November 17 : Cranleigh and the Surrey Hills

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Where to go caching? All summer, our caching routes had been determined by our walking quest for the year, from Sandhurst (Gloucestershire) home to Sandhurst (Berkshire). We completed that in early November, and now we had to choose a route for ourselves. After a little thought, we settled on Cranleigh, at the foot of the Surrey Hills. We walked there last year on our route from Sandhurst (Berkshire) to Sandhurst (Kent), and had planned to return one day; today was that day.
We were to tackle the ‘Cranleigh North Walk’ (CNW) series, a four-mile route covering sixteen caches, starting at Smithwood Common. Two other caches, not part of the series, were close to our start point, so we added those, and did them at the beginning.

A Fine Pair

A Fine Pair


It was cool, almost cold, and slightly misty as we soon found the first of those two caches, one from the ‘Fine Pair’ series (themed around a phone box and post box within sight of each other – an increasingly rare thing), and the other called ‘Four Elms’ and named after a now-departed pub. As we walked towards the start of the main walk, something gave us pause: two Remembrance Day crosses in a front garden. Just over a hundred years ago, two residents, a father and son, judging from the ages, had set off for war from that house. Neither returned, and they are buried in different parts of Europe. Very sad.

We looked for the path that would lead to the first of the CNW series, fording a small stream and setting off along a hollow ‘path’. We soon realised we had made a mistake – no way was this a path! – and we hadn’t brought a machete, but we bushwhacked determinedly on, and arrived at the first cache in the series after about twenty minutes, scratched and dishevelled. In hindsight, which is easy, we did the same kind of thing when we first stated caching – we chose the shortest (but not necessarily easiest) route to a cache. It seems we have not fully learnt that lesson!

Hard going ...

Hard going …


... maybe there was an easier path?

… maybe there was an easier path?


It got easier after that, luckily: there weren’t nearly enough hours of daylight left if we’d kept on at that pace. We carried on uphill, along (clear, unscratchy) woodland paths, climbing uphill and stopping briefly for a panoramic view out to the south. It was warmer now, and the sun was breaking through the mist, so we stopped for a coffee and a few minutes to admire the view. Setting off again, we reached a narrow lane, and climbed the hill while being passed by Lycra-clad cyclists; some even had enough spare breath for a brief conversation (though some did not!). After a little while, we turned off the road and onto a track, stopping to talk to a muggle sweeping leaves; she said it’s a great, if remote, place to live, but you do get snowed in sometimes …

We walked on along a track high in the late autumn woods, with golden leaves thinning to bare branches. Once, a tiny broken branch showed us the way to the cache; a few, we couldn’t find; another, we nearly missed till we almost walked into it … there was an excellent variety of things to find (or not find).
Letterbox cache here somewhere ...

Letterbox cache here somewhere …


... found it!

… found it!


Further on, along a woodland path, we arrived at a letterbox cache. It was a distance, and a direction, away from the published coordinates. We each took a bearing, and paced off in what we hoped was the right direction, ending within two arm’s length of each other – and the cache was between us. Teamwork!

The caches kept coming, and a varied selection they were, too. Some of the containers included fake pine cones, mushrooms, and a (very realistic) plastic hedgehog.

We dropped down from the wooded hills, then followed a track onto farmland. Rounding a corner, we suddenly came a large piece of wooden sculpture. While admiring it, two muggles also arrived to look at it. They told us that the sculpture is called Xylem Voices, by Walter Bailey, and it forms part of the ‘Inspiring Views’ trail https://www.surreyhillssociety.org/events/inspiring-views-trail (Editor’s note: we had seen another of the pieces in the series, Perspectives, up on the Greensand Way while walking last year.)

Xylem Voices

Xylem Voices


We were nearly back at the car now, finding the last two caches in the series as we walked through the fields, then along the road for a short distance as the sun dipped and the afternoon cooled.

To sum up: this is a beautiful walk, through woodland, open fields and commons and almost all on paths and tracks, a great way to spend a sunny late autumn day.

