March 3 : Frustrating failures in Frimley

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

After a freezing week when the ‘Beast from the East’ storm spread ice and snow across England, we just wanted to get outside. Anywhere. Though it was still cold and grey, a local caching trip seemed a good idea, so we chose Frimley, a very short drive away. It was going to be mostly caching around a suburban estate, as we didn’t fancy sodden undergrowth, slush and mud out in the countryside.

Tomlin's Pond, Frimley

Tomlin’s Pond, Frimley


Our first target was somewhere on the banks of Tomlin’s Pond, one of several ponds large and small dotted around Frimley. And we couldn’t find it. Oh well, there would be another chance at the end of the expedition. At least we didn’t fall into the frozen pond … Grumpily – it’s always dispiriting to fail at the first cache – we moved on to another, smaller pond for a second attempt. After looking in vain at ground level, we read the cache logs to see that the container had been replaced. We resumed our search at head height, looking for a different kind of container, and soon found a slightly rusty tin with a very tight lid. After a tussle, we opened it to sign the log. I hope the rust marks on my hands will wear off in time!
Still some snow ...

Still some snow …


Our next three caches were all placed by the ‘Kaos family’. We had mixed results – we couldn’t find one of them, another was found, but was very soggy, and retrieved and replaced in full view of some car washing muggles, and the third was easy to spot as its contents were spread about the woodland where it was hidden. We collected them up, wiped them off, and rebuilt and re-hid the cache.
Cache as discovered ...

Cache as discovered …


Cache tidied up and replaced ...

Cache tidied up and replaced …


Returning to the car, we had another attempt at the first cache of the day – we still didn’t find it – then set off home. To try to finish on a success, we stopped part way home to find a cache, from the ‘Postcode Cache’ series – this one was Golf Uniform 16 (GU16). Even this cache wasn’t to be easily found. It was likely to be hidden on or around a piece of street furniture, and there were a lot of possible places. We tried all of them, at least twice, and found the cache when we were on the point of giving up, in a place we (thought) we had already searched. (Editor’s note: This series of caches is placed in different postcode districts throughout the UK. The series originated in Scotland but is now spreading further south. There are a few near us, but it’s the first one we’ve found.)

So that was it: four caches found out of six attempted, not the best of find/fail ratios. And, part way round the route, my camera stopped working, which is why there are not so many pictures as usual. Drat! But I’ve replaced the SD card and all now seems well.

Postscript:
Quite close to our last cache find is an earthcache, ‘How the earth was made’, which is about rocks and geology. We found it back in August 2014. It’s still there, but it has changed quite a bit since we found it. Here’s how it is now, and how it was before.

Earthcache then …


Earthcache now ...

Earthcache now …

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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!

January 27 : Wisley – megaliths, butterflies, and churches

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Butterflies at Wisley

Butterflies at Wisley


In January and February, tropical butterflies fly free in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley Gardens, and we went to see them. http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/whats-on/butterflies-in-the-glasshouse We were queuing outside before opening time, were first through the gates, and made it into the greenhouse before it officially opens at 9:30.
A butterfly takes a fancy to my coat

A butterfly takes a fancy to my coat


This gave us about 20 minutes in relative solitude in the warmth – oh, it was so nice and warm! – before the greenhouse began to fill with families and photographers, all there to see the butterflies … and one of the two (grass?) snakes and a robin that have also set up home in there.
Snake!

Snake!


By about 10:30 we left Wisley and, about a mile up the road, stopped to look for the Church Micro cache at Wisley church. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SRY/Wisley/WisleyChurch This is a tiny Norman church tucked away behind farm buildings. It would be easy to pass without noticing.
Wisley Church

Wisley Church


The cache was supposed to be at the back of the church, somewhere along a fence. We arrived at the spot the GPS said was the location, and started looking. And looking, and looking. After a few minutes we had to break off to ‘admire the snowdrops’ as a muggle and dogs passed by. We restarted looking, and looking … there were only a finite number of places along this fence that the cache could be. Where was it? On the third / fourth /fifth pass along the fence we turned something over, and there was the cache after all. Phew, we were about to give up.
Found it at last

Found it at last


Another mile or so along a narrow, twisty lane, over the Wey Navigation at the very narrow bridge by the Anchor pub http://www.anchorpyrford.co.uk and we arrived at Pyrford, another church, and another Church Micro (CM). The small Norman church, St Nicholas, has medieval wall paintings inside and used to be visited by Queen Elizabeth I when she came to see her favourite lady in waiting who lived at Pyrford Place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrford
St Nicholas' Church, Pyrford

St Nicholas’ Church, Pyrford


Wall paintings, Pyrford Church

Wall paintings, Pyrford Church


These two CMs – Wisley and Pyrford – are ten years old, number 53 and 54 in a series that now stretches to over 11,000 caches, and is the largest geocache series in the world https://thegeocachingjunkie.com/2016/05/31/church-micro-the-worlds-largest-cache-series This particular CM was a multicache, where we had to assemble information from items near the church. One stage involved the war memorial, just outside the church gate, and the other was about counting the fish carved on a stone seat, just inside the gate. ‘Cod’ we work out how many fish there were? No, we ‘rudd’y well couldn’t. We came up with some possibilities and took shelter in the church to work out some ‘plaices’ for the cache. We came up with three possibilities and set off up the hill to check them out, striking lucky at our second attempt. ‘Brill’!
Pyrford Stone

Pyrford Stone


By now, we were also halfway to our third and final cache of the day, Lonely Stone. It’s a standing stone, about one Megalithic yard tall, which is about waist height if you aren’t sure about prehistoric measuring systems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalithic_Yard

It was moved in the 1970s when the road was widened, and it is reputed not to be happy about that, and it moves around at midnight, contributing to road accidents. Or so they say. This was another multicache, and we derived various numbers based on the plaque which describes the stone. Another short walk to the final location followed, yielding a large cache where we dropped off the ‘Mr Heyday’ trackable we found just after Christmas.
Mr Heyday moves on

Mr Heyday moves on


That finished off a morning of contrasts – ephemeral butterflies, ancient churches, and an even older stone. Time for lunch!

January 13 : Virginia Water (Part 5) … and few yards of Windlesham

During the Autumn and Winter months we had been visiting Virginia Water to collect the 30 or so caches placed in or around its environs. We had just one more visit planned, and to be honest, we almost didn’t make this our final visit.

Virginia Water – Obelisk Pond


We had cached there just 7 days previously, and thought long and hard about a different location. The dozen or so caches at Windlesham were in top spot, until we realised the paths would be a little on the wet side, and the majority of the paths at Virginia Water had been relatively dry. So Virginia Water… the conclusion – it was!

But, we had solved one of the Windlesham puzzle caches. This was part of the alphabet series set by UncleE. ‘L’ was in Windlesham, and relatively quickly solved… well Mr Hg137 saw what was needed, and Mrs Hg137 applied the maths. We discovered that the cache was on our route to Virginia Water, and had a handy parking spot too!

So well before 845am we had parked up, and located our first cache of the day! Surprisingly it was very dry inside especially as it hadn’t been found for 6 months!

L

We arrived at Virginia Water with a full morning’s itinerary : to complete the 21 stage multi and find 11 fairly standard caches.

A sample question from the 21 stage multi (some text has been obliterated!)


We were starting the 21 stage multi at stage 19, and the co-ordinates led us to a very pretty bridge (one seemingly only the locals knew about), and we had to count the planks. There were a surprising number of these, and we both traversed the bridge and fortunately we arrived at the same number. We keyed that into the website and we were presented with the coordinates for another location. We worked out where that was, and decided to find some simple caches on our way there.

“…12,13,14,15,16…”


And, in fairness, the first three caches we found were relatively simple (behind some holly, well hidden in a rotting log, and tucked behind a Redwood (sequoia). The Redwood plantation was tucked away in a part of the parkland less frequently visited, and was very dark and atmospherically gloomy. It was here we found a trackable.

Redwood Plantation


We discovered when we got home, the trackable tag had not been initialised (part of the ‘code’ when the trackable is released). We were unable to (electronically) retrieve the trackable from the cache and, at the time of writing, are awaiting instructions from the trackable’s owner.

Three straightforward caches, three straightforward finds.

Then VW-Stream.

We were expecting something ‘interesting’ as the cache had acquired a large number of favourite points. We were not disappointed.

Across the ‘stream’ was a huge log. We had to cross the log to reach the multi-trunked tree where the cache was hidden. Mr Hg137 nobly volunteered and proceeded to walk/wobble/totter/slip across the log….TO THE WRONG TREE!
Mrs Hg137 pointed this out and Mr Hg137’s return journey was more slip/totter/slip/wobble. After a few minutes searching at the correct tree, the cache has not been found, so reinforcements were summoned. Mrs Hg137 traversed the log slightly better and even with two pairs of eyes the cache took 10 minutes to find! How frustrating a reasonable sized container in a relatively small tree!

Mr Hg137 traversing the log…

“…come back..its the wrong tree”


Then of course we had the return journey. Mr Hg137 decided to crawl his way along the log, but Mrs Hg137 expertly showed her yoga agility by rising from a crouch position to a standing position with no real angst at all.

Both of us re-crossed safely without getting our feet wet! Phew!

We walked on, pleased with our accomplishments and arrived at the location we needed for the 21 stage multi. We knew the question, and speculated on two answers before our arrival – of course, it was neither! A nearby seat did provide an excellent coffee spot, where we could calm the adrenalin pumping around our bodies after our log clambering adventure.

We now had the coordinates for the hiding place of the 21 stage multi and it was (sort of) on the way to our next simple cache. We decide to find it.

We have mentioned before on our Virginia Water trip about the volume of rhododendron bushes. The final was planted deep in such a thicket. We even had a picture of coppiced branches that the cache was hidden in. Deep in the bushes, the GPS is useless, and there must have been a dozen or more ‘coppiced’ trees to check. After 20 multi-stages were not going to fail now! Eventually Mrs Hg137 did find the cache and with it the end to our longest multi – 21 stages! Hooray! (This cache is well worth the effort – set aside a good half/three quarter day and a 5 mile walk.. you will visit places around Virginia Water you know and some you don’t.)

The cache at the end of the 21 stage multi!

Our route then took us North to a number of fairly simple finds – two by the side of fallen logs and third deep in bog and rhododendrons. We gave up on our first attempt here, as the thicket and bog were a bit too unpenetrable, so we skirted round the bushes and eventually (after a stream crossing jump) found an easy route to GZ.

We should then have reversed our route away from the cache, but instead walked forward to our last ‘VW’ cache. We realised a bit too late, we had to criss-cross a few too many streams, and fight slightly too many bushes but we made it eventually to our last VW cache. A simple find tucked in some tree roots.

Most of the VW caches have been black cylinders, room enough for a log book and a small number of swaps. This would be our only negative comment about the series, as we always knew what the container would be. Again for new cachers, most are simple finds, and provides an excellent opportunity to explore the less-visited parts of Virginia Water.

A typical VW container…and contents

We had two more caches to find. These were not part of the VW series, but were situated in close proximity to the entrance to Savill Garden. One was very close the Obelisk, the other in the car park. Both in very muggle-heavy areas, so a bit of stealth was needed here.

These caches completed a great half-day, we’d found a puzzle cache, completed a 21 stage multi, and found 10 other caches too. The other Virginia Water caches that remain are three challenge caches for which we don’t qualify and 20 foot tree climb. Time we think to give Virginia Water a rest… you’ve been a great source of winter caches.

January 6 : Virginia Water (part 4)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.


During October, November, and December 2017 we visited Virginia Water and each time attempted a small number of the 30 or so caches placed in the parkland surrounding the lake. Today we were going back to attempt some more of the caches, also to re-attempt a cache that we had failed to find on a previous visit.

Arriving deliberately early, there was space in the layby opposite the entrance. It is popular and fills quickly. If that had been full, we would have had to use the official car park, which would have cost us £10. (Editors digression: I’m divided on whether that is an extortionate price or not. From one viewpoint, that is a LOT to pay for a car park near a lake. From another viewpoint, Virginia Water is well maintained, has surfaced, solid paths, seats, toilets, rangers, signs, noticeboards, refreshments, maintained gardens etc etc, and it’s churlish to expect all that to come for free. OK: end of digression.)

Just what is a "fooway"?

Just what is a “fooway”?


But, before entering Virginia Water, we had two caches to attempt. The first was ‘But just what is a “fooway”?’, and we had tried and failed to find it a few weeks before. This time was different; we spotted it and signed the log within seconds. How could we have missed that? Next was ‘X’, one of a series of 26 alphabet caches set by Uncle E. Few clues with this one, and a ban on entering information into the cache logs. We arrived at the likely location and had a little bit of a look around, but couldn’t spot anything suitable. Oh well, another time…

And then we were into Virginia Water, past the visitor centre, and turning left along the lakeside. It was not long after dawn, still, slightly misty, quite cold. Not far from the entrance is the cascade, where the River Bourne flows down a man-made waterfall, under the A30, and out of the park https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cm7TWr5DVs

Very close by was ‘VW – Cascade’, a multicache. These are set out with one or more stages, each giving clues to the coordinates of the final cache location. This multicache had a single stage, and the coordinates were determined by collecting numbers from assorted signs near the falls. As we had come to expect, the coordinates led us to a nearby rhododendron thicket. We needed to find a rock, the cache was beside it … we found a rock, but it was not the right one… We went deeper in, and repeated the process at least once more. Eventually, bent double among the branches, we found the cache.

Virginia Water - the cascade

Virginia Water – the cascade


While collecting information for the previous cache, we were also searching for numbers for our next target, a two-stage multicache, ‘Border Crossings #1 – Surrey/Berkshire’. We were, only just, in Surrey, and had two stages to check before going, only just, over the county border into Berkshire to reach the cache container. Some numbers had been found by the waterfall, and there were yet more to be found at the next stage, amongst the ruins of Leptis Magna https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTAf0W9cD0M The location confirmed, over the border we went before diving into yet more woodland to locate the cache. It was an old cache, placed in 2007, and the cache container was very wet, but with a dry logbook in a plastic bag.
Virginia Water - Leptis Magna

Virginia Water – Leptis Magna


And that was as far into Berkshire as we were going on this visit. We turned and retraced our steps along the lakeside, back into Surrey, and past the ruins. As we passed a few minutes earlier, collecting coordinates for one multicache, we were also collecting numbers for another, ‘VW – Leptis Magna’. (Editor’s note: yes, there were a lot of overlapping multicaches going on here. A copious set of field notes, assembled by Mr Hg137, helped a lot here.) Yet again, we had an extended blundering about session in rhododendrons to find the cache.
So many people!

So many people!


We returned to the main path around the lake, now very busy (where had they all come from?), and passed our start point, walking in the direction of the Totem Pole. Walking in a loop back to the visitor centre, we found another four caches from the VW series, Base, A30, Plantations, MTT, and Coppice Growth, to bring our total for the day to nine out of ten.
Grebe

Grebe


And while we were juggling all those coordinates and finding the other caches, we were collecting still more coordinates. We are gradually working our way around the ‘Virginia Water’ multicache – yes, another one – so far we are on stage NINETEEN. We are well over halfway! I wonder what the final cache will be like?

Here are some of the caches we found:

December 28 : Mr Heyday (anag)

During our third visit to Virginia Water we found a trackable, Mr Heyday (anag), and it took us just a few minutes to realise the anagram was of Mary Hyde.

Mr Heyday

Mr Heyday


During July/August this year, we had taken part in the Mary Hyde challenge finding a certain number or certain type of caches each week. It was only after the challenge was over that we realised we hadn’t completed the final online task …and as a result we didn’t qualify for gaining a trackable code (leastways, we are speculating that was the outcome).

Mr Heyday (anag) was released mid September 2017 and since then has travelled just less than 100 miles. In fairness, this is due to its (his?/her?) mission statement – “to keep within Surrey and Sussex”. Virginia Water, where we found the trackable has a county boundary running through it…Surrey and ..Berkshire! Fortunately we found the trackable on the Surrey side..we must remember not to place the Mr Heyday (anag) , on the Berkshire side!

Incidentally whilst researching this trackable’s adventures we noted it had been deposited by EL-JO – a local cacher to us, who had written in the log “Our Mr Heyday is holed up in a snow covered TB hotel in Canada”. We investigated further, and discovered that over 20 local cachers have a trackable race competition with their booty from the Mary Hyde challenge. If you see any of these when out and about… please move them on !

December 28 : Virginia Water (part 3)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Virginia Water

Virginia Water


During October and November 2017 we visited Virginia Water and each time attempted a small number of the 30 or so caches placed in the parkland surrounding the lake. Today we were going back to attempt some more of the caches, also to re-attempt a cache that we had failed to find on our previous two visits. (Editors note: that’s re-re-attempt, then.)
Which way?

Which way?


We parked at the roadside in Wick Lane. It was early, and very cold indeed (minus 5C!), so there was lots of space to park as most people must have stayed snuggled up in bed. Well wrapped up, we passed the Bailiwick pub http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/bailiwick and went through the gate into the park. Just past the entrance, the GPS needle pointed off into the undergrowth and we followed it. Crossing a small stream on slippery logs, we arrived at GZ. Carefully reading the hint, we poked and prodded in likely hidey-holes. Nothing. After checking everything once, we went round again, and Mr Hg137 found the first cache of the day in a place I thought I’d already searched. Grrr.

We continued along Wick Lane through the almost empty parktowards our next target, VW – Totem Pole. Our previous two attempts at finding this cache had failed, but this time we had (re)done the calculations, had done much more research and were armed with what we thought were perfect coordinates and a map with a large ‘X’ in a suitable spot. We knew to the leaf where that cache should be! Inevitably, that was right in the middle of a rhododendron thicket. As Mr Hg137 was wearing a rucksack, I nobly volunteered to fight my way in. My running commentary went something like this:
“I see a pile of sticks….I’ve got the cache…opening the cache… ooh there’s a trackable inside..I’m signing the log…I’m coming out now…where are you ?”

The next couple of hours were taken up by collecting more clues for the 21-part multi Virginia Water (yes, twenty-one). For each part, there is a clue to be found at a given location, you answer a question based on that using an internet connection, and are then supplied with the co-ordinates for the next stage. In no particular order, we looked at tree tags, found memorial plaques, counted things, and worked out the colour of various structures, going to places in the park that we already knew, and places we never knew existed, stopping at regular intervals for warming cups of coffee and snacks of jelly babies, chocolate, and toffees.



By late morning, it was much, much busier, and runners, cyclists, and walkers were out in numbers. On our return leg, we passed a cottage called the Flying Barn. A recently erected memorial stone explained the unusual name … this was an airfield for about 25 years in the early 20th century.
Flying Barn

Flying Barn


Skirting Smith’s Lawn polo fields, we entered woodland, with regularly spaced obstacles that would be used for horse trials. One of these, VW – Jump, was to be our next cache. But there was a snag. ‘Our’ jump was already occupied by a family of six, three adults, three children, so searching was going to be tricky.

Mr HG137 asked if they had heard of gecoaching. They hadn’t – he explained it was a ‘treasure hunt’. and there was ‘treasure here’. The three children were excited and searched every piece of timber for us. Nothing, of course, as we had failed to see the smaller jump nearby. The three children charged over and very quickly Martha had the cache in hand. We had described the cache perfectly, and it had a few bits of swag in it too. Martha was really, really pleased. We signed the log “HG137 + Martha”. Maybe we did enough to convert them!

Leaving the family behind, we walked to our next cache, VW – Smith’s Lawn. We most definitely didn’t take the best route to the cache and walked about half a mile in a sort of death spiral, before arriving at yet another impenetrable rhododendron thicket. This time, we both pushed our way into the centre, and blundered around for some little while before finding the cache and emerging, somewhat dishevelled and grubby.

Our final cache of the day was to be VW – Holly, just off the path leading to Obelisk Pond. We came, we saw, we looked up the tree, but couldn’t spot the cache. Mr Hg137 climbed up a branch or two, but we still couldn’t spot anything, and we retreated. We should have read the cache description first:
“I don’t really know what came over me, I was going to put it at the bottom but somehow or other it ended up at the top. It’s a horrible climb, with loads of branches close together making it difficult to squeeze through. And the bigger you are, the harder it will be. And it’s a holly tree, it’s going to be prickly. If you have any sense you will just walk on past this one.”

Obelisk Pond

Obelisk Pond


Then there was time for lunch, and yet more warming coffee, on a seat overlooking Obelisk Pond and a short walk back to the car park. This was not so deserted now, there were cars and people abounding. Another part of the VW mega-multi has been completed, and we are over halfway now. There should be more instalments in 2018!