February 17 : FAST morning in Farnborough

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

FAST - English Electric Lightning

FAST – English Electric Lightning

On a sparkling bright morning, we set of for Farnborough, not very far away, for a morning’s urban caching.

Our starting point was ‘The FAST and the Furious’, a very popular cache with clues to the coordinates based on numbers on the planes on show outside the FAST aircraft museum in South Farnborough. http://www.airsciences.org.uk You could probably find all the answers for the cache coordinates by peering through the fence in various places. But you would have a much more enjoyable time if you visited the museum and looked round properly. There are loads and loads of things to see and enthusiastic volunteers to explain what you are seeing. There’s a well-stocked shop, parking, refreshments, flight simulators (ever fancied piloting Concorde?) and the chance to climb into the pilot’s seat of iconic aircraft such as the Harrier. The museum is open at weekends and Bank Holidays and it is FREE!

Climb into a Hawker Harrier ...

Climb into a Hawker Harrier …

... or the cockpit of a helicopter

… or the cockpit of a helicopter

Emerging from the museum … you could spend hours there … we worked out the coordinates and walked the short distance to the cache location, finding it just where we had calculated. Result!

Just outside the entrance to the museum is a quite new statue of Samuel Franklin Cody, who made the first heavier than air flight in the UK in 1908 a very few yards from where we were standing. Mr Cody had an eventful life, read about it here http://www.sfcody.org.uk/aero.html

Samuel Franklin Cody

Samuel Franklin Cody

Cody's Flyer - so fragile ...

Cody’s Flyer (a replica) – so fragile …

We had obviously spent too much time looking at aircraft and aviators, or we were distracted by the aircraft whizzing low overhead as they came in to land, as our cache finding skills now vanished. Our next FOUR attempts at cache finding yielded nothing – two DNFs (did not find), one set of coordinates some distance away in the wrong direction, and one complete failure to spot the item which would have directed us to the cache. We decided to finish our morning’s caching and return home. Of course, our finding skills miraculously returned at this point, and we found three caches, including two Church Micros, on our way back to the geocar.

So, a mixed morning, with only four caches found out of eight attempts. At least that means there are still a selection of unfound (unfound by us, anyway) caches in the area for us to find on a second visit!

Church Micro

Church Micro

...and the location of another Church Micro

…and the location of another Church Micro

PS The pictures of the aircraft at the museum are reproduced with the kind permission of Mr Brian Luff from FAST.

PPS And here are some of the other caches we found.


December 11 : College Town Series, Sandhurst

It is not often a brand-new geocaching series has been placed within half a mile from one’s home location.

An ideal opportunity to grab a few of those First-to-Find accolades.

Sadly though, we don’t have “automatic notification of new caches” turned on from http://www.geocaching.com, so we totally failed to spot this new series appearing on a cold Saturday evening. Would we have gone out at 9pm on a frosty evening ? I doubt it.

Instead we undertook the series 8 days after publication and what a fabulous urban series this was.

Branksome Hill Road, Sandhurst

Branksome Hill Road

College Road, Sandhurst

College Road, Sandhurst

We live in Sandhurst (hence our blogging name), and close by is the Royal Military Academy. Running parallel to one of its boundaries are two very long roads Branksome Hill Road and College Road. Each road is about 3/4 mile in length and with two 400 feet shorter lengths at either end; it made for a good 2 mile pavement circuit.

Urban caches can occasionally be exceedingly boring, with minute nanos stuck behind road signs, and admittedly there were a couple such caches on route. The following appropriately road signs may, or may not, be hiding places!

But the majority of caches were well thought through, and very well hidden.

One such hide was screwed into a concrete wall (we guess the cache owner’s house), two more were heavy variants of the plastic stone cache. These caches were actual stone or concrete! We guess a stone grinder had been used to cut out the base to place the logs in.


Another cache was hidden in half-a-branch. We were surprisingly quick at finding this cache, probably because we had seen a similar one recently on the Hampshire Drive By series.

If the Winter’s rain is driving you away from the countryside and onto an urban series, this route is for you. Many of the caches are simple finds, but others will challenge you a bit! You will need to keep you wits about you though, as all of the caches are in full sight of houses and you never know if you are being watched!

