The Sketch

A chance random event saw a friend discussing with his sister the fact that there are lots of geocaches near Milton Keynes. She kind of knew this anyway, but that lead to an excuse for visiting. However, said friend (and brother) isn’t a geocacher, so he referred the discussion to me. So, do I want to go caching somewhere local with a good friend’s sister? Er, yes, of course. And where could we go? Well, there’s a series of moderate length at Rushmere Country Park, down near Leighton Buzzard, that I haven’t done. “That’ll do”, as they apparently say in Yorkshire.

The friend’s sister, and newfound caching companion, was HellieMW. She doesn’t geocache alone though. She always brings along Desmond the Dog. He’s apparently a very excitable soul, prone to going a bit wild whenever he meets someone new.

Setting Off

HellieMW and Desmond arrived at my house quite early in the morning ready for us to set off for our walk. We agreed to go in my car (as I knew the way), which meant we expected Des would be a bit manic in the back, but it can’t have been that bad because he was basically silent the whole time.

We parked alongside the Grand Union Canal at the Three Locks pub and dismounted whilst finding the first step of the first cache of the series.

Up to Rushmere

Our first stretch of walking took us along a road and then into fields running south-east towards Rushmere Country Park. It was fairly easy going until we found a field full of cows. This isn’t always an issue, but in this instance there were a few problems:

  • There were calves in the field – cows are more protective when they have calves.
  • There seemed to be a bull in the field too – sod that for a game of soldiers.
  • Whilst it wasn’t a big field, we couldn’t see the stile on the other side.
  • Des was with us. Dogs make cattle twitchy.

So we decided we ought to bypass that stretch and loop around a nearby road, and then back in from the other direction. As we were walking up a random farm track to the road we were challenged by someone, but once we explained he was fine with it. I think he was camping rather than the farmer, so not really his business anyway.

Once we officially crossed the road we had one more field to cross before reaching the country park. It didn’t have cows in it, just a load of tall plants.

Rushmere is somewhere I really only know because we’ve been there a few times for Rushmere parkrun. What I remember from parkrun is a course that’s mainly uphill. It’s in woods and is a part of the Greensand Ridge, so underfoot is mainly sandy apart from the bottoms of valleys.

Our walking path bought us into the park about halfway along the parkrun back straight. There’s a bunch of other caches in the park that were off the main series. We had loads of time so we tracked around the north part of the park, more or less backwards around parkrun, grabbing those.

Down the Hill we go

After passing the cafe in the Country Park we followed the path down the hill towards the Leighton Buzzard road. This is a bit of the park I’d never been to before. You don’t normally go there during parkrun. It was easy to navigate downhill from cache to cache and we soon found ourselves walking along the road, having picked up another clue for the letterbox cache that began at the very start.

The walk along the road here is actually a footpath that skirts the fields. At one point HellieMW snapped the landscape shown here.

As we rejoined the road we picked up another clue for the letterbox cache. Or so we thought.

Back along the canal

When we reached the canal we collected the final clue for the letterbox cache and sat down to work out the final location. We took the opportunity to snaffle some lunch too. Whilst we were calculating, we realised we were supposed to have gathered much more information from the previous location. We were missing two numbers. I sort of knew (or guessed) where the final cache would be. This was based purely on the hint, which implied it was the same physical container on the canalside that I’d done before. However, I couldn’t remember exactly where that was and our candidate numbers were giving a range of about 200m of canal that the cache could be at. That’s too much for guessing.

So once we finished lunch, I legged it back to the previous point while HellieMW and Des the Dog went slightly south to find a Church Micro cache that was just off the loop. 10 minutes lost, but it probably saved considerably more than that in the long run.

The final was exactly where I thought, except I’d forgotten the precise situation. It was definitely the same box, secured in the same manner, as the previous complex multi I’d done down here.

Once we got back to the car, there was a traditional cache out of the back end of the car park that I’d done but HellieMW hadn’t. So off we went. It was a right old bushwhack to get in. And it probably drew a few looks when we came out again.

Leighton Buzzard

There was an Adventure Lab series in Leighton Buzzard that neither of us had done, so we drove in and parked in the car park of a well-known supermarket. While we were walking up to that, we grabbed a challenge cache that Hellie hadn’t done. The previous two searchers hadn’t found it, but I kind of knew where it was.

The Adventure Lab required us to visit five spots of (minor) historical interest in the town, including an old well and the library. It had a bonus cache to follow which proved to be in a convenient location for us.

While we were out and about I showed Hellie where the final of the central Church Micro is, and we ventured to a puzzle which was easy to solve but quite hard to find. I’d have given up but Hellie persisted a while longer and was rewarded with the find.

The bonus for the Ad Labs was in a location that helped Hellie find another (that I’d already done).

On the way home we stopped roadside for Hellie to do another puzzle that I’d found a few years back. The drive home was peaceful. I think Des the Dog must have had enough.

Well, that was a decent day out!

Thirty-something caches found and a new buddy (or two) to go caching with. We should do that again.