I decided on a relatively light day of caching today after yesterday’s excesses. By “light”, I mean a target of 40 or so, spread over 8 miles. Enough to take my total for the weekend up to 100. If we were talking about running, you’d call it slightly more than a recovery run. But, we’re not talking about running.
Anyway, I decided I’d drive over to Bletsoe in Bedfordshire to attempt the Bletsoe Bombing Run series – which is very conveniently a quoted distance of 7.5 to 8 miles, with 39 caches listed. If I’d looked more closely at the map, I’d have realised that the closest town to Bletsoe is, more or less, Irthlingborough which is where I spent all of yesterday. I guess my Geocaching Hotspot map (with added Michael Fish ) is about to develop a bit of a red spot around northern Bedfordshire / mid Northamptonshire.
I drove up through Olney and along the A428 in an attempt (failed) to avoid driving through Bedford. I seemed to end up on the edge of Bedford driving up the A6, now known as Paula Radcliffe Way. Part of the problem was that I tried to set the Sat Nav on the cachemobile. I entered “Place/Town” and typed in “Bletsoe” – then was presneted with a list of streets. I guessed “Main Street”, ‘cos there’s always either a “Main Street” or a “High Street” in villages in England. Except in Bletsoe, there isn’t. The nearest “Main Street” is apparently in Biddenham. Bletsoe’s main street is called “The Avenue”.
But despite the unusual name, “The Avenue” in Bletsoe has exactly what I needed, namely, some free parking spaces right outside the church, including an empty space. Result.
On with the boots then, and off we go for today’s adventures. First up was a Church Micro. Gotta be one somewhere. It was an easy one. In fact, the whole day consisted of easy ones.
On with the walking, then. The Bletsoe Bombing Run forms a great big kidney bean shape with the village on the middle of the western edge. On the eastern edge is a very large old airfield that was a bomber base in the last war, hence the name.
It was a bit of a weird walk, to be honest. The first third (until you reach the airfield) was a densely packed course along roads and fields (thankfully not very muddy). The airfield starts at number 16 in the series. I got there in about 90 minutes despite a couple of poor choices of route. One disadvantage of using satellite view rather than an OS map – you can’t tell where the paths actually go.
Then at the airfield (the next third) there’s a bridleway that runs around the perimeter, but relatively few caches as a result of the fact that the airfiled is in use for commercial companies, and there’s a few stretches with pretty much no cover, and hence nowhere for hiding caches.
And then the final third of the distance is back onto the densely packed paths and roads.
All were easy finds apart from one I really struggled with in a big multi-trunked tree, and another I really didn’t spend much time on. I used my new yardstick for the day, which is that if Dr Solly tried and failed in the last few days then it probably isn’t there. Move on, life’s too short.
I got back to my car at about 3pm having walked about 8 miles in 4 hours and having found 38 out of 40 caches. Not too bad. But, as per yesterday, can’t be giving up on 38. That looks a bit amateurish. What I really need is at least 40, so I get my hundred up for the weekend. So where to go ?
I had a bit of a gawp around the local area on the Geosphere app but didn’t see anything I thought I could finish in the amount of daylight I had left (yes, it’s not summertime now, so it gets dark about 5pm). Nothing inspired me, even after I stopped at Sainsbury’s in Bedford for a drink and some chocolate. I started picking my way home, this time along the A422, when I saw a sign for Cranfield. A little spark ignited and reminded me that the first few of Kitey’s patch of the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk series (Orange 1-6) are right by the road. Drive-bys. Good plan. Doesn’t matter so much if it’s dark, or raining (which by now it was). So I did a quick drive-by in Cranfield, stuck to an old water fountain thingy, and made my way down to Salford for a few MKBWs. All were quite easy, but I forgot to record the bonus code from the very first one. Oh well ! I’ll probably find another one of those somewhere.
By then it was gone 5pm and I’d bagged 45 caches, but it was very dark, and very wet, so a dash home for food, wine and a nice hot bath seemed the best plan. Then a long evening typing up some of the 105 logs, logging a bag full of trackables, and writing up a long blog post about yesterday. Another good day.
The caches I found on the day were :
I’ve been thinking about the Halloween Hides & Creepy Caches (Reincarnated) Mega Event for much of the year.
I went to a kick-off event in Northampton on the same day as I had my own event at Stowe all the way back in April (see Stowe Series Release). I seem to remember back in April it was a bit cold and damp, much like HH&CC event day in October.
Back to the plot, the plan was to get up to the event by 10, ready for opening time. I volunteered to take Wavvy and N12 with me – better to take a car full than go alone. Saves the planet, keeps the cost down, and makes for more interesting stories………
Such as, going to help Wavvy check his coordinates for the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk Golden Bonus, and not being able to find it, for instance. Can’t say where it is, but it was on the way. Suffice to say we got to GZ on Wavvy’s GPS and he had no recollection of the area. GZ on the iPhone was about 35 feet away, so we went there instead, and there was the cache, all shiny looking. Hmmm ! Must be something to do with triangulation off the cell towers or something. Anyway, one-nil to the iPhone.
