PAT and Charlie’s 7th

PAT and Charlie’s 7th

No, not “PAT and Charlie’s Seventh Loop”, “PAT” and “Charlie’s Seventh Loop” – It’s a double series mega day with a few drive-bys, random odds and sods, and the like.

It was a Sunday, and the girls were at home doing what they do during the afternoon. Kas went out in the morning to run the “Rocket 5k” event in central Milton Keynes.

I scooted out without really having much of a plan in terms of how long I’d be out. I’d sort of thought about doing these two series and then going somewhere else, but I also needed to be a bit careful as I was running a half marathon the following day. It turned out to be one of the most painful half marathons of all time. Too unfit, and stiff from the walking the previous day.

So the PAT series is over near Thornborough and consists of about 20 caches. When these were placed it forced me to rework some of the plans I’d got for my “Flags of All Nations” series, which caused some minor pain, but then it serves me right for planning something and then not doing it. I parked in Thornborough and walked them clockwise. A couple were obviously missing and I’ve yet to go back for them.

Charlie’s Seventh Loop is a series on the south side of Milton Keynes which runs from Caldecotte Lake down to the far end of Water Eaton, through the Waterhall Park. Being one of Charlie’s Loops, the caches are tougher than the average bear, and take some time. There are lots of field puzzles and multis to do. I think I missed a couple of these simply because I couldn’t solve the puzzle whilst at the cache. I can honestly say I’d never walked the path from Dobbies through to the bottom of Caldecotte Lake, and nor had I come back to the Red Lion pub and along the Grand Union Canal into Fenny Stratford, so a bit of Milton Keynes I’d previously never seen. If I remember correctly though. the weather was a bit up and down, and there were a couple of bits at the start of the series where I was receiving far too much attention from cattle, and in one case, from a farmer too. The cattle were a bit scary.

Caches found on this day were:

No More Heart Attack!

No More Heart Attack!

This was a day for finishing off a few small loops that remained on the Hatley Heart Attack. “At last” I hear you say, “you’ve been doing them since last year”.

I had three loops to complete. The first was on the north side Toft. I’d done a massive loop around the south side in February (see “Will This Heart Attack Ever End“) but had run out of time on that particular day. At least I’d left myself a convenient set of 25 or so still to do. The walk around them was 6.9km long.

The second loop was to the west of the Wimpole Estate, and was a straightforward looking loop of about 30 caches, packed closely together. These went well except for the last stretch of about 10, which all seemed to be hidden in hedges with a ditch to cross. I failed to find one of them. This loop was 8.3km long.

To finish off I had to do the loop to the west of Wrestlingworth. This section was one I’d been putting off for several months. Previous visits had included caches from this loop as a result of sections that form part of two different loops. This section was 10.9km long.

On these parts I made a habit of finding every other cache, but leaving the others so that there was something worth coming back for (i.e. I didn’t leave any gaps more than 500 metres). Nearly half of this loop was composed of bits I’d walked before, and the result was that finishing this section looked quite unappealing as there were some pretty large gaps.

I have to admit also that I’d had previous experiences in this village where I couldn’t find anywhere to park and where I got the distinct impression they weren’t much used to people from out of town. Someone once shouted at me for not walking on the public footpath into a particular field, even though it was very clearly marked as a footpath. It was kind of a slow walk round this bit, but I found all the caches.

On this loop I also found the final code needed to solve the Bonus, having all but given up and assumed I’d missed it somewhere. I was in the process of texting the owner when I started this loop, because it was the last chance saloon, but as it happened I managed to find the code before he replied.

The Bonus was a massive affair up near Hatley ( I suppose it had to be there ), and I decided to go fetch it while I was out and about. I’ve no reason to go back that way unless and until the big series is removed and replaced by another. I had just about enough light left. I was hobbling a bit as I went, though, having walked 26.1km during the day ( that’s 16.2 miles in old money ).

Imagine my disappointment when I got there and found the coordinates for the Bonus Bonus, and discovered it was all the way back near Toft, and a good mile walk away from any roads. Bum to that, it was nearly dark. So that means I won’t be finding the Bonus Bonus ever, because just I’m not motivated to drive an hour to find one cache.

It looks quite impressive on the smiley chart when you’ve done them all though. It’s miles and miles of little yellow smilies, charting several very long days worth of wandering round the countryside, mainly in the depths of winter.

Caches found on this day were :

A New Personal Best

A New Personal Best

New Personal Best?

Do what John? Do what John? Come again, John! Do what?
Do what John? Do what John? Come again, John! Do what?
Why, what, wiv whom and where?
Triffic, really triffic.
Pardon? Come again!

