Geocache Finds 2021-10-31

Geocache Finds 2021-10-31

Geocache Finds 2021-10-31

Pokémon

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.


Geocache Finds 2021-09-26

Geocache Finds 2021-09-26

Geocache Finds 2021-09-26

Bishop’s Itchington

The Sketch

A couple of weeks ago I’d been up in Burton Dassett to start some work on the Pokémon series of puzzle caches. Fast-forward a couple of weeks and I fancied another hack at them. This time I was looking to begin in Bishop’s Itchington, a fairly large village on the northern edge of the series.

I ended up parking a little way south of there in a fairly large pull-off alongside a country road. Unlike last time.

Driving Up

I didn’t stop for any drive-bys on the way up. Today was just about me and some caches. Well, initially it was about me and some shouting. In the previous week some morons in the media had turned a minor shortage of fuel at a couple of stations into a major disaster, and hey presto people started panic buying.

I wasn’t completely empty of fuel but I could use some. I normally stop at a local station to fill up and buy snacks and drinks. Today I was disgusted to find a queue of 30-35 cars outside that station at 7:30am on a Sunday. I didn’t bother stopping at that one. There was another station in Buckingham that didn’t have any queues, but only because it didn’t have any fuel. So I diverted around to some motorway services on the M40 where they had some fuel, but had limited it to £30 per vehicle. That was more than enough for today’s purpose so I just took that much and bought some snacks to go with it. I didn’t mind the diversion because today I was planning to start very close to a junction on the M40 anyway.

Off we go

I pulled off the M40 and headed into Bishop’s Itchington and then headed south to find my chosen parking spot. When I arrived there was another car there, but it moved quickly after I parked, while I was still putting my boots on.

I started caching with a fairly easy section along the road down to Knightcote. From here the work got a bit harder as the route started taking me across ploughed fields. September is a bad time of year for that, I guess.

From Knightcote I headed south towards Northend across some fields. The caches here were quite close together but the underfoot conditions weren’t great. Northend is just north of where we’d finished two weeks previously on the Burton Dassett day. My walk skirted the base of the big hills there and the caches became increasingly spread out. There was one point either side of Fenny Compton where I had to walk more than a kilometre between successive caches, most of which was across ploughed fields. The enthusiasm was waning a bit on that stretch.

Don’t Shoot

From Fenny Compton the walk took me north in a big anti-clockwise loop back to Knightcote. All the way around here I could here shooting. I eventually found a load of cars parked in a field – I guess there was some form of game shooting event going on. I was concerned for a while that my route would go right through the middle of them, but thankfully it didn’t. My walk went right around the outside of them. Good. I don’t fancy being shot.

I was managing to find most of the caches fairly easily today, including all the “hanging in hedge” ones.

When I got back to Knightcote I sat on a bench by a cache for a few minutes to have a drink and a snack. It was proving to be slower going than I’d hoped.

The Northern Loop

From here there was a second loop which lead up to the M40 junction, across the top of a big area of wood, and then back through Bishop’s Itchington. The first stretch of this was along a paved road, so it was quick to walk. The caches were easy to find too, so I managed to improve my average rate a bit. Along this stretch I bumped into a father and son who were picking litter. They were intrigued by what I was doing. I don’t mind talking to people about it these days. I think they’d heard of it before but hadn’t ever tried it.

When I got to the “top corner” and started walking alongside the large wood, I started to get a bit irritated about the spacing. Some of the caches were spread out at 400m or 500m separation, despite it being easily being possible to place them at minimum separation of 161m. I guess the cache owner had decided he was doing 4 loops and hence spread the caches out accordingly. My experience on this day was that he could easily have fit another 20-30 caches around the walk I did. This would mean the fourth loop (the one I hadn’t done at the time) wouldn’t be needed at all. I’m not complaining too much, but I guess I’m used to working with caches that are much closer together.

I was starting to ache when I got to Bishop’s Itchington but thankfully I was nearly home by then. The last section was straight down the road and I was still finding the caches quite easily, but by the time I reached the car I’d walked 27km.

When I got back to the car it was late enough that I couldn’t be bothered with any more. I had found 80 caches though, so not a bad day really.


Geocache Finds 2021-09-12

Geocache Finds 2021-09-12

Geocache Finds 2021-09-12

Burton Dassett

The Sketch

Earlier in the year, a new series of geocaches was released up in Warwickshire consisting of 151 puzzles. They form a geo-art that looks vaguely like a Pokémon of some kind. Probably a Pikachu, because that’s the only one most non-addicts have heard of, myself included. I have at least learned that “Pikachu” is a species, not a specific creature. Nearby is a series of Adventure Labs in Burton Dassett Hills Country Park.

Back at the plot, I solved the puzzles fairly quickly and then “parked” the series for later use. I often do this with large puzzle series. It gives me a backlog of puzzle caches to work on.

