Monday was a day off for me. For the first time ever I decided I’d had enough with watching half of the Superbowl and then going to bed, so I planned to stop up to watch the whole thing and book Monday as holiday. Conveniently it was also a day with a relatively small target in the Shifty-Fifty Challenge. I needed just 12 finds to pass the magic 50 total for February 14th. That made for a simple but effective plan. Take the day off, get up fairly late, and then attempt to find 12 or more caches while the rest of the family are working or schooling. I originally thought I go local but last weekend someone mentioned going full circle by attempting the 360° Challenge on Project-GC.com.
The idea of the 360° Challenge is to find a certain number of caches within each degree of arc on a bearing from your home location. I was missing just 4 out of the 360. All of those were clustered to the south-east of where I live. I somehow had it in my mind that the nearest caches in my “unfound” degrees were miles away, but it turns out I could do them all without driving much further than Aylesbury. So it looked relatively easy to achieve, even on a day when I didn’t start until after 11am.
First up was a visit to Mursley. I didn’t need it for the 360° Challenge but there were a couple of caches I hadn’t done. One was disabled and the CO agreed I could check and replace if needed. I got my first taste of things to come here. Mursley currently can’t be reached on the shortest route from Milton Keynes. They’ve closed it because the East West Rail route goes beneath it. I guess as well as needing access for lorries, they’re also demolishing an old road bridge and building a new one. Anyway, it made me drive an extra 5 miles around to get to where I wanted.
The first cache I tried was the one that was supposedly OK, however I couldn’t find it. I asked the CO, and sent photos of the site. It had changed a lot. The stile that used to be the hiding place for the cache was in pieces in some bushes and there was a new stell gate where it used to be. So no cache. CO was kind enough to allow me to replace it.
Swanbourne was my first stop for the 360° Challenge. It was a church micro. I parked up by the roadside and was observed by a guy who was fiddling with the blue sign outside the church. We had a brief chat and he was fairly familiar with what I was doing, so all good there. A quick find. Tick, move on.
The next one for the 360° Challenge was the bonus cache for Simply Paul’s Adventure Labs in the Claydons. Obviously (cough?) to find the bonus you need to do all of the Adventure Labs points first. That wasn’t a problem though. Several could be done without getting out of the car, and I still needed my target of 12 total, so 5 simple ones was good. I parked in Middle Claydon to do the two traditionals there too. It would be rude not to.
So at this point, 11 total finds and two out of four ticked off for the 360° Challenge.
So, on the previous weekend, it turned out that someone had deliberately set a n=bunch of new caches in Padbury because Candleford needed that degree of arc for her own 360. I didn’t need that, but who can resist 3 completely new caches? All were easy finds in good condition. Well, I’d hope so, because they’d only been out for 6 days.
Next up was Quainton. That’s a good 20-25 minutes from Padbury along the country roads. During that drive it started raining. Quite heavily. There was a single church micro that contributed to the 360. The other two caches in the village are over the boundary into the next degree of arc, so I felt no urge to do them in the middle of a downpour. I contented myself with parking at the church and doing just that one.
My final stop was in Wotton Underwood. It’s not even really a village, it’s just a couple of houses and a church. It’s close to a big country estate though. Anyway, available here was a church micro and another puzzle. I’d solved the CM but hadn’t fully solved the other puzzle. Finding one of the two would be OK though.
The CM was a straightforward find. And unless I’m very much mistaken, the church in question has just had its spire covered in new copper sheeting.
For the other puzzle I thought I’d pinned down the northings and when I plugged that in I could tell there were basic only two possible areas for the final. I won’t go into too much detail but I guessed which one and went for a look. Initial inspection wasn’t promising, but after a bit more wandering I returned and decided to sacrifice the cleanliness of my gloves, Once I went in for a proper look I was rewarded with the cache. It was seriously buried under a large amount of leaf mould, but otherwise fine.
So anyway, that sector now has two finds in it. I also added one in the sector immediately clockwise. There was another puzzle that I’d solved which I figured I’d walk to while I was here.
And that was it for the day. I could have attempted a few more things, but fundamentally I’d achieved my aim. 18 total finds and all 360 sectors filled in with at least 1 find. Result.
Anyway, it was Valentine’s Day, so there was some exchanging of cards and some spending of family time to be done.
The caches I found are shown on the map below.