The Sketch

I heard a rumour there was an entire series of caches down near Winchester that had quite high terrain ratings. That’s a good thing for me. At the time I had yet to complete a first lap around the Difficulty/Terrain Matrix. Filling in a bunch of slots in the matrix was a concious choice rather than going somewhere else for another easy series in the countryside. So this is (was) the Chili Series – a collection of puzzles and wherigo caches.

Off We Go

The high terrain ratings on this series were caused by the fact that all the caches were hanging in trees. They were high enough up that the most effective technique would be to use a long pole with a hook on the end. The guidelines were that the caches were somewhere between 6m and 10m high, and most were in locations that couldn’t be climbed to, even if you felt that was appropriate.

One thing I should also add is that wherever high terrain caches are available, I can normally persuade Ami to join me. And indeed, she did join us. We’d recovered her from Lincoln a couple of days previously, and she’d been around home long enough to want something to do.

We were joined by Candleford, and her two big sticks. Well, not big sticks so much as extendable poles. One was quite rigid, of the type you might use for cleaning your upstairs windows. The other was most definitely a fibre-glass flagpole. Both had been fitted with bendy, curly, metal hooks. These were cunningly attached with duck tape – the geocacher’s friend.

So we were all tooled up and ready to go. It was a bit early in the day, because after all, Winchester is a couple of hours from Milton Keynes. I think we left our house at about 7am and stopped at the M4 junction for a service break on the way.

Doing the Doings

We parked up at the recommended parking and then headed off in a northerly direction to begin the series. We took both poles as well as hearty stocks of food and drinks. The plan was to walk all the way round in one go. We’d heard we should budget 5-6 hours for the walk, so we needed to carry lunch.

In general, we took a few minutes to spot each cache. Most were higher up than I expected, and the leaves were fully out on all the trees. As a result, many of the caches just required you to be standing in the right place. If you weren’t right, you’d never spot it.

The chili series walk took us north first and then east. After nine or so finds we’d been going long enough for a lunch break. What swung it for us was a “Moby Dick” cache. We stood staring into the trees for a good 15 minutes, wandering in and out to change perspective. But we couldn’t spot it. So we sat in the roadway for 15 minutes to eat lunch and then had another go. We still didn’t spot it. It happened that this cache was on and out-and-back, so we tried for a third time on the “back” before giving up. If we’d stayed there we wouldn’t finish the series in a day.

So off we went in a westerly direction into an area that was across a few fields rather than tree-lined lanes. This took us to our closest encounter with Winchester before turning around and walking back down a long, straight path that had tall trees down one side and fileds down the other. There were a couple of tricky little caches down there too.

One for the Road

When we eventually made it back to the car there was one of the chili series remaining that was in the other direction. We chucked all our bags in the car and just walked down with the poles. The final one proved to be easy to spot but very difficult to retrieve. It was probably the highest of the bunch. Most of the caches had been reachable with the 6m extendable pole. We’d only used the flagpole a couple of times. This last one, however, required the flagpole, extended up to the max. It was very difficult to get back in place. A fibre-glass flagpole of 10m in length is designed to flex and bend. And so it did. Getting it stable enough to replace the cache took some patience.

Enough of the Walking

So, back at the car, we’d sort of had enough apart from a Church Micro and a trad round the corner in Compton. That made us 34 finds for the day, but they took ages, so we were done.

On the way back we made another stop at Chieveley Services to attempt a supposed climbing cache in the grounds. We took a pole but it wasn’t really suitable, so we gave up and went home. Sometimes you have to accept you’re not getting there.