The Chiltern Hundred is a series of geocaches placed around the picturesque Hills in Buckinghamshire. It was placed back in 2008 and was one of the UK’s first large trails that was designed to be possible in one day. If you think this is a blog entry of how we found all those geocaches in a single day then I am afraid you will be sorely disappointed. Whilst I harbour a romantic notion that I could achieve such a feat the truth is I probably couldn’t and I know for absolute certain that Shar and Sam would not be able to, or more accurately, not want to, and seeing as I am unable to cache without at least one of them, it was never going to happen. But that’s fine. I would much rather take our time and spread the challenge out over a number of trips than risk relationship destruction and most likely physical pain and probably death from trying to do it in a day. So what this actually is, is the first in a number of blog entries that will follow our progress as we complete one of the most well-known cache trails in the UK
This entry is by way of introduction to the series. First off, some basic info. The Chiltern Hundred is actually 109 caches laid out in three rings that touch each other at various places. There is more than a hundred because this series has a bonus cache and each cache contains a unique code. In order to get the coordinates for the bonus you had to have collected at least 85 numbers. For reasons that will become clear shortly, you currently only need to collect a minimum of 55. There is also a challenge that requires you to find 100 caches in one day and in order to enable people to do this the cache owner very considerately created more than a hundred in the series because he knew that by the law of averages that there would be the odd one or two that were missing at any one time or that were a bit too tricky for you to find.
Technically you wouldn’t call the Chiltern Hundred a power trail. It certainly does give you the opportunity to find a lot of caches in quick succession but the hides are varied and the containers are a mixture of different pots and tubes and not just 109 35mm film pots at the base of 109 trees. The distances between caches are relatively small but they don’t approach the proximity limit as you would expect on a power trail. The three rings all focus back to a central point in Chesham, a town with lots of amenities and parking and transport links which makes it a great place to start. Having said that, within a few hundred metres you are out along footpaths and up and down hills and treated to some of the finest views across Buckinghamshire and beyond. So who is the cache owner on this famous series? Well for a big series you would expect a big name, and they don’t come much bigger than drsolly. Probably one of the UK’s best known cachers and with almost 40,000 finds at time of writing one of the most active too. And with the majority of the caches in the Chiltern Hundred having more than 600 finds in the 6 and a half years it has been active you can see that it is still an extremely popular series.
The fact that it has been around for quite a long time and that it experiences quite a lot of traffic has resulted in it getting a little run down in places. One of the big pitfalls of having a series with bonus numbers is that you need to make sure that those numbers stay in the caches. In recent years the amount of codes that are still present in the caches has been dropping considerably as well-meaning geocachers replace log sheets but fail to transfer the codes. Whilst the majority of the caches appear to be in place, from reading the logs some in better states than others, the drop in codes has meant that drsolly has reduced the minimum requirement of codes needed to get the bonus coordinates from 85 to 55. For the most part the series is maintained by the cachers who visit them as drsolly rarely gets the chance to visit his caches. There was even a rumour that it might get archived at one point, but thankfully that hasn’t happened. I had been thinking about attempting the series for quite a while and I suggested that we make it one of our family goals for 2015. I also thought that I would offer to maintain the caches that we visited and, in particular to put bonus codes back in the containers. With that in mind I contacted drsolly, who gladly accepted our offer and provided me with a full list of bonus codes for the caches. Rather than write the codes on log sheets in the caches we decide to make up small cards and cover them in sticky back plastic to protect them and pop them inside the containers in the hope that in the future when log sheets are replaced that the codes would still be there for people to collect. He also offered to be a PAF on any that we had trouble with. I now have drsolly as a PAF 🙂
We won’t be doing the series in one day, and we won’t be doing each of the three rings in single days either. What I have planned is to break up the series into 7 or 8 bite size chunks. With planning I have managed to make these chunks roughly circular using other, non-chiltern hundred, caches in the area to get us back to the car in each case. So, please check back from time to time, or even better follow me and join us as we tackle the Chiltern Hundred.
Coming next: – Leg 1, during which Sam loses his trackable super stick 3 times, his iPhone once and I end up on my back in the mud!