2022 Caching Diary

2022 Caching Diary

Objectives

Time to begin work on this year’s running commentary – my 2022 Caching Diary.

2021 was a somewhat improved year compared to 2020, what with there being no pandemic lockdowns for most of the year and with me having the time and energy to meet up with friends and go out caching. 2022 looks like it ought to be even better.

My plan for 2022 is mainly to suck it and see. I mean, planning is tricky while this whole pandemic thing is still around. You don’t know quite what’s going to happen or when. Anyway, I plan to find loads of caches. Over the winter I’m planning to stay on roads and paths. I’m done with being knee-deep in clart. The “agricultural” series can all wait until spring and summer. There’s several hundred available within an hour’s drive that are designed for bikes, and hence won’t involve muddy fields.

I’m also planning to keep this post up to date and to move its date of authoring forward as the year progresses. I’ve been doing some work on presentation of my own find statistics, and as a result I’m now in a much better position to make amendments to this post quickly.

January (160 finds)

  • 1st January – Pesh’s traditional “Pastries at the Pagoda” event – This year a “Community Celebration” – 1 find
  • 2nd January – Ticking off a day from the Shift Fifty Challenge in Yaxley (see Yaxley Peloton) – 61 finds
  • 9th January – A quick trip up to Blisworth for a set of Ad Labs and a few traditionals – 15 finds
  • 13th January – An evening event in Milton Keynes – 1 find
  • 16th January – A bit of a day out in Hertfordshire (see The First Gromit) – 82 finds

February (nn finds)

  • To come

March (No finds)

  • To come

April (nn finds)

  • To come

May (nn finds)

  • To come

June (nn finds)

  • To come

July (nn finds)

  • To come

August (nn finds)

  • To come

September (nn finds)

  • To come

October (nn finds)

  • To come

November (nn finds)

  • To come

December (nn finds)

  • To come

Summary

So there we have it, my 2022 Caching Diary. OK, for most of the year it’s a bit spartan.


Geocache Finds 2022-01-16

Geocache Finds 2022-01-16

Geocache Finds 2022-01-16

The First Gromit

The Sketch

At some point in the last couple of years, ryo62 cleared out a previous series of caches near Barkway (see Barkway and Reed) and replaced them with a set of puzzles based loosely on the theme of a certain plasticine animated dog and his rather peculiar master. I was looking for a good day out, and having started poshrule’s peloton (see Yaxley Peloton) a couple of weeks back, it seemed time to start this one too. So here we are. The First Gromit. My first trip to attempt the 113 cache puzzle series. I expected it would take at least two trips, maybe three, depending on how many “extras” I add to the walks. But this is the first assault.

So why here? Why not return to the peloton? Two weeks ago I walked a triangle in Yaxley but left myself an “empty” stretch of 3km or so because of the shape of the series. I didn’t fancy walking that part. And the other bits of the peloton looked better suited to the summer (or spring at least) by virtue of being right out in the countryside.

I know the peloton is able to be done by bike, but I have an issue with bikes. I have a road bike, but that’s not suitable for caching. A while back I also have a folding mountain bike. But like an eejit I bought it online without checking enough details. It’s supposed to be OK for someone up to 6 feet tall (which I’m not) but I find that the handlebars are way too low and the seat doesn’t quite go high enough. Sometimes I’m rather impulsive. So anyway, I’m going to sell that bike and maybe buy a more suitable one that fits me properly. But for now, no bike that’s suitable for caching on. I need to get one though, because as well as the peloton, there’s a series of 500 or so on the Essex-Herts border.

The Essex-Herts border is quite close to the villages of Barkway and Barley. Which brings me rather untidily back to “No Cheese, Gromit!”, ‘cos it’s there, innit! So that’ll do then.

And I failed to mention the second reason for going there. It’s a series by ryo62. Not always the most challenging of caches, because Ross is more of a numbers man, but that kind of caching hits the spot when you want to find at least 49 on a day in mid-January. Ross’s series generally have relatively easy caches, packed in quite close. All have good coordinates and are hidden to be found. So my experiences of ryo62 caches are generally good ones. In this case, it’s a relatively new series too, so low likelihood of poor condition or missing caches.

Getting There

I set off in darkness because it’s about an hour from home and I wanted to allow as much daylight as possible. And I made my now customary stop at the BP garage to top up with diesel and acquire coffee, breakfast, and some sustenance for the day. So far, so good.

Last time I was here I parked on the high street in Barkway, which I wasn’t especially happy with ‘cos it’s not very wide. Other people park there, but they are probably residents. I’m not. Anyway, this time I noticed there’s a Village Hall and recreation ground to the north end. And it has a car park with hard standing and no gates. Ideal then. I am happy to park somewhere like that, because I’m in nobody’s way and it’s the kind of place where nobody bats an eyelid if there’s a car parked there all day. The best place for a non-local to go.

