The first Monday in May is always a public holiday, or Bank Holiday as we call them in the UK for some reason, and what better way to make the most of a three day weekend than to do a bit of family geocaching. I had in my sights a small cluster of unconnected caches in the delightfully named village of Potters Crouch. One can only speculate as to the origins of the name of this small hamlet that lies just to the south west of St. Albans in Hertfordshire. It seems certain that it is in some way linked to a potter who had at some point set up in the area. As for the crouch part of the name, well perhaps he was not rich enough to afford high ceilings and this meant he had to squat down a lot. Or maybe Crouch is an evolved word and previously it might have been cross or crotch! Hmmm, well the less said about the latter the better me thinks.
The area is typical of Hertfordshire in that it is rural but not too far from a larger town or city. Open fields and farmland are flanked by little clusters of modestly sized but probably not modestly priced houses and footpaths criss-cross the landscape making it a paradise for cyclists, walkers and of course geocachers. The weather was “stable” with a glint of hope on the horizon that the sun might make an appearance and disprove the old saying that it always rains on Bank Holiday weekends.
Our improvised route along lanes, footpaths and over fields would take us past 7 geocaches and the first of these Bones10 Rose Garden (GCTWF9) was just a couple of hundred metres from our parking spot, along a footpath that ran down the side of a field. We didn’t quite make it to the GZ before the familiar strains of “There’s something in my shoe” was heard from Sam and so we spent the next couple of minutes doing field maintenance on the shoe and surgery on the imperceptibly injured foot.
With cache found in good condition at the side of the path, plaster applied to foot, shoe emptied of 200 grams of broken glass )or so you would think), the sun attempting to break through the clouds and the smell of burning rubbish wafting across the field, I breathed deep and realised that I had missed all this and was happy to be out, getting amongst it again, once more in search of dirty tupperware.
Hmmm, Dirty Tupperware sounds like it should be the name of a trashy romance novel.
The walk to our next cache was probably the longest gap between caches, it being about 1km or so but as we always say, “get the long walks between caches out the way early on”. We happily chatted and horsed around as we made our way along the edge of the field and over a small lane to pick up the path again that could barely be made out heading diagonally through a arable field. We plodded on and then found that the terrain suddenly got a lot easier. It had gone from being rutted earth and strewn with rocks to being smooth with a uniform grassy surface. It was well maintained too and seemed extremely out of place. The piece of loving manicured land seemed to extend away from us in a wide strip in a very straight line right to the far corner of the field where a couple of large indistinct buildings could be seen.
“I think we might be on an airfield guys!”
“This looks very suspiciously like a runway, albeit a small grassy one.”
“Oh shhhh, you are right!”
We quickly made our way off the manicured grass and onto the uneven rutted part of the field and after searching in the distance for a moment, Shar was able to locate the correct route of the footpath that would allow us to traverse the field without causing a minor air disaster. To be fair the footpath does take you to within literally 20 feet of the end of the strip and there didn’t seem to be any evidence of a sign alerting walkers to its existence. Whatever type of aircraft used this field couldn’t be very big though as the runway was only a few hundred metres long at most.
Safely at the far side of the field, we crossed a quiet lane and found our next cache, Creatures Great and Small (GC5PPKT), which was a fake snail clinging to the underside of a metal gate. I was happy to claim this one as a find and bore only a few thorn wounds as evidence of the hunt.
The sun was out and doing a grand job now of warming us as we strolled along the peaceful country lane towards our next cache. We pause briefly to watch a small plane take off from the airfield where we had just been walking and gave just a little thanks that we had passed by when we did and not at this time. A short way up the lane we came to a small triangle of grass in the middle of a three way junction. On the grass was a sign and hidden on the sign was our next cache, Bedmond Tipping (GC632WK).
Back on the lane we had to dodge numerous cyclists and walkers, but very few cars, as we headed in search of our next cache, Cotoneaster Island (GC5KW60). Here our knowledge let us down again as we searched in vain for 10 minutes before we realised that Cotoneaster was in fact a shrub. Even armed with this knowledge we were no better off and despite searching the 50 foot triangle of trees and shrubs nestled at the junction of another 3 lanes, we did not turn up the cache. Having given up, I did enjoy a moment the sound of a group of noisy Explorer scouts hiking past and heading off down one lane only then to return a few minutes later and go down the other one. What made it funnier was that a second group of explorers did exactly the same thing a few minutes later. I weep for the map reading abilities of our youth today. Just think these are the next generation of geocachers. *shudder*
After admitting defeat finally we wound our way along some narrow footpaths that twisted and turned amongst a few houses before finding ourselves on a footpath that would be the location of our last three caches of the day. The first two, Caution Barbed Wire (GC632QK) and Fraxinus has a Rocky neighbour (GC632MZ) were both hidden inside fake rocks at the side of the path. The former was hidden underneath a “caution barbed wire” sign and the latter was opposite a Fraxinus, whatever that is. I believe it is green and plant like.
A slightly long walk to the last cache gave Sam and I the opportunity for a few photos. Stick me and Sam in front of a camera and there will inevitably be a certain amount of larking around…
OK, let’s try again…
One more time…
Oh forget it!
Our last cache of the day, Going Somewhere (GC62Y5T), made us smile. It was hidden inside a pole and fixed by means of a modified clothes hanger and as such, shared some similarities with one of our own caches. I enjoyed it so much I gave it a favourite point. I think partly for the cache itself and also as a general expression of what an enjoyable couple of hours I had just spent in the countryside geocaching with my family. Happy Days.
This geocaching adventure took place on Sunday 1st May 2016 and took our total cache count up to 1447.