N12 was well prepared when we arrived, despite saying she was expecting us at 10am – what’s that about ? She’s ready to go out an hour before we’re turning up. An hour before I’m going out I’m normally still in bed, especially when Kas and the kids are away, like today. In fact, it’s a bit of a miracle I was ready when Wavvy turned up, never mind an hour beforehand.
But meanwhile, back at the event, we made a relatively uninteresting drive of 35 miles or so up to Stanwick Lakes and miraculously found a parking spot right outside the building – someone was just leaving at 9.45am. So up we parked, and in we went, to meet up with a few familiar faces and a few rather scary characters. Well, it is a Halloween themed event. So we mooched about a bit waiting for the general “nod” from one of the organizers that the daytime caches were released. I picked up my spangly new glow-in-the-dark coin, and we went outside to gawp at the maps showing where everything was, then we heard rumour all was released and we were good to go. So we went.
I started by setting up the details for the WhereIGo released for the event, and we mooched into the first couple of zones, then we were off to the main business of the day. Not quite sure what we were expecting, but we ended up doing a 10 mile walk and picking up about 40 caches over a period of nearly 5 hours. Have to admit that it was a bit more than I anticipated for the first walk, but we can pride ourselves that we found everything we looked for. We did try our best with the two puzzles and also we tried to run about 3 multis at the same time, which proved interesting. But more of that later. Suffice to say that trying to complete one of those elimination grid, “Brian ate more sausages than the man who wore purple socks” logic puzzles is a bit tricky when you’re trying to walk at the same time. Thankfully though, Wavvy, N12 and I had been joined by a couple of others, so we had a nice big team for the onslaught. As we walked around, it became rapidly evident that this wasn’t going to be a day of solitude. For speed, we adopted the name of “Team Wizard” for our happy band, and within the first mile or so we were joined by Poshrule and a handful of others (or, more correctly, we joined them – as in, we caught up with them).
One highlight of the morning walk was passing the football ground. Only a highlight because it wasn’t what I expected. What I expected (quite reasonably, I thought) was that the football ground in Irthlingborough would be the home of Rushden & Diamonds, what with them being originally formed from Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds. However, unbeknowst to me, R&D were chucked out of everything last year due to there being some issue with finances, and later they dissolved. So Nene Park is, in fact, the home of Kettering Town – a move made last year after their previous ground was repossessed. Obviously financial times are hard for small clubs in Northamptonshire .
Back to the plot though, and not long after here we parted from an increasingly large crowd and headed off around the north of the lakes and onto the 4 (ish) mile “northern” loop that the guys had set up. This took us up into the village of Little Addington and back. Just after the village I felt the need to take advantage of the solitude, as it were. However it was not the most lonely day of caching I ever had. In fact, I only just about had time to do the business before the next team turned up.
At the far end of the walk we came back into the Stanwick Lakes park and then across the other side. Somewhere along here, one of our number decided he wanted to go a bit “off-piste” and cut over a couple of fields to rejoin the old railway line and back to the cafe rather than follow the full route around. At this point in time, the route back had no further caches apart from one that requires some crawling through culverts, so on the face of it the decision looked OK. Once we got over the first field, though, we were wondering at the wisdom of climbing over electrified fences and backtracking around impassable swamps.
Once back at the old railway line we finished our morning (now mid-afternoon) with a pop at a cache in a very large bird hide. I would like to say we found it, but at the time there were about 35 people there (or more) crawling all over the place. This was made infinitely worse by an absolute torrent of wind and slushy, hail-filled rain. enough to cause an enormous cracking noise as a big chunk of a nearby tree snapped off, just avoiding a few people. At some point in the proceedings someone shouted “found it” and the deed was done. We’re claiming a proper find, because it was one of the original “Team Wizard” that found it, although given the number of people it was probably just a matter of time. There was a nice Earthcache just along from here too. Can’t beat an Earthcache.
And then back to the cafe for a well earned drink.
After which we had a further walk out to catch one of the multis we calculated on the way around, and a handful of others that we didn’t pass on the first attempt – our loop took us away. So that was another couple of miles and another 5 caches before returning to the cafe to mooch around next to the now busy barbeque – a round of double cheeseburgers and a natter with a couple of American visitors ensued. Followed by more cheeseburgers / chicken burgers and some coke.
And then a quick walk out across the lakes to grab the WhereIGo with BingBongLong, who we bumped into in the car park.
And back to the cafe for a sit down – legs hurting somewhat.
