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The Plot

For the first weekend of August I’d identified the possibility of going up to North Wales for the UK Mega event. It didn’t take a lot of identification. The event was on and I wanted to go. It was just really a question of who else was going to come with me. We set off on Thursday so we had the opportunity for a big day of caching beforehand. We chose to spend it near Whitchurch.

My brother was conveniently away on holiday and brought me the keys so I could use his flat just outside Wrexham, only 15 miles away from the event location in Llangollen.

As it was school holiday season and Kas needed to keep working for as long as possible to enable us to relax a bit whilst away in Chamonix in mid-August, the kids were given the opportunity to either stay at home in Milton Keynes and go to sports club at their school, or come with me to Wales and do some caching. The vote was a 50-50 split, with Ami deciding to come with me and Izzy deciding to stay at home. That worked well for me.

Driving Up

We drove up to Wales on Wednesday evening, with me already having booked a couple of days off. “Days off” was getting to be an interesting concept for me by this time, though, as I recently decided to leave my long term employment with HP Enterprise and join Fujitsu instead. Because of the nature of the work I do it’s unlikely I’ll be given any new projects to work on with HPE so the concept of a “work day” is a bit alien, not that I’m complaining.

Back at the plot, the drive up to Wales was a bit dull. We stopped at Norton Canes for tea and arrived in Wales around 8pm after having to make a series of diversions to accommodate roadworks on the A41 near Newport. Once we’d got into the flat we also then had to venture out to find food for breakfast, eventually (with guidance from locals) finding a Spar in Holt.

For a Few Caches More

For our caching on Thursday we decided to go over to Whitchurch to attempt a monster series there. The series in question gave the possibility of a hundred or more finds in a day, subject to available energy levels. We increased available energy levels first thing by grabbing breakfast at McDonald’s and then moved the car around to the village of Marbury, a couple of miles to the north-east of Whitchurch. This was conveniently in the middle of the massive caching series and allowed us to duck out of the “whole nine yards” at several points if we were starting to get bored or tired.

We headed west along the Shropshire Union Canal towards Wrenbury first and then returned back to Marbury along a road to the south. The caching was mainly fast and furious. There were a few puzzles that I’d solved beforehand and then (mainly) fairly easy trads spaced at 250m (ish) intervals.

When we got back to Marbury we had to collect some information from a lychgate at the church, which proved tricky because we arrived at exactly the same time as a bridal party. There were a bunch of bridesmaids hanging around at the bottom of the road up to the church as we arrived, and while we were establishing where to gather the information from, a big limo turned up containing a woman in a white dress. We decided it would be best at that point to step back a bit (so we don’t appear in all their wedding photos) and wait for the bride and her many maids to get themselves inside the church. We’d been wondering why the church bells were ringing for about the last mile of walking into the village. That’ll be it then!

Time for a Think, and a Drink

Onwards we moved in the general direction of Grindley Brook, the most northerly settlement in Shropshire according to Wikipedia. By the time we got there our legs were starting to ache a bit. We’d done about 75 caches (one short of Ami’s previous best for a day), and it was approaching 5 pm. We both needed a quick rest so we grabbed a seat in a pub and had a think about what we were going to do next. There were only two choices really. We could cache our way back, passing another 30 caches. That would give us the opportunity of breaking the 100 in a day. Or we could get a taxi.

Ami’s initial response was to get a taxi, and I would have been happy with that. She looked really tired and was on the point of tears when I asked her to decide. I quietly reassured her that I was happy with either decision. I just needed to make sure that if we set off walking again she could make it. Giving up halfway wasn’t an option. After a few minutes of thought, she eventually decided that the lure of 100 finds in a day was greater than the tiredness in her legs, so we decided to get walking.

I’m glad we did, because this stretch proved to be by far and away the fastest caching of the day. The 30 caches on this stretch took us about 90 minutes to walk. We found pretty much all of them. This just left us with a half-mile walk back to the car from the last cache. It was OK though – it was along a road and we still had plenty of daylight left.

Boxed In

When we got back to the car in Marbury we had a near disaster. We’d been boxed into our space outside the village hall (the only sensible-looking off-road parking in the village). Thankfully though, the car park was full because of an event in the hall. The owner of the car boxing me in was inside. And he wasn’t especially annoyed about having to move.

I couldn’t be bothered with cooking and it was getting a bit late for going out, given that we’d need to go home and get cleaned/changed first, so we plumped for having tea at the same McDonalds where we’d had breakfast about 12 hours previously. I don’t think they recognised us. Probably.

We tried to find a survey benchmark from the YOSM series on the way back up, but failed. Eventually we got back to the flat in Wrexham about 9pm, and proceeded to get showered and go straight to bed. “Knackered” isn’t even close to how we both felt.

The caches we found around Whitchurch on Thursday were: