn’t there a Church Micro cache here?) and eventually turned eastward along a green lane. At last we were heading in roughly the right direction! Along here, we came across three caches all from the same series – based on Italy – Rome/Venice/Pompeii – all very similar neat, tidy caches, mostly not found for a bit.
Basingstoke Canal

Basingstoke Canal


The path changed to a track, then to tarmac, and we were at ‘Christmas Pie’. A good name for a place! There was a puzzle cache here based on information to be found on the village sign. We worked out the puzzle but couldn’t find the cache. We’ve checked our results later, and they were correct, so maybe we’ll stop off for another try at the start of our next walk?


Wanborough station was a little further on, the end of the day’s walk. There was one more cache here, overlooking the railway line, from the ‘Sidetracked’ series (they are near stations). A short wait later, the train took us back to North Camp and the start of our walk. In a few minutes, we retraced a route which had taken us a few hours to travel on foot.

The end of the walk - Wanborough station

The end of the walk – Wanborough station


We found eight of the eleven caches we attempted. Here are some of them, along with our touring trackable:

January 14 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : the first leg to North Camp

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Well, the quest has been published. Time for us to make a start.

Just after dawn on a cold, slightly misty Saturday morning, we set off from Sandhurst (Berkshire) to start our trek to Sandhurst (Kent). We’ve thought of a cunning plan to track our progress. Back on Leap Year Day we had acquired a trackable. We’ve now registered it, and will ‘dip’ it into caches as we go, to mark our progress. (Editor’s note: to ‘dip’ a trackable means taking it to a cache, and making a note that it was there, without leaving it behind.) The first cache that the trackable visited was our own cache, in Berrybank Copse.

River Blackwater

River Blackwater

Shepherd Meadows

Shepherd Meadows

Our first day’s walk was to be part of the Blackwater Valley Path, a route we’ve walked at various times in our pre-caching days http://www.blackwater-valley.org.uk/about_valley.html We went south through Shepherd Meadows, across the A30, and across Hawley Meadows. Apart from dogs and dogwalkers, and an occasional cyclist, the path was empty, muddy and icy by turns, and quiet except for the noise of traffic from the A331 which runs roughly parallel to the River Blackwater.

Hawley Meadows

Hawley Meadows


Going under the M3, we skirted a business park, then crossed over the A331 towards Frimley Green station. Here was our chance to find our first cache of the year, one from the Sidetracked series (they’re near stations http://www.sidetrackedseries.info ). A first search didn’t find it, so we moved on to attempt a challenge cache in a nearby park. The qualification to be able to claim this cache is to have found 25 Sidetracked caches, and we have found just over that. A short bit of rummaging in a tree found us the cache, which was cold but dry, even though it had been unfound for six months, and was well buried in fallen leaves. Returning to the river path, we revisited that cache we hadn’t found earlier, but more determined rummaging worked this time.

We walked on down the river. The ‘bright, sunny, crisp’ winter’s day the weather forecast had predicted just wasn’t happening, and it was getting steadily greyer. We collected another couple of caches, one between lakes made from gravel workings, and one right by the river, found just as a few raindrops began to fall. That wasn’t in the plan! We crossed over the A331 again, noting that the all the cars had lights on now, and turned south down the river once more, stopping to look for a cache concealed under a footbridge. Not much looking was needed, as this was a BIG cache, filled with classy objects, and in wonderful condition, though it hadn’t been found for almost five months.

A well stocked geocache!

A well stocked geocache!

A (still quite dry) picnic bench was a little further on, so we stopped for a picnic lunch, eaten speedily because a cold breeze was now blowing, it was getting greyer and darker, and colder, much colder. After not much debate, we decided to finish our walk at North Camp station, about a mile away. Arriving at the station with 20 minutes to spare before the next train, we bought a ticket, then rushed off to find another Sidetracked cache (that’s 30 from this series now, from as far apart as Liskeard, Cornwall and Waverley, Edinburgh).

Blackwater Path near North Camp

Blackwater Path near North Camp



Catching the train back to Blackwater, we retraced in minutes the route that we had travelled in hours, then walked back home. A few minutes later, we were calculating that the nine miles that we had walked had brought us only four miles closer to Sandhurst (Kent); that’s because there are some army ranges we can’t walk across, so we are taking a slightly longer route to avoid them. And then it began to pour with rain, a short but vicious cold shower. We had given up just in time!

Here are some of the caches we found: