Moffat 2024

May 3rd to 7th 2024

A long weekend in southern Scotland attending the Caledonian Cachefest event.

The weather was suspect at best, but it’s a beautiful area and the company was great.

Cumbrian Coast

Leadhills

Moffat Dale

Kendal

Lancaster

Cumbrian Coast

Start Me Up

The first day of my long weekend in Southern Scotland. I’d been looking forward to this trip ever since I booked it. Well, clearly, else there’d have been no point in booking it. But meanwhile….It’s an area I’d never been to before and I was keen to go and explore some of it. Before any of that though, I had an appointment with the Cumbrian Coast.

I’d driven on Thursday night up to Penrith so that I could start the caching jaunt on Friday not Saturday. Moffat is quite a way from home, so I didn’t want to do just a quick up-and-down job. Anyway, I was in the centre of Penrith at a slightly quirky but well placed hotel. They started breakfast quite early so I decided I’d aim to leave the hotel by 8am. The route I’d planned was quite long, so I didn’t want to be wasting time.

Morning Joy, and Frustration

I started off by heading inland. There was a set of lab caches in Temple Sowerby which looked like a nice quick “getting it started” kind of thing. And so it proved to be. I left my hotel at 8am and I was done in Temple Sowerby before 8:30.

My second set of labs started at Barton and ended in Pooley Bridge. I’m not sure why the CO split it across such a big distance. Essentially, two points were in Barton and three were in Pooley Bridge. But anyway, the labs were easy and there was a good trad at Barton too. So that kept me ticking along. I wasted some time in Pooley Bridge though, because there’s a puzzle there that I couldn’t solve remotely, and when I got there, I couldn’t solve it in the field either. The information to be collected to get the coordinates was ambiguous, to say the least. It involved counting things at a church (solar panels, windows, stained glass windows, etc, etc. It wouldn’t add up, so I moved on. I made a couple of random guesses but was wrong.

I was still on 11 finds by about 9:30 though.

Past History

From Pooley Bridge I headed west to Cockermouth. Why is this section entitled “Past History”? Well, many moons ago, before I was a geocacher, I had a job which took me periodically to Iggesund Paperboard in Workington, and every time I went to work there I stayed in Cockermouth. I must have had 10-11 trips there over the course of a year at the start of the 2000’s. So I knew a little bit about the town. I’d been a couple more times as part of holidays too, but they were fleeting visits.

On previous visits though, I’d been working, and so I hasn’t ever really walked around the town. This trip gave me the opportunity to do that. I parked in the car park of a well known UK supermarket whose name rhymes with “Gains Berries” as it was best placed for the town. No scrounging though, it was a public pay and display which would validate you for free parking if you went in the shop. I decided to pay for the parking, as I wasn’t going in the shop other than to turn my bike around and grab a cold drink.

Famous Sons

Back at the plot, there was a set of labs dedicated to five famous sons of Cockermouth. They were a varied bunch. The first was England’s favourite cricketer Ben Stokes. He was born in New Zealand but moved to the UK at secondary school age when his dad took a job coaching the Rugby League team in Workington. To show how old I am, my previous trips to Cockermouth were before Ben moved there, at age 12.

Another faous son was William Wordsworth, who was born in the town and lived here for a while before wandering off to find some daffodils.

Next was Fletcher Christian, who got so upset that he started the Bounty mutiny. To be honest, I don’t especially like chocolate covered coconut bars either, but I don’t know if I’d be upset enough to nick a Royal Navy ship. That’s by-the-by. He was a son of Cockermouth.

The other two were The Earl of Mayo, who was once Viceroy of India, and presumably developed the egg-based salad dressing while he was there, and John Dalton, who “said atoms were the littlest”, despite that theory being assigned to Albert Einstein in 1978 by a certain Ian Dury. That’s a pretty broad spread of talents for such a small town.

The labs had a bonus, which proved to be a thrupenny bus ride away from the town centre, so I moved my car a bit closer and took a walk up the banks of the Derwent.

The Cumbrian Coast

I bet you were beginning to think I never actually made it to the Cumbrian Coast. You may have noticed I have a tendency to wander off topic, both when geocaching, and when writing about it. Anyway, to the coast!

I joined the coast at Maryport. Maryport is a former port and mining town on the coast which has been through some extremely rough times. I won’t go into that in detail, for fear of getting lost, but whilst superficially the town was quite neat and tidy, there were also signs of deprivation around. My caching journey here took me mainly to the old port area with one trip up to the Castle Hill.

Parking to get to the Castle Hill was a challenge. The streets were a bit tight in my car and there weren’t any obvious car parks. I eventually pulled into the car park at Maryport Settlement. The place was really quiet but someone came out when I parked up and I confirmed with her if they were OK for me to leave my car for 10 minutes. To get to the castle I had to jump over a 4-foot high wall, but it was a much quicker method then walking up from the bottom. So thanks for that. Job done, and off we go.

Allonby

Next up was Allonby – a ribbon settlement along the coast to the north of Maryport. It grew up as a fishing settlement, presumably with quite small boats as there’s no harbour. There was a set of of lab caches here which I found, and a handful of traditionals that I mainly didn’t find. Some I gave up on, some were “occupied” by the presence of other humans. So a bit disappointing, but not very time consuming.

Silloth

My final foray along the coast was Silloth. Again, I’d never been anywhere remotely near here before. It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest. It apparently developed (contrastingly) as a deep-water port for Carlisle, and as a Vicotrian seaside resort. The place isn’t massive, but the seafront area around the park and main street are very pleasant. From the seafront you can see all the way across the Solway Firth to the bottom end of Scotland – a very beautiful view. To get to the seafront I parked on an a cobbled main street and walked across Siloth Green.

Silloth proved to be the most fruitful stop of the day, from a geocaching perspective. Within the tight area around the central park there was a set of labs and six regular caches, and I found all of them. So that was a worthy hour or so. I nearly celebrated with an ice cream, but then time was moving faster than I hoped, so I moved on.

Wigton

Wigton proved to be moderately fruitful but very frustrating. I made 9 finds in total, but they took me ages due to the fact that the lab series was sequential, and I struggled to get a good enough phone signal to do them. Plus there were a couple of misses on caches that should have been easy finds.

It was a pleasant little town though. And it was definitely getting late in the afternoon. My stay coincided with chucking out time at the local school, so the town centre got suddenly flooded with teenagers waiting for buses and generally mooching around, as they do. As time was moving on, I again decided not to linger for too long, but I did stop on the way out of town to fill my car up with juice and to buy a drink and some chocolate.

Caldbeck

Caldbeck was my final geocaching stop for the day. From Wigton, Caldbeck is a drive around the top side of Skiddaw, on the perimeter of the National Park. So it became more hilly and less coastal on this leg. Caldbeck has a bunch of large car parks. There didn’t seem to be much else in the village, so I assume it must attract tourists just for being a nice village. Anyway, lots of car parks makes for easy access.

The geocaching “form” here included a set of lab caches based on local buildings, and a set of traditional caches on a general theme of rock bands. All were easy enough and I made 10 finds in the village in about an hour.

It had now ticked round to some time between 5 and 6pm, so I decided that was enough. I had somewhere else to be.

I hopped into the trusty vehicle and pointed it in the direction of Carlisle and then towards Moffat.

Slow Down

Moffat was easy to get to. It’s only just off the M74. It also has a long, broad high street with parking in the middle. My hotel ( The Balmoral ) was easy to find and I managed to park right outside.

I don’t know what type of room I booked. The choice wasn’t wide, but I think I picked something above the most basic. I was sort of hoping I’d get one of the cottages in the back. What they in fact gave me was a rather large suite on the first floor. By “suite”, I mean I had a lounge as well as a bedroom. And not a small one either. The lounge was big enough for two decent-sized sofas with walking space all around. So I wasn’t going to be short of living space in there on my own. It took me a while how to fiddle with the radiators working sensibly though. When I first went in, the room was like a sauna.

And so to the evening’s activities. I made the mistake (as I sometimes do) of assuming the evening geocaching event would finish on time, and hence that I could reasonably find something to eat afterwards. It didn’t. And there was beer involved. By the time it was finished (or by the time I was finished, anyway) it was a little late for getting dinner. Everywhere in Moffat seems to give up cooking by about 9pm. So that chocolate I’d bought in Wigton was the last thing I had to eat until I got back to my room, whereupon I laid into the multiple packs of biscuits the hotel had left in there. That would have to do. And so they were done. And so was I.



Caledonian Cachefest

An Early Start

Despite all the beer the previous night, I was up bright and early the next morning and got myself downstairs at 7:30 for some breakfast. It was the day of the actual event – the Caledonian Cachefest. My whole reason for being here, I guess. As there were lots of caches in town and I wasn’t quite sure what to do, I’d decided to try to run around the town in the morning so that afternoon could be more relaxed.

My caching day therefore started with a walk up and down the high street outside the hotel. There were a bunch of labs there as well as a selection of other things. This walk highlighted to me that Moffat is, in fact, not a very big place. Small but perfectly formed, I guess. I managed to get all the way round town (well, most of it) in three hours before the event started. All, aside from one multi which required walking around a graveyard. I couldn’t find all the details, so I guessed a couple and ended up with a final location that was feasible but rather a long way away. Another multi involved a bit of a reach out into a promontory between two streams. That was fun.

Thankfully, the weather was tolerably good. I won’t say “nice”, because it was cloudy. But it wasn’t cold or raining. Funnily enough, there were a fair few other cachers wandering around the town too. I wonder why!

By the time it got to the start of the event, I’d made about 25 finds and had essentially cleared out the centre of town, so that felt like a decent tally.

Caledonian Cachefest

The main event. The reason for being here, and all that. Well, to be honest, I’m not much of an event fan. I usually don’t spend long. But I fancied a weekend of caching in a part of the country I’d never been to before.

The event was held in a church hall at the back of St. Andrews. It was a moderate sized room and, at the start of the event, it wasn’t really big enough for everybody. Whilst it was nothing like busy enough for a mega event, it was certainly a large-sized regular event. The room had all the usual stands – vendors of various kinds, the GAGB, a couple of upcoming UK Mega events, raffles, games, and the like. So I think I maybe spend 90 minutes inside the actual event just wandering around, buying stuff, and talking to people. I was a bit peopled out after that so I went and sat in the garden for a while and thought about what to do in the afternoon.

A Second Lap

At some point when I was outside I saw Pesh and Mr+Mrs Minion. They were off to do the walk around town that I’d done in the morning. I asked if I could tag along with them, because I didn’t fancy getting in the car to go somewhere else. Much better to join some friends, even if that meant doubling back on the morning’s walk. So the four humans and two canines set off to do a lap of the town.

We went more or less the same route – starting at the high street and then venturing to the east of there before going south around the Recreation Park and then back up the riverside. A couple of extra bits of walking meant that it wasn’t a totally cacheless afternoon for me. We went further across the recreation park to grab a cache beyond the boating lake, and then when walking back up the river we went much further than I had in the morning. That grabbed me an extra four finds, including that troublesome multi, which was, in fact, more or less where I’d guess-calculated.

It was good to walk around in good company. I can tend to get a bit too deep into it when I’m on my own, and I reminded myself I was there as much to enjoy the atmosphere as I was to engage in heavy geocacing. So it was an excellent walk in excellent company.

When we were done walking, we went back to the event site just in time for the raffle draw and the general closing up. I got one winning raffle ticket and managed to bag myself one of the extra, extra-limited event geocoins. Nice!

Evening Event

For dinner I decided to eat in the hotel, and had made a reservation. When I walked down into the restaurant there was a group of other cachers (some of whom I knew, and some of whom I didn’t) who’d just sat down. There were seven of them at an eight-seat table, and I was very happy to join them for dinner. The food in the restaurant was good, solid, pub-style food.

The main event was supported by a host of other events. There’d been one the previous night as a welcome, and tonight there was another in the nearby Proudfoot Indoor Sports & Social Club. The theme for this one was “Cachemaster” – kind of like Taskmaster, but with a heavy theme on geocaching. It was a strange event, to be honest. There were lots of people there, but most seemed just to want to chat and have a drink rather than participating in the events. Anyway, I met up with Pesh, the Minions and Pesh’s two canines again and we sat with a few others nattering. After the previous night I wasn’t so keen on more alcohol, so I kept off it most of the night.

And that was more or less the end of my day. I went back to the hotel and made sure I’d finished all the day’s logs. I couldn’t have any biscuits with a cup of tea, because I’d eaten them all the previous night and I hadn’t been restocked. To be honest, I didn’t need them. So the end of the day and time for bed. Tomorrow was scheduled to include some more local exploration.



Leadhills

Get Your Motor Running

On the agenda today was a trip up to Leadhills, the UK’s highest permanent settlement (or is it?). The event wasn’t until early afternoon, though, so I had quite a bit of time to explore elsewhere beforehand.

So I got up early again and was ready to leave by about 8 am again. I planned to drive over to Sanquhar via a scenic route. There is quite a large stock of caches there. After that, I would pick my way around the countryside up to Leadhills for the event in the early afternoon. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Road Closure

Because it’s me loads could go wrong with that, obviously. I’d planned to drive up the motorway and pick my way down to Sanquhar along the B740. When I got there, there was a road closure. As I discovered later in the day, there’d been an incident previously with a lorry that didn’t quite fit. That resulted in dangerous damage to a bridge and a closure. What that meant in practice was that I had to go back down the motorway again. I found a different route via the A702 and into Thornhill. At least when I got there I noticed there were a few caches on the road, so I could start to get a few finds at least.

Thornhill was not quite what I expected. Another small town consisting of one main street. Like Moffat. Thornhill’s main street is miles wide and has parking down both sides. There wasn’t much obvious sign of life though. I’d got the solutions to a couple of puzzles and completed those quickly before turning my car around to head for Sanquhar. I had it in my mind that Thornhill had a set of labs, but it didn’t, which was a disappointment.

Anyway, back at the plot, the road from Thornhill up to Sanquhar was fairly pleasant and afforded me the opportunity to stop and turn my bike around, as it were.

Sanquhar

I’d somehow got in my mind that Sanquhar was going to be some massive homage to Victorian urban architecture, full of big stone public buildings and pleasant gardens. I don’t know why I thought that, but it isn’t like that at all. Overall, the village felt a bit claustrophobic and shabby to me. Maybe I’m prejudiced. I’ve been to worse places, by the way. Plenty of them. It just wasn’t kind of what I was expecting.

In town there was a sequential set of adventure labs (with a bonus) and a couple of other things. Those didn’t take me long to complete, and looking at the time I reckoned I could probably afford to spend another 90 minutes there before heading for Leadhills. So I decided I’d go for a walk around some of the caches off to the north of the village.

Running Up That Hill

Now I was on the ground it was clear that the north of the village meant “in the hills”, but I had walking shoes with me, so I was OK. Most of it was on roads or good tracks anyway. I collected 10 more finds up there. There were a couple of DNFs, so it should have been more, but nevermind. The downside was that it was a bit rainy and I’d decided to leave my raincoat in the car. I had a fleece, and that proved way more resistant to water penetration than I would have expected, but it was a bit bleak up there really.

On the way back down the main hill into the village I wasn’t able to avoid searching near a woman who was walking her dog. So I fessed up about the game, which she seemed genuinely intrigued by, and we walked together back to the hill into the village having a bit of a chat about caching, and why I’d come all the way here to do it. That made a nice finish to a rainy walk.

Over the Top

On the way up from Sanquhar there’s a pass between two villages, upon which there were a couple of caches. So I stopped on the way over to do those.

The event was being held in Leadhills, primarily, because the organiser of the Caledonian Cachefest lives up there. Officially though, the Leadhills Miner’s Library is a particularly interesting historical location in an otherwise out-of-the-way sort of place, and is well worthy of an event cache. I parked up at the big car park in the centre of the village and tried to spot a way into the huge building just there. That was the wrong building though. The library is the somewhat smaller one next door. OK, fair enough. The library houses a significant collection of antiquarian books. When I arrived it also housed the event organisers.

Walking Around

I didn’t spend long in the event. I was feeling kind of restless all day, so after 20 minutes or so I walked out and started picking at the caches in the village. There was a bit of a spread of these, including a sequential adventure labs that required going all the way over to Wanlockhead. These started at the north end of town (which I’m calling “the bottom” because it was downhill), and gradually worked their way over the top.

