Missile silos? Do what John?
I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend an all-day training session at a client’s site, so rather than driving down at stoopid o’clock in the morning I chose to stop over in Newbury. Actually, I’d been on their site for much of the day anyway, doing whatever work I was allowed to do prior to doing the training session. The day’s activity finished quite early and it was a pleasant evening so I took the opportunity to go and have a gawp at a bit of old Cold War history by having a wander around the now-abandoned old RAF base at Greenham Common.
I’d like to say this was planned, but it wasn’t really. I’d noticed there were a few geocaches near the hotel but hadn’t researched enough to realise they were on the old airbase. This is the old airbase that was famous throughout the 1980s as a result of the women’s peace camps that were set up to protest the US Air Force’s deployment of nuclear capable cruise missiles there. Greenham Common was the main UK base, with a secondary, somewhat smaller, deployment at RAF Molesworth, which is (very bizarrely and unknowingly at the time) where I went caching on my next “big” day out (see Molesworth Melee).
I managed to drag the evening out quite late, as it was light until well after 8:30 pm. It was a lovely night apart from one part where I decided to go off-piste a little bit to take the “quick” direct route between two caches rather than following the paths. I was rewarded with a very wet boot and a muddy trouser leg when I ended up in a patch of ground that was what horse racing pundits would describe as “heavy” going.
When I’d done walking around the western end of the old airfield I jumped into the car to do a couple of more urban ones, including a church micro. Adding that lot to the three church micros I stopped off for either on the way into work or the way back and it added up to a nice little day of 19 finds.
The caches I found during the day were :
A wander around the city whilst collecting a few geocaches.
Kas entered the 2015 Manchester Marathon. Technically, I suppose, she entered the 2014 Manchester Marathon and then deferred it for a year after winning a place in the London Marathon ( see Marathon Weekend ). She won a place in the 2015 London Marathon too, so ended up doing two in the space of a week.
So, Manchester it is then!
We booked ourselves a family-sized room at the Jury’s Inn Manchester, on the basis that it was central, it has family rooms, and I had some air miles or bonus points with someone that meant we didn’t have to pay cash for it. The room was good, but as with many city centre hotels in the UK, the parking was, well, somewhere else.
We had a family weekend away, and drove up on Friday night so we could find a random parkrun to do on Saturday morning. Our entirely random choice was Worsey Woods parkrun, which is essentially a flat mile out along an old railway line, followed by a mile of off-piste in some very undulating woods, and then a final mile back the way you came. It proved to be a good course to run and Izzy ran a PB on it. That was a good start to the weekend. They had a nearby cafe too, althouh it was far enough away that they had to explain it to us. That had us sorted for breakfast.
We spent Saturday afternoon doing different things. I obviously went geocaching, because that’s what I do. Neither of the kids wanted to come with me, so Kas spent an afternoon trying to keep them happy in the fundamental boring location of a hotel room, whilst trying to rest up herself. Hmmm!
Anyway, my caching walk proved to be moderately fruitful for a session of urban caching – they are always a bit slow compared to countryside caching – and over the course of the afternoon I found a total of 19 caches of varying types.
I got back to the hotel reasonably early and we all got cleaned up and went out to meet a few other runners we know at a local generic chain Italian restaurant. I think it was a Pizza Express, but I can’t really remember.
Race day began with an early breakfast at the hotel and then a frustrating drive down towards Old Trafford. It was particularly frustrating for Kas, because she’d pre-paid some parking at the stadium but we got stuck in a massive traffic jam and she ended up having to jump out of the car and walk half a mile down the road to get to the race on time. Me and the girls got there eventually, but we lost sight of Kas and didn’t see her again until she passed us during the race.
Speaking of which, while Kas was running the girls and me tried to follow her around on the tram system. It took us ages to find Trafford Bar Station, and from there we made a fairly short hop down to Brooklands Station, at which point we were in urgent need of a toilet. Thankfully there was a pub open, although it was a major squeeze to get in and it wasn’t especially clean inside.