What I’m on about is that I found more caches on a single day here than I have ever done before, which is not bad seeing as it was only March and we’d only just passed the spring equinox and so there was only just over 12 hours of daylight to play with.

It was warm though.

I parked up in Orwell, having planned to do a lot, but not necessarily a new record. I’d told Kas I’d be out until I got bored with it though.

It took me a long time to get bored.

From Orwell I walked up to Great Eversden, Little Eversden and Barrington before returning back to Orwell and, as I remember it, deciding I’d not had enough and hence scooting off to do a few more.

Anyway, I did a lot. 112 finds, to be precise. It took me all day, and I was a bit kippered when I eventually got back to the car and started driving home.

112 finds in a day though, eh?

Caches found in the day were :

Castle Donington

Castle Donington

Have you ever had one of those days when you set out with loads of enthusiasm and return wondering why you’d bothered?

This was one of those days.

There was an entertaining looking series of about 30 caches around the village of Castle Donington and I had a reasonable looking Sunday morning before going out for lunch with my folks, so I figured I’d give it a go while the rest of the family was doing whatever they do, which is running in Kas’s case, and as little as possible in the kids’ case.

I managed to park in the centre of the village and join the caching circuit near the numbered start point. The general gist was that the circuit goes downhill in a northerly direction towards the Trent and the A50 and then turns around and comes back up again. Easy, right?

It was good going for the first 7 or 8 caches, but then I got to a railway line and started to have problems. I couldn’t find one there, and then I lost my way a little bit because the paths on the map weren’t evident on the ground, and there were a couple more misses, and I ended up wandering through an insect-infested swamp, and then had to scale a pretty steep hillside and wander through some less-than-nice housing estates.

Eventually, I ran out of time having done approximately two-thirds of the planned circuit. I was grumpy, but I needed to get home, and to be honest, it had been such a rubbish morning that I’d have given up anyway, regardless of not having finished the series. You live and learn.

Caches I did manage to find were :

Will This Ever End ?

Will This Ever End ?

On the radar for today was chipping away at one of the large remaining loops on the Hatley Heart Attack.

Today’s task started in the village of Toft and involved a walk of nearly 19 km, or 12 miles if you prefer. Some of the areas seemed distinctly familiar, especially on the drive there, and I think that’s because of previous trips down this way to complete the Cambridge CacheAthon and other bits of this Heart Attack series.

That’s pretty much all I have to say on the subject though, because I didn’t take a camera and there weren’t any church micros or other caches of note except for a puzzle that was actually a chirp, where I’d got the coordinates a year or so earlier when doing the Cambridge Cachathon, but timed out on that day. As luck would have it, this circuit took me right past it, and it was the biggest cache I found all day.

So it might have been quite a dull day in terms of my ability to write about it or provide you with a visually stunning portrait, but I did find 79 caches. I do think the diagrams made using Memory-Map are visually interesting though.

And no day with 79 cache finds can be regarded as a bad one.

Caches I found on this day were :

Hacking Around Hatley

Hacking Around Hatley

This was another day for eating away a big chunk of the Hatley Heart Attack series.

On the radar for today was a biggish loop starting in Hatley itself, and looping towards the south and east over a distance of about 15km.

I’m afraid it was another day where I didn’t take my camera, and where I didn’t pass any spectacularly good caches. There were just lots of them. 68 in fact.

It took me all day. It was getting distinctly dark by the time I got back to the car.

Generally, they were all easy finds apart from one that was evidently missing, and one where I found the appropriate hanging device mentioned in the hint, but no actual cache. It didn’t matter much though, because one of the remaining loops I had to do after this involved returning more or less to the spot where those two were missing.

As I approached the very final little part of the loop, around the church in East Hatley, I bumped into a couple from Scotland who looked like they were also up to no good. Nice to meet you. They were apparently doing a few caches in the evening, having driven down during the day, and had the aim of hacking round quite a few of them on the following day.

Caches I found on the day were :

Charlie’s Sixth Loop

Charlie’s Sixth Loop

This day started off as a bit of a “can’t be bothered” sort of a day. I’d planned to go on a monster session over towards Hatley but got up in the morning, looked out of the window at the freezing cold and generally dank conditions, and decided I couldn’t be bothered.

After breakfast I had another think about it, and decided to scale my expectations down a bit and go to find another one of the excellent Charlie’s series that had been popping up in Milton Keynes over the previous few months. There was an interesting looking loop called “Charlie’s Sixth” up in Brickhill Woods, which looked like it would make a reasonably short day out.

The kids, as ever, couldn’t be bothered with it, so I left them to cosy up at home and get all their homework done.

There’s not a lot to say about the caching except that many of them involved some kind of a field puzzle, and were therefore worthy of a favourite point. Despite being in the woods they were all fairly easy to locate.

On the way home I took the opportunity to fetch a new Church Micro in Woburn Sands and also to stop near the Open University campus at Walton Hall to grab a couple of new cache from Charlie’s Fifth Loop – these were in spaces made vacant when I archived on of my own Church Micros. I had one at Walton Hall that was a persistent problem.

The weather stayed poor all day, but at least in the woods the rain was getting stuck in the tree cover to some extent. It was cold all day too.

The caches I found during the day were :

Another Heart Attack

Another Heart Attack

Another day, another trip to the Hatley Heart Attack.

On this day I was joined by (or, I’d arranged to go out with) DJ:CD and we decided we’d start in Sutton and aim to do the loop around there.

I’d previously done a couple of loops to the south-west of there and had left every other cache around the stretches that form part of both loops, thereby ensuring I had something to go back for.

We had a few shenanigans trying to meet up (meeting times are always a bit of a variable concept when you have kids) so I had time to grab a couple of drive-bys on the way in before parking up in the street and heading off for our walk.

It was a fairly reasonable day for January, with some sunshine and not too much cold. We managed to find 38 caches during the course of the day without straining too much.

The caches we found (well, the ones I found. DJ:CD probably found different ones because we did different drive-bys and he found some on the shared bits that I’d already done before) were :

Magenta and Blue

Magenta and Blue

All good things come to an end, unless they’re a Möbius strip. You could walk around one of those for weeks and not realise.

And so it was time for the MK Boundary Walk Blue and Magenta sections to be consigned to the great tupperware box in the sky. This, however, was no simple task. It’s a walk of about 15km one way, and as was the problem for most of the lives of the MK Boundary Walk series, it has to be a point-to-point walk. Parking spots up here are somewhat limited. You basically need two cars.

I’d been threatening to remove them since the summer (OK, I’d promised to do it at the end of the year, rather than threatened as such), and now was the time. The day of reckoning. A few of them had been reported missing anyway, so I thought it would be interesting to see how they were getting on, having been out in the field for over three years.

The second car for today was provided by the good lady wife, so we started off by driving up to Warrington, where we abandoned my car in a lay-by for the day, and Kas then drove me all the way back to a random dropping off point on the road between Stoke Goldington and Salcey Forest. That was always the problem with the Magenta section. The start point has nowhere to park. At least at the end it was possible to park in Weston Underwood, but at the start there is an entrance to what apparently used to be a car park, but which always has the gates locked now. How anybody ever actually completed this section defeats me.

Back at the plot, where people had reported them missing, I went to the site anyway, just in case. Some of them were subtle hides. So I found at least one of the ones that was supposed to be missing. I also found two boxes at one point, where someone had put a throwdown without checking first. And then I was unable to find a couple of them despite others having found them only days previously, apparently.

At the end of the day I had collected about 40 boxes, most of which were in perfectly good condition aside from needing a spruce-up in the camo ducktape department. It was quite quick walking too, given that it was January.

I still don’t like the walk through Killick Wood though. It gives me the creeps.

On the bright side, I got back to my car before it went dark (just) and my car was where I’d left it, which is always a bonus.

I didn’t take my camera with me because I was expecting to be in a hurry, so in the interests of adding some visual interest to an otherwise dull post, here are some photos I took of the route when I was setting them.

Goodbye MKBW Yellow

Goodbye MKBW Yellow

Say yellow, wave goodbye….

No, not the 1982 smash hit by Soft Cell. That would be spelt differently. No. The end of a chunk of the MK Boundary Walk series of caches, which had passed their sell-by date some time ago and had started to be visited fairly infrequently. In fact, it’s amazing how there was a bit of a flood of interest in the series when I added a note to each one saying that they’d be archived at the end of the year.

As with all sections of the boundary walk, it’s essentially a point-to-point, requiring cunning logistics and/or more than one person. It’s about 10km from the start in Newton Longville to the end up near Hazeley School. On this one I think Kas both dropped me off at the start and picked me up from the finish. It didn’t take too long though, because it’s somewhat quicker to collect them up than it is to place them (or find them), especially when a fair few have been reported missing anyway. There were supposed to be 28 caches on the section, but I think I collected only about 20 usable boxes.

That cleared a nice space for some new ones though.

I didn’t take my camera on this walk, as it was quite poor weather and I just wanted to get it over and done with. So, in the finest traditions of Blue Peter, here’s some I took earlier.