I’d been in contact with Pesh and Mr+MrsMinion again and was waiting for them to arrive so we could cache together in the afternoon again. Pesh needed to move from one campsite to another, so they were running a bit late. I kept passing another cacher (well, she was passing me really, because she was driving and I was walking) and we exchanged a few hints and did a bit of mutual signing on a couple of caches. A couple of those were on the way up to Leadhills little railway station. This hosts a heritage railway that provides brief rides up and down the valley where the village sits. The station had some toliets and a small office that sold a few snacks and drinks though. Those were welcome.

While I was pondering what to do next, I got wind that Pesh and Mr+MrsMinion were “in da house” and they were coming up to meet me near the station, so I was able to mooch about for a brief period until they arrived. They’d already done the first lab stage, so we didn’t need to double back, and I was able to just into Pesh’s car so we could continue that series together.

Over the Hill

Stages 3 and 4 of the labs were over in Wanlockhead, which meant I could point the others at the two caches I’d done on the hill on my way in. In Wanlockhead village the final stage of the labs (and a traditional) involved parking at the very top end and taking a bit of a walk. I think the two furry members of the team were ready for a leg stretch, so that worked well.

And from there we went back over the hill to Leadhills again and parked up by the cemetery. Just here there was the final stage of the adventure lab and an earthcache.

Going Downhill

Although it was mid-afternoon, it was way too early for giving up. We had a quick discussion about what to do next. Our conclusion was to go back to fetch my car and then move down the valley. There was a series of about 10 caches down the valley and we reckoned we could do 6-7 of those easily by parking in an obvious off-road parking spot and taking a walk. Those proved to be the best caches of the day. They weren’t particularly challenging but the scenery was good and the weather was as good as it had been all day.

One highlight was definitely a multi that had some very confusing diversionary wording on the page. The overall impression was that the cache itself was somewhere in a culvert that runs under the old railway line. It was a steep route down and we spent ages there going through that culvert. A mistake on my part resulted in a grazed head and some blood. Not a lot, but some. Ultimately, as we were on the verge of giving up, Pesh had a bright idea that somehow we’d overlooked before, and the cache was in hand. How we’d not thought about that earlier I don’t know. I’d literally had it in my hand without realising. Ho hum!

Quizzing

We decided that was enough caching for the day, so we drove separately back down into Moffat and I parked up outside the hotel again. Before going inside to get cleaned and changed I decided I’d get chips for dinner. The local chip shop came with very good recommendations and there was another evening event that meant a quick meal was in order. So I grabbed myself something and then sat on a bench in the High Street eating away. There were lots of other geocachers around, including my companions for the afternoon, who arrived about 20 minutes after me.

The evening event was back at the Proudfoot Centre and involved a quiz on a vaguely Scottish theme. This one was well attended and there was much better engagement than the previous night. My team came third, and we were rewarded with a few trinkets on a geocaching theme.

So another good day spent (partially) in good company and in some very pretty locations. The weather had been just about good enough for most of the day, so I couldn’t really complain about it. I retired to the hotel room and tidied up my caching logs before going to bed.



Moffat Dale

A Rainy Bank Holiday

After yesterday’s trip into the hills, there wasn’t much of a plan for this day, to be honest. Caledonian Cachefest had organized an event up in the woods to the west of Moffat, but that wasn’t going to last all day. I’d toyed with Moffat Dale too, as there looked to be some interesting spots up there. In any case, plans for a Bank Holiday Monday in May in the south of Scotland are very much dependent on the weather.

It’s in the Trees

The morning event was held in the privately owned Brattleburn estate. The form was a scavenger hunt, but not for geocaches. The first task was to get up to the place. The site was supposedly accessible in a “normal” car, but I’ve learned over time that my current car isn’t normal. Not in that sense, anyway. It’s low to the ground and long, so it doesn’t do well off the tarmac. And this place was well off the tarmac. Thankfully, with Pesh still around I was able to cadge a lift up there. He has a 4×4, so he made relatively light work of it.

