Our hides get a visit from a geocaching celebrity

drsolly currently has the most finds logged of any UK geocacher at just under 41,000. He has held this position for quite some time only occasionally being knocked off the top for short periods of time. On Friday, he came to Watford and did our Street Name Scramble and Wall Hall caches as well as Sam’s Church Micro. I am so glad that we had recently done maintenance on all our caches and that they were in tip top condition when he found them. I guess it really shouldn’t make any difference, after all drsolly is just another geocacher and it is just as important that our hides are in good condition for any and all our visitors, but it somehow does feel slightly different. There is no doubt that he is famous in Geocaching circles and it therefore feels kind of cool that he came to do our caches.

As if this didn’t make me smug enough, he also awarded one of our caches a favourite point. As a cache owner, you always want people to enjoy your hides and the awarding of favourite points is one clear way that finders can express their thanks for the effort that the owner has put in. If high profile cachers such as drsolly come and find our caches then there is a chance that they might recommend them to their caching friends and this means more finds for us, which is all good.

Happy days indeed!

Posted in Geocaching, Hiding Geocaches | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Chipping away at Chipperfield

In which we encounter a displaced London Routemaster Bus, rent Pulp Fiction on VHS from a red phone box and cross time and space to fill the pretty village of Chipperfield with smilies.

On Tuesday, we once more drove the short distance to Chipperfield to see if we could find the remaining 11 caches that would effectively mark the village as done and dusted. But wait, I hear you say, return? When did you first go to Chipperfield. Well in order to answer that question I must invite you to join me in a bit of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and take you on a journey back into the dim and distant past of….er… 4 weeks ago. Ready? got your time travelling trousers on?

wibbly wibbly wibbly wobbly wobbly wobbly.

And here we are, on Wednesday this week (1st April), we decided to get our cache on and so we headed for the nearby village of Chipperfield. When I say nearby, I really mean it is close, only about 7km away, so close it even has a WD postcode prefix, the same as Watford. That probably doesn’t impress you people who live out in the sticks where one postcode prefix covers the whole county but trust me, in Hertfordshire we have plenty prefixes to go round and the WD only really covers Watford and the immediate surrounds.

My usual planning and research session had determined that I could break up Chipperfield into 4 chunks and on this day we decided to tackle the largest section containing 7 caches in a basically circular walk starting and ending at a very handy car park right next to Chipperfield Common. Parking the car and getting our boots on Sharlene described the scene of children arriving at the church next door, most of them carrying violin cases prompting me to hypothesize that Chipperfield might be the Hertfordshire bases for training young machine gun toting mobsters. Sharlene suggested it was too early for any of my nonsense! Quite right too.

Our first cache, , was the final of a puzzle, A Cache with a view (GC4XEW3), that was easy enough to solve with the use of fingers and the internet – the fingers were to type in search terms in case you wondered. It was cold but dry as we walked the few hundred metres to GZ and when we got there it took us almost 15 minutes before we were able to find the cleverly hidden cache. With very little to search, there being just a fence and a bush and a sign at the side of a road you would think that it would be an easy search but the CO has a fiendish mind and it was only by luck that I managed to feel the tiny container on one pass. To keep an air of mystery about the hide I will not disclose whether the cache was found on the fence, the sign or in the bush. As the name suggest though, the location did afford you with some pretty good views across fields towards Kings Langley, but it was a bit too chilly to stop and stare, we had caches to find and fingers and toes to keep warm.

The next four caches were all along the same road which we reach by walking across the fields from the GZ of the first cache. Whilst the sun did break through the clouds the wind more than made up for whatever little warmth that its rays carried. Upon reaching the road we first turned right and headed down a hill to pick up the first of the four, A Cache with a view too (GC5NXZT). It was a relatively easy find although I did spend a few minutes deep searching the top of a hollow post to no avail. I did find a yoghurt pot, a crisp packet, lots of bark and an empty tobacco pouch, but it was Shar that found the cache somewhere else. After signing we turned tail and walked back up the steep hill with much puffing and panting.

Thankfully the other three caches on that road were on relatively level ground. The first, Hedera diagonal (GC5CFK2), was a devilishly tricky hide on an ivy covered fence that had us finger feeling it for 10 minutes before finally finding it. The second, The Jasmin Cache (GC5CFFY), took us along a bridle path next to a road and Shar made the find on the other side of the path from where I was searching… isn’t it always the way that the cache turns out to be on the other side of the path.

We were rather surprised to spot a london routemaster bus whilst walking to the next cache. It was all a bit cliff Richard, Summer Holiday and for a few moments I entertained the idea of having a red bus as a caching camper. How cool would that be, although I had to conclude that its height might cause some problems with low bridges and getting a bus up a country lane to do countryside caching would be a flippin’ nightmare… perhaps not then.

A double decker bus, the type normally found in London about 20 years ago is parked in a driveway in Chipperfield

We’re all going on a Caching Holiday

The cache, We Can See You (GC5PCG7), turned out to be a cool in plain sight hide near the entrance to a garden centre. The description suggested that the CO could watch our search from where they were so it would appear that they either live in the houses opposite or work at the garden centre perhaps. Either way Shar made such a super quick find of the clever magnetic cache that we were in, signed and out within about a minute.

From here we had just two caches left and were heading back in the direction of the car now. The first of the two was The Bus stop Dash (GC3A90K) and on arriving at GZ we discovered a bus shelter big enough to seat about 10 people with lots and lots of nooks and crannies to search. I think I must have pissed off a billion spiders during my 10 minute search judging by the amount of cobwebs I disturbed whilst feeling around in the rafters. You know the expression that you always find what you are looking for in the last place you look. It is a dumb saying because you obviously stop looking when you find something but it has to be said that when I finally did find the cache, Shar spotting it, I had indeed already searched there and therefore I found the cache in the 4th of 50 places that I searched as I carried on looking well after I had found the hiding place. With a brief apology to arachnids of Chipperfield and much brushing myself down, we moved on to our last cache, Too Common To Park (GC4KCT0), which we found with ease at the edge of a pub car park. And that was that, 7 smilies and a grudging respect for the deviousness of the hides of elainealex who is CO on 6 of the 7 caches we found.

wobbly wobbly wobbly wibbly, wibbly, wibbly

… and you’re back in the room. Everyone made it back ok from the past? Hang on, you didn’t have a beard when you left, how long were you stuck back there? Well, glad you made it back to the present anyway. So now back to how we finished off Chipperfield on Tuesday (28th April).

We had three separate legs planned for our adventure. The first leg started at the same car park as last time, right on Chipperfield common, and we were there, putting on our boots, straight after dropping Sam off at school. As we headed for the first cache which took us across the common and the cricket pitch towards a small patch of woods, we cringed at the amount of dog walkers around. The place was swarming with doggy muggles. This could be a problem.

Our first cache, Feeling stumped by The Apostles (GC52QXR) went smoothly enough, once we were under the cover of trees we were soon at GZ and as the title of the cache suggests we were looking for a stump. There was a smack in the face, couldn’t be more obvious one just off the path and within seconds of arriving at it, I had cache in hand. 1-0 to the blind man. I tried not to get to excited as I invariably find only around 1 in 20 of the caches we go for but at this stage I was still allowing myself a small internal victory dance.

A pleasant walk through the pretty woods with the sun weakly breaking through the trees, led us to the GZ of our second cache, Screwed Over (GC5B52E). That is to say as we approached GZ, Shar said just to hang on a second as there was a group of walkers approaching and she wasn’t kidding. We stood to the side of the narrow footpath and waited as about 30 ramblers hiked past us, most of them of a more mature age, obviously a local rambling club. They just seemed to keep coming and coming as we patiently waited, answering the many choruses of “morning” from them. Finally they were gone into the woods and then a runner came barrelling along the path and as we eventually started searching, we heard the calls of the ramblers bringing up the rear of the pack that a runner was approaching. It was like someone being called to court, the cries echoed all the way through the group as they all warned each other to get out of the way. As for the cache with a name like screwed over it was fairly obvious what we were looking for but with a long fence at GZ, searching every point where an appropriate cache might be hidden could take a long time. Thankfully I reached over the fence and laid my hand right on the cache in the first spot I tried. My mental celebration was now going external as I allowed myself a small gloat at having found 2 caches to Sharlene’s 0.