Here are some of the other caches we found:

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August 4 : UK Mega 2017, Devon – Day 1, Otterton, Ladram Bay and elsewhere

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

I had finally been permitted a day off work. So, bright and early, we were heading down the A303 towards Devon, towards the 2017 UK Mega Geocaching event at Bicton College.

Close by Bicton College lies the River Otter, Otterton village and Ladram Bay, with its red cliffs and sandstone stacks. The bay is one of my favourite places – ever, ever – we last visited in May 2016 and posted about the caches then. But, for the Mega event, LOTS of new caches had been placed and we planned to do quite a few of them.

Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Coast


We parked in Otterton and switched on the GPS. Mr Hg137 had spent several hours loading up 76 caches for the weekend and we were fully prepared. The GPS fired up … and there were just two (yes, two) caches visible. Aargghh! Something had gone wrong, and we didn’t have a caching route for today, or the rest of the weekend. We thought … how to load some more caches … we had a GPS, we had a laptop, where to find some wifi? Aha! The village pub. We grabbed GPS, laptop and cable, and rushed to the village pub, the Kings Arms http://www.kingsarmsotterton.co.uk where we bought a drink, asked for the wifi password and sat outside, loading caches. The village seemed to be quite busy, and suspiciously many of the folk wandering around seemed to be carrying GPSs. Hmm, a lot of geocachers about!

Mission accomplished, we walked back to the start of our day’s caching route which would lead us out of Otterton, over tracks to Ladram Bay, then up Peak Hill for a view across to Sidmouth, then back along a green lane to the village. We would usually have parked at the car park at Ladram Bay, but the price for doing this has risen to a rip off price of £10, and that is way, way too much for an afternoon’s parking. Oh well, another customer lost forever.

Slippery, slidy path down to the bay

Slippery, slidy path down to the bay


Our first couple of caches were from the ‘Strolling around Otterton’ series which had been recently placed, ready for the Mega event. Mr Hg137 became confused when one of the hints read ‘behind TP’ and he spent a little while looking for a tepee rather than a telegraph pole. Never mind, he worked it out soon enough. Then we left the village and walked towards the coast along a muddy, sunken lane leading downhill towards the bay. We had joined the route of the ‘Mega Byways’ series and found some more caches as we slipped and slid and eventually emerged into Ladram Bay Holiday Park.
Ladram Bay

Ladram Bay


The South West Coast Path crosses here, and we joined it to walk up the hill to the east of the bay, pausing for lunch at a picnic bench overlooking the beach. Here’s a video of the super little bay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9e5nTQvGgY
As we set off uphill away from the bay, we stopped to read a noticeboard, and for a chat to two people coming from the other direction. Their GPS gave them away as geocachers. They were Lydford Locators, and we found more than 50 of their caches as we worked our way down the upper reaches of the Thames in early 2015. We were duly awed to meet them and they were … puzzled by us two fans.

We carried on up the hill on a path between the cliff edge and a cornfield, finding caches as we went. We recognised another geocacher, Simply Paul, who we had last seen at the 2016 Geolympix in Ashridge Forest. And we kept spotting people behaving oddly, stopping at regular intervals or disappearing into hedges and bushes. Cachers, cachers everywhere! (Goodness knows what the locals and muggles made of all this ….)

Peak Hill, Devon: view west

Peak Hill, Devon: view west


We reached the top edge of the field and went into woodland, then spent a little while searching around in ivy before finding our next cache. All the time a family were approaching up the hill, and we just managed to replace the cache before they arrived. Hello to caching family, BECKS RLLR plus geodog, and we kept on bumping into them for the next mile or so. Leaving them to look for the cache we had just re-hidden, we huffed and puffed our way to the very top of the hill, 157 metres above sea level, leaving the woods for heathland and for a fine view out to sea. A short way further on, the south-west coast path began to drop towards Sidmouth, and the view opened out.
SWCP Panorama