Not many people turned up, so we decided to split just into two teams. The sketch was to score points by collecting as much information as possible from the items they’d laid out within a fixed time. The further from the start point, the more points. It was quite hilly terrain although there were gravel tracks to walk on. It was a bit of a laugh, but neither team was particularly successful in finding things. The only aid was a printed map, so we had to go “old skool” to navigate around. My team lost a huge amount of time at one point where there were supposedly two things to find. We got one quickly and then spent ages crawling around some trees looking for the second. We didn’t find it.

After the event, I thought I might go for a walk along the Southern Upland Way but ultimately decided against it because the weather looked a bit suspect.

Heaving it Down

So after the event we all decided to head back down to Moffat. As we were descending it started raining. It started raining a lot. So at that point, I was quite glad I wasn’t on top of a hill five miles from the nearest village.

We decided to head back to the campsite where Pesh and the Minions were staying to see if the rain passed away. It was lunchtime anyway. I’d grabbed some things to eat earlier from a cafe on the High Street, so I had that with me. And so we sat in Pesh’s caravan enjoying (cough) a proverbial wet Bank Holiday. It was coming down like stair rods and didn’t exactly look encouraging for the afternoon.

Moffat Dale

After quite a long lunch break we decided to head off up Moffat Dale to see what we could find. On the way out of town, we did a lab cache point that I’d done on Saturday morning but didn’t go back to in the afternoon. And then we started up the main road along Moffat Dale. There was a set of lab caches running up the valley as far as Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall. Most were in little car parks and some had traditional caches at the same place. In one of those small car parks, I think we may have accidentally disturbed a young couple who were, erm, enjoying the Bank Holiday in what they probably assumed would be a peaceful spot. Well, we weren’t there for long, so hopefully we didn’t dampen their passion for too long.

At Grey Mare’s Tail, we pulled off into a slightly bigger car park (that had a few other cars in it). Again there were a couple of other caches here too. It’s a lovely spot, but the top was a bit of a hike that we weren’t really in the mood for. To be fair, the hills around the waterfall are big. The biggest, White Coomb, would be in the top 10% by height if it was a Wainwright. So walking up it on a wet day when it was already well into the afternoon was out of the question. Anyway, we’d already had lunch and I didn’t have any more food or drinks with me.

St Mary’s Loch

Just up the valley from Grey Mare’s Tail we found an absolute gem of a place. Just over a watershed in Moffat Dale lies St Mary’s Loch. It’s the largest lake in the Scottish Borders. On the south side is a smaller one called Loch of the Lowes. It’s obviously popular with tourists as there was a huge car park. There wasn’t a lot else where we parked though. A cafe that was shut, maybe. The main reason was, however, to find geocaches. The Caledonian Cachefest crew had set a series that went around the east side of the lake. Not all the way round though. if they had been, I’d have been tempted to come up here for the whole day. Permission issues, apparently. But we were able to get the canines out of the car and find 5-6 caches quickly by walking across the narrow strip of land between the two lochs. Which was nice…..

Puzzling

The Caledonian Cachefest crew had released a few puzzles near to town in the week before the event. These were generally on a theme of simple encryption techniques. I found some harder than others, and in face I didn’t have one of the solutions until the night before I left home. Anyway, these caches were actually to be found around a small loop of narrow roads to the south of Moffat. We took a guess that it would be quiet enough at 5pm on a Bank Holiday evening to go round in the car rather than walking, and so it proved to be. All were found with a minimum of fuss.

At the very western end of that series was a possible walk through to a few on the other side of the M74, but when we got there it didn’t look suitable for leaving a car, so instead we finished the puzzles and drove around to the other side of the motorway to park in a proper layby. That got us a further four finds and took us past the point of wanting to continue.

A Quiet Evening

Pesh dropped me off in town and as we were all leaving the following day, that was enough. I just had a quiet meal on my own in the hotel and then a whisky or two at the bar and then headed upstairs. The following day I needed to get all the way home again.



Lancaster

Homeward Bound

Homeward bound, but I probably didn’t wish I was. It had been a good weekend, but all such things come to an end. However, I wasn’t in any hurry to get back at all. It was a Tuesday, and a regular work day, but I’d taken it as leave so I could wander back home at a leisurely pace. What I planned to do was to slip into Kendal and then Lancaster to grab a few more caches. Can’t have too much of a good thing.

