Having cached already once in the half term, I was pleasantly surprised that the family was all up for a second outing before Sam went back to school. Seeing as we had enjoyed our first visit to the Lee Gate area a few days earlier, we decided to return to pick up the remaining nine geocaches.
In true British weather style, where we had needed jackets at the beginning of the week, just a few days later and it was much warmer which meant I was back to trying to decide whether a t-shirt was enough or if a jumper would be needed as well. As experienced cachers know, this decision is not always an easy one even when the sun is out and the temperature is lovely and warm. The extra thing to consider is how much protection do you want on your arms. Along with the showers of spring/summer and the occasional bursts of sunshine comes the explosion of nettles, bracken, thorns and all manner of other nasty things. Going short sleeved can be a real tough decision sometimes.
We parked at the same pub as before, but headed off in a slightly different direction this time in search of our first cache, Swan Lane (GC3BYR5)>. Straight away I was glad that I had elected to keep my arms covered as the first hide was buried deep in amongst some holly.
Next it was into the woods proper and a pleasant if somewhat surprisingly muddy walk towards Lordling wood (GC3BYRW). The area obviously suffered from drainage problems as the amount of mud we encountered over the next few caches was vastly disproportionate to the amount of rain we had received over the last few days and weeks. Our phones pointed us off the path and into the undergrowth a short distance and it was quite some time before we finally did make the find, the patchy GPS coverage not helping either as the phones were jumping all over the place.
It didn’t get any easier at Brun Grange (GC3BYT8) either. Once we had reached GZ, having to squelch through another patch of mud on the way, the arrow again pointed us off path and deep into the dense undergrowth. Another long search was almost abandoned when just by chance I managed to knock the half-buried cache with my foot. You instinctively know when you have kicked something that isn’t a branch or a rock, the feel of it and the sound of it is just not what you would expect for the environment.
A little bit of backtracking and then a climb up a long gentle hill, through yet more mud, took us toTP (GC3BYVB). Sam made the find quickly at the side of the path, but I was far more intrigued by the object that stood on the opposite side. It was a trig point. Only the second one I have ever come across “out in the wild”.
In case you didn’t know, trig points are concrete pillars erected, usually on hills and higher ground, to facilitate the accurate establishment of position. The modern trig point network was built between 1932 and 1960 and comprises over 6000 pillars placed all over the UK. In theory, weather conditions permitting, you should be able to see at least 2 other trig points from any one pillar, or at least that was the case back when they were built. Alas, now many are not visible at all due to encroaching vegetation. Whilst these things are a relic of the past, as modern satellite and laser measuring systems can provide much more accurate positioning information, you have to give a nod to the map makers of the past for creating a system that could allow the development of the national grid system, on which all the ordnance survey maps are based in the UK. I noted with interest the grooves and hooks on the pillar and later discovered this would be how a theodolite was mounted to allow for the measurement of angles between other nearby trig points.
From here we turned tail again and headed back down the hill, and through the mud, to our next couple of caches, Edge of Widmoor Wood (GC3bytj) and Timberley Again (GC3BYX6). Both of them we found, but I don’t really have much of a recollection of them. Not every cache can be memorable I suppose.
Just A Tree (GC3BYXM), I do remember, as it was so nearly a DNF. We had reached a less dense part of the wood and the arrow was pointing us to a club of trees surrounded by narrow paths. An obvious looking tree or two provided places to search but Sam and I both came up with nothing. Shar wasn’t having much luck either and after about 10 minutes we were all ready to give up. We took a moment just to reread some logs and gave it one more search, digging just a little deeper in the ankle deep leaf littler that was all around and Shar came up with the goods.
We broke out of the woods and walked along a lane for a short distance before making an easy find of Gate (GC3BYQ1 ) at a kissing gate leading into a field. Once through the gate and even though we only had one more cache to go, we opted to stop for a picnic in the half shade of a big tree. So many of our lunches are staged with half the groundsheet in the sun and half in the shade. I love the warmth of the sun on me, but Shar is not so keen. As you can imagine, if we stay for any length of time, this involves a certain amount of getting up and moving the groundsheet every so often to maintain the even distribution of sun and shade.
Refuelled and refreshed we packed up and started for the last cache, Another Gate (GC3BYQK), and a longish walk back to the car. On arriving at GZ which was a gate in a hedgerow between two fields I was told that I had stepped in some cow poo on the way. I shifted instinctively and promptly put my foot in another nearby pile of poo. Consequently I spent the remainder of the walk back to the car, after we failed to find the cache, dragging my feet through the grass and generally looking like a bit of a weirdo. Not much change there then.
It was a shame to end on a DNF but Sam and Shar both agreed that it was a good way to spend a few ours together. Aside from getting cow poo all over my boots, I couldn’t agree with them more.
This geocaching adventure took place on 5th June 2016 and took our cache count up to 1480.