I’d been thinking about going out for the day, having spent the previous day in Sheffield with Daughterus Maximus. So late in the week I asked my new-found group of caching buddies (see London Calling) if they were up for a day out. HellieMW wasn’t, but as it happened, the Lydford Locators had already booked a hotel and were going to spend a couple of days going at them. That’ll do me, then. I prefer not to go caching on my own every time now, so it’s good to have company. It also meant I got the opportunity to meet Mr LL, who didn’t join us in London.

Driving Up

So the scene was set. The plan was to meet in Avon Dassett at 10:30, where there was convenient parking at the very bottom left corner of the series.

I fancied a few extras, so I set off from home in good time. I needed to fill my car up with fuel, which has been rare in the last year and a half, so took the opportunity to fill my caching bag with soft drinks and lunch items. All good to go.

The drive up was uninspiring and after a while I found myself near the first of my targetted villages for doing “drive-bys”. I’d pre-solved a load of multi-caches in the villages to the south of Avon Dassett so I could get a head start, as it were. So on this leg I passed through the villages of Great Bourton and Mollington in Oxfordshire before crossing the border to Shotteswell in Warwickshire.

In Great Bourton, I had to wait for a while as a bunch of boys doing a DofE walk. More of this later in the day.

I’d also planned to go through Warmington but by the time I got to Shotteswell it was time to head off and meet the Lydford Locators.

From Avon Dassett

How very dare they? The walk from Avon Dassett was uphill. I mean, uphill! What the actual? Although after the later part of the day I’d almost forgotten.

As we left the roads for our first bit of off-piste, we were faced with a venerable old cache (AQY-AVON DASSETT). It’s from May 2006, four years before I even started caching. Those are very rare these days. This particular one seemed to be challenging to find. There were no (or very many) obvious places to put it, but none of them made sense until we were accosted by the householder who lives at the top of the bank. He knew very well what we were up to, and gave us some spot-on guidance on where to search. In fact, he came down the bank and helped. Cool. Although it took him a while to remember precisely where it was. Anyway, as another finder said in their log, the cache location doesn’t currently match the hint, but it’s safe enough where it is.

This little bit was in a little woodland, but shortly afterwards we broke out into open countryside, and into sunshine.

Steaming

Not long after this we heard the somewhat confusing sound of a steam engine. I wasn’t aware there was a heritage railway near here, so really we had no idea where the noise was coming from. That is, until, we walked around a noggin and saw the rather grand looking steam tractor in the photo here.

It wasn’t this one that made the noise – he hadn’t got steam up at that point – but we had a quick chat with the owner and he told us there was a bit of an event going on, and there were several of the things out in the nearby fields. That’d be it then. It sounded like he was going to use his for its original purpose, rather than just showing it off. We, showing it off would be pointless because there was nobody around really, apart from us. You don’t get many of those to the pound, anyway.

Just past the steam tractor we turned a corner and started walking towards Fenny Compton. By this time it was late enough to be lunchtime, so when we got to the village we did a quick cache or two and grabbed a seat in the churchyard. Churchyards are good for having lunch, because they normally have benches and tend to be away from busy roads. Lunch, then!

From Fenny Compton

Lunch was a nice break. I don’t often carry lunch with me other than drinks and snacks. And quite often I buy snacks and then take them home with me.

Anyway, back at the caching, we had a short diversion for one before returning to the main series. It was a short walk from Fenny Compton to our next major target, but it proved to be mainly uphill. While climbing a hill here we looked back across the fields and saw another DofE group walking, shall we say, not where they were supposed to walk.

At the top of that hill we emerged onto a road and saw a minibus from a school in Coventry. A couple of minutes later it turned around in the road and came back towards us. We asked the driver if he’d “lost a bunch of boys”, and indeed he was wondering where this group had got to. They had four groups apparently, and the “yellow” group weren’t where they ought to be. Just as we were discussing it, the boys appeared over the brow of the hill. All seemed well apart from some jokes about getting lost.

Burton Dassett Hills

So I didn’t really realise that Warwickshire had any hills of any size. At Burton Dassett it definitely does. There’s a country park on top of a large outcrop of ironstone. Most of the local buildings around here are made of the stuff. At Burton Dassett, they used to quarry the stuff, but thankfully enough was left behind to still be “hills” rather than valleys. At 200m it’s not the highest bit of Warwickshire, but it sticks up a fair way from the surroundings. And the hillsides are steep.

There was a set of Adventure Labs in the Country Park as well as a few multis that we’d solved already. I’d assumed from Google satellite view that it was a valley with steep sides, but actually it was all uppy-downy. To access the caches you mainly had to walk up a really steep bit, and then down the other side. So at a couple of points we split up into groups and did the caches separately to save leg strength. When we reassembled we were at a car park. With an ice-cream van.