So I was up at the crack of sparrow fart again to get one final hotel breakfast before heading south. I’d done most of my packing the night before, and had got up early enough that I carried most of my bags down to the car before going for breakfast, so I could make a quick exit.

Kendal

In all my born days I had never previously been into the middle of Kendal. Given the number of times I’ve been to the Lake District that seems strange, but I’d never been there. It has a compact town centre that contained a clutch of lab caches plus a handful of others. That made it a good place to go and spend a couple of hours

To get there I drove down the M74 and M6, and then in the middle of the high-point at Shap I ventured off onto the A6 to complete the drive down into Kendal. Finding a car park proved a little troublesome, partly because the first couple of places I looked were full, and the entrance to the third was obscured by some guys in a roadworks van. I ended up down a very narrow street and had to execute a dodgy turn by backing in and out of someone’s private parking spot. On the return the entrance to my chosen car park was more visible, so in I went and paid for 3 hours of parking. That ought to be enough, as I needed to be away and into Lancaster too.

Varied Scenery

I started off by walking around Kendal’s pedestrianised shopping streets and then onto the side of the River Kent. Initially, I walked north along the river to grab a Wherigo and then came back through town trying to do a couple of multi-caches. I failed here. One was, I’m sure, not there. A second pointed to a location that I just wasn’t willing to hang around. It seemed to be on or in a private property on what seemed to be a very overlooked residential street. I tend not to like searching in places like that.

So back at the river I walked south, completing bits of various lab series. I got as far down as Kendal Parish Church and the Nether Bridge before turning back into town up the main street.

Irritatingly Uphill

Carrying on from here – there was a sequential lab series which, for some reason, the CO decided to start right at the top of the hill (above Castle Howe). That meant I had a “slack” period of caching while I walked all the way up there. It did mean that I got a beautiful view from the top though. There’s a memorial on the top of Castle Howe that has great views across the town (and a couple of caches, naturally).

This particular set of lab caches earned itself quite a low review score though. One point removed for being sequential (there was no need because there was no logical flow through the five locations). Another point or two was lost because more the final location required you to go to three different places to gather the information (over a spread of 150m or so). It wasn’t completely obvious which buildings I was trying to look at. That makes it hit-and-miss plus a test of patience, which it shouldn’t be.

All in all though, a nice few hours spent in the town with some lovely weather. Shame I missed a bunch of the multi-caches, but never mind.

See below the map of Kendal for a description of my trip to Lancaster.



Lancaster

Kendal to Lancaster via the M6 is not the most time-consuming trip, to be honest. Lancaster is another English town (well, city, in this case) that I’d previously never been to. The town centre had all the hallmarks of a provincial English town. A mix of traditional stone buildings and newer brutalist concrete things, and a mix of commercial and residential buildings. Central Lancaster has a very specific residential building in its centre, which is a bit odd. There’s a grand looking castle on a hill above the station which was converted to a prison.

The Caching

Back at the plot, I parked on the north-east edge of the town centre and walked in a vaguely anti-clockwise loop around town. As with Kendal, there was a selection of lab cache series intermingled with a few traditional types. Most were quite easy to do and took me to some of the best pieces of architecture in town. I guess that’s one good thing about lab caches. In an urban environment they tend to focus on bits of architecture that you otherwise my not take any interest in. Two of the lab series took me to various “blue plaques” commemorating famous people or events. A third one took me to five of Lancaster’s most historic buildings.

Towards the end of the walking loop I found myself in a large square in front of the Town Hall. It has a very impressive statue of Queen Victoria in the middle, and I took the opportunity here to rest my feet a little whilst contemplating a final traditional cache.

I was in the middle of Lancaster for a somewhat shorter time than in Kendal. The caches were more tightly packed together and there weren’t any sequential ones. I think I was only there for about 2 hours before getting back to my car.

That’ll Do

I came home from Lancaster along the traditionally stressful route down the M6, but to be honest it was much quieter than I expected. It was after 4pm when I left Lancaster, so I was expecting to get stuck in traffic around Preston or Manchester, but it was clear most of the way.