I set out with the great aspiration of completing two of my missing counties on the UK & Ireland map. I’ve been five short of the proverbial “full English” for a couple of years now and haven’t really bust a gut to do anything about it. Well, today was the day. I was going to Suffolk, but only just, because I was going to its border with Essex. This would allow me to do two of the five, the others being somewhat further afield. It turned out to be a rather frustrating and disappointing day, for various reasons.
I had chosen a likely looking loop around the village of Glemsford but ended up parking on the rather pretty main street in Cavendish, partly because I’d had enough of driving and partly because there were loads of parking spaces as I was driving through. This would allow me to join my chosen loop at about three-quarters of the way around the numbered sequence. Before joining that loop there was a multi-church micro, for which I found the information but then didn’t find the cache. This sort of set the tone for the rest of my day.
Once onto the chosen series, I ended up having a very similar experience to my bad day in Thrapston (see Thrapston Crapston). Maybe it was a bad day for the same reason. It was June, and we’d had lots of warm damp weather through April and May, so the proverbial undergrowth was now overgrowth, especially the nettles. Anyway, whatever the reason, I had a bit of a nightmare.
The length of the series and the number of caches available meant I was planning to do about 50 caches and then, if time allowed, maybe hack my way around another series which leads from Cavendish over to Clare. This second series crosses the River Stour and therefore takes you over into the northern edge of Essex. I didn’t get anything like that far though.
The Glemsford series was posted as about 8 miles of walking, which with 46 caches I would expect should take me around 4 to 4.5 hours. I actually walked nearer to 12 miles than 8, and I only managed to find about two-thirds of the caches. I think I DNF’d 18 of them – and by halfway around it was apparent that I was going to have a rubbish day. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to just give up and go home. Sadly, at the point where I lost the will to live I was as far away from the car as I was going to get. I basically figured I might as well keep limping my way around the series and attempting some of the caches, as I’d got to do the walking anyway.
So why did I miss so many? Well, the nettles and general undergrowth was one reason, for sure. Another was that many of the caches were in the category of “very small cache hidden on a very large item.” I struggle with these at the best of times. Partly because I can’t see the point of leaving a micro the size of my little finger end in an ivy-covered oak tree the size of Wales. Especially when that tree is a couple of miles from the nearest human habitation. I regard that as a near-criminal waste of a perfectly reasonable location for a large container. That’s a part of it.
But seriously, when I’m faced with the prospect of looking for a tiny cache on a massive ICT several times in a row my enthusiasm drops off quite quickly. I can’t say they are bad caches – to each his own – but it’s not what I like doing. And I personally wouldn’t put such a thing as a Difficulty 1.5 or 2, which most of these were. As far as I’m concerned, a Difficulty 1.5 should be bleedin’ obvious. A needle in a haystack should be at least a D3 so that you’ve got some warning. I specifically chose this series because it was 8 miles of low difficulty caches. Maybe they’re easier in the winter.
I also had an issue with the terrain rating on a couple of them. Two of the caches were tree climbs. One was rated as Terrain 4.5, which ought to need special equipment, but this one didn’t. The cache was only 15 feet up and the tree had branches the size of telegraph poles. The other climbing one was rated as Terrain 3.5, and therefore ought to be easier than the first. I spent ages looking for it on the assumption it should be lower down than the previous, but it wasn’t. Once I read the logs I picked up the hint it was higher. Indeed it was higher. I’d estimate probably 35-40 feet from ground level. And it was up a tree which was comparatively feeble looking, especially for someone of my size.
And then, to make matters worse, I dropped a full bottle of drink at one of the caches and so was left with only a few swigs to survive the back half of the walk.
Anyway, all of that sounds like moaning. And it is. But I’ll get over it eventually.
Back at the Motor
By the time I got back to Cavendish, it was time to head home, which meant that I’d have to find some other way of getting a cache in Essex. I didn’t want to drive to just one out of the chosen series, as that would be a waste, so I checked out the villages on the way home, as I’d noticed some signs for Essex on the way in.
Sure enough, Sturmer was just inside the Essex border. I missed the assigned parking for the cache I was trying to find (one from a short series) so I pulled off in the entrance to a long drive to weigh up my options. The easiest option seemed to be to find the cache I’d parked next to. I could see it from inside the car. So that was Essex coloured in. I might go do it properly one day, but for now it’s coloured in and I’m done with it.
So that was all a bit cack because I was out caching (i.e. not driving there and back, just the caching part) for nearly 7 hours, and I managed to find just 32 caches.