Today the three of us, Shar, Sam and myself, wrapped up warm and went to Tring to attempt a series of 10 geocaches in Stubbings Wood. Whilst the weather was dry and bright, the wind was cold and temperatures were not set to get above 9 degrees centigrade. Things didn’t get off to the best start when I was changing from my trainers into my boots after we parked up. In a moment of stupidity I place my shoeless foot on the ground right in a puddle and soaked my sock right through. Luckily I had a spare pair of socks in the boot although these turned out to be thin and not really appropriate for walking boots. And that is how I came to be striding towards the first cache with one sock on one foot and 2 socks on the other. It is a good job that I had just had a piece of ginger cake and was still feeling in a good mood.
I had contacted the owner of the caches a week or so previously just to confirm the best sequence to attempt them in as it was a bit unclear and she was extremely helpful in providing me with a suggested order. She did also hint at some quite steep hills on the series and the first of these we hit almost immediately. Out of interest I had checked our altitude when we were at the car and it was 130 metres above sea level. When we reached GZ a short while later we had climbed to 176 .The rewards were two fold once there though as not only did we make a quick find for the cache, GC3APMR Stubbing’s Wood Series-No need to step up , which was in a very nicely constructed natural hide, but the view wasn’t too bad either. Despite being almost totally blind I do still love a good view
The second cache, GC3AQ09 Stubbing’s Wood Series-The Gales of ’87 , got my attention. October 16 1987 saw some of the most severe winds for a long time and a lot of damage was done to woodlands across the country. Sure enough we came across a number of fallen trees at GZ but we were quickly able to locate our target and the cache was in good condition and had a good selection of swaps to choose from. Sam had brought along his new camera that we had given to him, seeing as both Shar and I no longer use it as we have our phones and he was putting it to good use already, pausing many times to snap away.
On our way to cache number 3, GC3AZ3X Stubbing’s Wood Series-Can You See The Horses? , we came across another fallen tree, right across the path. This one however had not come down in the gales of 1987, but instead we were fairly sure had only recently fallen. Our region had been battered again just two weeks ago with some pretty strong winds and we reckoned that these had brought this particular tree down.
It was whilst sifting through the contents of cache number 3 that we realised that we had made a mistake. Sam pulled out something and exclaimed, “ There is bonus numbers in this one!” Both Shar and I groaned and realised that we had totally forgotten to take a note of the bonus numbers at the first two caches. Lots of head slapping ensued whilst we tried to decide whether to go back or if we could wait and visit them at the end if we had time. Sharlene offered to trot back and get them quickly so Sam and I busied ourselves taking pictures and trying to put the lid back on the very full cache container. It was like an episode of the Krypton factor for a while, with neither of us being able to get it on no matter how hard we tried. Eventually I realised we were trying to put it on the wrong way round and we had a laugh about that and silently agreed not to mention it to mum when she returned.
Our route so far was taking us alongside a rather busy road that was not too far away and we were all looking forward to getting a bit deeper into the woods in the hope that the road noise would reduce. After finding the next cache, GC3AQ0K Stubbing’s Wood Series-Scout Around , which was one of those tree hugging moments, the hide being as it was, an Ivy covered tree, we took a moment to plan which way we were going to go. We had some advice from the cache owner that although the next hide was only 200 or so metres away the most direct route was very steep. We opted to travel a bit further along and then look for a path that doubled back in a slightly less steep way as we had been advised. I think we went wrong somewhere as we ended up walking up a very steep path that just never seemed to end. From the readings on my phone we were definitely not getting any closer to the cache either, but just going up, and up and up and now getting further away. The cache appeared to be off to the left now around 300 metres but there was no way we were going native through the woods here not on this steep hill.
My foot struck a rock at one point in the path and I fished it out and tossed it to the side to help those that may follow, but it started to roll down the hill… and then kept rolling. Two thoughts crossed my mind briefly. First that I had started an avalanche that would effectively block the path off at the bottom and secondly that I hoped the rock wasn’t a geocache container, because there was no way I was going down there to get it. Neither turned out to be true so we carried on trudging up Mount Everest pausing only briefly to take on water and oxygen every now and then. We were still heading away from the cache and now we were actually getting closer to the next one in the series. At the first opportunity to turn left, which was basically at the top of the hill we did so and even though we were only 80 metres from number 6 we decided to go get number 5 first and then come back.
