The Sketch

Earlier in the year, a new series of geocaches was released up in Warwickshire consisting of 151 puzzles. They form a geo-art that looks vaguely like a Pokémon of some kind. Probably a Pikachu, because that’s the only one most non-addicts have heard of, myself included. I have at least learned that “Pikachu” is a species, not a specific creature. Nearby is a series of Adventure Labs in Burton Dassett Hills Country Park.

Back at the plot, I solved the puzzles fairly quickly and then “parked” the series for later use. I often do this with large puzzle series. It gives me a backlog of puzzle caches to work on.

I’d been thinking about going out for the day, having spent the previous day in Sheffield with Daughterus Maximus. So late in the week I asked my new-found group of caching buddies (see London Calling) if they were up for a day out. HellieMW wasn’t, but as it happened, the Lydford Locators had already booked a hotel and were going to spend a couple of days going at them. That’ll do me, then. I prefer not to go caching on my own every time now, so it’s good to have company. It also meant I got the opportunity to meet Mr LL, who didn’t join us in London.

Driving Up

So the scene was set. The plan was to meet in Avon Dassett at 10:30, where there was convenient parking at the very bottom left corner of the series.

I fancied a few extras, so I set off from home in good time. I needed to fill my car up with fuel, which has been rare in the last year and a half, so took the opportunity to fill my caching bag with soft drinks and lunch items. All good to go.

The drive up was uninspiring and after a while I found myself near the first of my targetted villages for doing “drive-bys”. I’d pre-solved a load of multi-caches in the villages to the south of Avon Dassett so I could get a head start, as it were. So on this leg I passed through the villages of Great Bourton and Mollington in Oxfordshire before crossing the border to Shotteswell in Warwickshire.

In Great Bourton, I had to wait for a while as a bunch of boys doing a DofE walk. More of this later in the day.

I’d also planned to go through Warmington but by the time I got to Shotteswell it was time to head off and meet the Lydford Locators.

From Avon Dassett

How very dare they? The walk from Avon Dassett was uphill. I mean, uphill! What the actual? Although after the later part of the day I’d almost forgotten.

As we left the roads for our first bit of off-piste, we were faced with a venerable old cache (AQY-AVON DASSETT). It’s from May 2006, four years before I even started caching. Those are very rare these days. This particular one seemed to be challenging to find. There were no (or very many) obvious places to put it, but none of them made sense until we were accosted by the householder who lives at the top of the bank. He knew very well what we were up to, and gave us some spot-on guidance on where to search. In fact, he came down the bank and helped. Cool. Although it took him a while to remember precisely where it was. Anyway, as another finder said in their log, the cache location doesn’t currently match the hint, but it’s safe enough where it is.

This little bit was in a little woodland, but shortly afterwards we broke out into open countryside, and into sunshine.

Steaming

Not long after this we heard the somewhat confusing sound of a steam engine. I wasn’t aware there was a heritage railway near here, so really we had no idea where the noise was coming from. That is, until, we walked around a noggin and saw the rather grand looking steam tractor in the photo here.

It wasn’t this one that made the noise – he hadn’t got steam up at that point – but we had a quick chat with the owner and he told us there was a bit of an event going on, and there were several of the things out in the nearby fields. That’d be it then. It sounded like he was going to use his for its original purpose, rather than just showing it off. We, showing it off would be pointless because there was nobody around really, apart from us. You don’t get many of those to the pound, anyway.

Just past the steam tractor we turned a corner and started walking towards Fenny Compton. By this time it was late enough to be lunchtime, so when we got to the village we did a quick cache or two and grabbed a seat in the churchyard. Churchyards are good for having lunch, because they normally have benches and tend to be away from busy roads. Lunch, then!

From Fenny Compton

Lunch was a nice break. I don’t often carry lunch with me other than drinks and snacks. And quite often I buy snacks and then take them home with me.

Anyway, back at the caching, we had a short diversion for one before returning to the main series. It was a short walk from Fenny Compton to our next major target, but it proved to be mainly uphill. While climbing a hill here we looked back across the fields and saw another DofE group walking, shall we say, not where they were supposed to walk.

At the top of that hill we emerged onto a road and saw a minibus from a school in Coventry. A couple of minutes later it turned around in the road and came back towards us. We asked the driver if he’d “lost a bunch of boys”, and indeed he was wondering where this group had got to. They had four groups apparently, and the “yellow” group weren’t where they ought to be. Just as we were discussing it, the boys appeared over the brow of the hill. All seemed well apart from some jokes about getting lost.

Burton Dassett Hills

So I didn’t really realise that Warwickshire had any hills of any size. At Burton Dassett it definitely does. There’s a country park on top of a large outcrop of ironstone. Most of the local buildings around here are made of the stuff. At Burton Dassett, they used to quarry the stuff, but thankfully enough was left behind to still be “hills” rather than valleys. At 200m it’s not the highest bit of Warwickshire, but it sticks up a fair way from the surroundings. And the hillsides are steep.

There was a set of Adventure Labs in the Country Park as well as a few multis that we’d solved already. I’d assumed from Google satellite view that it was a valley with steep sides, but actually it was all uppy-downy. To access the caches you mainly had to walk up a really steep bit, and then down the other side. So at a couple of points we split up into groups and did the caches separately to save leg strength. When we reassembled we were at a car park. With an ice-cream van.

The DofE boys were all meeting up in the car parks here. Two of four groups were there when we arrived and a third appeared just as we were leaving.

From here we had to walk through Burton Dassett village, where there was a puzzle cache that would be difficult to access after rain. I went in for it, having tested water depth with Mrs LL’s pokey-stick. It involved me standing on stones and bits of wood that were sitting in a 10cm pool of water, but I managed to get the cache without getting wet feet. Which is good.

There weren’t any highlights after this apart from passing the fourth of four DofE groups.

Time for Drive-Bys

So, back at the cars and some goodbyes, until I suggested I was going for a few more. I kind of had to drive through Warmington and there were 4 caches I hadn’t had time to do in the morning. Ah hell, why not. So we convoyed our way to the village and parked up on the main road for a short walk around.

The Reckoning

A total of 59 finds in the day, including the Adventure Labs. It’s a bit of a Sunday League error to finish one short of a multiple of 10. Especially when it’s also a prime number. I should probably recite the rhyme before unfortunate circumstances befall me. ”Hot potato, orchestra stalls, Puck will make amends” – There, all fixed. Probably.