The DofE boys were all meeting up in the car parks here. Two of four groups were there when we arrived and a third appeared just as we were leaving.

From here we had to walk through Burton Dassett village, where there was a puzzle cache that would be difficult to access after rain. I went in for it, having tested water depth with Mrs LL’s pokey-stick. It involved me standing on stones and bits of wood that were sitting in a 10cm pool of water, but I managed to get the cache without getting wet feet. Which is good.

There weren’t any highlights after this apart from passing the fourth of four DofE groups.

Time for Drive-Bys

So, back at the cars and some goodbyes, until I suggested I was going for a few more. I kind of had to drive through Warmington and there were 4 caches I hadn’t had time to do in the morning. Ah hell, why not. So we convoyed our way to the village and parked up on the main road for a short walk around.

The Reckoning

A total of 59 finds in the day, including the Adventure Labs. It’s a bit of a Sunday League error to finish one short of a multiple of 10. Especially when it’s also a prime number. I should probably recite the rhyme before unfortunate circumstances befall me. ”Hot potato, orchestra stalls, Puck will make amends” – There, all fixed. Probably.


Geocache Finds 2021-08-28

Geocache Finds 2021-08-28

Geocache Finds 2021-08-28

London Calling

Open the photo gallery >>

The Sketch

I’d heard about the London Calling event earlier in the year but thought I wouldn’t be able to go, because we were scheduled to still be on holiday Ireland. But earlier in the year Kas’ triathlon event was canceled and we rebooked for a slightly shorter holiday in the Lake District. All of that meant that I would now be at home on August 28th, or at least, I wouldn’t be in Ireland. So I could go down to London.

I’d discussed going caching on Sunday 29th near Oxford with HellieMW but had concluded that caching 2 days in a row would be excessive. Anyway, she was going to London too and she invited me to walk the walk with her planned group. Her planned group consisted of Mrs Lydford Locator and ReggieCat as well as herself.

Mrs LL had planned a walking course to align with the new Adventure Labs that would be released. They actually were released on Friday morning, giving “ample” time to plan it all in. The sketch was to attempt a walk around all 40 of those, taking in most of the physical caches and other Adventure Labs that we’d pass on the way. You can surmise the route from the map at the bottom of this post. However, she’d planned that we walk around in backwards order so that we could complete an earthcache on the South Bank that requires low tide. The tide was due to come in during the early afternoon, so we’d have to walk the South Bank in the morning.

Setting Off

I was due to meet the others outside the event venue at 10:30. The event was at Methodist Central Hall, just off Parliament Square.

When I go to London by train I arrive at Euston, so to avoid a par two or three by tube I opted to go to Victoria and walk along Victoria Street. I also decided to go nice and early to “clear up” a few caches that weren’t on the plan.

So I arrived at Victoria just after 8 am. Really early. I’d had breakfast already, so I was good to go. There were a few Adventure Labs stages in the area as well as a solved wherigo, a couple of multis and a load of earthcaches. I’m not planning to recount all the caches at each section, as there were just too many, but when I met the others (at 10:15) I’d already done 18. I’d also visited Little Ben – I never knew that was there. Why would I? I don’t ever recall walking that way before.

The others arrived a little early too and had done all the Ad Labs around Westminster Abbey, so while we were waiting for the event to start they went for coffee and I cleared up Westminster Abbey. When the event started at 11 am I had 27 finds already.

Eventing

The organisers had decided to apply a £5 entry fee for the event. They’ve had a few challenges in organizing fundraising events, which is fair enough. I know how much these things cost to do, so I don’t mind paying anyway. If you don’t pay, then future events become less likely. Anyway, in the grand scheme of a day out in London, with food and geocoin purchases as well as train tickets, £5 is a fart in the breeze.

They’d asked for everyone to do a lateral flow test beforehand, but on the door they didn’t check them. That’s a half-hour sneezing fit wasted!

Inside the event I was surprised to learn that they’d also released 10 more Adventure Labs inside the event venue. Bonus! We’d planned just to go in, turn our bikes round and then leave again. However, ReggieCat got in half an hour early with his supporter ticket, and had all but two of the answers by the time the rest of us arrived. We didn’t just leave though.

The room was full of people and many were friends none of us had seen for ages. So there was some mingling and networking involved. And some buying of coins. And someone in a Signal the Frog suit. Having your photo taken with Signal earned you a trackable.

Westminster

Technically speaking, Westminster is a different city to the City of London, so the event should have been called “Westminster Calling”, but then it wouldn’t be named after a Clash album. Anyway, I digress.

Within the City of Westminster we had further Adventure Labs and multiple earthcaches to do around Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge. These included a brief walk up the Embankment to visit the Monument to the RAF.