We thoroughly enjoyed this series, and we hope you do too.

September 2 : Wincanton

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Having arranged a walking holiday on beautiful Exmoor, we set off westwards along the ‘Road to the Sun’ (aka A303). We’d selected a spot about halfway along the route, close to the road, but not right on it, with (free) parking, and – very important – with a couple of caches, to break up the journey. And that place was … Wincanton. Turning off the main road, we arrived in an area of business parks, trading estates and supermarkets. We chose a place in a superstore car park, settled down and ate our lunch. (Editor’s note: we always seem to pick not-especially-scenic spots for our picnic lunches, and this was no exception.)

Off Yer Trolley - Wincanton

Off Yer Trolley – Wincanton

Sandwiches consumed, we turned our attention to caching. One of the two that we had selected was from the ‘Off your Trolley’ series, and this was quickly found, a neat, dry, tidy film canister on the boundary of one of those previously mentioned supermarkets. Crossing the road, we followed a path through mown grass and trees, searching for ‘Wincanton rec’. We found it, or rather, Mr Hg137 did, with a scramble amongst the willow trees at the edge of the River Cale. This was another neat and tidy cache: they do seem to look after their caches in Wincanton! And it looks as if they are looking after the river too – there’s a busy Facebook community group devoted to its improvement and maintenance http://www.facebook.com/RiverCaleCleanUpCatch

Where's that cache?

Where’s that cache?

That little break over, and our cache target for the journey met, it was back into the geocar to continue the trek westwards.

August – Paddington Bear – part 5

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Paddington - Bear Humbug

Paddington – Bear Humbug at Fleet Library

This isn’t a post about geocaching – it’s about something we came across while in London on a geocaching / Paddington Bear statue spotting trip at Christmas 2014 and which we have followed ever since. (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Paddington story appeared in this blog in December 2014, January 2015 and April 2015, or can easily be found by clicking on the ‘Paddington’ tag associated with this post.)

Late in 2014 the excellent film ‘Paddington’ was released, and 50 statues of Paddington Bear were put on show around London to publicise the film. A few days after Christmas 2014 we went to find some of them (and of course a few geocaches too, but we’ve already blogged about that). The statues were collected up and auctioned to raise money for the NSPCC charity, producing almost a million pounds. One of them, Bear Humbug, was bought by a local town – Fleet – after money was raised via crowdfunding. His name comes from his humbug stripes, very like the colours of Newcastle United, and were devised by Ant and Dec (both from Newcastle). We originally saw him on display in Oxford Street, London, among the busy shoppers in the New Year sales.

In April 2015, he arrived at his new home, Fleet Library http://www.fleethants.com/homepagelinks/humbugbear.htm Bear Humbug has not been idle since then – he has a presence on Facebook ( @abearcalledhumbug ), Twitter and Instagram. He makes charitable and educational appearances, and when he’s not busy doing that, he can often be found in Fleet Library – he’s increased the footfall in there – and it’s a popular thing to pose with him and then upload the picture #‎humbugselfie‬

Some time had passed since all of the above, and we hadn’t been to see our old friend. One day we were in Fleet, buying new walking boots, rucksacks, and other essential geocaching kit. We had time to drop into Fleet library and make our re-acquaintance.

He looks really at home – right inside the entrance, stood on his packing crate signed by Ant and Dec. Great to see you again!

July 23 : A hot day in Guildford

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Guildford Lido - on a hot July day

Guildford Lido – on a hot July day

What to do on a very hot day? Spend hours in a traffic jam on the way to the beach, or visit Guildford Lido? The latter won.
Along with hundreds and hundreds of other people, we spent the morning and early afternoon swimming, going down the water slides, picnicking, swimming, going down the water slides, swimming … When we paid, the lady at the kiosk seemed surprised that we wanted to pay the small amount extra to use the water slides, but we were going to do it anyway, whatever strange looks we got. And most of the sliders were younger and shorter and often more elegant than us, but so what?