From the station, we made our way out onto the road and found a bunch of other Redway Runners who were out-and-about on waving and cheering duty. Anyone would think there was an event on.
On the trip back we were bright enough to jump off the tram at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and so were able to make our way back up to the football stadium quickly. We arrived just in time to see Kas coming up the final stretch and into the finish. Well done to her!
The trip home was pretty much uneventful. Kas never really eats much straight after finishing a race so we drove a big chunk towards home before stopping in some motorway services for a late lunch.
The house was where we left it, which is always handy.
I always think Sawtry sounds a bit strange. But then, it can get away with it because it’s surrounded by The Giddings – three villages called Great Gidding, Little Gidding and Steeple Gidding. If you’re surrounded by villages called The Giddings you can probably get away with all sorts of weird names.
Back at the plot, there were two series up here that I hadn’t done (The Izaak Wilson Memorial Series and the Gidding Round), plus a couple of odds from a series I’d done before (the Sawtry Saunter) but didn’t quite complete.
It’s an area I had visited on multiple occasions before this day, and have revisited several times too, as it’s right in the middle of the triangle that’s been pretty much full of geocaches for years on end. Series keep popping up and being taken down, so there’s always something new to do. On this day I parked in a car park I’d definitely parked in before.
There’s not a lot to say about the day except it was sunny and warm. I walked just over 14km on my main walk and picked up 51 finds in that distance. I then did a further 11 finds in the car afterwards, seeing as I had a bit of time left over.
Quite a productive day then…
The caches I found on the day were :
Time to do the only remaining section of the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk series for which I had yet to collect the bonus. Even though I devised the coding for the MKBW Golden Bonus cache and knew full well where it was (because I helped Wavvy test it’s placement) I had somehow failed to complete both the Green and Indigo sections at the start of 2015, well over two years after they were placed. Because I’d vowed that I wouldn’t do the Golden Bonus until I’d either set or found each of the 10 section bonuses then it was still waving at me every time I looked at a caching map of Milton Keynes. This Indigo section was the last remaining one for me, after I’d completed the Green section earlier in the year (see MKBW Green).
We went up there in a bit of a Beds, Bucks, Herts mega team, comprising myself and Ami (aka Travelling Pumpkin), Happy_Hunter_HP20, Wavvy, and various members of Dave’s Piglings. I’m not sure which ones ( they’re all the same from a distance 🙂 ) but it was sufficiently few of them that we could all fit in their large car – a constraint that was very much factored into the planning for the day. The reasoning behind this was that (as with all sections of the MKBW series) it’s a point-to-point walk. There’s a bit of a loopback along the “Caching for Kidz” series but this only gets you so far and leaves a couple of miles of cache-free territory in between. We therefore parked the Piglingmobile up on a country road out the back of Lavendon and carried the requisite piglings down with us to the river bridge at Turvey, where we met up with Wavvy. There must only have been two Piglings then, because otherwise they wouldn’t have fit in my car with Ami and the Happy Hunter.
The walk was quite leisurely and not strenuous (by my standards) and the Piglings and various members of the party were armed with cake, Pringles, and other means of sustenance of the high calorie-to-weight-ratio variety. We didn’t walk the entire MKBW Indigo stretch. In fact, we only walked just over half of it, but those remaining were proportionately a long way away, and, of course, were not necessary for finding the bonus, because the section was set out in the agreed format so that the bonus was roughly in the middle of the walk and could be found regardless of which end you started.
Sadly I wasn’t armed with my camera on the day so I didn’t get any photos, but just so you get a flavour for the walk here are some borrowed from a couple of others who completed the series.
Once we’d finished with the MKBW Indigo series Ami, me and the Happy Hunter headed off towards Yardley Hastings to do five or six drive-bys before heading off home. A couple of those were interesting puzzles that HHHP20 had solved.
The caches we found on the day were :