The Cart and Horses public house was a short walk away and the GZ of our next cache, Don’t Put The Cart Before The Horses (GC5B0KW). From the description we knew we were looking for a magnetic cache. The pub was quiet although there were a few cars parked outside. The lane it was located on was free from traffic and so Shar got down to searching the only metallic object she could find, but with no success. We scratched heads and wandered around a bit but all the time we kept returning to the metal post at GZ. I made to search it just to convince myself that it really wasn’t there but just as I did a woman in a car pulled up in the road outside the pub and just sat in the car with the engine running, not 20 feet from us. We started fiddling with our phones and tried to look natural. Shar had a smoke and I, well I just stood there trying to convince Shar to relax, we weren’t doing anything wrong and she would drive off soon. After 5 minutes even I had to admit that it was starting to look weird and so we elected to move on, regrettably not finding the cache. We started walking away down the lane and as we did so the woman in the car pulled in behind us following us very slowly. This was very odd, but we kept walking and she kept driving, not passing us even though she could. In the end we stepped to the side of the road and just stopped to see what she would do. Slowly she drew alongside us and then finally drove off leaving us shaking our heads in confusion. Seeing an opportunity, I turned us around and walked back to the cache to search that pole that we had waited so patiently at. I found the cache nestling safely at the bottom of it and the score went to 3-0. Get in there! Blind man 3, sighted woman 0.

To complete the first leg, we had two more caches to find although they were a bit of a walk, but when I was studying the map I concluded that it would be criminal to leave them out as they would just sit there and taunt us as isolated caches in a forest of smilies. The walk to the next cache was about a kilometre but it was shaping up to be a lovely morning and so we didn’t mind strolling along the quiet lane that turned into a footpath. We elected to skip the first cache we came to, choosing to pick it up on the walk back to the car, giving us something to break up the longer return walk. As we approached GZ, having passed a happy muggle who greeted us along the way and a couple of horsey muggles, the flat footpath sloped into a steep paved affair down to the little neighbouring village of Belsize. As we arrived at the GZ of The Belsize Nano(GC34C09), I was excited to find an old red telephone box.

Paul is pictured standing outside an old red phonebox in Belsize

It’s for you

You don’t see many of these nowadays and so it is cool to find one. Even better, we realised, the cache was in it. I dove in and started searching, pissing off more spiders but after a few minutes I hadn’t found it. I did find a small stack of 3 VHS video tapes on top of the phone though, including pulp fiction. Weird.
A piicture of the interior of the phonebox shows three VHS video tapes stacked on top of the telephone

Movie anyone?

Shar opened the door to see how I was getting on and immediately spotted the cache, it was hiding in a place that you could only see with the door open, clever. So that made it 3-1 to me.

Back up the hill, puff puff, pant pant and then after a few hundred metres we arrived at the GZ of Hornet’s Hide 3A – Penman’s Green (GCMDB3), a cache dating back to 2005. I really wanted to find this one as The Hornet is a legendary cacher from the early days and placed a lot of caches around Watford and the surrounding areas. Alas only a few of them still remain and so I think it is quite special when we are able to find one. Finding it was a different matter though. The GZ was in amongst a patch of trees at the side of the footpath and searching for the regular cache was difficult due to the uneven ground and dense trees. I bounced off the woodwork as Shar slowly got further and further from me, searching in ever increasing circles. I had got myself thoroughly turned around and lost when I finally heard Shar’s victorious cry. It then took me 5 minutes to get to her and in the end she had to come find me and lead me to the cache which was off the path, through the trees, up a steep bank, through more trees and try not to slip down the bank. I can see why this cache has survived for over 10 years and I hope it does so for another 10. 3-2… bugger, please don’t let the first three finds be a fluke!

Having made pretty good time so far we decided to drive to our next spot just up the road at the Boot Tavern. Back in the summer of last year we had attended an event at this pub and one of the caches we were going for had been published to coincide with the event but we had been far more interested in drinking and socialising with other cachers to actually go and find it. Besides, it was a puzzle cache and I am only able to solve these when I can take my time and use my own computer at home that has all my familiar blindness enhancements, speech and magnification etc. Shar… well Shar doesn’t do puzzle caches other than to help me with the ones that require eyes and only then if it can be solved quickly and simply. The puzzle, Tanks for the Letterbox (GC59GDG), was set by our good friends Smokeypugs, involved tanks and translating things from German. It took me a little while with google translate and some image recognition websites but in the end I had some coords and it turned out to be an easy walk down a footpath next to the pub. Shar made a quick find at GZ and the scores were tied at 3-3.

We walked back past the car and crossed over the main road to find an easy traditional that was placed down a narrow country lane in amongst some trees. With the competition between us increasing we both wanted to be the one that found the next one and move into the lead. Shar spotted Up a Bridleway (GC3B3WE),but asked me to retrieve it. I challenged her that this would mean a find for me but she told me that was rubbish and the score was hers regardless of who actually picked the container up. That was me told! 4-3 to team sighted stroppy female.

We returned to the car and broke out the half time sandwiches. I had to eat with one foot out of the car as I had stepped in some horse poo at some point and the smell of it was not a nice thing to have while you were eating. If I hadn’t been so hungry I might have taken the time to scrape it off first but leaving the offending boot outside the car did the job… bloody horsey muggles.

After lunch we relocated the car a short distance away at the entrance to Scatterdell Woods where we were planning to search for the last 4 caches of the day. This was good for a number of reasons, not least of all so I could get the opportunity to scrape the poo off my boots over the course of walking a couple of kilometres through pretty woodland. And the woods were seriously pretty, especially as the bluebells were out too.

A woodland view through the trees where the bluebells can be clearly seen

Bluebells in Scatterdells

The first cache, Scatterdells – Hydroelectric Power (GC4D1VV), was a very clever hide near a water hydrant sign just at the entrance to the woods. We kind of had an idea what we were looking for based on the name – something to do with electricity near the water sign. It still took us a couple of searches to find the small custom container but eventually I found it in the place I had first searched. Woo Hoo, team blind man Poo fights his way back to 4 – 4.

After another short walk through the woods and up a bit of a steep hill we eventually found ourselves at the GZ of Scatterdells – Hornbeam Hollow (GC4D1KC). We were looking for a mossy stump and wouldn’t you know it there was no shortage of places to start looking. Shar left me near one such stump and dashed off to powder her nose and wouldn’t you know it, I reached down and found the cache. This was easy pickings. 5-4 to me and only two caches left, this was getting seriously interesting.

A bit of down the hill and up the hill and we were soon at the GZ of Scatterdells Swirl (GC4CERV), where Shar practically shoulder barged me to the ground in order to search the very obvious tree where the cache was no doubt hidden. Despite the underhanded tactics and the fact that I had to actually retrieve the cache due to the possibility of Boris the Spider residing in the hollowed out tree, she insisted on claiming the find, levelling up the contest at 5 caches each with only one more to decide the ultimate caching champion… of Chipperfield… on that day…. out of me and her.

Thanks to a bit of lateral thinking by Shar, we took an alternative route to our last cache, thus avoiding walking down a massive hill and then back up it again. Instead we skirted around the top of the hill which was a slightly longer way to go but didn’t involve the use of oxygen and Sherpas. Hang ’em high (GC5CFM0) was another one placed by queen CO of Chipperfield elainalex and so we knew it would be something a little out of the ordinary and based on the name of the cache and the description we knew it would be hanging in a tree somewhere. With tensions running high, Shar and I instantly split up at GZ and got down to searching for the cache, both wanting to get the last find. It wasn’t a quick find though and gradually minutes stretched into… more minutes and we found ourselves wandering in circles searching the same trees. I turned to the logs of previous finders and although one or two of them had something interesting to say, none of them were much help in finding the right tree. I was starting to think that neither of us were going to find the cache when finally Shar called out that she had indeed found it. My emotions were mixed, relieved at not having to log a DNF, but disappointed at having come runner up in the Chipperfield Caching Challenge 2015. Team sighted Woman 6 – Team Blind Man Poo 5. I was honourable in defeat and congratulated Shar as we set off for the kilometre walk back to the car.

And so, after two visits and a bit of time travelling, Chipperfield is all smilies. No wait, is that an unsolved puzzle cache lurking just next to the common. Bugger! Ah well, at least that will give us an excuse to return to this lovely village another day. Happy Days.

The first trip to Chipperfield took place on April 1st and took our cache count from 1000 to 1007. The second visit to Chipperfield took place on April 28th and took our count from 1017 to 1028

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We’ve got fleaz!

There, I’ve admitted it. And as strange as it sounds, I have a good feeling about it. Now stop scratching and pay attention while I explain. GeoFleaz formerly known as TravelFleas are tiny metal tags that are engraved with your caching name. The concept is that you attach them to Travel Bugs that you come into contact with so that they can travel around with the trackable item. Much like the real world nasty, GeoFleaz are simply parasites, living and travelling on the back of larger beings. The GeoFleaz themselves aren’t trackable and once released, the owner never really knows what happens to them, but they are just one more way that geocachers can personalise their caching experience, like calling cards or signature swaps.

To be honest, they probably aren’t something I would shell out actual money for, but as it turns out we didn’t have to. I entered a competition on The Oh Beep! Geocaching Podcast a few months ago and was lucky enough to win a pack of 12 personalised GeoFleaz. Yay!

In a moment of true generosity and Father son love, I arranged for the GeoFleaz to be engraved with Sam’s caching name, MiniKnight. I didn’t tell him at the time of ordering, but instead when they actually arrived in the post to much surprise and smiles. So now we are infected with a dozen tiny travellers that we are itching to find some TBs for them to hitch along with.

