Today our caching adventures took us to a place called Little Chalfont which is situated in the south east corner of Buckinghamshire. The area is home to some 6000 people and prior to the train line from London arriving around the turn of the 20th century there was little to speak of there. It didn’t even have a name really until they decided to put a station there and bingo, Little Chalfont was born. That is about the extent of my research for the area other than to say that Ozzie Osborne has been a resident at one time and so has Robert Kilroy Silk! Not sure what you are supposed to do with that info, but there you go.
This area is home to one of the UK’s most prolific geocachers, drsolly who has amassed over 30,000 finds and is responsible for a large number of hides too. Today we were not here for his caches but to do a small series called the Chalfont Stroll. The description promised a gentle stroll through picturesque surroundings. We liked the sound of that. Ten caches were listed in the series although number 9 is currently disabled due to it being muggled although looking in the logs we discovered it had been found again since being disabled so there was a hope that we may be able to find all 10.
We packed a lunch and loaded the phones with all the caches and the car sat nav with the coordinates of the suggested parking spot and off we set. We have finally got sick of our sat nav forcing us to use the nearby motorways for short journeys so we figured out how to avoid motorways when plotting a route. So with the sat nav in a sulk because we enforced our will on it we set off for the 20 minute drive to Little Chalfont.
After parking up we headed off with a spring in our step and a bag full of lunch and caching essentials. Having read the descriptions for the caches in advance it was apparent that tweezers were a must on this walk. Starting off in the small functional part of the town where there were a few shops and the obligatory Chinese Restaurant we found ourselves on the outskirts of a small square green. On all four sides of the green were benches and we knew that the first cache was located on one of these. What unfolded was the following. First of all we sat at the top end even though my phone said the cache was located towards the other end. Shar’s was a low enough reading to mean it could be here. So we sat and fumbled around the bolts and legs of the bench looking for anything that appeared out of place. I stayed sitting and Shar stalked around the bench, looking but not looking like she was looking. We then moved to one of the side benches but paused only briefly here with neither of our phones being happy about this for a location. We crossed to the opposite bench and I sat for a while and had another fumble but to no avail. We considered going back to the first bench but a muggle had moved in and was sitting there now whilst conducting a noisy phone call at the same time. With nowhere else to go we went to the last bench and I sat and Sharlene slipped around the back and with a little fumbling came up trumps with the cache. A good start if a little hard work considering that it should have been an easy find really. The weirdness of my iPhone for GPS readings would turn out to be a bit of a theme today with me always being about 10metres off Shar’s android.
As we sat and fished out the log a man entered the green and crossed and sat on one of the side benches. As we finished up and moved on, he suspiciously got up and moved to another bench. We wondered as we headed for number 2 if he indeed was in search of the cache too. You can never quite tell the geocachers from other regular nutters sometimes.
The walk to number 2 was along a quietish lane that took us away from the centre of Little Chalfont and past some pretty impressive houses. It became clear quite quickly that there were a large number of well off people living around the area. After finding and signing the log at GZ number 2 it was on further down the lane and another easy find at number 3.
Weather is a killer of caches. The rain and the cold and the mud and all that are the constant enemy of the cache owner. In order to keep the contents of your cache dry you need to choose your container carefully and ensure that it seals well to keep out the cold and damp where at all possible. People often use resealable bags within the containers to act as another barrier and this can often help to ward off the harsh environment. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do the damp gets in and when it does then it is now being kept in rather than being kept out. Cache number 3 on our series had obviously succumb to the weather even though it was a clip and lock container and despite the log sheet being inside a plastic bag. What we found on opening the box was a very damp and mouldy log sheet,yuk!
As we were walking to number four we passed the time by chatting as we do and got so engrossed in our discussion that we stopped paying attention to the phones completely and it was about 5 minutes later when we realised we were rather off course and we should have taken a turn a while back. We retraced our steps and got ourselves back on course and I was pleased to see that we were heading off the roads now onto a footpath through some fields. With the road noise almost completely gone now and the weak autumn sun trying to break through we strolled happily along to number 4 being sure to keep an eye on the phones this time.
After finding number 4 almost instantly we trotted on to number 5 and then spent about 5 minutes trying to find this one. At one point we got muggled by a dog walker and I shudder to think what she thought upon seeing us two shuffling about in the undergrowth. Eventually we found the little blighter hanging from a tree and then it was on to number 6 which took us back on ourselves and down a different fork of the footpath.
The instructions at the next cache were not to enter the field otherwise we would risk prosecution! I don’t need to be told that twice and we stayed very much on the right side of the gate to locate this one. Then it was out along the footpath again and we joined another country lane on the back part of our walk. After the next cache where we dropped off a rather lovely geocoin that I had been holding onto for a while we found an extra bonus cache that was not part of the series but was on the way to number 8 so we took a short detour up some steps to the side of a rail track where we located the small container about 10 feet from the Amersham Branch of the Metropolitan line. I thought there was some rule about placing caches near railway lines and this was pretty dam close. There was a metal fence inbetween us and the track but still, it was close enough.
After walking down a fairly steep gradient to arrive at the railway line it was inevitable that we would have to walk up a hill when moving away from it. It was one of those gradual ascents that doesn’t feel too bad until you get a little way along and you realise your legs are working a lot harder than you thought. When we finally crested the hill and made it to a small triangular green with some large trees on it we spent a good 5 minutes again floundering around in entirely the wrong place looking for number 8 before finally locating it in the bushes on the other side of the road. Sometimes you find yourself looking in places that could not possibly house a cache but you convince yourself that it must be there so you don’t bother to look in more obvious places a little distance away.
To complete the walk we managed to find the disabled cache and then it was onto the last which we found quite quickly in a rather odd place. As we ascended a set of steps which had bushes on both side of it, there was a little break in the foliage and when we pushed our way off the stairs and through we found ourselves on a little hidden path. With number 10 found and logged it was back slapping all round and a quick walk back to the car for lunch before heading home.
11 caches logged including one disabled cache is a good day out and we managed to drop off our last remaining TB, so all in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.