The Sketch

Leap day is a day when geocachers traditionally lose the plot, as if they hadn’t already. They lose the plot more than usual. Leap day madness is a well-known phenomenon. And this time around, the madness could happen on a Saturday.

Why? Well, because the grid for counting “days on which I’ve been caching” includes February 29th. There’s the “365 Challenge” of doing one cache on every day not including leap day, and then there’s the “366 Challenge” of including leap day as well. As the chance only occurs every four years, people go out caching a lot. And they set themselves various ridiculous targets to get their statistics for February 29th looking as flush as possible.

My stats were already flush with finds on February 29th and they have a good spread of various types and locations. I wasn’t even really planning to go caching but then I saw on Facebook that someone was planning to see how many different events they could attend in one day. That sounded suitably insane, so I started having a look.

Various local cachers had (obviously without colluding at all) set up 11 different events between High Wycombe and Leicester that were all spread apart in time such that a grand tour was feasible. Just. It did look like a lot of driving for one day though, so I asked on FB if anyone was up for a car share. Simply Paul was. Just a matter of figuring out the logistics then.

There were events at midnight at both ends of the day. W attended those in our own cars. SP offered to pick me up and drive the morning stint. The trip from the fourth to fifth event of the day passed my house, so we changed cars and drivers there.

Last Night

We were not the only ones attempting the feat. We may have been the only ones to complete it though. Anyway, SP and me spent the day, essentially, meeting the same group of people in 11 different places.

The leap day madness began just after midnight in Brackley with 00:00-00:30 Leap day – let the madness commence. As it was in Brackley then technically I guess the day began at 11 pm the previous day, as I had to drive there. I arrived far too early and sat in the car park for a while until someone else showed up.

Early Morning

The proverbial morning shift had four events on the radar. We set off from my house at an unearthly hour because we had a bit of a drive to reach the first event.

Enjoy Sunrise On Leap Day was held on top of a hill overlooking Dunstable. The plan was to see the sunrise there – it was scheduled from 6:30 am to 7 am. We didn’t. The weather was foul and the event site was at the top of a big hill. So we were soaked by the time we spotted Pesh, the organiser. It was a matter of signing the logbook and leaving. Story of the day, to some extent, but here it was mainly the weather rather than the need to be elsewhere.

The next “elsewhere” was Leaping for an early morning coffee? in High Wycombe. Paul drove us around the M25 and M40 and I was surprised we arrived in time for the 8 am start. It was a simple affair in a branch of a well-known coffee shop. We had time to cram in some breakfast whilst using their heating to accelerate the process of drying out.

Next we needed to be in Banbury for Leap Day in Banbury at 9 am. We were a bit late, and this was the shortest of our stops. There were a few people at the famous cross, so we paid for 10 minutes parking and ran over to sign the log. Then we jumped straight back into the car to head towards Towcester for 09:45-10:15 R65: Leaping Labs. This was another one inside a coffee shop, and it allowed us a bit more time to get settled, talk to a few people and imbibe some more caffeine.

Lunchtime near Home

From here we drove back down the A5 towards my house and we did the car swap. I was happy that Paul took the morning stint. SP was carrying a sleeping passenger for most of it.

BBH#144 Bordering on a Ridiculous Day started at 10 am, which would have been tight from the Towcester event, but thankfully it lasted for 90 minutes. We turned up about halfway through. It was in the cafe of a local garden centre in Woburn Sands. They’d redecorated since I last visited, and it was very unfamiliar. We queued for food and then did a couple of laps of the restaurant trying to find the event.

Through the Afternoon

After the early lunch (or maybe late second breakfast) in Woburn Sands we began the longest stretch of driving of the day. The next event was Leaping into the next challenge, starting at midday in a pub in Markfield near Leicester. We arrived after the start and had trouble finding somewhere to sit, but we did manage to have some lunch. We had loads of time before the next meeting, so we took a walk into the centre of the village to grab a couple of “actual” caches. On reflection, it might have been better to take the car, but never mind.

Northants Natters goes Leapy was at a McDonalds outside Wellingborough at 15:30. The drive from Leicester took a lot less than I expected, so we were able to stay at this one from (nearly) start to finish. More liquids escaped and were topped up.

By this time the schedule was looking very easy, unlike in the morning. There was a gap of a whole hour to get from Wellingborough down to 17:00-17:45 Leap Day Celebration day. This was in the car park at Northampton Services. We arrived early enough for a snooze in the car park. There were a few tired looking faces at this one.

Next up was Have A Break From Leaping Around, which began at 6 pm in a pub in Central Milton Keynes. We had time to stop at Newport Pagnell Services to find a puzzle cache before heading to the event. It lasted 2 hours, so we weren’t in much of a hurry. A lot of the Milton Keynes regulars were there, funnily enough. Many of them were people I hadn’t seen since, ooh, mid-morning.

The Witching Hour

After the Milton Keynes event we had a couple of hours to spare, so I drove SP back to my house to get his car, and we parted ways. I grabbed a few zzzzzzzzzzs on the sofa before getting up again to head for the final one. Izzy wanted to come with me, which was good because she kept me awake in the car. 23:15-23:45 Leap Day – did you escape the madness? was a quiet affair in the middle of Buckingham. Only about 6 people turned up, and they were all people we’d been seeing all day.

The drive back was quick but seemed slow, mainly because I’d had enough. I was in bed by 1 am and slept through until quite late.

Still, mission accomplished. 11 events attended, 4 other caches found.