MiniKnight has Fleaz

MiniKnight has Fleaz

So there you go, and if you are still itching then it is nothing to do with me! Stop scratching!

Posted in Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Chiltern Hundred Leg 4

With just a few days left of the school Easter holidays, I was keen to make the most of the unusually warm weather for the time of year and get back to our Chiltern Hundred challenge. For more information see my previous Chiltern Hundred blog posts. Up to this point we had found and maintained numbers 1to 17, 21to 31 and 44 to 49 leaving us just 15 caches left to find of the 49 on the Chesham loop , the largest of the three rings that make up the Chiltern Hundred series. After a lot of map squinting and head scratching, resulting in a splinter, I decided that the remaining caches couldn’t be done in a single walk and therefore proposed a series of mini walks for our outing, splitting the caches into 3 clusters of 3, 5 and 7, each with a different parking spot.

As we pulled into the car park of a pub on the Ashley Green Road and got our boots on, the weak morning sun was battling against the cool breeze and losing. We powered up the phones and found that our first cache was over 2km away. This confused me. Even allowing for the fact that we had parked near number 21 in the series, a cache we had already found, and that we had elected to walk past this and numbers 20 and 19 to get to 18 and then turn around and cache back to the car, 2 kilometres still sounded like a long way. With most of the hides in the series being 2 to 300 metres apart the maths just didn’t work. Shar checked her phone again and agreed with Sam that number 18 was over 2km away. I then got out my phone and looked at how far number 21 was from us, knowing that it should be just a few metres on the other side of the road, but I was surprised to find that it was over a kilometre. Then the penny dropped… we were at the wrong pub! Not sure how it had happened and not wanting to blame any one individual.. *cough* *cough* Sharlene, somehow the wrong postcode had been put into the car sat nav. After a bit more squinting at phones and maps by Shar, she declared that we were on the right road, but indeed, at the wrong pub, so we all piled back into the car and drove a short way further along until we found the correct pub. I kept an eye on my phone tracking the distance to number 21 and as we pulled into the car park of the pub, I was happy to find that the cache was less than 40 metres away. That was better!

Confident we were now at the right place, we crossed over the road and found the footpath that would take us the 700 metres or so to our first cache of the day CH018 Lye Green (GC1ECQC). The walk was on a good footpath with some large houses to one side and open fields to the other. As I mentioned the route took us past CH020 and CH019 which we would collect on our way back to the car, but we were a little concerned to find a guy with a chainsaw lopping off branches from a tree that we reckon was almost right on top of ch020. We passed on by and hoped that on our return we would discover we were wrong and that the GZ would turn out to be somewhere else.

After a rather breezy walk across an open field we entered a small path of woodland and within 5 minutes or so we found ourselves at the GZ of our first cache of the day. Sam scooted all around the impressively large trunk and in quick time found the cache, nestling snuggly at its base. Having done a few legs of the Chiltern Hundred now we all knew the routine we had made for ourselves with regards to doing maintenance and although we were a little rusty on this first cache, we soon got the job done. My combat trousers are turning out to be a most excellent purchase from a local charity shop, as not only do they keep me warm and dry and safe from nettles and brambles, but they have an enormous amount of pockets which I make full use of. Left waist pocket contains voice recorder and plastic bag for damp logs and other trash removed from caches. Right waist pocket holds my iPhone. Left thigh pocket holds spare log sheets. Right thigh pocket holds plastic bags and laminated bonus code cards. Left back pocket holds kitchen roll for drying containers and my right back pocket is reserved for storing ancient roman gold coins found whilst caching. Alas this last pocket has not seen as much use as I would have hoped but as Captain Sensible once sang, “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.”

With our first cache of the day found, logged, maintained and re-hidden, we turned tail and headed back towards the car and our next two caches. CH019 , Nashleigh farm (GC1ECQM)was a straight forward find further along the path just before we reached the open field again and aside from the usual maintenance dance there was nothing of interest to note. As we strode across the open field though towards CH020 Wine tree (GC1ECQQ), we were unable to hear the chainsaw that we had encountered earlier. Thankfully, it looked as if the man had finished his tree amputations and we might be in with a chance of making the find. The hint told us we were looking for an elderberry bush and both Shar and I laughed and once again made a mental note to get a guide book to trees and bushes of Britain as neither had a clue what we were looking for. We instead relied on the coordinates and after a bit of prickly searching we managed to find the cache nestling in what was presumably an elderberry bush. As we walked away, heading for the car, I wondered if I would be able to recognize an elderberry bush in the future and sadly had to admit that I would not.

