17-04-01 Kent.pngA planned dash down to Kent to draw a big smiley face over a bit of marshland in the Thames Estuary just east of the QE2 Bridge.

The main focus of attention is the “Shrek” series, but we’d solved a bunch of other puzzles too. We had a fairly open agenda for once the Shrek series had finished, depending on what the weather was like, how we were feeling and what the kids were up to.

We made the trip down with Happy Hunter HP20, who kindly volunteered to be chauffeur for the day in return for some less than healthy food, but more of that later.

We began our walk in an area which, for a long term resident of Milton Keynes, seemed perfectly typical – a newly built housing estate with inadequately wide roads, insufficient parking spaces, and immaculately green public areas of grass. There were also a few caches.

The series began with a walk up a mound thingummie-bob that had a pointy, sticky-uppy pinnacle thing with a bent end on top. I should have been an author, you know. I’m wasted on this.

As we were walking round we were attempting to gather bits of information for an earthcache and a multi at the same time. Never a great idea. Eventually we did manage to get all the relevant bits though.

We were heading generally west through the houses, but eventually we reached the riverside and got a fine view of the QEII Bridge before turning downstream/east to start looping back to where we’d begun. By the time we reached the ninth one of the series (and our fourteenth in total) we’d been out nealy two hours and decided it was time for a short lunch break. Conveniently #9 of the series was right next to the car, so we had the perfect opportunity to stock up on unhealthy food and repack the bags to carry some drinks and snacks before heading off into the wilderness for the rest of the series.

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It wasn’t initially as much of a wilderness as imagined. They’d built a new road for accessing the new housing estate. It’s not on Google StreetView or GoogleMaps yet. It was definitely there though. Some geezer in a bright yellow Ferrari was driving along it.

We turned off the new road up the side of an industrial facility and found ourselves walking up an isolated road which is apparently where Eastern European lorry drivers go to sleep before braving the motorways of the UK (or before heading home – who knows). Eventually we got to somewhere rather less urban and spent a few caches walking a series of mainly well maintained pathways surrounded by varying types of vegetation on a mainly “wetland” theme. Well, the series is called a “Marshland Wander”, so that kind of fits the bill.

Eventually we got back to the side of the river and started walking upstream towards the bridge and the car again. On the way past, you walk underneath one of two absolutely massive electricity pylons which carry some power lines over the top of the Thames here. I guess they have to be at least as far up as the road deck of the bridge, which is 65m above the water, so you can imagine the size of the things. The second one is on the other side of the river, in Essex, by the way.

After this we got back to the car, having found 39 caches and having eaten most of the pringles. It was time for a sit down and a bit of planning. The girls decided they were done with walking, so we spent the rest of our caching afternoon hopping in the car between a series of puzzles we’d solved. By the time we’d been doing that for two hours we’d found another 17 caches, had been rained on, and had decided enough was enough, so we treated ourselves to a random drive around Dartford before eventually finding a petrol station and a McDonalds, which were conveniently co-located. So various liquids were acquired and used to fill things, and I dare say there was some turning round of bicycles while we were there, and then we were off on our way home through the tunnel. We eventually got home at around a quarter to 8, about 11 hours after we’d left. Kas was gone – she was away in Manchester for a running event – so I walked around to the local shop with Izzy to buy wine and more unhealthy snacks and then settled in for a night of getting showered, eating rubbish and typing up caching logs.

A good day’s caching by the end of it, given the distance required to be driven. 56 finds is about the kids’ tolerance limit anyway, especially Izzy’s, and we arrived home feeling tired, achy and wind-burnt. Both kids had been wearing new walking boots too, so both had slightly sore feet.

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The caches we found on the day were :


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