As we trundled off in search of number 5, GC3APZN Stubbing’s Wood Series-Plastic Forest , we were basically on level ground but every now and then I got a sense that we were going down gradually. Knowing we would have to come back up here in a short while I hoped that we wouldn’t go down too far as I was not sure Shar would appreciate another steep hill. At least now we were getting closer to cache number 5, and eventually we got to within 50 metres and then did have to scramble down a rather steep slope back into the woods where we finally found it easily as the title was a very good clue. In all I reckoned we travelled about 800 metres or so to a cache that was only 200 metres from us at one point but hey ho, never mind. At the end of the day we found it and tempers remained intact. I think Shar was too out of breath on the hill to shout at me, so that is a good thing. Lol
We retraced our steps and found our next cache, GC3APYQ Stubbing’s Wood Series-Knobbly Tree, on the crest of the hill where the altitude was around 240 metres, which was over a hundred metres higher than the car which must be no more than 2k away, that is quite a rise in a short distance. Shar and I had been here before, well not exactly here but very nearby. This cache turned out to be just under a kilometre from the location where I proposed to her back in August. I smiled to myself as I tried to work out the direction the spot was in from us and then realised that we were probably only a couple of hundred metres from the multi cache final that we had found that day too. I smiled again, but not as big a smile as when I thought about the proposal…. Definitely not.
We were relieved to find that the route to the next two caches, GC3APYA Stubbing’s Wood Series-Bluebell View and GC3APXV Stubbing’s Wood Series-Holly Heaven , was on level ground, although it couldn’t really go up at all as this was about as high as it got round here. In terms of cache find count for the day so far Sam had found 3 and Shar had 3 and I was on zero. This is fairly normal and I don’t mind. I love finding the caches but certainly don’t want any pity finds. If I get them I get them. I know where my skills lie as a part of the team, carrying the bag and keeping people laughing and I am happy with that. Speaking of laughing, 9 year olds do say the funniest things sometimes. Upon blowing his nose into a tissue, Sam proceeded to sniff it and then proclaim that it smelt like fish!
In the woods here with the sun bright and desperately trying to break through the trees, it was quieter now and peaceful. When sunlight filters through the trees it creates a magical effect for me. With my vision as it is it always seems that the diffused light gives the impression of mist and I like to think of the woods shrouded in a mystical and magical fog.
We were being careful to collect the bonus numbers as we went round and we only had two more caches left before we could hopefully piece together the information to be able to locate the bonus cache. Number 8 was kind of fun although I wasn’t involved in the finding I did take delight in the occasional shouts and shrieks as both Sam and Shar got up close and personal with the holly bushes that were guarding the cache. At one point Shar shrieked particularly loudly and Sam chuckled pointing out to her that she had holly up her bum, a fact that she was all too aware of.
On the way to number 9, GC3APN2 Stubbing’s Wood Series-Watching the Eclipse , we broke out of the wood briefly to admire the rather wonderful views to the North East and after doing some quick rough calculations I held up my hands, pointed and remarked to Sam that, “Nanni was roughly over there somewhere”. Sam liked this and reckoned that she was about 70 to 100 miles away. Shar and I both estimated it was a bit more than that, more like 120-140 but turns out he was right. I have just done a point to point measurement from the cache we were at to my mum’s house and it is 95 miles… what a smartass lol.
After a short walk further on down the path and then hacking native through the wood for about 50 metres because we obviously took a wrong path somewhere, we burst out of the trees and saw the bench that the hint for the last cache mentioned. A few minutes later and Shar had plucked the cache out from its hiding place and it was time to work out the coordinates for the bonus.
The bonus cache, GC3AZ5P Stubbing’s Wood Series-The Final, was only a short walk from here and off we set, first along a path and then cutting back into the woods. I always love finding bonus caches as it is like a gold star for good work. As we stumbled and threaded our way through the trees towards the gz I got my leg stuck on a weird loose cluster of branches and whilst I stumbled slightly I did managed to stay on my feet. The branch also stayed attached to me and for a few brief moments I flayed around the trees laughing and trying to shake it off whilst doing my best Melmum impression from Madagascar by shouting “Nature, Nature its all over me, get it off, get it off”.
After Shar and I had calmed down from laughing, Sam soon called out that he had found the cache and he thought it was an ammo can but he couldn’t reach it. I stepped over and with a bit of wiggling and wriggling managed to pull it from its hiding spot and what a wonderful treat it was. It was indeed an ammo can which we just love finding and it was packed to the gills with all sorts of fantastic swaps. A real treasure trove and one that was a joy to find. After Sam chose a swap and we took a few pictures it was back to the car, smiles all round. We timed it perfectly as another half an hour or so and it would have been getting dark.
I can thoroughly recommend this series. The caches are excellent, the hides thoughtfully placed and well hidden. The environment is interesting and exhilarating if a little hilly at times but I didn’t mind that. Shar was not so happy about the hill but only at the time, afterward she was fine about it. All the containers were in good condition and most if not all were stocked well with swaps. The logs were dry and intact which is always a good sign of a cache owner who takes care with their containers and also maintains them. And if that wasn’t enough you had the fantastic views and if that still wasn’t enough an ammo can for the bonus. Top marks.