SWCP Panorama


Mr Hg137 suddenly realised that there was a cache, named ‘SWCP Panorama’, that he had omitted to load during our earlier, rushed episode at the pub. He cast around like a bloodhound on a scent, and the cache was soon found. It was under a pile of large pebbles that looked as if they had been regularly disturbed – that’s the thing about Mega events, the caches are found a lot in a short time, and there are usually signs of searching, or even a cacher holding the cache!
Bars Lane, Otterton

Bars Lane, Otterton


We turned back inland and down Bars Lane, a sunken tree-lines track which turned into a lane, and with a few stops for cache finding and a few diversions down side paths for more cache finding, we made our way back to Otterton. As we reached the cache where Mr Hg137 had searched earlier for a tepee, we bumped into yet another group of cachers – this group were clearly from Scotland and they were the organising committee for the 2019 Mega event, which is to be in Ayrshire. So many cachers!

Arriving back at the car, we decided to attempt one more cache. This one was called ‘Spoiler’. You get some coordinates as a start point, are told that the cache is within a two-mile radius, and are given a photo taken from the cache site. And that is all the information you get. We’d done one of these before, in London’s Docklands, and hours, days and weeks of research had gone on to find the right place. This one was a bit easier. We knew that the cache was inside a circle based on given coordinates – we drew a circle on the map. We perused likely places using every kind of online map – and got a few candidate places. We researched further – bingo! Mr Hg137 found some drone footage. We had found the place. We drove there, down some very narrow Devon lanes. Walking round the location, we found the cache at the third attempt, when we had finally managed to line up the photo and the view exactly. Phew! Success. We headed off to Honiton and our hotel, to rest up, load some more caches, and prepare for the rigours of the Mega Day on the morrow.
A secret location somewhere in Devon!

A secret location somewhere in Devon!


Here are just some of the many caches we found:

July 1 : Elvetham

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Elvetham Heath: nature reserve

Elvetham Heath: nature reserve


Our 2000-cache milestone was not far off, and we had a date planned/hoped for when we wanted to reach it, but we needed to get closer first. So we were out again, heading back close to Fleet again. On a warm, cloudy, muggy Saturday, we parked in the centre of Elvetham, a suburb of Fleet, unnoticed among the many shoppers. Our main objective was the ‘Nature Reserve’ series, placed in and around the many green spaces in Elvetham. But first, something different, neither green nor spacious, a cache from the ‘Off Yer Trolley’ series, which are based around supermarkets. We followed the GPS to the likely location, which was … somewhere in the recycling area. We poked around behind metal bins and fences, and eventually found the cache, while getting puzzled glances from the man emptying the clothes recycling container.
Our start point!

Our start point!


After that, it wasn’t far till we were off the roads and into the nature reserve, an area of trees and heathland, criss-crossed by good paths. There are about a dozen caches, plus a bonus, spread about the reserve and some of the suburban residential area. I’ll describe the bonus cache first (though we didn’t necessarily do it first, I’m just concealing its exact position!) It was a puzzle cache, with three cryptic clues. We had managed to solve two of the three, which left us with a not-too-big rectangular area to search. Luckily for us, just one path crossed this patch, and a detailed search by both of us all along the sides of the path eventually found the cache. We never have worked out what the third clue meant …

Now for the rest of the series. We set off past a small pond, with interesting carved picnic tables, through trees and along gravel paths and boardwalks over boggy areas. There were lots of muggles out and about, walking dogs, accompanying their scooter-riding children, and just taking the air. It was good to see it so well used, but it did make it harder to find an undisturbed moment to retrieve each cache as we arrived at it. After three successful finds, it all went wrong at the fourth cache, when we spent an unproductive few minutes furtling in the roots of birch trees and finding nothing.

Moving on, the next cache had the intriguing name ‘Doris the Destroyer’. Who or what, we wondered, was Doris, and should we worry? It turned out that storm Doris felled a tree, making a hiding place for a cache …

On again, we got closer to the M3, and it got noisier. The next cache was called ‘Puzzle Box’ and a LOT of other finders had marked it as a favourite, so we felt it must have something special. The other finders also said that the published co-ordinates were not quite right. Both of those comments were true: we spent another few minutes pootling about at the edge of some trees before finding – literally – a box which was a puzzle. After some false starts, sliding, and pressing, we finally made it to the inner place that held the log. Ho hum: if we had known this cache existed, we might have set it up to be our milestone 2000th cache.

We walked on, past the edge of the nature reserve, away from the motorway, and back into roads and houses. Another cache was found. A previous cacher’s log said it all: “Easy for us, invisible to muggles”. A little further on, we approached another cache, named ‘Vertically Challenged’. Perfectly named, no way could I reach that! Mr Hg137 was delegated to swarm up a fence, and then a pole. At a stretch he just, just reached the cache container.

Vertically challenged

Vertically challenged


As we had been walking in a circle (ish), we were getting back to our starting point and had only one more cache, Redwood, to attempt. We like Redwoods! Well Mr Hg137 does! He can barely walk by one without knuckle thumping it (do it, it’s different from other trees). Also SEQUOIA, its true name, is one of only a few 7 letter words which contain 5 different vowels. None of that helped us: all the possible hiding places on the tree were either empty or were twelve feet in the air. We used a couple of branches to try to ascertain if anything lurked within. Nope. Sadly for us it was a DNF (did not find) – especially as we wanted the ‘RED’ for a ‘snooker challenge’ cache. (Editor’s note: the cache was missing and has since been replaced.)

To sum up: it’s always sad to end on a failure, but overall this is an excellent little series with well-kept caches hidden in creative ways over surprisingly varied terrain, in yet another place close to where we live, but have never visited.

Here are some of the caches we found:

June 29 : WWSW (Fleet)

Mrs HG137 had had an idea.

We were about 40 or so caches away from 2000 finds, and with 13 July (13/7) less than 2 weeks away, she thought it would be a good idea to see if we could get the 2000th cache on that date (our caching name includes 13 7).

Idyllic grassland near Fleet


The WWSW series in Fleet would provide a good opportunity to get over half of those caches. (WWSW stands for Westie’s Walks, Sloshed Walker and was first laid out nearly 10 years ago in 2008. It is relatively close to our house and we always said it would be a good winter’s walk, but as we have never done it in the winter, today seemed a good day.)

The route crosses Army land, and is occasionally ‘red flagged’ if the Army are on manoeuvres. Fortunately for us, the Army were elsewhere, and the full route was open to us.

We initially parked in an industrial park, and somehow managed to find a half mile longwinded route to cache 1, when a simple footpath was yards from our car.

Cache 1 was behind a sign deep in some woodland. The log though had suffered in the rain and was very wet. We decided the remove the log, and leave it out (behind the sign) in the sun for the duration of our walk. It was a Thursday, on a old circuit, so the chances of anyone else finding the cache today was very low indeed.

Onwards (over the noisy M3 motorway) to cache 2 and just as we approached the site, we were surrounded by dog walkers. Diversionary activity needed! Out came a mobile phone and a fictitious phone call ! Maybe not an Oscar-winning performance, but definitely enough to give us time for the muggles to pass. Then wrestle with a large cache and some small Armco before we could sign the log.

Woodland track


The next 2 caches were a lot harder. They had been placed on the far side of a stream (fortunately fairly dry), but the stream was guarded by 4 foot stinging nettles! Swipe! Swipe! The caching pole was being used wisely! Swipe! Swipe! Jump! Caches retrieved, logs signed… now to jump back and avoid those nettles again!

The next few caches were relatively straightforward, and to the trained eye visible from the path..It was searching for one these that Mr HG137 DID receive a phone call, so Mrs Hg137 did some sole retrieving and log signing!

The path was easy going and the lightly woodland soon gave way to a magnificent view of Minley Manor. This building was once owned by the MOD, but is possibly being turned into a hotel. It has also been used as a film location on a couple of occasions.