Sam walks away from the camera along a wide footpath through open fields. The light dusty colour of the path constrats heavily to the fields that it passes through.

A solo cacher

With these three caches found it meant that we had now successfully logged all the Chiltern Hundred caches from 1 to 31. This meant that seeing as we had already found 44 to 49, all that was left was a continuous stretch of numbers 32 to 43. I hadn’t been able to build this stretch into a circular walk so our next chunk would consist of a “there and back” walk of 32 to 35. After parking the car, at the right place this time, we made our way onto a footpath that led alongside a farm and then headed into the woods. We decided to tackle the caches starting with 33 then 35 then turning around and doing 34 and 32 on the way back giving us a couple of caches to get in both directions.

CH033 Captain’s Wood (GC1EHDJ) turned out to be a right bugger of a search. GZ was in a small patch of woods and many people had stated that the coordinates were off by about 20 metres. Other than that the only hint we had was that it was hidden under fallen branches. This was a wood. With lots of fallen branches! We all split up and got on with the search, me mainly getting tangled up in branches as I am want to do when let loose amongst trees. After a few minutes I could barely hear the shuffling and searching of either Sam or Shar but wasn’t particularly bothered. I was just happy to potter about tapping things with my cane trying to find any piles of fallen branches that would warrant a search. After 15 minutes more of this, the novelty was starting to wear off and so I headed back towards the posted coordinates where I found Sam who had obviously given up. I kept hearing Shar pass back near to us and then away again, still looking for the cache, but clearly getting close to the point of giving up. Both Sam and I were ready to move on and got up to go find Shar when we heard those magic words… “Found it” come floating on the wind. Sure enough the cache was about 15 metres from GZ according to my phone and if you happen to be heading out to find it, then my advice is go to the published cords and then keep close to the fence line as you expand your search and you will find it. Delighted and elated again not to have to log a DNF, once the signing and maintaining were done, we trotted off through the woods in search of our next cache.

Shar and Sam hug affectionately in the woods after a tricky find.

Elated after a tricky find in the woods

This being the Chilterns, it was inevitable that we would encounter hills at some point and on our way to CH035 Asheridge Road (GC1EHDV) we certainly did that. Initially happy that this one appeared to be going down, we then realised that after CH035 we would be turning around again and heading back towards the car… UP this massive steep hill that we were gleefully trotting down. Ah well, we would worry about that later. As we reached the GZ, making the find was easy and Sam did the honours, pulling the cache from a tree with more trunks than an elephant swimming team on holiday. We gave up counting. after about 10. We were about to turn about and head up the hill when a thought struck me. With confirmation from Shar, I realised that we were in a valley and the next cache in the series would also be in the valley. On the basis that after we had done 34 and 32 we were going to drive to a new spot and then back track to 36 before carrying on I suggested that to save us walking down into the valley from the hill on the other side and then, more crucially, back up the hill again to get to 37, we should do it while we were in the valley now. After a brief discussion and a bit more explaining on my part, trying to make myself understood, it was agreed. So we walked a couple of hundred metres along a country lane to get to the GZ of CH036 Asheridge Road East (GC1EHDY), where we made another quick find of the cache hidden behind a water trough. While we were there I asked Shar if this was indeed the bottom of a hill leading up to the next in the series and she confirmed that it certainly was and a very steep hill it was too. I have to say I did allow myself a slight smug smile.

Smug or not, we were still in a valley and would still have to walk up one steep hill to get back to the car and so we retraced our steps and headed back onto the footpath and up the hill to CH034. We made the hill climb in one piece, although we did have to stop a few times and take on water, oxygen and new knees, but the views were worth it.

Taken from the top of a hill this landscape view takes in the majesty of the Chiltern hills. The fields are bright with vibrant greens as spring bursts forth. Some of the trees are still a little bare but others are budding and blossoming. Clear skies frame the pretty landscape view.

Worthy view

At the GZ of CH034 West of Hivings (GC1EHDQ)there was evidence of some tree cutting and the logs revealed quite a few DNFs from previous cachers. We spent about 10 minutes scouring the area but in the end concluded that the cache was missing. We then spent a further 5 minutes trying to find a suitable place to put a replacement container that matched the original hint. Eventually we spotted a likely tree a couple of metres off the path and tucked a new 35mm container in amongst the vines wrapped around the trunk. We are generally reluctant to replace containers unless we can be sure that the original has actually gone missing, but this time we were fairly convinced this to be the case.

