The Sketch

I hadn’t been out caching for a while, or at least, I hadn’t been out all day for a while. It felt like time for another go, and I still had a load of the Pokémon series to do. I’d made two previous visits and completed three of the four loops (see Burton Dassett and Bishop’s Itchington) back in September. So it was about time I finished it off.

In my mind I was going to do the remaining loop of these and also a loop at Ladbroke to make about 70 total, but a few factors acted to prevent that. That total plan was 13km for the main series and another 8km for the “extra” series.

Setting Off

I got up sensibly early. After all, it was clock-change day so I got an extra hour in bed. When I got up though, it was raining rather hard. The weather forecast was for this to last until lunchtime, so I decided not to hurry. I had a good breakfast and got out of the house at around 8:30.

I normally stop for fuel (both for the car and myself) on the way out. Today, it took ages. I paid for my fuel but then the attendant got in a right mess with the till. There was a long discussion about whether I paid for my fuel, or paid for the woman who was in front of me. I’d paid for my own. But he’d not added the drinks and snacks. And then it took ages to make my coffee too. All-in-all it took 20 minutes to fill the car and buy a coffee.

As I was driving out it was still raining, and along the M40 there was so much spray you could barely see. I’d decided to go and park in Bishop’s Itchington to start today’s Pokémon loop. However, when I got to the start point I couldn’t park there, plus it was still raining really heavily. I didn’t fancy starting my walk in a downpour.

Killing Time

So what to do? Well, there was a puzzle and a wherigo over in Gaydon so I thought I’d go there to kill half an hour. If the rain kept going I could just go home again. If it stopped, I could shorten my walk, but still finish the non-existent animals.

The puzzle was easy (a Church Micro) and it sent me on a 250m walk to get the final. There was a traditional on the way past. While I was signing the Church Micro puzzle the rain stopped. As I walked back to my car I could see some clear weather coming. By the time I got to the final of the wherigo the sun was shining brightly. So I thought it would be OK to go and have a pop at the Pokémon. Why not?

Pokémon On!

I decided to return to Bishop’s Itchington but park on a quiet dead-end street I’d noticed last time. It was a long walk to the caches, but it looked safe and out-of-the-way, and hence better than the recommended parking.

The first cache I tried was actually a traditional, and not part of the series. I didn’t spot it, and gave up after a few minutes.

The series itself was quite hard going, like much of the rest of it. The caches are quite spread out. And they’re mainly quite small. Smaller than they need to be, anyway. They’re in the middle of nowhere. Large boxes should be easy to fit in.

But away from my moaning, it was quite hard going. Everywhere seemed to be both uphill and upwind. And the wind was really strong. And, to be honest, the hills were really up. In my first hour after leaving the car I only managed to get through 8 caches. That rate wasn’t going to get me round the add-on loop.

Keeping Going

Everywhere was wet. Did I mention it was wet? I know I mentioned the wind. Anyway, there’d been so much rain it was still running away. There were puddles everywhere despite the sunny skies. Except it also wasn’t sunny all the time. I got drenched at least twice on the walk and was making me a bit disheartened. Why do I do this? Oh yes, I do it for the great scenery and the fresh air. And the exercise. Today’s exercise felt more like swimming than walking.

After 25 or so finds I made it into Ladbroke. There was a church micro there that was a simple offset, but I took the opportunity to have a short break. Again when I got here the church was bathed in bright sunshine.

Finishing Up

From here I was heading back towards the car. It was still tough going though, despite the promise of finishing. The caches still seemed to be spread out way more than they needed to be.

On the way back into the village I was faced by a bit of a puddle beneath a railway bridge. A couple of cars just “went for it”, which I think was a bit risky. You couldn’t tell how deep it was. I decided the best plan was to walk on the centreline of the road, because roads have a convex shape and are higher in the middle, so the water would be lowest there. It was still over the soles of my boots though. I turned round and took a photo looking back when I got through. I like the way the light is illuminating the whole tunnel.

Heading Home

And that was the end of the Pokémon. Today I found 40 of them. Numbers 1 to 40, as it happens. I thought the walk would be about 13km but when I got to the car I’d actually done 15km. This was partly because I’d parked a bit far away from the start. The rest was, I guess, the usual geocachers-shuffle.

I thought I’d try some drive-bys in Ladbroke on the way home. I’d ducked them on the walk because I wasn’t sure about the time. I should have done them then. There was basically nowhere to leave my car in the village.

So I thought I’d try Claydon, where I’d solved a couple of puzzles. One was easy. The other was one where I thought there’d be a road, but driving down it I got to a point where I decided it was actually not a road. So I reversed up and left it. After failing with two planned stops for drive-bys I concluded it wasn’t going to be my day, so I just gave up and came home. Claydon Church was nice though.