A long day out up the top end of Northamptonshire doing a couple of loops that looked appealing.
I was out all day. I began my quest by parking up in Bulwick, from where I walked an anticlockwise loop around the fairly substantial 60-cache “Bulwick and Back Again” series. It was a long old walk around and the weather was disappointingly dank, cold and generally yakky. The caching was pretty quick going though. The footing was mainly either tarmac or packed farm tracks, and where it was raw footpath, most of that was grassed rather than muddy. There were thankfully few parts that involved knee-deep sludge.
Towards the end a couple of other cachers caught me up. They were progressing round really quickly. We sort of hitched up and finished the series together.
When we got back into Bulwick we were parked fairly close and they asked me if I’d like to accompany them for a few more around a different circuit. They suggested we drive over to the relatively short looking “Apethorpe Archive” series of 20 caches. I was happy to join them and because we were a team of three (and because they walked at a natural pace above mine) we got the Apethorpe series done really quickly. I mean, 17-an-hour quickly.
It was essentially dark by the time we’d finished in Apethorpe, but by that time I’d made 85 finds and I’d had more than enough for the day, so I said goodbye and set off for the hour drive back home again.
The caches I found were :
Saturday morning and a change to our usual routine of running parkrun in Milton Keynes. Why? Because Kas had an appointment with a half marathon in Leighton Buzzard – this year’s Dirt Half. From the title you can guess it’s a trail race, and the competitors are expected to return looking a bit mucky. Or a lot mucky, depending on the weather.
We all went down with Kas as the girls decided they didn’t fancy doing parkrun and then driving down to meet Kas afterwards. The race didn’t start until 10 so even with a planned arrival onsite at 9 it wasn’t a late start. As we arrived there we were greeted by the sight of a rather large number of our running club team members dressed in the club lime green. Nice. There were, apparently, 59 entrants from Redway Runners. In addition, there were also probably another 30 club members marshalling or otherwise supporting the event.
It was quite a nice morning by November standards (still, calm, a bit damp, but not cold and not raining).
While Kas was running, the girls and me decided we’d go and do a bit of caching, as you do. Well, if I’m being honest, I decided I was going to do a bit of caching and they were obliged to come with me, but they didn’t complain much and I did promise them some cakes or biscuits from the stall in the Race HQ once we got back.
We left Kas at about 9:30 and hot-footed it along the canal in search of a couple of tricky puzzles by Dave’s Piglings that I had solved a couple of weeks before. Both proved to be quite easy finds, and we followed this up with a dash up towards Leighton Buzzard town centre, where there’s a challenge cache (also by Dave’s Piglings) that I’d spent ages checking whether we qualified for. After some time I managed to find a way of all three of us qualifying for this using the same set of caches (by finding caches whose names begin with the letters of “Leighton Buzzard” and of at least 8 different cache types).
As we were walking back from here I looked at my watch and realised we’d just about be able to catch the runners passing by on the Grand Union Canal towpath. In fact, as we’d come that way, we’d have to go and wave at them until they’d all run past us, because there were enough that either us or some of them would have ended up in the water if we’d just walked back that way.
Once most of the runners had passed we were able to slip back under the road bridge and head back towards Race HQ again, but not until we’d first walked right past and walked around a short series of caches at Tiddenfoot Lake. I like that name. There were about 5 caches. Once again these are mainly owned by Dave’s Piglings. I understand some of the Piglings attend the nearby school. The walk around was quick and the caches were all found pretty quickly, which proved to be just as well, because the path around the lake was also a part of the half marathon course, so if we’d been much later we might have been trampled.
We made what proved to be a totally unnecessary walk all the way around the school to get back in and then just had time to quickly dash into the Race HQ for some cake before wandering off to try to find the finish line. This proved to be a bit harder than I would have expected, but we got there just in time to see most of the Redway Runners coming in.
On Saturday I went for a caching jaunt around Hatley in Cambridgeshire with Ami and BingBongLong. Ami and me had been to parkrun first so we might have been a bit on the smelly side, except for the fact that it was quite a cold morning, and we weren’t running fast enough to get sweaty. The weather forecast was for showers coming in around tea time (i.e. after darkness) but not especially cold.
It took just under an hour to get there from BingBongLong’s house, including a stop in Potton to get some provisions. We started our walk at about 11:15, and had about 5-6 miles to walk with around 40 caches to collect, which should mean we’d make it around comfortably.
The walking part of the day proved to be very, very easy. We got back to the car after 3.25 hours, having found 43 caches, including a rather good dickie-doubler at a Trig Point that is both a YOSM and a regular traditional cache. Aside from the speed, the walk was quite unremarkable. All the caches were easy finds and the coordinates were pretty much all spot on. The walk was around 10km, as you can see in my Walk on the Wild Side Garmin Track.
About half a mile from the car it started raining a bit, but by this time we’d only got 20 minutes left and we were still moving very quickly.
Once we got back to the car things turned a bit slow. As we’d done 43 finds so far we obviously had to attempt at least 50 in total, and this ought to have been fairly easy given that we had 2 hours of light left nearly, but it proved to be rather a challenge. We started well enough with a couple of nearby Church Micros in Hatley and then another in Gamlingay, but then it went a bit pear-shaped. There was another Church Micro in Gamlingay but logs indicated it was quite time consuming to do. Instead, we attempted to head for Cockayne Hatley, albeit initially heading the wrong way, as I made the mistake of trusting Google Maps. The road I was looking at on the map was an inaccessible dirt track in reality. So we had to drive back into Gamlingay and nearly all the way round to Potton to get there. It was nice when we arrived.
We also skipped a Church Micro in Potton simply because we couldn’t see the point in placing a Church Micro as a multi but then making us gather information from three location-unknown fire hydrants, and then making us do some complex trigonometric calculations to project a final waypoint. The past few logs had been DNFs, but in reality might just have been “can’t-be-bothereds”. There was a chirp unknown cache in Potton too, though, so we thought we’d give it a go. Even that proved hard as BingBongLong walked one way and I walked the other. Neither of us found the chirp, but then BBL walked towards me and picked it up straight away. So we headed off for the cache and as we returned again my GPS then picked up the chirp details.
All of this left us still two short of our 50. We’d targeted a Church Micro in Moggerhanger, if only because it’s such a great name for a place, and we managed to grab a roadside drive-by on the way there. By the time we got into Moggerhanger it was very dark, so we had to do the Church Micro there using our torches, and we managed to make this one tricky as well by failing to fully understand the hint and then failing to search thoroughly in a quite likely location close to the given GZ. Eventually, just as I was waiting for a reply to a phone-a-friend I’d made over Facebook I bent over a fence where I’d been before and lifted some leaf mass to reveal the cache. D’oh !
By now it was well after 5 pm and BBL wanted to be home by 6, so we hot-footed it back to Milton Keynes. While we were driving I phoned Kas to see what she’d planned for the evening and apparently Izzy had decided we were eating out at Nando’s, so after we’d dropped BBL off we drove straight there from his house. Ami fell asleep in the car back from Bedford, as she was likely to, and then had a rude awakening when I parked up outside Nando’s and made her wake up again.
We did make our 50 finds though, and we reckon that’s a good target for a short-ish day in November.
The caches we found on the day were :