Sunday, 18 December 2011

Coming of Age 3 Event

Group Photo

Coming of Age 3 by Superted

This was the third event in the Coming of Age series, they are called 'Coming of Age' for no other reason than that they are held on the 18th of the month, this month the 18th fell on a Sunday so the event was held outdoors and started at 9.30am.  A very frosty morning, so only for the really hardened cacher that doesn't mind an early Sunday start on a very cold day

The event was held in Newbold Comyn Park, Leamington Spa, a park we'd never been to before.  On arrival at the event we were met by a gathering of friendly cachers, some we knew some we hadn't yet got to know.  Superted was busy cooking up bacon butties for everyone and there were hot drinks and stollen to tuck into. 

After a mingle and chat the details for 8 new caches were handed out.  After entering all the co-ords into the Oregon we headed off with Dadu13 and soon found ourselves in a much larger group with many other cachers including Homer Trackers, Monki, Blue Nora, gaz_zippy, birder1951, Shanks Pony and along the way we were joined by many others.  I think we managed a couple of group FTFs and Dadu13 and Gaz_zippy found their 2000th caches!

The weather was very kind to us and we enjoyed a frosty walk in the sunshine picking up the new caches and an existing cache along the way.  Then after a couple of hours we were back at the car park and Superted was serving up delicious soup, which was lovely and warmed us up nicely, then just time for some more geo-chat before heading home as it was now raining quite hard.

A thoroughly enjoyable event, looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Break From The Norm

A series of seven caches that are in the 'break from the norm' theme on a walk that's just over 1½ miles near Flyford Flavell.

We had considered leaving these caches for a Christmassy walk on Christmas day but as we were out setting some caches of our own not far away (more about that in a minute) we decided to do them on our way home, as it looked like we'd just have enough daylight to complete the walk.

The terrain was flat and there was only one stile to negotiate which was dog friendly, in fact the whole walk was dog friendly and the only livestock we encountered were sheep.

All the caches were cleverly Christmas themed, we really enjoyed finding them and each time tried to imagine what we'd be searching for before we arrived at GZ.  I've not included any photos so as not to spoil it for anyone that's not done them yet.  Our favourite was #7, certainly got quite a surprise with that one .   A thoroughly enjoyable mini-series which really put us in the Christmas spirit........


Right, about those new caches.... 
Mark: Some time ago I had the idea of having several Wherigo caches in one cartridge. My original idea was to have nine caches which had to be found in order to unlock a final cache. The idea was to pick up nine pieces of a treasure map. In order to allow for the fact that cachers might find these map sections in any order, I had to have 512 different images to cover all possible combinations. This worked fine in the emulator but when I tried it in the Oregon it worked but was soooo slow to respond that it was a no-goer.
Back to the drawing board. @-)

I did away with the 512 map pieces and tried to think of a new theme to  connect a group of caches together. While flicking through the Schotts Miscellany looking for inspiration I saw a list of Santa's eight reindeer!
Perfect! But hang on, in that case I'd need to get it done in time for Christmas.
In order to test the logic, I took some waypoints along our usual evening dog walk. Poo bin, letter box, telephone box etc and the next few nights tweaked the prototype. Added bits here, removed bits there until I had something which worked reliably. Now to find somewhere to place the actual caches.

I'd spotted a nice little cache-free circular walk near Stratford and submitted a cache with ten final location waypoints on it for Geohatter to check that there were no show-stopping problems with the route.
There was!. Half of the waypoints were within a local nature reserve and another was too close to  the final location of the only puzzle cache in the area that we hadn't actually found yet.

After more pouring over the map, I spotted a potential location and we went out and placed the caches. After adding all the new co-ords into the prototype we returned the next day to try it for real.

The Oregon worked fine of course. The Mio failed to detect one of the zones. A bit of wandering backwards and forwards would have probably worked but we were pressed for time and had to abort the Mio test.  Donna tested it on the iPhone and it sort of worked but it didn't unlock the bonus zone so I'll have to try and work out what the problem is there.
About the Wherigo.

After arriving at the parking co-ordinates, you will see that there are eight locations.

These are all logable caches with a physical box etc.  When you get to within 50 feet of each location a cache and a reindeer will show up in the 'You See' screen.  If you click on the reindeer you get an action - 'catch'. This will add the reindeer to your inventory. You need to 'catch' all eight reindeer in order to unlock the location for bonus 1 'Santa's Grotto'.

