During December we did a series called Ellie’s Wanderings in Welwyn (see Wellies and Waffling with Ellie in Welwyn) and in an email discussion with the cache owner afterwards, she mentioned that she was planning a second half to the loop. Sure enough just before Christmas, the caches were published turning the existing loop of 10 into a figure of eight comprising 23 hides in total. With 13 new log sheets waiting to feel the delicate touch of Sharlene’s new ‘write anywhere’ pen, there was nothing else for it but to grab our boots and head back to Welwyn.
Friday, the 9th of January was a typical clear winter’s day; sun weakly shining, and wind biting at our fingers and noses. Parking in a handy free car park, we donned boots and gaiters – Sharlene is getting quicker now – and headed off in search of tupperware. Ironically, our first cache, 11 Ellie’s Wanderings – Anyone for tennis? (GC5HKB8) , was not tupperware at all but a tennis ball instead. The CO has made the effort to create a number of custom containers of which some work better than others but I always appreciate it when that effort is made.
Our walk took us across a patch of grass next to an impressive looking tennis centre and via a footpath to an open field where the wind was bitter and freezing as it cut into us like glass. Our search for 12 Ellie’s Wanderings – Blackberry field (GC5HKC4) took sometime as it was very well hidden. Again, a custom hide; a cleverly manufactured wedge of wood fit snugly into a slot in a post at the corner of the field. Getting the wedge out proved to be the hardest part and the whole thing took even longer as we kept having to stop and wait for dog walking muggles to pass.
After a very windy walk across the open field we arrived at our third GZ, 13 Ellie’s Wanderings – Muddy field (GC5HM6P), and spent an annoyingly long time looking for the cache in a very prickly gorse bush situated next to a gate. I even had to resort to putting the feelers out for a PAF but shortly after sending my text message, as luck would have it, Shar finally found the pesky little thing. Our first three caches had taken quite a long time and if this performance continued, we were going to run into time problems towards the latter part of the loop. The next cache, 14 Ellie’s Wanderings – The Frythe (GC5HM70), wasn’t much help either as it took even longer to find. I had given up after 15 minutes and was leaning on a gate waiting for Shar to admit defeat too when she suddenly spotted it buried deep in a bush. Unfortunately the coordinates on this one were very misleading; pointing us about 10 metres away to a similar, and seemingly more obvious, item that matched the hint.
After a brief walk along a lane the wrong way, we backtracked and chose an alternative route to take us to 15 Ellie’s Wanderings – (GC5HMHK) which was hidden in a lightly wooded area. Again, the coordinates left something to be desired. It took about 10 minutes of just slowly widening the search and checking all possible fallen trees before Shar finally found it. This really wasn’t helping our average time per cache. At this rate we wouldn’t be back to the car before dark let alone in time for lunch. After extracting myself from the clump of trees I had allowed to attack me, I staggered my way over to her using a combination of her voice and the force to get me there. The cache was a small stick with a nano in the end and I had to hand it to Shar – after she had past it to me and I had examined it – it was a miracle she had found it at all.
Thankfully, 16 Ellie’s Wanderings – Horses (GC5HMHZ) was a quick easy find. Then we were out of the trees and walking along a footpath with views of a church across the horse field. The horse was friendly and obviously hungry as it tried to eat my jacket. 17 Ellie’s Wanderings – Church (GC5HMMB) was another easy find and it was a shame that it hadn’t actually been a Church Micro. It was, however, our 900th cache find; a fact that I only realised when we were back home and I was doing the logs. Well there went a New Year’s resolution already. I had promised myself that I would take more notice of our milestones and plan something special for each one, as last year many of them managed to slip by almost unnoticed. Just like this one had. Bugger!
The hint for 18 Ellie’s Wanderings – Off Road (GC5HMMY) was that it was hidden in a mighty ivy covered oak tree but turned out to be in a tree that I didn’t think was an oak and was most definitely not mighty. Finding the cache wasn’t too difficult as Sharlene gently shook a couple of branches and it fell to the floor. The sun was doing its best to try and keep us warm as we walked from there across a field to the next cache but the wind was having none of it and by the time we emerged through a hedgerow onto a sheltered lane my ears, nose and fingers were red again. 19 Ellie’s Wanderings – The Cemetary (GC5HMP4) was hidden in, by far and away the most interesting place of the day; an old graveyard that was, obviously, no longer used for burials and was an awfully long way from the church to be associated with it. I can only imagine that the church had been rebuilt at some point in a different location. It was quite strange to be twisting our way through the overgrown and crumbling gravestones and I felt glad that we weren’t attempting this one at night. We located the cache on an oak tree at one end that truly did deserve the label of mighty; it looked two hundred years old if it was a day. According to my best friend Google, there had been a church on this site as far back as the 13thcentury but since the 18th, churches built for the parish were on the new location that we had passed 2 caches ago. One rather interesting and slightly chilling fact is that legend has it that there was a plague pit in this churchyard either dating back to the 1348 black death or the small pox outbreak that came later in the 18th century. Either way it is rumoured that locals give the place a wide berth even to this day. I think I am feeling a bit queasy.
From here it was a straight walk along a footpath picking up 4 more caches, 20 Ellie’s Wanderings – The Birds (GC5HN1B), 21 Ellie’s Wanderings – A View (GC5HN1V), 22 Ellie’s Wanderings – Crossroads (GC5HN2A), 23 Ellie’s Wanderings – QVM (GC5HN2F), before we arrived back onto a lane just a short distance from the car. The last four caches were all pretty good with one in particular being rather interesting. It was a thin tube with a bottle cap fixed to the top of it. The tube was pushed into the ground near a post so that all that was visible was the bottle cap. A rather nifty hide although I do worry that some do-gooder might think it is trash and spirit it away some day. The last cache was a magnetic container that was on a metal post at the corner of a field. At this time of year it was a little tricky to get through the bramble to the post so I can only imagine what it will be like in the summer. I, of course started at the top and finger felt the whole of the post to the ground and found nothing. Sharlene then plucked the cache from the very top of the post; a place I had searched first and found zip.
Arriving back at the car in good time for lunch before heading home, we were delighted to be out of the bracing wind, and, with 13 finds under our belt and no DNFs for the day, all was well. Happy days.
This caching adventure took place on January 9th 2015 and took our geocache count to 906.