After our not so fulfilling time at the Mega event last weekend, we were keen to get out and do some “proper” geocaching.
As part of Groundspeak’s 2015 Road Trip there was now another souvenir up for grabs. For this one we would need to either attend a CITO (Cache In Trash Out) event or find an Earth cache. The latter was definitely the better option for us so I got searching and located one not far away in Brookmans Park. If you have been keeping up with my blog lately, that name might sound familiar to you. Back at the beginning of June, Shar and I did the BP Stroll series (see Moonwalking in Brookmans Park). At the time the cache owner had hinted that there was another section of the series to come and checking the map showed my chosen earth cache was slap bang in the middle of these newly published caches… I love it when a plan comes together.
Being too tight to pay the £2.50 parking fee at Brookmans Park railway station, we found a spot on a residential street a short distance away and headed in search of our first cache, 13 BP Stroll – A Quarter Turn (GC5X37W). With a bit of a struggle we eventually found the correct footpath that ran to the side of the train tracks. At GZ we left the path and spent a frustrating 10 minutes searching the trees and bushes. The hint was no help at all being far too cryptic… one of those hints that you only understand when you actually have the cache in hand. Sam finally found the cache although in a pre-teen moody moment elected not to tell us and allow us to search for a bit longer which result in us getting more and more frustrated. Kids… don’t you just love them. Even when we did find the cache…. the hint still didn’t make sense. Our little team was a bit grumpy and this would never do.
The route of the walk, meant that we had to backtrack a short way to get to our next cache, 14 BP Stroll – Hanging Around (GC5X3DV) which I am glad to say that we found much quicker. Shar spotted the hanging cache within seconds of getting to ground zero which was good because it was placed at the side of a rather busy road and I was keen to get away from civilisation as quick as possible. Sam decided he wanted to replace the cache, despite the fact that he hadn’t even been around when Shar had found and retrieved it. This is in direct contravention of our rule that states whoever finds the cache must replace it. This makes sense as it ensure that the container goes back where it came from. A brief and pointless “back and forth” with stroppy Sam and he eventually gave in and relinquished the cache. *sigh*.
Thankfully that was the last stroppy moment from Sam as his mood, and indeed all of ours, lifted once we were on our way to the next cache. A short walk along the busy road and then we turned down a narrow country lane. Soon the noise and stress was behind us and we all started to relax.
Even the fact that there was a muggle sitting in his car in a lay-by right next to the GZ of 15 BP Stroll – Between The Trunks (GC5X3D8) could not upset us. Luckily I had studied the route and knew that we would have to backtrack along this stretch to get back to the car so we simply walked on by, knowing that we would be back later.
Shortly after this we left the path and were walking along the side of farm fields with a tree line to our right and open countryside to our left. Sure there was a gentle hum of the A1(M) in the distance but that didn’t bother us… we were alone, dry, warm and on a mission to find tupperware. Our next cache, 16 BP Stroll – Out Of The Bottle (GC5X3E7), was placed at the base of a huge tree that stood about 20 metres into the field of crops. I am sure I have said it before, but these lone trees are one of my favourite images of the English countryside. As an aside, Shar and I were talking a few days later about death… as you do… and I said that I didn’t want to be buried or left in an urn somewhere, I want to be burned up and scattered at the base of one of these massive trees in a field of crops, somewhere in the peaceful county of Hertfordshire. If she wants to leave the urn with a logsheet inside tucked into a hollow then that would be just fine too.
Anyway, after Sam and I had made our way to the tree and retrieved the cache we re-joined Shar and headed further along the footpath into open farmland in search of our next cache, 17 BP Stroll – The Green One (GC5X3EP). Sam found this one long before Shar and I had properly arrived at GZ and if it wasn’t for the fact that he has sworn off writing till he goes back to school, he would have signed the log too.
There was some discussion about the best route to the next cache with Sam favouring a more direct route. Shar on the other hand was trying to convince Sam that this would be difficult as there was a river in the way and it might be more prudent to follow the path that led across the river as this would most probably involve a bridge of some sort. Sam begrudgingly agreed suggesting that the river could be just a little stream. He was wrong as we discovered as we headed down a steep embankment to find the river in rather full flow with a decent bridge to cross it, thankfully. As we crossed and made our way up the other side of the embankment it was clear that in wetter times a large amount of the embankment would actually be under water. The discussion about this and other lofty and intellectual topics continued throughout lunch, which we took on the side of the grassy footpath just beyond the river.
After refuelling and resting we continued on the path that now flanked the river in the direction of our next cache, 18 BP Stroll (GC5X3F5). That is to say we got about 40 metres before Sam declared that he had something in his shoe. A familiar chorus heard by parents everywhere I am sure. Shar and I sighed and rolled our eyes and then I proceeded to improvise a techno/thrash song consisting only of the words “there’s something in my shoe” much to the amusement of both Shar and Sam. I then started to pogo enthusiastically on the spot to match the beat but being completely without coordination, pitched forward and came within a fag paper of face planting in the mud. Shar laughed so much she “almost peed”
After Shar had regained control of her pelvic floor once more and Sam had removed the boulder from his left boot we continued our quest and made a quick find of the cache as the hint suggested in a tree to the side of the path. Finding it to be of a decent size I took the opportunity to drop off a TB that I had been carrying round for a while, but I found one in there already so it was a case of swapsies.
The next two caches were fairly straightforward 19 BP stroll – The Blue One (GC5X3G6) at the base of a sign post and after a short walk on a road next to the A1(M), 20 BP stroll – Back To The Woods (GC5X3GR) was found hiding in a hole in a wall. And then it was on to the main attraction of the day, the earth cache, The Mimmshall Mystery (GC1J9E7).
The cache explains the mystery of how two distinct bodies of water disappear underground at the same point and appear to join. The truth however is very different. They do both go underground but they are not connected. One flows in one direction and the other flows a completely different way so there is no chance that they can be the same river. In fact they seem to go nowhere but into the ground. The evidence for this is that the area around GZ is almost constantly wet and boggy at the driest times of the year and when it has been rain it is almost always flooded. Dotted around can be found “swallow” holes where the waters have eroded the soft chalk that lies on top of the harder rock in the area.
To log the find we had to take some photos including one of a swallow hole. When we visited the area, it was dry but the aptly named Water Meadow was massively overgrown with lush and thick vegetation. At first we were worried we wouldn’t be able to spot a swallow hole because of all the plant life until we realised that we were standing right next to one. It was right on the path and had been fenced off to stop people falling in. It was about 3 metres deep and dry but it doesn’t take much rain to turn the area into a swamp and fill the hole from the bottom upwards. There was one other question to answer that concerned the height the water would need to reach to breach the nearby flood defences. Luckily when we were driving to the parking spot we had passed by the flood defences and had stopped to find the info required, so we already knew the answer to this one *smug grin*.
21 BP Stroll- Chip Off The Old Block (GC5X33HB) was found not far away from the earth cache but it took us quite a while to find as it was a clever homemade wooden cache that was well and truly invisible in amongst logs and trunks and other woody things. 22 BP stroll – Double Gated Field (GC5X3HQ) was the last in the series and easily found at the side of a gate on a quiet country lane. It was a very familiar country lane actually, it was the one we had left earlier when we had skipped 15 BP Stroll – Between The Trunks (GC5X3D8) because of the muggle in the lay-by. The plan had come full circle and we were pleased to find GZ deserted when we arrived a few minutes later.
30 minutes later, however, we still didn’t have the cache in hand. On both sides of the road there were trees of all sizes and shapes and varieties and we had almost nothing to help us narrow our search other than the hint that it was between trunks. Previous logs quibbled about the use of the word trunks and suggested branches would have been better which further confused us. The phones had us jumping from one side of the road to the other searching every tree, low and high – I even climbed a few just to be sure although there was no suggestion that climbing was required. In the end we had to admit defeat and with a slightly deflated feeling trudged off to find the car.
A few minutes down the road we soon shook off the DNF feeling and instead agreed at how nice it had been to get out into the countryside and do some proper caching again. 10 caches found, only 1 DNF and to cap it off, another shiny souvenir for the collection too. Happy Days.
This geocaching adventure took place on Tuesday 4th August 2015 and took our total cache count to 1213.