The parking was conveniently close to the first cache too – a Village Hall puzzle, funnily enough. It was about 20 yards from where I parked.

Legging It

The first stretch of walking took me north out of Barkway for a mile or so before joining a byway/bridleway. You know – one of those tracks covered in gravel that is frequented by horse riders and people on trials bikes. And geocachers. There was a quick turn west here to grab some of ryo62’s “Congratulations” caches. And then back east along to the village of Barley. So far, the going had been good. When I reached Barley I’d found 18 caches in about 75 minutes.

Barley is a pretty village which has an old Tudor Town House, which was the subject of another Village Hall cache. I couldn’t pre-solve this one using Google Street View because the information wasn’t clear enough, so I had to visit. The end point of the calculation was not far off my walking route, which is good.

The No Cheese, Gromit! circuit goes a bit free-form here and there are a number of other caches, so I ended up walking the width of the village three times on different pathways to snaffle them all.

Around this time I hit my “problem” for the day. I bought new boots a while back and was trying some gel insoles to try to reduce aches on long walks. Problem is that these insoles lifted my heel up just enough that they moved inside the boot. So blisters on the way. Those insoles need to be removed, or I need a better arrangement of socks. Anyway, the temporary fix for the day involved toilet roll. I carry some in my bag, and it was ideal for sticking around my heel to stop the rubbing getting any worse. It worked well enough, although I had to keep changing the toilet roll every few miles because it’s not very resilient stuff when it’s sweaty and encountering a lot of friction.

There was a point at which I considered giving up and just taking the shortest route back to the car. That was the point I was stuffing bog-roll down my socks. It was also the place I took this panorama photo though. Anyway, I unwisely opted to “man up a bit” and keep going. I’d regret that later.

Heading South

From Barley I picked a loop heading south which was on the east side of Barkway village. The southbound leg was down a road and the northbound across fields. All nice and fast. It would have been faster if my feet weren’t hurting. But I found every single cache I looked for apart from one. That plainly was missing so I replaced it with one from my bag, as I tend to with Ross’s caches. They’re meant to be quick finds, so if I don’t find something matching the hint then I assume it isn’t there.

Coming back north to Barley proved to be rather painful, and when I got back to the road I’d had enough. However there were still 11 caches and 3km of walking to be done to get back to the car. Some of those really hurt, but I got there eventually. I don’t think I can completely blame the boots though. They do their best, but I’m carrying far too much weight, and by this time I’d walked a nearly half-marathon distance anyway.

Is That Enough?

When I got back to the car I’d walked 20.2km and found 76 caches. That more than met the 49 minimum. In fact it also made me my best ever January and took me past 14,200 finds total. It still wasn’t enough though. There’s a bunch more “Congratulations” caches on the road home, so I stopped for those and pushed the total for the day up to 82 finds. Here they are in glorious map-o-vision.


2022 Caching Diary

Geocache Finds 2022-01-02

2022 Caching Diary

Yaxley Peloton

The Sketch

Time to get 2022’s caching efforts up and running. Well, aside from the previous day’s event anyway. I spent ages planning a trip down “That London” but eventually decided against. There was a possibility of train strikes and I couldn’t bring myself to drive an hour just to get on a train for another hour. So I decided not to bother with that. Anyway, I have literally thousands of caches I can do within a one-hour drive. In particular, there are hundreds that are designed for biking. That also means they are ideal for walking without getting knee-deep in sludge. That’s my New Year’s caching resolution. No muddy fields until it’s dried out a bit. So for this day I decided to go to Yaxley and begin poshrule’s peloton.

The peloton is a fairly large series of caches (over 300) which are simple puzzles based around professional cycling. The icons draw pictures of cyclists. Cool. Anyway I’ve had them solved for ages and I know they are all accessible by bike.

But Before That

There’s always a “before that” and today was no exception. The pre-walk jaunt today was to complete a set of Adventure Labs in Yaxley itself. They are quite spread out and, if I walked them, it would add about 3km onto the walk. However, the points were all accessible by car so I decided to drive. It was early on a Sunday morning, so why not. You can tell from the first photo here that it was still before 9 am when I parked.

Anyway, the first three parts of the Ad Labs could be done as drive-bys and the fourth was at the church, where I’d decided to park. Job done. 4 finds up before even walking away from the car.

On to the Main Business

The main business for today was to get above 50 total finds for the day of January 2nd. When I started that required 32 finds. So when I left the car I needed a further 28.

The walking route for the Yaxley part of the peloton is a triangle to the west of Yaxley that I’ve walked at least three times before (see Yaxley to Conington, Yakkety Yaxley and Tour de Haddon). I therefore more or less knew what to expect and knew it would be a quick and easy way to get the required number of finds. There were 44 caches on the triangular walk (plus 5 labs), so more than plenty.

