The Sketch

Every post has to have a sketch. In this case, because it’s a post about a piece of geoart, the sketch is of a dog. A dog made-up of smiley faces on my geocaching map. That’s more or less all the sketch you need to know about the Geohound series at Grafham Water.

It was a Saturday afternoon and there weren’t any games in the Euro 2020 that I particularly wanted to watch. And anyway, I hadn’t been caching for more than a month. And Kas was taking the kids up the shops for some retail therapy after the latest period of lockdown.

Driving there was fairly uneventful, which is good. I went to the massive car park on the south-east corner of the lake. It’s actually a reservoir not a lake. It’s supposedly 16km round, and is the third largest in the UK by surface area. Not by volume though, because there’s not many hills near here, so it’s really shallow.

Around the Car Park

I chose this car park because on the caching map there seemed to be a big confusion – no obvious route through. This turned out to be because the area is a huge open field with a few trees. Multiple routes are available between locations and there’s no obvious flow to the footpaths. Anyway, it meant I’d found 10 caches before venturing more than half a mile from my car. I also found this coo.

Where do we go from here?

Is it down to the lake, I fear? Here we go…..

I was walking in an anti-clockwise direction around the geohound loop, which meant I was going in the opposite direction to the geocache numbers. And I’d started in the middle. I don’t like being conventional.

Anyway, it was a flat path and pretty easy to follow. The biggest two problems were that the weather was all sticky and clammy, and that the recent rain meant the undergrowth was neck-high in some places. This can make for some challenging cache finds. I was going quite slowly, but at least the path was a nice, wide, clear pathway suitable for cycling.

Round the Back

At the back of the lake (the west end, the other end from the dam) the path starts to run through farmland and leaves the lakeside a little. I speeded up a bit around here even though the underfoot conditions were worse. Speeded up, that is, until I hit four or five in a row that were “small tube hanging in hedge”. In the middle of summer you basically don’t have a prayer with these unless you get lucky or you’re very persistent. I was neither, so I have left four solved puzzles in the middle of nowhere. I know I’ll never go back just to do those four.

The Village

Around here, the circular bikeable path runs into Perry, and there were a few “off series” caches in this bit. It felt a bit slow and fiddly, with some backwards-and-forwards. I found everything in the village though, so I was reasonably happy with that.

After the village the path went back into the trees and away from the roadside to complete the loop.

Dam You, Geohound!

Most of the eastern end of Grafham Water is the large earth-and-concrete dam that holds the water in. At this point on the walk you have to trust in engineering. The route goes onto a footpath below the top of the dam rather than over the top of the dam. So you have a big earth wall on one side of you. And, bizarrely, you have a big solar farm on the other side.

By this stage my feet were starting to hurt a bit, and I also noticed I’d switched off my GPS’s tracking at some point and hadn’t switched it back on. That means no complete track to upload to Strava. If it’s not on Strava, did it even really happen?

One of the last two caches looked like it was on the path but it turned out to involve a hike along the top of the dam to get onto the watery side, and then a walk back. That took a while and my feet weren’t happy.

When I got back to the car park my car was where I’d left it, which is good. I hadn’t got the energy to attempt any more caches so I just set off home from here. It was about 3:30 by this time.

I’d found 72 caches over the course of the day, which I thought was enough anyway.

At home there was the rest of the family, food, beer and football, in roughly that order.