I’d heard about the London Calling event earlier in the year but thought I wouldn’t be able to go, because we were scheduled to still be on holiday Ireland. But earlier in the year Kas’ triathlon event was canceled and we rebooked for a slightly shorter holiday in the Lake District. All of that meant that I would now be at home on August 28th, or at least, I wouldn’t be in Ireland. So I could go down to London.
I’d discussed going caching on Sunday 29th near Oxford with HellieMW but had concluded that caching 2 days in a row would be excessive. Anyway, she was going to London too and she invited me to walk the walk with her planned group. Her planned group consisted of Mrs Lydford Locator and ReggieCat as well as herself.
Mrs LL had planned a walking course to align with the new Adventure Labs that would be released. They actually were released on Friday morning, giving “ample” time to plan it all in. The sketch was to attempt a walk around all 40 of those, taking in most of the physical caches and other Adventure Labs that we’d pass on the way. You can surmise the route from the map at the bottom of this post. However, she’d planned that we walk around in backwards order so that we could complete an earthcache on the South Bank that requires low tide. The tide was due to come in during the early afternoon, so we’d have to walk the South Bank in the morning.
When I go to London by train I arrive at Euston, so to avoid a par two or three by tube I opted to go to Victoria and walk along Victoria Street. I also decided to go nice and early to “clear up” a few caches that weren’t on the plan.
So I arrived at Victoria just after 8 am. Really early. I’d had breakfast already, so I was good to go. There were a few Adventure Labs stages in the area as well as a solved wherigo, a couple of multis and a load of earthcaches. I’m not planning to recount all the caches at each section, as there were just too many, but when I met the others (at 10:15) I’d already done 18. I’d also visited Little Ben – I never knew that was there. Why would I? I don’t ever recall walking that way before.
The others arrived a little early too and had done all the Ad Labs around Westminster Abbey, so while we were waiting for the event to start they went for coffee and I cleared up Westminster Abbey. When the event started at 11 am I had 27 finds already.
The organisers had decided to apply a £5 entry fee for the event. They’ve had a few challenges in organizing fundraising events, which is fair enough. I know how much these things cost to do, so I don’t mind paying anyway. If you don’t pay, then future events become less likely. Anyway, in the grand scheme of a day out in London, with food and geocoin purchases as well as train tickets, £5 is a fart in the breeze.
They’d asked for everyone to do a lateral flow test beforehand, but on the door they didn’t check them. That’s a half-hour sneezing fit wasted!
Inside the event I was surprised to learn that they’d also released 10 more Adventure Labs inside the event venue. Bonus! We’d planned just to go in, turn our bikes round and then leave again. However, ReggieCat got in half an hour early with his supporter ticket, and had all but two of the answers by the time the rest of us arrived. We didn’t just leave though.
The room was full of people and many were friends none of us had seen for ages. So there was some mingling and networking involved. And some buying of coins. And someone in a Signal the Frog suit. Having your photo taken with Signal earned you a trackable.
Technically speaking, Westminster is a different city to the City of London, so the event should have been called “Westminster Calling”, but then it wouldn’t be named after a Clash album. Anyway, I digress.
Within the City of Westminster we had further Adventure Labs and multiple earthcaches to do around Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge. These included a brief walk up the Embankment to visit the Monument to the RAF.
Doing the Lambeth Walk
Over the Bridge from Parliament is the London Borough of Lambeth, which clips the South Bank just here. Our walk took us along past County Hall and the London Eye. At various points here there was some swearing and slow progress due to lack of phone signal. It’s irritating when that happens, because the Adventure Labs app requires you to be in the correct location and to have a phone signal. If you don’t, you can’t log them.
Anyway, enough of that. Once we got past the London Eye it got better. There were a couple of caches that required us to descend onto the “beach” by the Thames, which were fun. It was “minging” busy all the way down here. I’m not sure what I expected on the Saturday of an August Bank Holiday, and I’d forgotten how busy central London can be. There were lots of people.