In the cafe we met a few more friends and then prepped up for the evening event – this time we were named “Team Nightmare”, and we consisted of Wavvy, N12, BingBongLong, EmmaW, Emma’s mum and myself. Another 14 caches in the dark. Unsurprisingly these ran along all the bits of the park we hadn’t been through already, as well as a few we had. Again I would like to say we found some of these, but in all honesty, they were found mainly by just walking towards any group of torches we saw, safe in the knowledge there was a cache in there somewhere. Why don’t people dip torches in the same way we dip headlights in the car, by the way ? Couldn’t see where I was going most of the time. But it was a good walk nevertheless, in good company.
When we walked past the bird hide again it seems the cache was no longer there, or at least, Emma couldn’t find it. Busy day, maybe someone put it back in the wrong place. And then back to the car. In total I walked 15.7 miles during the day, which is a long way, I can tell you. You can see the route at here. Don’t ask me to walk round again. I ache.
But that left us with a bit of a problem. No misses all day, which is good, however a rather disappointing total of 59. That’s a big blouse of a number, that is. 59 just makes you want to say “why not one more then ?” 59 finds in a day is for rank amateurs. “Why not do one more then ?”
So we did one more. No walking, just a random Church Micro in Stanwick village. We drove a couple of loops in the car before finding a way into the car park that appears on satellite view, and we were rewarded with a parking spot about 10 yards from GZ. Someone else was also there doing “just one more”.
59 in a day is a wimp’s total. Whereas 60 ? 60 ? That’s a proper day’s caching, that is !
The cachemobile got us home safely enough. Wavvy’s car was still outside my house, the guinea pigs were happy to see me (but slightly hungry) and in the morning I found N12’s blood-stained knife in the back of my car. Oh ! And the plastic axe I bought off eBay to wear on my head was still on the dining table, where it had been all day.
The caches we found on the day were :
The MK Boundary Walk Blue section ran from Weston Underwood around the north of Olney up to Warrington. It was almost entirely agricultural and completely devoid of places to stop, rest or shelter. It’s fair to say that I didn’t greatly enjoy being the owner of that section, given that it’s quite a long way from my house, it’s point-to-point and it’s the middle of nowhere. I could never motivate myself to go and maintain it, and it really surprises me that anyone actually bothered to walk around it to collect the caches. Still, they did, so that shows how wrong I am.
Anyway, setting them took me two attempts. On the first one I made a provisional allocation of caches along my chosen route (which I’d been carefully planning over the summer). I’d taken a guess at some locations and created a few template cache pages, but that was about as far as I got, to be honest. Not really very careful, but sort of planned. A bit.
Very many of the locations I planned turned out to be unusable and I ended up doing a lot of walking backwards and forwards trying to find sensible spots.
The reason why I needed two visits was because on the first visit I unknowingly placed a bunch of the boxes into some Forestry Commission land without permission. My choice from the reviewer was either to move them, or gain permission. I did try writing to the Forestry Commission but never received a reply, so eventually I gave up and moved the boxes.
So ultimately I ended up releasing 25 caches (including a bonus), most of which were of moderate size. The bonus was roughly in the middle, like what we planned.
Most of them proved to be good hides. A couple were so good that even I couldn’t find them when I went back to maintain them. One was so well hidden that it took ages for anyone to find it, despite the fact that it was all fine.
I was ultimately glad when I decommissioned this bunch at the start of 2016 (see Bye Bye Magenta and Blue).
Anyway, enough grumping – here’s the photos I took on the two visits I made whilst setting them.
The MK Boundary Walk Violet Section ran from Stony Stratford up to the marina at Yardley Gobion, and was pretty much alongside water the whole way. In Stony and through Wolverton it was alongside the River Great Ouse, through the parks around the outside of the town. It then branched north along the Grand Union Canal up to Yardley Gobion, passing through the village of Cosgrove on the way.
The fact that this course is almost entirely alongside water means two things in the context of geocaching. Firstly, no hills. OK, there’s a few steps to get up from the river to the canal, but otherwise it’s flatter than a flat thing. Secondly, especially alongside the river, there is a tendancy for the series to be inaccessible during wet conditions. Indeed, some of the caches were so inaccessible at times that they floated away. The CO had to start setting them higher up, or fastening them to posts and trees to stop them from wandering off.
Thankfully on the day I did them I didn’t get wet. I did the higher numbered ones in backwards order, starting at Yardley Gobion, having previously dopne the lower numbered ones on the end of my walk for the Turquoise Section (see MKBW Turquoise). So my objective was to get from Yardley Gobion back into Stony Stratford, where Kas had arranged to take the girls to see a hairdresser at some point in the afternoon. As all sections of the MKBW were point-to-point, I needed Kas to drop me off so I could walk back. Either that or I’d have to leave my car and she’d have to drive me back to it. Very inefficient.
The day of my walk turned into a very pleasant early autumn afternoon, and I found the majority of caches I was looking for without too much bother. I started in Yardley Gobion to do a cluster around and outside the village there before venturing down to the canalside to begin the trek home.
The caches I found on this day were :