The 'cache' item has two actions - 'View Hint' and 'Mark as Found'.  Marking it as found simply hides the zone from the list of locations.

Each physical cache has a laminated card in it with a letter/number pair on it. You need to make a note of all of these in order to calculate the final location of the second bonus cache.  The bonus numbers were chosen so that if one cache goes missing it should be possible to guess what the missing number is and still find the bonus cache.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Elmley Castle

A series of 14 caches + 2 (a multi and an existing cache).
Set on a 5½ mile figure of eight walk below Bredon Hill.

A perfect day to be out caching - sun shining, no rain and just a slight nip in the air.  We had been looking forward to doing these caches as it's in an area we've always enjoyed walking.  

We decided to take Poppy and Whisper with us as the walk looked dog friendly and we weren't disappointed,  we didn't encounter any dog proof stiles or cattle.  The only livestock we came across were sheep so no problem at all.

Poppy's ears blowing in the wind

The series had a very good selection of hides and sizes and were spaced just the right distance apart for a walk of this length.  The multi in particular was very enjoyable, the first stage had us scratching our heads for a few minutes but then I spotted it, very good and not a hide we'd come across before.  The second stage was a very quick find but once again a very well hidden stage that blended in perfectly with its surroundings, then it was onto the final - sorry, no spoilers here .

When we got to #9 we realised we'd left Whisper's lead on the fence at #8 as Mark had stopped to change the batteries in his Etrex.  It was about ½ mile walk back but we had time constraints for an appointment mid-afternoon so we decided to press on and drive round at the end of the series for a slightly shorter walk to #8 and pick it up.

We took in an existing cache and made a detour a little way up Bredon hill to Fy Eiliaf (the distraction cache) but as we arrived at GZ we could see there were  foresters working in the woods so we had to wait quite some time for them to move on before we could search for the cache, luckily we could admire the view while we waited .

Then it was back down the hill to #13 - Jumbo's seat, a nice little multi to complete the series, what a great spot for a bench here and two beautiful Crab Apple trees.

'Red Sentinel'

Back at the car we ate our lunch then we drove round to pick up the dog lead from #8.  Mark ran back but unfortunately the lead had already gone.  We puzzled over this as we couldn't understand why it had been moved so quickly, then later on in the evening we received an email from a fellow cacher who had found the lead and when they'd seen our name in the log book realised it must belong to us so picked it up.  It was very kind of them but unfortunately we don't live near to them so we won't be able to collect it.

All in all a highly recommended walk.

Elmley Castle Walk

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Other Stu's 40th Birthday Series

All Saints Church, Ridgmont

Headed down to Milton Keynes to do The Other Stu's Birthday Series today.  Parked up in the village of Ridgmont and off we went.  A sunny but chilly start to the walk but we soon warmed up as we got walking in the autumn sunshine.  The series is set on a 9.5 mile circular walk in the countryside around the small village of Ridgmont.  Just as we left the car Mark remembered he had a Geocoin in his pocket which wants to accompany cachers on a day of caching  We decided this would be a good a day as any so we photographed it at every cache. 

Along the route we passed some interesting/unusual sights including a company that exports London black cabs and a house that seemed to collect Austin Maestros in the garden and use them as garden sheds, not to mention the many disused agricultural trailers opposite the house.

Unusual garden storage

All the caches (apart from 1 DNF ) were easy to find and the terrain was very easy going.

All the cache listings include information from each year of The Other Stu's life which was very interesting and kept us amused on the walk.

Segenhoe Church

On the way round we spotted a multi-cache that we hadn't planned to do but decided to give it a go as it was in such an interesting location.  It was Faith No More which was set at the now disused church in Segenhoe.  It took quite some time to gather the clues together,and at one point we considered giving up but perseverance paid off and we had the final co-ordinates.

All in all a very enjoyable walk which we would highly recommend.

The Love Bench

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Kingsbury Water Park & Bodymoor Heath

Bodymoor Heath

Kingsbury Water Park and Bodymoor Heath Stroll

Decided to do a spot of mid-week caching and head over to Kingsbury Water Park with the bikes, we were hoping it would be a bit quieter than at weekends.  We parked up near the canal at Bodymoor Heath Stroll: No Fishing where we've parked a couple of times on previous caching trips to the area.  A bit of a chilly start on the bikes but we soon warmed up as we got going.  Decided to head south and do half of the canal caches before coming back up and detouring to Kingsbury Water Park.

