The Sketch

For much of the summer I’d been gawping at the area around Downham Market in Norfolk as the villages round there are packed with caches. This is partly as a result of a well-known and very prolific cache setter moving up there (but there were quite a few anyway).

A closer inspection identified several series that could be done on a bike. Said prolific cache setter also has a leaning towards the bicycle.

So a plan was hatched.

On yer Bike

The first job, as ever, was to jump in the car. The target location is over 100 minutes from home by car. Allowing time to stop for fuel and coffee on the way out, that meant a two-hour journey. It would have to be spent alone because I was obviously taking a bike too. That requires dropping all the back seats. And whilst my road bike fits in the car with all the wheels on, the recreational one doesn’t. It’s bigger, heavier and has much wider handlebars. So the front wheel has to come off so that it fits through the tailgate. I could probably get a roof rack, but then I could probably get a telescopic step-ladder and a kayak too. I haven’t got them because it feels like a big expense for something I would use infrequently.

Back at the plot, we met up in Wereham because it was within range for most of the circuits and it has a generous amount of “proper” parking between the village pond and the church. That meant I was happy to leave my car there for most of the day.

Circuit #1 – Wereham and Barton Bendish

There wasn’t really too much of a plan, but the start was to head north-east along the Wereham Whilygig series until it meets the Barton Bendish Bolero series near Boughton. Progress was quick. It was a little cool and windy at the start but that made for a pleasant ride. The caching went quickly.

The route took us anti-clockwise around the circuit. At Boughton there was nearly, but not quite, a full house of village cache types. There was one each from the War Memorial, Church Micro and Village Sign series, but no Village Hall. Someone should attend to that. The reason may, of course, be that Boughton doesn’t have a Village Hall.

Back at the plot, after Boughton the route goes north into Barton Bendish. This bit of the route was over farm tracks rather than road, but because it was dry these were perfectly good for riding. A little bumpy, but perfectly good.

Barton Bendish has the same collection of village cache types, except there are two Church Micros.

At some point on the way south from Barton Bendish back to the cars we stopped in a field entrance for a sandwich and a drink. Surely it can’t be lunchtime already?

It was indeed lunchtime. It had been quick going though. When we finished this loop we’d done over 60 finds already.

Circuit #2 – Crimplesham and Wimbotsham

We made the decision to cycle back to the north of Wereham and head for another big circuit around the villages of Crimplesham and Wimbotsham. That circuit promised another 50 or so. There were two sets of Ad Labs as well as forty regular caches. We were still on the bikes so we assumed it would take us just another 3 hours or so to get around.

Halfway round, at the north end of Wimbotsham, it felt like time for another break. Given that one of the Ad Lab stages was on the outside of a pub, it felt like a good place to stop for a couple of lemonades and some peanuts. There was a wedding reception in half of the building but they didn’t seem to mind a couple of scruffily dressed oiks on bikes camped out the front for half an hour. To be honest, it was a much needed rest, especially as I’d been out of drinks for a while.

Wimbotsham is also one wave short of a shipwreck, as it were. It has a Church Micro, a Village Hall and a Village Sign, but no War Memorial.

This circuit was all on paved surfaces, so we kept going really quickly. Towards the end my legs were starting to cramp a bit. It was quite hot, after all. So when we finished this circuit I was reluctant to go further on the bike. It was still quite early in the afternoon though, so I was up for another circuit in the car.

Circuit #3 – Fincham

The Fincham Flamme Rouge is shortish series of 26 caches set in a loop around roads that are narrow but paved. It would have been fine on the bikes, but it was also OK in Candleford’s “go anywhere” vehicle.

We got around the circuit in around an hour and got back to Fincham village. Here we encountered our first village with the “Full Monty” – a War Memorial, a Village Sign, a Village Hall and a Church Micro. All were easy finds and easily accessible from the car.

And that was about it for the day. By the time got back to my car it was definitely late afternoon. The car was where I’d left it, which is good.

Enough is Enough

Except it wasn’t quite enough. It never is. On the way out I stopped off in Fordham for a quick easy Church Micro and a Really Sidetracked.

I hadn’t really been keeping count but knew we’d done loads. When I counted them all up at home during the evening, the final tally was 160 finds, including the 10 labs. It hadn’t felt like a tiring day for that many. We hadn’t really started very early and we’d packed up fairly early too, so 160 finds was a Brucie Bonus.