After this it was on to the top of the hill, thankfully only a little further and back through the woods to CH032 Mount Nugent Farm (GC1EHD8) which was a nice quick find in the crook of a tree to the side of the path. By now we were all getting very hungry and it was a relief to get back to the car so we could break out the sandwiches. Before we ate though, we moved the car to our last planned parking spot of the day on a road between CH038 and CH039. This was to be our base to tackle the remaining cache numbers 37 to 43 and then walk back to the car via a different route picking up one odd non Chiltern Hundred cache on the way.

CH038 Chartridge (GC1EHE8) turned out to be a really good hide with the cache being wedged in the top of a pole holding a street sign. The sign was well hidden though as it seems to have been reclaimed by the bushes a while ago and now is almost entirely invisible unless you actually start fighting your way through the greenery. From here we walked back towards the GZ of CH037 Asheridge view (GC1EHE7) which we were pleased to find was located just as the hill started to slope down. Again my smug mode kicked in, my earlier plan of picking up CH036 before we moved the car the last time now being proven most utterly brilliant. It is just a terrible shame that we couldn’t find the cache. No amount of searching at GZ turned up the pesky thing. There was a very massive tree at GZ and the hint suggested the cache would be 3m from the ground. With a bit of effort I managed to find a place to get a leg up enough to reach the kind of height indicated but the tree was totally smooth. There was absolutely nowhere at all that a cache could be hidden. We searched all around on the ground and inside the rotted hollow of the bottom part of the tree but no luck. The task of searching was not made any easier by the fact that the whole area was covered in nettles and brambles with razor sharp thorns. After 15 minutes of looking we were thoroughly scratched and pricked and, quite frankly, pissed off. We widened our search to trees on either side of the big tree, we read logs, noted that the container size had changed in the last year or so and it also seemed to be lower than the hint now but none of this helped us. The treeline was backed by a barbed wire fence so there was only so far behind the trees that we could search and on the other side of the path was an open field so we were starting to think that this one might have gone missing too. For some reason I just didn’t feel comfortable about dropping a new container at this GZ, partly because we hadn’t really found anywhere that looked like it was actually the hiding place. In the end we resolved to give it up as a bad job and seek some help from previous finders or the CO when we got back home. Thankfully this cache wasn’t too far from a suitable parking spot so it wouldn’t be too difficult to return to at a later date.

Having taken so long, searching at CH037 and feeling scratched, battered and somewhat deflated, we decided to curtail our caching for the day and save the remaining caches for another adventure. We were still very happy with our 9 finds and only a little miffed at our DNF. On returning home, I contacted a previous finder and despite sending a photo we had taken and them puzzling over it for a few hours, they couldn’t remember the cache and alas could offer no extra help. I also contact the CO, drsolly, but even he couldn’t recall the specific cache, not even after looking at the photo… I suppose he does have rather a lot of caches in the series to remember. The next day I happened to be reading the cache description once more and noticed something that I had missed before. The description began with the sentence, “Walk up the hill keeping to the right of the barbed wire fence.” Something troubled me about this and after replaying our attempts to find the cache on the day, I realised that we had approached the cache via a path which took us to the left of the barbed wire fence… not the right! Was that why we couldn’t find it? Was that why no one recognized the GZ from the photos? Were we on the wrong side of the fence? I was Frustrated at myself for missing this instruction in the description before but also I could feel the blossom of hope forming that we would be able to return and convert the DNF into a find at a later date. There is a tentative plan to go back and tackle this cache and a few others on Saturday May 2nd which also happens to be the 15th anniversary of when the first geocache was place and Groundspeak have a shiny souvenir up for grabs for those who find a cache on that day, which will be an added bonus. Happy days.

This caching adventure took place on Saturday 18th April 2015 and took our geocache total to 1017.

Posted in Finding Geocaches, Geocaching | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Easter Earthcache at Wells, Norfolk

With the Easter school holidays upon us, it was a perfect time for a short trip up to Norfolk to visit my mum. Whilst we had made no plans to do any geocaching as such whilst we were there, it would have been rude not to have slipped in a cheeky one… like you do. My mum was of the same mind and after the obligatory egg hunt on Easter Sunday morning mum suggested we could head to Wells for a nice walk on the beach… oh and there was that Earth cache there too. Perfect.

We had thought about attempting the earth cache back in February when Sam and I had visited but the weather had beaten us back off the sand. This time, the skies were mostly clear and the sun was shining, much to the annoyance of the weather man who had forecasted clouds and cool winds all weekend… pah, what do weathermen know.

