Our final day in Dorset, and after yesterday’s rather soggy debacle we made good on our promise to take the girls down to the beach first thing. On the caching front it turned out to be a fairly productive day involving a lot of multis in central Weymouth which took me through some very nice parts of the town. If you’re reading this just for the list of caches, feel free to skip to the bottom of the post.
Kas was up and at it quite early, having decided the marathon plan said she should run to Weymouth from Dorchester, a distance of about 10 miles. So she set off at about the same time me and the girls started our Premier Breakfast. Mmmmm ! As was now customary, the girls raided the muffin basket for all it was worth while I engaged in the usual protein-fest. I’m sure having cake for breakfast is OK really, so long as it isn’t every day. And so long as it isn’t 4 each.
Back at the plot we jumped in the not-so-trusty bus and headed off up the old Roman Road to Weymouth. Apparently we passed Kas somewhere near the Weymouth Massive Magic Mushroom Sculpture, but we didn’t see her.
We parked up at the park & ride and walked over to the beach at the Queen Vic clock, by way of the Station and it’s “Sidetracked” cache – gotta get that first cache of the day in the bag to get the souvenir. Not a very impressive cache but enough to get us going.
By which time Kas had more or less finished running and met us, as planned, by the Queen Vic clock.
Onto the beach we went then, and sat down, got the kids changed, and then lay down for a bit of a snooze under the light breeze and layer of high cloud. Enough of a breeze that we were quickly getting buried under the drifting sand. Within 5 minutes I had a mouth (and nose) full of the stuff and was starting to get a bit ratty. You may have guessed, if you don’t know me, that beaches are not my kind of thing. At least, not the sitting-around-whilst-getting-sand-in-every-available-orifice kind of beach. I’m fairly happy with the walking-around-taking-photos type and the got-an-Earthcache-on-it type.
So Kas sent me off caching for an hour or so while the kids got the sandcastle building out of their system for a bit. There’s a summary of the caches I did below, but let’s say it was an hour of setting off on a couple of multis rather than much actual caching. I did find one at the ANZAC monument and then another short multi down by the big sailing vessel near the ferry terminal though. However, the main gain from this hour of caching in the morning was that I managed to breeze past a load of other stuff that looked like they’d be good things to do later in the day, especially as the sun was starting to make an appearance by late morning. Near the big sailing boat there’s a little company doing 1-hour tours around Portland Harbour. Just along the river there’s a bridge over the river that opens up every 2 hours. And walking north from there you pass along a pedestrian shopping street with a few bits of summer street entertainment on them.
Back at the plot, and back with the girls, we decided to leave the beach and head for lunch. Kas went to chuck all the buckets, spades, and unnecessary bags of wet, sandy clothes into the back of the car while the girls and me went off in search of somewhere for lunch. Kas had expressed a desire for a hot dog, so we thought that ShakyDog’s looked a good bet. They major on milkshakes in all kinds of bizarre flavours, and do a nice side in hot dogs. I ordered some stuff for the girls and waited for Kas to arrive.
It turned out to be quite a good little place if you can cope with the loud music. Izzy had a hot dog and when I told the staff she wouldn’t eat the bun (she never does), they gave her another sausage free. Kas and Ami had mango milkshakes and I had a peanut butter one. Titter ye not, Mrs ! Peanut butter milkshake, when made with real ice cream, is very nice. None of the food we had was particularly healthy, but who cares. We’re on holiday, innit?
From here we wandered down the shopping street, with the girls choosing to totally ignore the silver-painted bloke standing on a bucket. Shame, he would probably have been good theatre. But we ended up at the Town Bridge, which is a very fine-looking double-leaf bascule. It opens every two hours, and I just so happened to time my walking in the day so that I caught it opening at 12, 2 and 4 pm. Which is quite bad timing. Once or twice would be good for photos, but that third one was just shabby timing on my part. At the 2 pm opening we also did a team hunt on a multi-cache themed on the bridge. It should have been a solo find for me, but I just couldn’t spot any item matching the hint, and eventually went for help. All three girls came over with me and Kas spotted the very thing inside a couple of minutes. An item I had walked straight past probably 6 times already without noticing. Mumble, mumble…….
After the 2pm opening we crossed back over and along the quayside (where the rails and loading platform of the old Weymouth Harbour Tramway are still in evidence. ending up at the tall sailing ship we were just in time to jump aboard one of the little boats doing one hour tours of Portland Harbour. This proved to be a good little trip for us to do, as it filled an hour in the afternoon when the kids were starting to wane a bit, and it was engaging enough for both of them to show a little interest in the Captain’s quite simplistic commentary. It was bright sun by now, so we had a proper holiday feeling as we scooted along over the water being gently burned on the top and cooled by the occasional salty splash.
When we got back to shore we then strolled back along the quay and up the shopping street again, with no particular plan other than maybe going back to the beach for a bit longer. This soon turned when Kas and the girls spotted a woman doing hair braids – a bit of a Gardner girls holiday habit. Unlike their counterparts in France, who seem to charge for the overall effect, the lady in Weymouth charged by the inch. 80p an inch, to be precise. So mine was free, and very quick. The girls had to wait a bit longer. And as Kas knows I’m not much of a “standing around” type of person she basically told me to go caching again and she’d give me a call when the braiding was close to finishing. This gave me the opportunity to finish a couple of caches I’d started earlier in the day, including a walk back over the Town Bridge (with 10-minute wait for the 4 pm opening) and into the old town, south harbour and the Nothe Fort. On this little dash I managed to grab another 5 caches. I ignored two that were marked unavailable.
It was a bit late getting back by now, and whilst Kas had occupied a bit of time by buying a new sweatshirt, it was time to get back together for an early evening meal again. Before that though I had to extend the parking. One thing I came to both love and hate whilst in Dorset is the parking. I hate it because it seems expensive everywhere and you can’t get refunds on part-used time periods, and I love it because you can pay by mobile, and when your period is running out they send you a reminder text with a phone number you can call to extend it without having to return to your car.
I got another 2 hours parking and we went for dinner at King Edward’s Fish and Chips on the Esplanade (again).
This time we were right posh, with the kids having their food served in a plastic bucket (with spade).
Which just about left time to drive back to Dorchester, query why the hotel had let someone park in our allocated space again (they hadn’t – someone had just gone all “freestyle” on them), wash half of Weymouth Beach down the plughole and grab a swift half in the bar before retiring to bed.
So if you’re only reading this post for the caching parts, I’m sorry for wasting your time with the rest of it, but here’s a quick list of the caches I did. If you want a relatively touristy, not too hardcore, day of caching in the centre and old town of Weymouth, I suggest you start at the ANZAC Monument just north of the Queen Vic clock on the esplanade, and gradually work your way south, not that I’m telling you where the multis take you. The caches that I did during the day, in the order I did them, were :
- Sidetracked-Weymouth – a quick nano round the back of the bikesheds.
- ANZAC Tribute – A quick bench job near to the memorial to ANZAC soldiers on the esplanade
- Shipwrecked – Mayday – A short multi down by the ferry terminal with a very muggly end-point, but worth it just for the nerve of putting one there.
- Weymouth Town Bridge – Another short multi themed on the bridge of the same name.
- Hope you find it… – An easy trad near the Rotary Club building in Brewery Square
- OYB 27 Before the Bridge – Part of the big “On Yer Bike” series on the bay to the south of Nothe Fort
- Portland View – An excellent multi starting at the Queen Vic clock and taking you through 5 stages to reach a viewpoint overlooking Portland Harbour
- White Hideaway – A fairly big trad under a rock overlooking the bay to the south of Nothe Fort
- OYB 29 My Favourite Viewpoint – A quick multi based around the Nothe Fort
On the route I took to do these there are several other trads that were temporarily disabled the day I was there, and you might also like to try Cannon Ball Run – a multi I didn’t have time for but which starts near the Town Bridge and ends over by the Ferry Terminal (at least, the description implies it ends there). There are a number of puzzles that appear in the old town but none of them are actually there – most are a good way out. There is the Castle Treasure puzzle, though, which requires you to have found 3 caches at Portland Castle, Sandsfoot Castle and Maiden Castle. We didn’t try this, but given the name I guess it’s most likely to be somewhere near the Nothe Fort.