We thoroughly enjoyed the ride around Kingsbury Water Park, all the caches were well hidden but all were easy to find with a variety of hides and sizes.  On our way round the park we bumped into cachers Dave77st, Donkey Derby and UKLifesaver, they were caching and Munzeeing, always great to bump into other cachers for a chat.
Swans on Swann Pool
There's so much to see and do in the park, it would be a perfect place for families to visit.  It has 15 lakes situated in 600 acres of country park and is renowned for its bird-life, we spotted lots of interesting birds, some we couldn't identify but we saw heron and swans.  Once you've found the caches there's a visitor centre, adventure playground, a children's farm, cafe, bike hire and even a miniature railway but you'd need to check the website for details as it only runs at certain times of the year.

Then it was back to the canal to complete the rest of the Bodymoor Heath Stroll (more of a roll than a stroll on our bikes ) .

Bodymoor Heath
All together we clocked up 10 miles on our bikes, a very enjoyable bike ride and we'd highly recommend it.

Bodymoor Heath & Kingsbury Water Park

House of Tudor

We rounded off the day with a walk around the lake at Middleton Hall.  Starting at House of Tudor - Henry VII.  There were signs saying that the grounds were closed so we decided to do the series in reverse and we were able to find our way around the lake and back through the grounds without any trouble at all.

Middleton Hall - House of Tudor

We thoroughly enjoyed our walk here and glad we found time to fit it in before heading home.  The walk through the woodland area was very picturesque with lots of interesting trees, fungi and wildlife.

Shaggy Ink Cap

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween Hides and Creepy Caches Event

After a note was posted on the West Midlands Caching group on Facebook we decided to meet up with friends for a spot of caching in Nether Heyford before heading off to the Halloween Hides and Creepy Caches Event in Bugbrooke.  We named our group Team Spooks to save on log book space.

The afternoon caches were released just before 3pm and we headed off with Team Spooks.  On the spur of the moment we decided to go anti-clockwise and managed 9 FTFs before meeting other caching teams coming the other way.  All caches were fairly easy finds and on a spooky theme.  Once back at the pub we brewed up a cuppa out the back of the car and had a bite to eat before donning our Halloween costumes and regrouping for the evening night caches which were released just before 7.30pm - (NOTE TO SELF: Never put fancy dress make up on in the dark!).  Caching in a group once again although the caching teams had changed and this time we signed the log books as Team Death.  Once again the caches were of a spooky theme although some were far more gory this time.


A fantastic event, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with friends old and new and we really appreciate all the hard work that must have gone into setting it all up.  Also it was great to see so many people getting into the 'spirit' of the occasion with some fabulous outfits.  We are really looking forward to next year - HH & CC Mega perhaps

Friday, 28 October 2011

Alphabet Soup


Series of 26 traditional caches set on a 9½ mile circular walk around Darley Dale in Derbyshire.

Some of our friends had done this series recently and recommended it to us, when we looked at 'A' and saw that it had over 100 favourite points we knew it must be worth checking out and plans were made to fit it in this week.  We visited the Peak District on Tuesday to do the Little Britain series and after checking weather reports decided to make a return journey to the area today.  Set off from home in thick fog at 06:45 and arrived at 08:50, still foggy but the weather forecast was for sun later so we weren't too concerned.

Great views.... of the fog :-)

The route meanders through fields, woodland and along country lanes.  Some of the paths were quite slippery due to recent rainfall and the leaf litter on the rocks.  Also some sections of the route were extremely steep up and down and at times wondered if we were taking the correct path but there were useful route instructions on the cache listings which were very helpful.

Essential caching snacks

We can't say too much about the individual caches but suffice to say a lot of thought and effort has gone into setting up the series, they are all fairly easy finds but some of them required a bit more thought to actually get to sign the log book.  Our favourites in the series were A, Q, P & J. 

Fab views

The sun came out about 11:00 and we were treated to some stunning views and gorgeous autumn colours.  We completed the walk in just under 5½ hours, this included stopping for a picnic lunch for about 15 minutes.

All in all a highly recommended series that we thoroughly enjoyed.