I set off walking at just before 9 am and I got back to the car at 12:15, having found the 44. No particular hazards or issues apart from the regular batches of cyclists passing. I even had time for a short chat with another cacher who was sitting at the PoW Memorial at Norman Cross trying to solve the multi there. I could tell they were cachers. Normal people don’t usually examine memorials in so much detail. Anyway, nice to meet you.

What Now Then?

I sat in the car for a while contemplating what to do next. It was a bit early for going home but I didn’t think I had enough time for another full loop from the peloton. However, there are a few “stragglers” down the old A1, plus a nice-looking group of six in the village of Holme. So I went for those. I missed a load down the old A1, either because I didn’t like the parking or because I just couldn’t find the cache. I guess there’s other days. Holme was a pleasant little walk around a nice-looking village. I was able to park at the front of the primary school (it’s Sunday, so nobody around).

So, below are the results of my trip to Yaxley to start the peloton. I made a total of 61 finds, including 47 from the peloton series. That’s a decent start for a winter’s day.


2021 Caching Diary

2021 Caching Diary

Objectives

Time for the traditional “last act” of my caching year – the writing of the 2021 Caching Diary.

After such an awful year in 2020, where we all had to occupy ourselves with stuff we could do from home, I was looking forward to a somewhat more productive caching year in 2021. I still didn’t really plan anything, because it was still pretty unclear how the pandemic was going to progress. So I vowed to do my bit whilst not getting stressed if the world stayed in lockdown.

I enjoyed the caches that I found and the days out that I had. There were a few cracking days spent in the company of people I’d not cached with before, and this definitely helped to re-ignite the spark.

January (72 finds)

  • 1st January – a pootle along the “Brooklands Ridge” series – 12 finds
  • 3rd January – the European part of the Flags of All Nations (see Mudfest) – 60 finds

February (5 finds)

  • 28th February – A set of Lab Caches in Bradwell – 5 finds

March (No finds)

  • Back to lockdowns and lack of enthusiasm

April (80 finds)

  • 9th April – A Lab on the Grand Union Canal and a handful of others – 13 finds
  • 10th April – More labs around Milton Keynes – 10 finds
  • 17th April – And three more bits of a spread-out Lab – 3 finds
  • 24th April – A big chunk of the remaining Flags of All Nations – 46 finds
  • 27th April – A pootle round Willen Lake for a new set of Labs – 8 finds

May (142 finds)

  • 3rd May – Attacking the “D’oh!” series with Pesh and Jack (see D’oh) – 78 finds
  • 9th May – Finishing “D’oh!”, also with Pesh and Jack – 64 finds

June (72 finds)

July (42 finds)

  • 3rd July – Visiting Leighton Buzzard with HellieMW (and Desmond the Dog) (see Rushmere) – 41 finds
  • 28th July – Blimey! An event. With actual, real, people. In a pub – 1 find

August (430 finds)

  • 6th August – A day in Lincoln for the UK Mega, caching with Pesh and Jack (see Lincolnshire Mega) – 81 finds
  • 7th August – Still in Lincoln, for the actual Mega event itself – 86 finds
  • 8th August – a few quickies near my brother’s flat before heading off to see the folks – 4 finds
  • 15th August – Arriving in the Lake District for our summer holiday (see Heading Up) – 1 find
  • 16th August – Continuing the holiday (see Grasmere) – 12 finds
  • 18th August – In Borrowdale and back to Grasmere (see Borrowdale)- 19 finds
  • 19th August – A day of frustration near Keswick (see Bassenthwaite) – 5 finds
  • 20th August – Climbing the heights at Honister Pass (see Honister) – 6 finds
  • 21st August – Walking up to [[Easedale Tarn (see Easedale) – 4 finds
  • 23rd August – Stretching my legs around Sunderland (see Sunderland) – 29 finds
  • 24th August – Most of a set of Labs to the west of Newcastle (see Derwenthaugh) – 5 finds
  • 25th August – A quick one while Ami walked around Newcastle University (see Newcastle University) – 1 find
  • 28th August – A fan-dabby-monster of a day at the London Calling mega event (see London Calling) – 172 finds
  • 31st August – Chasing down statistics and discovered that there were a few challenges I signed and was now eligible to find – 5 finds

September (156 finds)

  • 5th September – Picking up a bunch of Labs and others in Wolverton – 16 finds
  • 11th September – One to pass the time during a day at Sheffield University Open Day – 1 find
  • 12th September – Starting the Pokémon series in Warkwickshire (see Burton Dassett) – 59 finds
  • 26st September – More of them Pokémon (see Bishop’s Itchington) – 80 finds

October (73 finds)