Minley Manor

Minley Manor


We walked onwards and suddenly the nice track gave way to grassland (or at least the most direct route to the next cache did). We made heavy weather of trying to find the right tree but eventually we did. We should, at this point, have walked back to the path, but instead we walked through a grassy meadow stopping for coffee on a large fallen tree-trunk. As we drank, we were aware of the myriad of butterflies visiting the meadow. A beautiful sight.

Butterflies

Butterflies


Our route out of the meadow led us up a slight hill, to an easy cache find, and then towards a pub where we found a another simple find (and a suit of armour!).
Is this the pub's bouncer ?

Is this the pub’s bouncer ?

We had walked 2 or so miles and now had our first road crossing. A fast single carriageway. A few minutes later we were in woodland, and the next cache didn’t take much searching as it had been poorly hidden by the previous finder.

Pleasant path through woodland


We then found our first non WWSW cache of the day – a Motorway Mayhem cache yards from the M3 Junction 4a. Over the years we’ve seen caches under twigs, leaves, bark but never under such a large piece of concrete! It took two of us to lift it!

More effort at the next cache too..as it was 7ft up a post. Mr HG137 was definitely getting a bending and stretching workout!

We recrossed the M3, pausing to see a steam train being taken to a festival on the Watercress line. Yes, a steam train on a motorway!

Express Delivery!


Our next cache was our first troublesome cache of the day. Hidden in Armco, but the coordinates were some 40 feet out. We both felt gingerly in various parts of the Armco – finding spiders, cobwebs, dust, grime until we found the cache. Finding caches like this, are often a ‘hard sell’ to the non-geocaching community!

A pleasant path down a woodland path followed. Well it would have been pleasant, except for its proximity to the noisy M3. We grateful for some quick finds and after about a quarter of a mile or so, the path turned away and became quieter.

Is there a cache here ?


Then we saw the digger. A JCB. On a footpath. It was undertaking ditch clearing, and was scooping mud/debris out of a ditch one side of the footpath, and building a mound on the other side. The dry, unrutted paths we had been following – were a quagmire…and somewhere near the JCB was a cache. We decided to have one quick look for it, and if it wasn’t found immediately we would move on. Fortunately the coordinates were spot on, and while the JCB driver was looking deep in the ditch, the log was signed.

Dredging a ditch…

…and Mrs Hg137 the other side of the dredging


The path gave way to a tarmac road and some farmland fields. Each field had a stile leading to it, and the cache was near one of them. We fruitlessly searched each stile for our next cache, but to no avail. Our first DNF of the day. We even paused for lunch near one of the stiles, and undertook a second search after eating, but nothing was found.

The cache containers on the route had been quite varied from small Tupperware boxes, to larger ones, a rat’s tail cache in a pipe, to a fake stone. The final few containers included a film canister as well as a letterbox hybrid. For us, this is what makes a series interesting, a variety of containers, and a variety of hiding locations.

The route finished by walking alongside some heathland. Before we reached our final caches we passed by some rangers from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife who were undertaking a survey on birds-foot-trefoil. We told them we were geocachers, which yielded no surprise whatsoever. We were glad we did as our next 2 finds were undertaken very close to their parked vehicles.

I think the rangers may have seen us!

We returned to cache 1, and replaced the now-dry log back in the cache, and returned to the car.

This was a very varied walk, heathland, expansive views, tree lined path, noisy motorways! Amazing what can be packed into a 4 mile walk! We’d also found 25 caches.. suddenly our 2000th cache is much nearer!

October 15 : Geolympix Series (Buckinghamshire) Ring A

Earlier this year (July 31) we attended the Geolympix Mega Caching event in Hertfordshire. The Geolympix is a 4 year event coinciding, not surprisingly, with the main Olympics. Today we would attempt to find caches from a legacy series from four years ago in Buckinghamshire.

Autumn Colours in the Chilterns

Autumn Colours in the Chilterns


One of the series that was placed in 2012 ago was called GMS (Geolympics Marathon Series). It is actually 5 circular walks or (Olympic) RINGS, with a total distance between them of 26.2 miles. (The official MARATHON distance). We decided to undertake the ‘A’ series which contained 24 caches. The caches were named very imaginatively GMS A 01, GMS A 02, etc..

The series started in the tiny village of Skirmett a few miles North of Hambledon, and just a few miles from the Oxfordshire border town of Henley-on-Thames. Skirmett is devoid of obvious parking places so rather than start our walk at cache 1, we drove up a narrow lane to park under some beech trees near cache 7.

Beech Woodland

Beech Woodland


This part of Buckingham is classed as the Chilterns, and about one fifth if it is covered in woodland. Predominantly beech, but we saw oak, yew and many others on our walk. Autumn was just starting to take effect, and many of the trees were showing rich red, yellow and brown colours.

Autumn Colours in the Chilterns

Autumn Colours in the Chilterns

At times it was all too easy to admire the colourful countryside rather than stop and search for a cache. Fortunately for us, the caches were, by and large, easy to find. (All the caches had a difficulty rating of 2.5, which seemed exceedingly high as most of the time we stopped at GZ, saw a tree, and nestling in its roots was a large piece of flint covering the cache!)

Ground Zero

Typical hiding place


Most of the containers were the same, black plastic containers, big enough for small swag and trackables. We placed the trackables we had in our possession at different parts of the route. We even found a very old trackable, US Geocoin, on route too.

Our route started at the top a hill, initially on a flat path, but then after crossing a meadow, descended sharply downhill. Crossing the meadow we espied, some distance away a balloon gently being carried by the mid-morning breeze. We stopped and watched before remembering there was a cache just yards away.

Oh Look ! A Balloon!

Oh Look ! A Balloon!


The Chiltern footpaths are well used by walkers, cyclists and equestrians. Walking downhill after the meadow, we gave way to two rather-fit mountain bikers cycling to the summit. On a later path, just as we were replacing a cache, three horse riders trotted towards us, but as they passed us, went into a full gallop! We heard a bird-shoot going off in the distance, and far-away church bells heralded the arrival of a wedding party.
Footpath

Along here !


We saw a Roe Deer making its way from a corn-field to a narrow strip of woodland. We saw Red Kites swooping high above, checking the ground for prey.

The countryside was alive with activity and yet we were barely spotted looking for caches. It helped of course that all the caches were easy finds. There were only about 5 which gave us a real challenging search.

The first of these was in a yew tree. When we did find the cache is was very wedged in the tree’s bark and then covered, fairly recently, by Autumn leaves.

The second troublesome cache was the only cache not on the GMS series. Nestling in a tree near a picturesque footbridge and stream, we spent far too long looking in the wrong place. We were slightly disappointed at this location, as the stream had dried up! Photos on http://www.geocaching.com showed a beautiful bubbling stream – all we saw was a dried up river bed full of cow muck!

We were in the valley now, and we saw a lot more walkers. Some clearly were experienced ramblers, others were out with just a ‘easy local walks’ book as their guide. Another couple were walking in flip-flops! The caches continued to be easily found. One was 20 yards from a house, and we watched by the owner’s dog for the full duration of cache location, log signing and replacement.

We paused for an early lunch in the valley, on one of the few seats on the walk. (The other seat, in Skirmett, we earmarked for a second late lunch). We ate our sandwiches and watched a pair of pheasants fly slightly ungracefully across the field. (They must have avoided the earlier bird-shoot).

Our third troublesome cache of the day was at a set of double gates. We had so many posts and poles to look at that when we did see the cache, we had to walk back through the gates to undertake the retrieval.

Beautiful house in beautiful scenery

Beautiful house in beautiful scenery


We arrived in Skirmett as large walking party went by, and as our eyes glanced to the promised second-lunchtime-seat, we discovered it was taken by a young family settling down to their lunch. We walked on, to cache 1 (actually our 19th cache of the day) and sat on some staddle stones instead.
Autumn Colours in the Chilterns

Autumn Colours in the Chilterns

Although most of the route was on footpaths, we now had a short section of road walking. A fairly busy narrow road. We scurried along the road as quickly as we could, pausing for traffic to pass, and occasionally wedging ourselves in roadside bushes. As we stepped off the road we began our search for what was to be our fourth troublesome cache.
After much searching at ground level, we read the previous cachers’ logs and discovered we needed to be looking higher. In fact the cache was in plain view the whole time! Duh!

Is there a cache down there ?

Is there a cache down there ?


One of the disadvantages with parking at the top of the hill was that the final mile or so was uphill. Some of the route through beech woodland. Many of the trees had been marked with white arrows, so it was almost impossible to get lost until…

…until we crossed a small thin rectangular piece of grassland. The footpath sign pointing across the grass was ‘vague’ in its angle, so we followed the GPS bearing to find a cache under stinging nettles and a waterbutt. What we then failed to notice was a tiny footpath sign covered with ivy. Because we missed the sign we walked on the GPS bearing towards the next cache. We walked passed a vineyard, and then a light aircraft went whizzing past us, just yards from our faces. We were walking up a light airfield!!!! We saw at least 6 more aircraft, some in hangars, some parked outside, before were politely told where the footpath was!

Footpath sign

Can’t get lost here!

We had two caches to find, and the penultimate cache was the hardest of the day. We were looking for the hint of ‘catseye’. In a wood. Yep. a ‘catseye’ in a wood. We searched everywhere and eventually some 30 feet from where the GPS originally pointed, found ‘the catseye in the wood’.

Cats Eye

Cats Eye Cache


Our last cache was quickly found, and we realised we had found every single one of the 25 caches we had attempted.

A glorious day’s caching in glorious Autumn weather!

Cache containerCache container Cache containerCache containerCache container

June 4 : Camberley, The Maultway

After our holiday away, our first caching trip at home was local, just a few miles away on the Eastern side of Camberley.

The 6-cache series that had taken our eye was entitled “The Maultway” named after the road which separates the Eastern side of Camberley from Army Ranges.

Maultway, Camberley

The Maultway caches are along here

Before we attempted the series we found our first ‘Alphabet Series’ cache set by Uncle E. Uncle E has set many a cache in the area, but it’s his ‘Alphabet Series’ he is best known for. There are (unsurprisingly) 26 caches named “A”, “B”, “C” etc dotted around Berkshire/Surrey/Hampshire. Sometimes the cache name provides a little hint to the puzzle, as it did here. Cache “B” was marked on the map as being near the Maultway so we looked at it.
All Uncle E provided to find the most junior Northings and Westings were the two words “Previously Gentle”. Fortunately inspiration struck fairly quickly – like most puzzle caches the final destination is some way from the “?” symbol on the geocaching map, and we were a bit disappointed to find out it wasn’t near the Maultway. We are not going to say where it was, but there was adequate parking, nearish to some sports facilities. We did make a bit of misjudgement trying to get to GZ (following the bearing not the footpaths!), but we found it! Now for the other 25 letters!



Our principal target of the day was the Maultway series. The series follows the straight road, which meant we would have to retrace our steps to return to the start. This though would have the advantage of being able to ‘revisit’ any DNFs a second time!

The Maultway (road) is separated from Army ranges by 2 distinct ribbons of land. The first is a narrow band of trees/hedges perhaps 3-5 trees wide. The second ribbon is a tarmac footpath used by pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers and of course us!

Most of the caches were in the woodland section, so every fifth of a mile of so, we deviated away from the tarmac and found ourselves looking for caches in brambles, hollow trees for a variety of containers.

We were fairly successful in finding 4 of the 6 caches, but 2 really eluded us. One, with a hint of ‘prickly’ was in an area surrounded by brambles and holly trees. Hardly a helpful hint!

The second failure was in fact a missing cache. We recorded our 20 minute DNF on http://www.geocaching.com and the cache owner checked the site, and has replaced the cache.
To cachers everywhere – please record your DNFs. The cache owner won’t know there is a problem unless they are told!

The highlight for us though was admiring a deer just yards away grazing away on the Army Ranges. Sadly it never posed for a photo in the best of positions.

Deer on the Army Ranges

Deer on the Army Ranges

April 9 : FLAB in Maidenhead

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

FLAB – not an especially nice term … But FLAB : Footpaths, Lanes And Bridleways is a series of 17 caches over approx. 3.5 miles, sandwiched between the A4, the Bristol-London main railway line, and the A404M. And that description does it no justice at all – it is really easy to get to, has good, free (!) parking, and is in a rural little patch of country.
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First of all: why did we choose it? We had an appointment between home and the cache series, and our plan was to keep the appointment and then move on to the geocaching. And, like all good plans … it went wrong. As we completed our appointment, Mr Hg137 realised he did not have his wallet; it is normally welded to his person when he is not at home, so he began to worry. Thus we returned home, retrieved the wallet, and set off again, passing the venue of our appointment (that saved some mileage, didn’t it?) before arriving at the excellent little parking place at the start of the caching series. At this point I realised I had forgotten to pack my walking boots, so I had a choice of another, much longer, round trip to collect them, or going round the route in my wussy, soft, non-waterproof trainers. I chose the latter. Actually they performed much better than that, so I had no need to worry.

Wussy driving trainers

Wussy driving trainers


Leaving our start point, we set off in the April sunshine into light woodland. The caches were easy to spot in the dappled shade (no rootling in thick undergrowth or head-high nettles needed at this time of year), and after five quick(ish) finds, we emerged from the path onto a country lane. We came upon a seat, placed next to the village noticeboard for White Waltham. It was the first seat we had seen, it was lunchtime, so it was a good spot to sit in the sun, eat our sandwiches, and watch the world go by. After lunch, we went further on down the lane, before turning off the road onto a track across fields. Suddenly it wasn’t so sunny, and the wind was getting up. We dawdled as a muggle family passed, then dived behind a telegraph pole to retrieve a cache; we expected the cache to be on the ground, but it was at head height, so we spent a while in the right place, but looking in the wrong direction. At the end of the track, we were back on a road, this time with a pavement, and pleasant flower-strewn verges, heading towards the railway line and a business park close to White Waltham airfield. Just before the railway, we diverted down a path across fields, accompanied by frequent trains in the shallow cutting alongside, and watching light aircraft practising take-offs and landings. Just here we found another cache – nothing very unusual about it, exactly where the GPS said it should be, and not very hard to find – but the previous logs said that it had not been found for some time and must be missing – that was most definitely wrong!

On we went, along a quiet section of dead-end road and onto another path. By now, we could both feel occasional raindrops. We tried to ignore them, but had to admit we were likely to get wet. Very soon. And so it proved. Our next cache was hidden amongst bushes and trees on a sheltered section of path, and it began to rain, hard, as we retrieved the cache. But it was a good place to be at that moment – possibly the most sheltered part of the entire walk – so we skulked in relative dryness under the trees while the rain pelted down and gusty winds swirled about. And then the rain was gone, almost as soon as it had arrived. A little further on, we emerged into a residential road, then turned onto a more major road which took us back to the geocar. I was quite happy for the paths to be paved by now, for my wussy driving trainers would not have fared well on those rural paths, once they were wetted by rain.The last two caches took us a while to find, as they weren’t where the description said they should be, but we got them eventually – a full house of 17 caches.

So, a roundup of the 17 caches. We found them all, which is quite rare for us; actually, very rare for us, there is usually something we don’t find. Most were very easy to find (as the description says they should be) though there were a few that weren’t quite where they should be (e.g. one hint said ‘in armpit of tree’ while we found it ‘in toe of tree’) or which needed some attention(e.g. container lid missing). We made notes on those and sent a detailed list out to the cache owner afterwards; as they said, the series is often done by beginner or inexperienced cachers, which might well explain some of the problems. We felt like grizzled old lags at that point!

Here are a selection of the caches we found, in no particular order:

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