August 5 : UK Mega 2017, Devon – Day 2, Bicton Park

Note : the following blog contains many pictures of people. If you are identifiable in a picture, and want to be removed from the blog/picture, please request this in the comments section.

The 2017 Mega had arrived.

Actually the UK Mega event had been going on all week. Many hundreds of geocachers had camped at Bicton College, just outside of Otterton, for many days and had taken part on a variety of activities including letter-boxing on Dartmoor, and early morning swim and lots of local trips and excursions.

Bicton College

But Saturday was the big day. The day, when people like us, would attend for one day only. And nearly 2000 people did too!

Lots of cachers!


A giant convoy slowly drove into Bicton College passing the huge camping site. Lots of large tents, small tents, campervans. Somehow we squeezed into a car park space and walked, to the main building. Without really trying, and despite arriving at 9:50, we found ourselves pretty close to the front as the Mega doors opened. A local towncrier pronounced the event ‘Open’ and with that Signal the Frog welcomed everyone.

From Town Crier…

…to Signal the Frog


Inside the Bicton Park building were a variety of stall holders, and we were first at the Garmin stand to find out what went wrong the previous day. It seems that may have been a ‘duff’ cache which caused the problem, but with over 70 caches loaded its difficult to work out which it was.

Other exhibitors included Aberdeen Geocachers selling wares for their Mega in 2019, various stands selling geocache containers and trackables, a demonstration of http://www.project-gc.com and also UK Cache Mag.

UK Cache Mag

UK Cache Mag

Buy your caches here!

Buy your caches here!

We’ve met Adam, the editor, a few times, and he asked us to take a few photos for the magazine. We were able to help him, and we were really pleased that several of our photos appeared in the latest issue.

Outside there was also a hive of activity. 10 lab caches had been set up.

These were short ‘games’ – perhaps solving a mini-jigsaw, decoding a series of flags, hanging up some ‘washing’ or tipping water into pipes with a large number of drainage holes. As each activity was completed the name of a previous Mega location was spelt out. (Or at least spelt, similar to, a Mega location. Many of the Os had become zeroes, many of the Is had become 1s, many of the Ls had become (s. ). To claim the lab cache one had to enter the answer online. We solved 9 out 10, failing only on the puzzle which required a QR code reader which we did not have on our phone. Great fun!

Keep pouring!

Washing Day!

Piecing it together!

A marquee on the campsite had activities going on in the day, including lock-picking!
With hindsight we should have taken a look in the marquee, but somehow it slipped off our radar.

We instead undertook some of the geocaches laid out near the site. Many of these had been undertaken by those camping all week, but it gave a set of close-by caches for the day visitors too.

2 series caught our eye : an Animal series and a Roadside Rubbish series. Between them they formed a circular trip of just under 20 caches.

Where have all the cachers gone ?


Caching at a Mega event is easy. Stand roughly near a cache site, and someone will soon arrive and find the cache with you. Surprisingly though we did have several caches to find and replace on our own. Some times we struggled and another cacher would appear from nowhere, stick their hand in a bush and retrieve the cache seemingly without trying.

At one cache, “Lizard”, probably 20 cachers were gently fondling tree roots desperately trying to find an elusive toy. (As it turned out, the toy Lizard had been replaced by a Tupperware container).

Where’s the Lizard ?

The caches in both the Roadside Rubbish and Animal series were imaginative. Toys were predominantly used for the Animal series – though the porcelain cat was a scary exception.

The ‘rubbish’ containers were cats’eyes (how they were acquired we still don’t know), number plates, plastic bottles and most unexpectedly a small plastic dustbin!

The only exception to the Rubbish and Animal series was a wooden box (similar to, if not made by, local Berkshire cacher, JJEF). We arrived at this cache with another pair of cachers who performed the appropriate magnetic trick with a coin.

We found all the caches we attempted on the circuit and arrived back at Bicton College as the closing ceremony approached. Drum Majorettes were performing, a presentation to the next UK Mega (Yorkshire 2018) took place, and the Geocaching awards took place in the evening. We were really pleased to see that Washknight – See blogroll left for his blog – won in the Special Caching Achievement Award category.

Well done to him, and well done to all the organisers of the Devon Mega – a truly fantastic event.

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September 24 – Yorkshire Mega 2018

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Geocachers are sociable people and they like to meet each other at events, as well as searching for caches furtively and alone. We’ve been to a few of these events: pub meals, flash mobs, etc. Occasionally, once or twice a year in the UK, there is a much bigger gathering, known as the Mega.

What is a Mega Event?
Mega events are the ultimate gatherings for geocachers. Officially, events must surpass the 500 attendees to qualify for “Mega” status. Many Mega events are held annually, offer plenty of planned activities and attract geocachers from all over the world. Traditionally the Annual UK Mega has a week long run up of side events building up to Mega Day itself.

We’ve been to two mega-events, one back in August 2013, and the recent Geolympix at the end of July this year. Next year’s event is in Devon, and the one after that … is in Yorkshire. The 2018 event is the tenth one – there have been eight Mega events and two Geolympix in the UK up to now.