We got tired and left in mid-afternoon. We were actually quite sunburnt, but we would find that out later … A few caches were nearby, and it would have been churlish, wouldn’t it, to go straight home without looking for some of them? The first was a Church Micro, the church was right next to the lido, and the cache itself was within feet of our car! Mr Hg137 furtled around behind a tree, and I kept watch, “taking a mobile phone call”, and telling him to be still, and quiet, whenever a muggle came by.



First mission accomplished, we set off from the church in the general direction of Stoke Park. Along the way we found another cache, neatly hidden on a lamp-post in plain view just out of (my) reach. Once in Stoke Park http://www.guildford.gov.uk/stokepark , we had a good look around. This is a really large, multi-use / well used park, yet another place we would never have found without geocaching.
Spot the geocache!

Spot the geocache!

We hadn’t realised in advance, but the first cache we wanted to find in the park was between and under the fitness course and the Wild Wood rope and zipwire trail http://www.wildwood-adventure.com A scout troop were attacking the fitness obstacles, two plump muggles swung from some parallel bars, and overhead, muggle children hung from ropes in the trees. It all looked like jolly super fun, and we picked our way inconspicuously (we hoped) into the woods to retrieve a cache concealed at the foot of an old tree. We probably didn’t look inconspicuous at all, just slightly odd …
Wild Wood - Stoke Park, Guildford

Wild Wood – Stoke Park, Guildford

From there, we emerged into a more open area, onto a paved path/cycleway, to look for our final cache of the day, described as being ‘under stones’. We didn’t do too well here. We found quite a lot of stones of various sizes in various places, and looked under them all, but the cache was a little way away … under some more stones.
Found at last!

Found at last!

By now, the heat and the day’s exertions were beginning to tell – or that’s our excuse for taking so long to find just four caches, so it was time to stop, drive home and spend a tired evening over a barbecue in the garden. Just about then, too, we realised quite how sunburnt we were!

January 30 : Crocked in Camberley

One of the advantages of blogging about geocaching, is that our blogs are read, in the main, by geocachers and we in turn read their blogs.

Would this Swan help us to find a cache ?

Would this Swan help us to find a cache ?

We follow with interest the adventures of Robbinn (and CockRobin) whose blog you can link to at the side of this panel. Although we’ve never met them, we know that they live locally to us and when they blogged about a great new mini-series in Camberley – we knew we’d like it too!

The series CDW (Camberley Dog Walk) consists of 5 caches in a residential part of Camberley just north of the M3. We were expecting the M3’s noise to spoil the walk, but in fact it was barely audible at all.

We parked, as most people do, at CDW#1. The cache was hidden at a road junction, and the obvious hiding place was quickly scanned for the cache. We were expecting a small nano from the description warning “take tweezers” and thus is was a shock to eventually something much larger!

First cache of the day!

First cache of the day!

We walked on to CDW#2 passing some expensive looking houses arriving at a salt/sand bin, which given the warm winter is rather a superfluous piece of street furniture. The cache hint mentioned ‘sticky sand’, so we went looking for a stick near the sand bin. Lots of sticks lay in the nearby hedgerow. We picked each of them up, looked all over, trying to find the cache. Sadly we didn’t! The bin was close to several houses, and after 15 minutes searching we thought it best to move on, before suspicions were aroused. Clearly we missed the cache, but we’re sure on another day we’ll find it within seconds.

We then had a longish walk to CDW#3. The properties we passed were slightly less salubrious, but the wood and lake (Watchetts Pond) we arrived at were well worth the walk.

Surrounding the lake was a footpath and quite mature trees. There were two caches lakeside, one either side of the lake. The first CDW#3 was in a clearing. There was a fallen log/trunk, several trees with hidey-holes, several trees with no holes at all. There were also two concrete cubes which provided useful seating. (Most people we think sit on these cubes and feed the swans, which incidentally didn’t help us… I guess because we had nothing to feed them with!). We searched the trees, we searched the logs, we searched the cubes. Again to no avail. The clearing was not overlooked by houses, so we could search to our hearts-content.. poking here, prodding there, peeling bark here, lifting leaves there… where was this cache ? Eventually, and reluctantly, we gave up.

