Forgive me reader for I have sinned, it has been almost a month since my last blog entry. That is not to say that there hasn’t been any geocaching adventures to report so I hereby commence my penance in an attempt to get back on the good side of the Geoblogging deity, should one indeed actually exist. Time to engage the wibbly wobbly timey Wimey thing and head back to International geocaching day which was on the 15th of August.
Sam was up in Norfolk having lots of fun with Nanny and Granddad for the week so it was just Shar and I who headed off to do the Shardeloes series in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. For info on the series see the following cache which was the closest to the suggested parking spot Shardeloes – Heron (GC2B1E1). Shardeloes was originally a large privately owned country house dating back to the mid-18th century with 50 acres of grounds and parkland surrounding it. In the 1930s the property became vacant and during World war II it was turned into a maternity hospital for expecting evacuees. These days it has been converted into private flats and if you are in the market for a two bedroom property and have a budget of around a million pounds you too might be able to call it home. Whilst the property and grounds are private, the footpaths that run around the edge of the land are public rights of way and it is along these that you will find the geocaches.
To start with the going was pleasant and easy and there was a distinct middle class, home counties feel as we strolled past the cricketers as they practised on the green. The first part of the route took us past the lake which had bene artificially created back in the 18th century by damming the nearby river. All the caches along this stretch were relatively easily found and in good condition. I got to shin up into a tree to retrieve one of them which is always very pleasing.
We past a weir to the side of the lake and had a slightly harder time finding this cache, but this was mainly to do with the fact that I had mistakenly read out the hint to the next cache in the series. I attempted to blame Shar but she wasn’t fooled for a second. Once the correct hint had been located, we made a quick find and continued on along our walk, the skies cloudy but the temperature warm and pleasant.
It was at about the 8th cache that we had our first real problem. Following the hint we went in search of a maple tree near a gate. We could find no such tree and looking slightly further away we eyed a burnt patch of ground and a pile of cut logs with ominous suspicion. Fearing that the tree may have been recently cut down we attempted to clarify this by looking at photos from past finders. This became a bit similar to trying to solve a puzzle cache as we attempted to work out where pictures had been taken from and how they related to what we were seeing on the ground. After about 30 minutes we glumly gave up and moved on.
After a couple more caches we had to back track to pick up the next part of the trail and seeing as this took us past the site of our recent DNF we were drawn to puzzling over it again. Still we couldn’t fathom it out and we were just walking away when Shar decided to have a quick look in the bush to the side of the gate. She found the cache in about 5 seconds and we were left with both a feeling of great relief and also utter bewilderment. Why had we been looking for a tree? To be honest I thought the hint had said tree and in our ignorance we didn’t even know that maples could be bushes as well as trees. We signed the log and slunk off feeling rather foolish.
The next part of our walk took us up the only hill of the day but it made up for this by being very steep and very long. The caches we found at the bottom and top of the hill were good easy finds although the one at the top was done in between a lot of huffing and puffing and standing still while vision returned… relatively so to speak. I might not have much usable vision, but I still get spots and white outs and stars like everyone else. Wait… you get those too yeah?
We reached the half way point after another cache and were presented with a possible log to stop and have lunch on. Actually the log was not a “possible log”, it was most definitely a log but rather it was the use of the log as an improvised picnic that was hovering in the “possible” area. In the end the strong smell of cow poo in the general area put us off and we moved on.
The smell lasted for the next cache or so and was then replaced by a vague smell of cinnamon and then by a barking dog… not the smell of a barking dog, but an actual barking dog which was soon shouted at by its owner. After another find or two, one of which was a neat little “hanging in a pole” job, we thought that we really should find somewhere to eat soon before we became too weak to open the tupperware boxes containing the sandwiches. Our path took us back into a small wooded area and soon we found a patch of cleared ground to lay the ground sheet and get on with lunch. After lunch was laid out it was then promptly packed away again and the groundsheet lifted and folded after Shar experienced one of her more terrifying “spider” moments. I knew better than to argue or rationalise the situation and instead packed up ready to move. I did not know better than to enquire as to the problem or if there was anything I could do however, and as a result words were spoken. Then more words were spoken and some were even shouted and then desires of wanting to go home were voiced. Interrupting our raised voices briefly to allow a couple to pass, we then continued walking in the direction of the car and promptly found a cache on the way, whilst not speaking at all.
This period of frostiness continued for a further cache which we found right next to the base of an electricity pylon. I had never been that close to such a structure but was alas unable to share my new experience with Shar due to the lack of speaking and, I assume, high number of frosty stares.
After a further cache, I made a peace offering of a bag of Haribo and although only a few words were spoken, the olive branch was received and promptly chewed. A short way down the path we came across another likely candidate as a location for lunch and after a careful inspection of the area, we sat and ate. It was only after the sandwiches were almost gone that relations between us improved and the make-up was…well made. This was some relief, not least of all because being guided by someone who is pissed off with you at times a rather unnerving thing, but moreover because we were approaching a very important point in our days adventure. We had just found our 20th find and with 6 caches let we were well within reach of breaking our “most finds in a day” record which currently stood at 23.
With food in our tummies and relations back to a happy level we got back to enjoying our geocaching. The next couple of finds were alongside the edge of an open space and as we signed one log we watched (or at least Shar did) as a 4 by 4 came across the grass and made its way towards the woods, were upon the occupants jumped out and accompanied by some enthusiastic dogs, went about their business. Presumably it was some sort of shooting party , which would explain the, previously unmentioned, gunshots that we had heard periodically during the day. We left them to their fun and got on with ours and in no time at all were surpassing our previous record and setting a new one as we found our 24th cache of the day.
The last stretch of the route took us gently downhill back towards the car. We found another two caches before we finished for the day and noted with satisfaction that the practising cricketers had now obviously practised enough, as they were now actually playing a game.
Despite the arachnid fuelled breakdown in communications, the walk and the caches were thoroughly enjoyable. The series itself is extremely well maintained and comprises of a variety of hide types and containers. I couldn’t think of a nicer trail on which to set a new personal best of 26 in a day, and to cap it off, the particular day in question was international geocaching day so we got a souvenir for our efforts too. Happy days.
This geocaching adventure took place on 15th August 2015 and took our total cache count to 1254.