The 2018 Yorkshire Mega is well advertised:

It’s got a website: http://www.mega2018.org.uk
It’s got a Facebook page too: http://www.facebook.com/groups/YorkshireMega2018
And it’s also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ukmega2018

And the calling card we found is yet another way of spreading the word among the geocaching community.

July 31 – GeoJaanipäev 2016 Mega Event Trackable

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

GeoJaanipäev 2016 Mega Event Trackable

GeoJaanipäev 2016 Mega Event Trackable


It’s been a while since we found a trackable, and here was one to be rescued from an uncertain fate … we were out geocaching in the woods of the Ashridge estate, following groups of geocachers from cache to cache. Something glinted underfoot, and we looked down. It was this geocoin, dropped and alone on the path. It was already partly hidden by leaf litter, and would have soon been hidden from view. But it was spotted, and saved!

Once retrieved, we waited a little while to see if whoever had it before woujld log it – no-one did – then marked it as in our possession. We did a little research on its history, too … it’s very, very new, being purchased at the Mega event in Estonia, being placed in a cache in Finland on 20th July 2016, picked up later the same day, and being taken straight from there to the Geolympix, another mega-event, on July 31st. A short life so far, but eventful and filled with big geocachers events.

July 31 : Geolympix MEGA, Ashridge Estate

Bridgewater Monument, Ashridge Estate

Bridgewater Monument, Ashridge Estate

Caching Mega

Geolympix banner

Four years ago, the UK held its first Geolympix event in Oxford. That event was so successful that, this year, again coinciding with the Summer Olympic Games, the second Geolympix event was held.

Like the previous event this soon reached MEGA status with well over 500 cachers attending. The Ashridge estate near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire is a large area (5000 acres) of woodland and open fields – ideal for geocaching. The estate is owned by the National Trust event and all the caches were placed with their consent.

Cachers gathering

Cachers gathering

Visitors from the USA

Visitors from the USA


A duck (on the back of bike) - yes really!

A duck (on the back of a bike) – yes really!

Cachers came from far and wide, including USA, Finland, Ireland, Cornwall and Yorkshire to our knowledge. Many of the cachers had t-shirts with trackable numbers on, others had bags and even plastic ducks with trackable numbers waiting to be discovered!

Lots of different events had been put on including caching exhibitors, a film festival, a talk on caching efficiency, National Geocaching Awards, and much besides. To give the event an ‘Olympic’ feel there were certain challenges that could be undertaken – could you find 26 caches in a day beginning with each letter of the alphabet, could you spell your caching name with the cache initials, could you find 11 caching types (icons) in 24 hours ? Reading the online logs after the event many people did undertake some of these challenges.

For sale :Quirky Caches aka JJEF caches

For sale :Quirky Caches aka JJEF caches

Adam Redshaw and his UK Cache Mag

Adam Redshaw and his UK Cache Mag

There were of course straightforward caches to be found and also some lab caches to undertake. Lab caches were a new concept to us, but primarily we visited a location, solved a simple puzzle to derive a code word, and then to claim the lab cache find enter the ‘code word’ into the lab cache website. We managed to find the code words hidden in a crossword, the underside of a rubber duck, locating and reading a QR code and solving a simple number substation code. All good fun but no actual caching container to find!

Many of the caches available to be found had been set out in the weeks preceding the event. We had loaded over 30 and we knew some more would be ‘released’ at midday. Our plan was to be alone in the woods at midday, and see if we could be the First-to-Find for one of these caches.

We starting caching at around 1015 and for the first few caches we didn’t need much geocaching skill. We were following the crowd! Every Ground Zero, had a cluster of cachers passing the log from person to person. As midday approached we did achieve our aim of being alone. We turned on our phone and tried for an internet connection. None. We tried again. Nope. And again.. our plans of attempting a First-to-Find were being thwarted by a poor broadband signal. In the end we gave up and continued our caching trail around the estate.

The next cache we found after this, was Britain’s Oldest Log. Apparently this was Britain’s second oldest cache, placed hours after Britain’s first cache back in 2001, but this cache was the first cache to be found – hence it has the oldest log!

Eventually the further we got from the Mega Hub, we saw fewer and fewer people. Caching was more relaxed, we could search in our own way, cursing the GPS signal, cursing the tree cover and generally having a relaxed walk finding caches.

Standing on a log, Mrs Hg137 just reaches this cache

Standing on a log, Mrs Hg137 just reaches this cache

There were three main series we attempted caches from : Cyclerama, Cyclerama Cross-Country and Home of the Fallen Trees. Of these the Home of the Fallen Trees had the more ingenious hides. Generally hidden in a fallen tree/log .. and lots of places to search!