At some point along the South Bank you cross from Lambeth into Southwark and Borough. We passed Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe, City Hall, Hay’s Galleria and HMS Belfast along this stretch. Tourist central. It was so busy that we had to stop for “gin o’clock” at one point. We’d been walking for quite some time anyway, so we’d earned one. Just before gin o’clock we’d had a chat with a security guard outside one of the buildings while we were attempting to find a cache that said “you might get wet” – he suggested that rather than being in the fountain, it might be another that required us to descend to river level at low tide. He’d spoken to someone before about the same thing. He was cool with geocaching, if somewhat perplexed. There was a set of steps nearby, but sadly now the tide was too far in to be worth a look. It comes in quickly around here.
Send them to the Tower!
Southwark becomes Tower Hamlets as you cross Tower Bridge. We were able to log all of the Adventure Labs series at the Tower of London by standing on Tower Bridge, which was fun. It saved an amount of walking. From here we headed east slightly into St Katharine Docks for another set of Adventure Labs. By this time it was getting on a bit (around 4 pm) and it was the warmest part of the day. It was busy down here too.
Next up, we headed into the City of London, around the Tower and the Monument and up to Leadenhall Market. I vaguely remember going to Leadenhall Market on a night out from work a few years ago, not that I knew it at the time, but I recognized the place as soon as we walked in. It’s nice….
This led us naturally to the Bank and along Cheapside to St Paul’s and then along a very long stretch of Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street and the Strand that have no caches at all. From Aldwych we headed slightly north-west in London’s busy West End.
A Busy Saturday Night
From Aldwych we walked up into Covent Garden, where there was another set of Adventure Labs. HellieMW decided it was gin o’clock again, so we grabbed some pre-mixed ones from a local supermarket. It was adequate (and very short-lived).
By the time we arrived here it was around 6pm and the place was getting very busy as the daytime tourists transitioned into night-time tourists. The main difference between the two is the amount of alcohol being consumed. Anyway, there were a lot of them. And in the confusion we forgot one Adventure Lab point and couldn’t be bothered to go back for it. Mrs LL and HellieMW decided they needed to pack up and get back to the tube station to meet ReggieCat, who’d ducked out earlier with a gammy knee. Fair enough. So once we’d finished the Ad Lab at Covent Garden and the associated bonus cache they headed off to the tube and left me on my own.
I wanted to finish all the adventure labs that they’d set for the event (as they were only hanging around for a couple of weeks). This meant I needed to walk through Chinatown, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and along Whitehall. In Chinatown, eveing dinner was well underway. There were a couple of caches here and some conspicuous-looking searching. Leicester Square was also very busy but at least the caches were quick.
Trafalgar Square was boxed off for some film event, but thankfully the owners of the adventure labs here had extended the zones and published the answers so it was still possible to do them. This just left me the walk along Whitehall past the Horse Guards Building, Downing Street and The Cenotaph.
By now it was 8 pm and I’d had enough. It was getting dark anyway. The walking track on my Garmin showed I’d walked 23km. Somehow on the walk back to Westminster Station I managed to delete the track, so I couldn’t upload the evidence. I was annoyed about that, but too tired to fret too much on the way home.
The tube back to Euston was quite quiet, and then I had the delight of sitting on a train full of drunk people all the way back to Milton Keynes. By “drunk”, I mean “argumentative”. Not with me, I kept schtum and was sitting with some other sober people. But the rest of the carriage was getting a bit fruity at a couple of points.
I made it back to Milton Keynes at 9:25 pm and Kas was waiting for me.
The Day of Reckoning
All told I’d found 101 adventure labs during the day. Mrs LL pointed out also that I could log another (at the Bank) because we now had an answer and so long as you’ve actually opened the answer dialogue at some point you can answer when you get home.
Many of the other caches we’d done were virtuals or earthcaches, and hence they required some form of evidence to be provided. Thankfully, Mrs LL had sorted all of this out and collated all the answers, so she submitted on behalf of us all. In the final count there were a further 70 caches of various types that could be logged, making 172 for the day. That beat my previous personal best by 21. I doubt I’ll beat it again anytime soon.