May 22 : Fearless Traveler !

During our second visit to Chester we discovered this delightful trackable ‘Fearless Traveler! ‘

Fearless Traveler!

As you may guess from the title, it emanates from America. It started its journey in Illinois back in April 2015 and quickly galloped to the Western side of Canada based in and around Vancouver. It also visited caches not too far from the American border, before heading to Ottawa where it pranced for some time from cache to cache. Interestingly the trackable never made it back into America, but instead headed for the UK.

The first British cache it was placed in, was one we had found back in March 2015 when we walked the Thames Path. It had been placed in a cache called ‘Mosaic Trail – Fishes’ at Newbridge. (Interestingly the cache, if our memory is correct, is a 35mm film canister..so how the horse got into its British Stable, we are not sure).

Thereafter its British journey headed North West to the Chester area where we found it!

We will release it when we find a suitably large cache for it to enjoy the British Countryside!

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February 22 : Cache maintenance with the Wombles

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Womble!

Womble!


On a cold afternoon in late February, we visited our cache, Berry Bank cache, to do some owner maintenance. We planned to replace the camo bag, which had fallen to bits some while before, with the nice strong new bag we had bought months before when we were at the Mega in Devon.

Having found the cache – which moves around a few feet from its original location – we opened it up to check that the cache contents were all dry and in good condition, which they were. Imagine our surprise when we peeled back the lid … hiding in the cache was a Womble! Attached to the Womble were two tags. One was the usual trackable tag, with the trackable number. The other was a keyring with half of a set of coordinates on it. We were intrigued …

We returned the Womble, packed up the cache, and stowed it away in its new bag. After getting home, we did a little bit of research on the Womble. He/she (maybe Madame Cholet from the dress, but we’re not sure), contains half of the coordinates for a cache in Wiltshire, placed way back on January 1st 2004 by cachers The Wombles (obviously!). If you can find another Womble with the other half of the coordinates, you can locate the cache. We shall wait and see what turns up in our future caching adventures!

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.

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 !

September 7 : Schlumpfi on Tour

As we mentioned on our last blog, at the top of Long Mynd, hidden in the Pole Bank cache, was a trackable – “Schlumpfi on Tour”.

Schlumpfi is a German trackable, hence its name. The English for “Schlumpfi”, is “Smurf” which is of course what we recognised this charming character as. Our knowledge of Smurfs is not that great, so we are unable to identify which Smurf it is! (Regular readers may remember we have found another Smurf trackable, Smoulicek, which we blogged about in April 2015).

Schlumpfi started his journey near Dresden just under three years ago, and has criss-crossed Germany several times. Unusually for a Smurf he has not visited Holland or Belgium, but has visited Switzerland, Spain and a fleeting visit to America. He arrived in Britain in August 2017 starting his UK journey at Edinburgh Castle!

Enjoy the UK, Schlumpfi !

August 19 : Monkey Magic

The second trackable we found on the Hampshire/Berkshire border was this cute monkey.

Who can resist his charming smile and playful demeanour? A real fun trackable.

The Monkey started off its journey back in March 2013 in Leinster, Ireland. Since then, according to its geocaching map, it has staying with Ireland and the UK and travelled nearly 3000 miles.

The furthest south it travelled was only a few miles south of where we found it, but the furthest north was in Grantown on Spey, Central Scotland. But, according to the logs it has been to a mega in Canada, and to Spain, yet these locations don’t appear on the map. Strange !

The Monkey now wants to head back home to Ireland, so hopefully we can move it that direction.