Fallen tree location

Fallen tree location


We found two multicaches on route – both we made a bit of mistake with. Normally we transcribe the questions/formula for multi-caches so we can easily write down the answer. However we didn’t do it this time, and as a result were totally unprepared when we arrived at multi-cache. It was lucky that there cachers around at one of them, as we needed a phone to swipe a ‘yellow post’ to derive the final co-ordinates.
Ashridge Estate - lots of cache hiding places

Ashridge Estate – lots of cache hiding places

Ashridge Estate - lots of cache hiding places

Ashridge Estate – lots of cache hiding places


We finished our caching route about 330 ish and headed back to the hub. We hoping to meet with ‘Washknight’ You may have read his ‘Geocaching Blind’ blogs (see also left of this blog). He lives near to the site and had been nominated for one of the Geocaching awards. We sat on a log, drinking a well earned cup of coffee. Had we missed him ? We were wearing bright orange, sorry VERY BRIGHT ORANGE, T-shirts so we might be spotted. But we saw his party first. We had a great chat, and we wished him well for the Award Ceremony (sadly he didn’t win).. but it was great to meet someone whose adventures we have enjoyed reading
for the last year or so. (Ed : if you want to see how orange those T-shirts were, visit washknight’s blog).
Sam, Shar and Paul aka Washknight

Sam, Shar and Paul aka Washknight


We took a different route back to the car and found two more caches. One was almost a ‘gimme’ as we saw two cachers emerging from the bushes who told us the hint and where to look. We went over and found it… it was one of the caches released that day! So not exactly the first to find…but definitely in the top 20!
A very enjoyable, exhausting day. We walked about 7 miles, attended one event (the Mega), logged 4 lab caches, 2 multicaches and 19 standard caches. A great haul…but we discovered when we got home this made our total cache count..1599! If only we had attempted one more!

Some of the caches :

Footnote : We have subsequently read Washknight’s blog. They found a cache, which we found very early on in the morning. It wasn’t too hard to find (it was technically a puzzle cache), as it was behind large letters spelling the word “GEOCACHE” ! However the paper log had no reference as to what the cache number was so we couldn’t log it online. We now have that number, so we have logged the cache online giving us the magic 1600 caches. Woo hoo!

May 23 : Devon / Cornwall : Day 2 : Trackable – The Only Way is the Devon Way 2017

Sometimes coincidences happen … just a shame we didn’t notice until much, much later….

During our exertions climbing to the Cheesewring we found, in a large boulder field, the cache, “Scrumpy”. Inside was a trackable of a genre we had not seen before – a business card.

This business card advertised an event – the Devon (Geocaching) Mega 2017. Clearly the organizing committee of that event have invested heavily in business cards, as we encountered at least six other during our stay in Cornwall. Looking at the trackable history it is very difficult to work out how may business cards there are, as almost every day there are 3 or 4 finds in disparate locations varying from Exeter, North Wales, Essex and Malta!

But where is the Devon Mega being held ? The answer is Bicton Park – an agricultural college near Devon’s South Coast.

Observant readers of the this blog may remember the name as about 24 hours previously we had been standing outside Bicton Park locating a cache. The cache, which we failed to name in that blog, was called “Will you be here on the 5th August 2017?” We’d assumed that the date alluded to a reunion of students or teachers… but no! the cache is the marker for the Mega Event!

Our excuse for not realizing sooner.. we were giving our brains a holiday!

So look out Bicton Park we may be one of the 500+ people visiting you in 14 months time!

March 27 : Henry Racer

During our short caching trip on Easter Sunday we found the trackable, Henry Racer.

Henry Racer

Henry Racer


Henry is a clear plastic car, with the trackable number engraved upon it and a brief note about its mission.. to reach the Welsh Mega 2016. The Welsh Mega is taking place on Saturday 6 August so the trackable has still got a few months to arrive at its destination. The Welsh Mega is being in Llangollen Pavilion on the Saturday, but in the few days leading up to the event there are a plethora of other geocaching activities. One day there is a planned ‘meet-up’ at the top of Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon. On another a CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) event in the shadow of Conwy Castle. Another day is ‘Earthcache’ day and a geological trip visiting many of the local Earthcaches is planned. A wide variety of activities and with any luck this little trackable will see some of them.

But… Henry is in a race!

Not just to get to the Mega on time, but to beat 3 other trackables to the Mega!

At the time of writing this blog these trackables were :

– Scarlett Racer (last placed in an Essex cache on 31/12/2015)
– Damian Racer (last placed in a Lincolnshire cache on 12/2/2016)
– Tony & Sarah Racer (last placed in a cache in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire on 3/4/2016)

All of the trackables, including Henry starting their journey at the Essex Mega 2015.

Who will arrive on time ? Which trackable will win ?

At the moment its difficult to say, but Henry Racer is in a good a position as any. Go, Henry, Go!

August 6 –Travel Bugs from the UK Mega 2013 – Banana Bug

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The last of the seven travel bugs we acquired at the UK Mega in Gaydon, was ‘Banana Bug’. This bug wants to visit countries where bananas are indigenous / grown, and to be photographed with bananas and monkeys. We’ll try – I can think of the location of a banana plant – not sure about monkeys for now …

Aug 6 – We placed this bug in 1000 Caches TB Guest House – which we had raided for TBs before we left for the Mega.

Let's go Bananas !

Let’s go Bananas !