Watchetts Pond

Watchetts Pond

CDW#4 was a delight for several reasons – firstly we found it! Secondly the container was special. If you read RobbInn’s blog, and our title, and the cache hint, you know what to look for… but the moment the cache is found makes it very special. We, like RobbInn are not going to post a picture…you’ll have to wait for our end-of year caches for that!

We returned to CDW#3 and another look in the clearing. Had we missed anything ? After another 5 minutes fruitless searching we abandoned and headed for CDW#5.

CDW#5 should have been easy. It was in an alleyway in a bush. Quite straightforward. However, the bush was adjacent to a house and garden… and the lady of the house was gardening (in January ! Really! ) right next to GZ. No point searching – we moved on.

Last cache of the day!

Last cache of the day!

Our journey back to the car took us past the Camberley Cricket Club where another cache awaited us. Fortunately a quick find to raise our flagging spirits at the end of a disappointing morning’s caching trip. (3 of 6 caches found)

The only advantage, if there is one, to so many DNFs, is that we have a small cluster to come and re-attempt on another occasion.

That’s 2 poor caching trips in a row.. are we losing our caching skills or will February bring better luck. Lets hope so.

January 23 : Mixed weather and mixed fortunes in Crowthorne

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Crowthorne is replete with our caching failures – we have nicknamed them ‘Nemesis caches’. And on a mixed-weather morning, a local caching trip seemed just right. It was almost exactly two years, and 800 caches, since our last attempts at these caches, so maybe our searching skills have improved in the interval?

Crowthorne Church

Crowthorne Church

Our first Nemesis cache was ‘Sidetracked – Crowthorne’, part of a country-wide series placed close to railway stations. So far we have found 25 of them, from Edinburgh to Lake on the Isle of Wight, and from busy London termini to tiny local stations. Maybe our searching skills really had improved, as we found the cache after only a few minutes. The cache itself was of a design we hadn’t encountered before, and which blended seamlessly into its surroundings; perhaps that was why we didn’t find it last time?

Feeling triumphant, we tackled our next ‘Nemesis cache’, opposite the gates to Wellington College. The college entrance was busy with cars and coaches coming and going to sports events, so we felt a bit … on show. This time we weren’t nearly as efficient at finding the cache, but some minutes of wandering up and down, peering in bushes, reading cache logs and generally bumbling about eventually led us to the target. Two down!

Busy Saturday at Wellington College

Busy Saturday at Wellington College

And here our luck ran out. On down the busy road we went to ‘Nemesis cache’ number 3. The same strategies that had worked twice already that morning were not working now. We gave up after some minutes of furtling around behind a BT box, as we were getting nowhere, and we were a bit conspicuous to folk coming and going from a side road. (Why does the entire population of Crowthorne drive about on Saturday mornings, we wondered?)

We moved on to attempt some new (to us) caches, placed since we last cached here. It didn’t get better. We didn’t find the next two caches either; three failures in a row is not good at all! (Editor’s note: one of those DNFs has now been confirmed as missing by the cache owner.) Fourth time lucky – we found another cache tucked beneath a hedge, though once again we felt slightly uncomfortable as we rootled away so close to people’s houses, which is always a problem with urban/suburban caching.

Eventually we arrived in bustling central Crowthorne, to attempt another newish cache. Once again we were unsuccessful. Actually, we didn’t feel too bad about this failure, as the cache hadn’t been found for five months up to then, and still remains unfound. Maybe it, too, is no longer there?

Where's that cache?  Not here!

Where’s that cache? Not here!

We wanted to finish with a find – it’s always dispiriting when then last (or first) cache of the day is a DNF (did not find), so we re-tried another of our Nemesis caches, ‘Disappearing Berkshire #1 – Buckler Cars’ ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckler_Cars ) . The cache is a short multi, themed around the area where the cars were built; the cache hint had been subtly altered since our last attempt, so we were hopeful. As before, we followed the route to GZ and found ourselves in a familiar alley. Some equally familiar searching followed, followed by another DNF (they were becoming familiar, too). Oh well – Crowthorne remains replete with unfound caches … maybe we’ll return in another two years to try again?

PS Here, as ever, are some of the caches we found.