Doing the Lambeth Walk

Over the Bridge from Parliament is the London Borough of Lambeth, which clips the South Bank just here. Our walk took us along past County Hall and the London Eye. At various points here there was some swearing and slow progress due to lack of phone signal. It’s irritating when that happens, because the Adventure Labs app requires you to be in the correct location and to have a phone signal. If you don’t, you can’t log them.

Anyway, enough of that. Once we got past the London Eye it got better. There were a couple of caches that required us to descend onto the “beach” by the Thames, which were fun. It was “minging” busy all the way down here. I’m not sure what I expected on the Saturday of an August Bank Holiday, and I’d forgotten how busy central London can be. There were lots of people.

Southwark

At some point along the South Bank you cross from Lambeth into Southwark and Borough. We passed Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe, City Hall, Hay’s Galleria and HMS Belfast along this stretch. Tourist central. It was so busy that we had to stop for “gin o’clock” at one point. We’d been walking for quite some time anyway, so we’d earned one. Just before gin o’clock we’d had a chat with a security guard outside one of the buildings while we were attempting to find a cache that said “you might get wet” – he suggested that rather than being in the fountain, it might be another that required us to descend to river level at low tide. He’d spoken to someone before about the same thing. He was cool with geocaching, if somewhat perplexed. There was a set of steps nearby, but sadly now the tide was too far in to be worth a look. It comes in quickly around here.

Send them to the Tower!

Southwark becomes Tower Hamlets as you cross Tower Bridge. We were able to log all of the Adventure Labs series at the Tower of London by standing on Tower Bridge, which was fun. It saved an amount of walking. From here we headed east slightly into St Katharine Docks for another set of Adventure Labs. By this time it was getting on a bit (around 4 pm) and it was the warmest part of the day. It was busy down here too.

Next up, we headed into the City of London, around the Tower and the Monument and up to Leadenhall Market. I vaguely remember going to Leadenhall Market on a night out from work a few years ago, not that I knew it at the time, but I recognized the place as soon as we walked in. It’s nice….

This led us naturally to the Bank and along Cheapside to St Paul’s and then along a very long stretch of Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street and the Strand that have no caches at all. From Aldwych we headed slightly north-west in London’s busy West End.

A Busy Saturday Night

From Aldwych we walked up into Covent Garden, where there was another set of Adventure Labs. HellieMW decided it was gin o’clock again, so we grabbed some pre-mixed ones from a local supermarket. It was adequate (and very short-lived).

By the time we arrived here it was around 6pm and the place was getting very busy as the daytime tourists transitioned into night-time tourists. The main difference between the two is the amount of alcohol being consumed. Anyway, there were a lot of them. And in the confusion we forgot one Adventure Lab point and couldn’t be bothered to go back for it. Mrs LL and HellieMW decided they needed to pack up and get back to the tube station to meet ReggieCat, who’d ducked out earlier with a gammy knee. Fair enough. So once we’d finished the Ad Lab at Covent Garden and the associated bonus cache they headed off to the tube and left me on my own.

I wanted to finish all the adventure labs that they’d set for the event (as they were only hanging around for a couple of weeks). This meant I needed to walk through Chinatown, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and along Whitehall. In Chinatown, eveing dinner was well underway. There were a couple of caches here and some conspicuous-looking searching. Leicester Square was also very busy but at least the caches were quick.

Trafalgar Square was boxed off for some film event, but thankfully the owners of the adventure labs here had extended the zones and published the answers so it was still possible to do them. This just left me the walk along Whitehall past the Horse Guards Building, Downing Street and The Cenotaph.

Doneski

By now it was 8 pm and I’d had enough. It was getting dark anyway. The walking track on my Garmin showed I’d walked 23km. Somehow on the walk back to Westminster Station I managed to delete the track, so I couldn’t upload the evidence. I was annoyed about that, but too tired to fret too much on the way home.

The tube back to Euston was quite quiet, and then I had the delight of sitting on a train full of drunk people all the way back to Milton Keynes. By “drunk”, I mean “argumentative”. Not with me, I kept schtum and was sitting with some other sober people. But the rest of the carriage was getting a bit fruity at a couple of points.

I made it back to Milton Keynes at 9:25 pm and Kas was waiting for me.

The Day of Reckoning

All told I’d found 101 adventure labs during the day. Mrs LL pointed out also that I could log another (at the Bank) because we now had an answer and so long as you’ve actually opened the answer dialogue at some point you can answer when you get home.

Many of the other caches we’d done were virtuals or earthcaches, and hence they required some form of evidence to be provided. Thankfully, Mrs LL had sorted all of this out and collated all the answers, so she submitted on behalf of us all. In the final count there were a further 70 caches of various types that could be logged, making 172 for the day. That beat my previous personal best by 21. I doubt I’ll beat it again anytime soon.


Newcastle University

Newcastle University