  • 9th October – Filling time during Newcastle University Open Day – 9 finds
  • 15th October – An evening event at the site of an earthcache I should have done ages ago – 2 finds
  • 16th October – 2021 MK Mini Geocoin Fair (I was exhibiting my coins) – 1 find
  • 17th October – A morning event followed by a local Lab series – 9 finds
  • 23rd October – A wander around MK removing some of my own caches and finding a few others – 7 finds
  • 31st October – Finishing the Pokémon (see Pokémon) – 45 finds

November (73 finds)

  • 6th November – An event in Shenley Wood – 2 finds
  • 7th November – An event at the Cathedral of Trees – 1 find
  • 13th November – Running around MK before the GIFF event – 9 finds
  • 20th November – Wandering around Brogborough in the company of Candleford – 55 finds
  • 21st November – A new Superman-themed Labs in MK – 6 finds

December (79 finds)

  • 4th December – A lads weekend away in the Yorkshire Dales, including Malham Cove and Kirkby Stephen – 8 finds
  • 5th December – The same lads weekend away, walking to Cautley Spout – 2 finds
  • 9th December – A local caching event in the evening – 1 find
  • 12th December – Wandering around the Ashridge Estate for an event – 10 finds
  • 19th December – One on the beach in South Shields – 1 find
  • 20th December – Filling time in South Shields and Newcastle while the ladies of the house went Christmas shopping (see South Shields and Newcastle) – 39 finds
  • 21st December – Finishing a Lab that I started in August – 1 find
  • 27th December – Walking round a very soggy Bedford ( see Bedford) – 17 finds

Summary

So there we have it, the end of my 2021 Caching Diary. 1,223 finds in total. I’m kind of happy with that, as it was a year of getting back into it in a variety of ways.


Geocache Finds 2021-12-27

Geocache Finds 2021-12-27

Geocache Finds 2021-12-27

Bedford

Open the photo gallery >>

The Sketch

I had a bit of time available after Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I also had the urge to get out of the house for some fresh air. I’d been inside for more or less the whole time since we left Newcastle a week ago. Anyway, back at the plot, I decided the centre of Bedford looked good for a bit of caching.

On the radar I had a couple of Adventure Labs series right in the town centre. Doing these would take me past a bunch of physical caches too.

Wet, Innit?

The drive over was easy and I’d planned already where I wanted to park. There’s a lot of parks where the River Great Ouse flows through the middle of town, and there’s a free car park. The car park is right next to one of the target caches, so it seemed like the best place to park.

Off we go Then

As often is the cases, I was running more than one set of labs at a time. This time I hadn’t had time to create the little QR code cards I usually do. It had been a late decision the previous night to go out. Late enough that it was already bedtime. So I’d have to do it by switching in the app, but because it was only two sets then it wasn’t a massive problem. Not like the trip to the London Calling event London Calling event, where I was trying to run about 15 sets of labs at once.

One set was about John Bunyan and the other was about the various bridges over the river. The first point was a bridge.

As soon as I got out of the car park it became obvious how much rain we’d had in the last two days. The river here in Bedford is about three times the size that it is in Milton Keynes, but nevertheless. The water was uniformly brown and fast-flowing. And it was pretty much over the concrete edges on the banks.

The second point was a John Bunyan one, and it involved crossing a bridge that had a weir just upstream. You can see that the water flow over the weir is pretty heavy. There was also a physical cache here which was a pretty easy find in a tree.

The Big Bridge

Next up was another “Bridge” lab on the largest of the bridges. It’s a big old medieval stone one, and the water was struggling to fit under its arches.

From here I went south to grab a Church Micro, which was easy, before crossing the bridge into the town centre.

Just over the bridge was a little nano stuck to some iron railings, which took me a couple of minutes to locate. There was a lot of metal around, so lots of potential sites for the hide.

The Town Centre

The rest of the John Bunyan series have to be followed in order through Bedford town centre. They were all easy enough except for having to read the question. Sometimes numeric answers had to be typed as digits and sometimes as words.

On the way round, there were a couple more traditional caches which, as is the story so far, were easy.

Back to the River

The John Bunyan series had a bonus physical cache which was down on the riverside. I still had 3 more of the bridges labs to do too. The bridges were all easy but one of them had a physical cache which held me up somewhat. The hint was clear, but I couldn’t see it. So I phoned a friend, but she was struggling to remember. So she called another friend. Her instructions were good but I couldn’t see anything, so I called her directly to discuss. From what I can make out, the cache should have been easy, but was most likely to be just out of reach, over the river.

Hmmmm! So I. Gave up. Time was marching on and I’d had enough. It did stop raining for a while but it wasn’t great weather. So I decided to finish the bridges labs and go home.

Well, 17 finds in a couple of hours isn’t too bad, and it was enough for this day.