The theme for the earth cache is to learn all about tides and in order to claim the find you have to walk out along the beach to the water line at low tide and take a few measurements. I thought this would be a 10 minute walk or so from the steps near the car park but it actually turned out to be over 2km! The tide sure does go out a long way at Wells. Surprisingly the terrain on our walk was quite varied. I expected it to be a constant flat plane of sand all the way but we experienced everything from soft fine sand to squelchy muddy stuff, to undulating dunes including one that surely remains as an island even when the tide comes back in, to rutted gravelly sand and gullies of water still stubbornly refusing to retract with the rest of the sea. It wasn’t until the last 300 metres or so that we finally came upon the nice flat hard packed sand that was easy to walk on.

Paul, Sam and Sandra stand next toa beached buoy on the Sand at Wells. The sea has retreated far enough for the buoy to become beached.

About A Buoy

It was important to get our timings right so that we arrived at the water when the tide was at its lowest point and so some studying of the tides tables or more accurately a handy website, was needed. We arrived at the water with about 15 minutes to spare and so spent a little time playing noughts and crosses in the sand with my white cane. I also inscribed my caching name just in case any other geocachers came to log the earth cache that day. ;)
Sam and Shar play noughts and crosses in the damp smooth sand near the waterline on wells beach at low tide.


At the appropriate time we logged our position as a waypoint so we could calculate the exact distance that the water had retracted from the shore and then set about heading back to land. It wasn’t a very difficult earth cache but the walk there and back was very enjoyable indeed, if a little longer than we had expected.
Paul and Sam stand at the waterline on Wells Beach pulling funny faces and generally being silly sods.

If the tide turns, you’ll stay that way…or was that wind?

I wonder if there are any other earth caches based on tides. Have you done one perhaps?

This caching adventure took place on Sunday 5th April 2015 and took our geocache count to 1008

Posted in Geocaching, Finding Geocaches | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Interrogating a Button Mushroom

It has, unfortunately, been a bit of a slow time recently for us when it comes to actually getting out there and finding caches, although there are a couple of blog entries in the pipeline about more recent outings to look forward too. It is fantastic, therefore to be able to enjoy the blogs of fellow geocachers and a perfect oppotunity to dig out the thumb screws for another Interrogation. You might think that my temporary dry spell in caching has pushed me over the edge into madness as it would appear that I am now posing the questions to fungi, but you would be wrong.

Cheryl, who caches as Thebuttonmushroom, only became interested in all things fungi after selecting her name. Originally from Swansea, Wales she now resides in Hampshire with her husband who “puts up” with her geocaching obsession. Her blog is a veritable treasure trove of caching adventures and her geocaching.com profile is a staggering list of achievements racked up in the time since she started caching in 2009. Check out how Cheryl faired under interrogation.

To quickly find all the posts listing the other bloggers that have taken my challenge use this tag search – Articles tagged with Washknight Interrogates.

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Wall Hall Maintenance

After receiving a few DNFs on a couple of our Wall Hall caches we thought it was a good opportunity to go for a walk and do a maintenance run today. We have had cause to return and maintain the odd cache here and then in the last few months but we haven’t actually walked the entire route since we placed the caches back in July last year.

It was great to walk the whole series again, we were reminded of just what a lovely mixture of environments the series travels through in a relatively short distance. The maintenance went better than expected with 11 of the 12 caches being in good condition leaving us just to put in a few fresh log sheets. We had received a couple of DNFs on the 2nd cache in the series but managed to find it snug, safe and sound in its hiding place. It is probably one of the trickier caches as it is in a fairly non-descript location. Rather than having a particular tree or log or other notable structure to focus your search on, it is just nestled a fair way inside a bush. It is one of those caches that you just have to work a bit harder for.

We did have to replace one missing container and that was at number 5 which is next to the impressive mansion in Wall Hall. Despite a thorough search for the regular sized container we finally had to agree with the previous 2 cachers that it had gone walkies. We had come prepared though and put in place a new container. At the next cache in the series we bumped into two families who were doing the series and had a quick chat with them. It was a shame that they had just had to admit defeat on number 5 as they had obviously been there before we had replaced it. We leap frogged them and walked quickly on to the next cache so that we could stay ahead of them and check all the others in the series before they arrived to find them.

It is a good feeling to find the majority of our caches in good condition after winter and almost 100 finds since we put them out. Now they should be good for another 100 finds… hopefully.

Posted in Geocaching, Hiding Geocaches | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment