Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Day Out In London

67012 - A Shropshire Lad
We visited London back in our pre-caching days in 2005 and did all the usual tourist stuff and have been wanting to return for quite a while.  The cost of getting there by train is prohibitively expensive but at the weekend we saw a Chiltern Railways TV advertisement for travel to London from Solihull for £1 each way to promote their new fast mainline service - only 1 hour and 22 mins!!  Without further ado the tickets were booked.

We left our house at 06:15 to be on the train in Solihull for 07:03 and arrived at Marylebone at 08:30. We'd bought off peak travel cards for the underground and these were valid from 09:30.   Not a problem as we had in mind the perfect way to fill the time - Abbey Road Web Cam  outside the famous Abbey Road Studios which is only a short walk from Marylebone.

Apparently the wall outside
the studios is repainted every 3 months!

The webcam overlooks the zebra crossing made famous by The Beatles' album cover.  The location of the crossing becomes obvious by the hordes of tourists milling around trying to recreate their own 'album cover' photo and the webcam makes quite compelling view.  Mark had prearranged with a colleague to do the screen grab but we also phoned our son (who was at home just getting ready to go to college) and asked him to take a screen grab as well.

Abbey Road Webcam

Then it was onto the Tube from St John's Wood to Westminster.  Here we did the The Palace of Westminster virtual and a short multi, then across the river to Parliament View then it was time for a quick rest at a pavement cafe  and a VERY tasty cup of coffee.

Graffiti Tunnel - Leake Street
Next we continued down to Banksy woz ere, after finding the cache we had a look in the Graffiti Tunnel.  This 200 metre disused road tunnel was the location of the Banksy Cans Festival back in 2008 and is now a designated area for graffit artists to display their work legally.  Unfortunately all Banksy work seems to have now been painted over.

Graffiti Tunnel

We had a surprise find at Southbank lion as it was disabled and we had a look on the off chance as we were passing and it seems that Dorsetgal & Geodog had replaced the cache the day before, there was also a little gift in the cache of a pathtag for the next finder to celebrate the cache having had 1900 visits!  Then it was onto BlindSpot right next to the London Eye, where we met a Swiss cacher, Smurfy_CH who was on holiday in London, we both arrived at GZ at the same time.

Then after stopping for our packed lunch at the bottom of the Monument we were back on the Tube and onto the next group of caches on our 'must do' list.  TechNOLOGY was a straightforward virtual and then round the corner for Last Delivery (believed to be UK's most visited cache!) which was probably my favourite of the day as it was such a tranquil spot in the middle of such a busy city.

Last Delivery

A Meating Place for Martyrs virtual took longer than it should as we spent ages looking in the wrong place due to having a poor signal inbetween the tall buildings.

We then walked down to St Etheldreda's and 16th Century pub which has to be the quaintest pub we've ever seen, we were getting pushed for time so no time for a drink just a quick look inside.

Second Oldest Pub in London

Then back on the Tube : Chancery Lane to Oxford Circus.

Managed to grab the Oxford Circus webcam image using the iPhone but the image only changes every five minutes or so, so we were standing in the middle of the road for quite a while.  However, I managed to occupy myself by taking arty photos of red things!

Oxford Circus

Then we only had half an hour left before we needed to be on our train so it was back on the Tube to Marylebone and straight onto the train and back to Solihull.

We had such a fun time and it will definitely go down as one of the best days we've had caching, a very memorable day.  There are still plenty of old and interesting caches to do in the middle of London... looking forward to the next rail offer!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Our 8000th and a walk around Dudmaston Hall

28 + 2 caches on a 6 mile circular walk

Curly Tree

We had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast all week as we were hoping to go to the Brecon Beacons but they had forecast rain for that area so we decided to postpone our trip (again) and hopefully before the winter sets in we can take a walk up PenyFan.

So today we took a trip to Bridgenorth for a 6 mile walk on the paths around Quatt , an area that we have walked previously on caching trips and close to Dudmaston Hall.  We parked at the free National Trust car park to start the walk and where there is also a cache Dudmaston Parking.

Our 8000th Cache!

We soon came to the first cache, J MCENROE which was rated as 4½/4½ , Mark had packed some specialist equipment but it would seem that maybe the cache has moved as it was much easier to retrieve than expected so specialist equipment was not actually needed.  Then on with the walk.

An enjoyable walk with great views along good footpaths.  We stopped part way round near the ferry at Hampton Loade which was running today and quite busy.  We realised that the cache was in a perfect location to sit and have our lunch whilst we signed the log book.  We'd just finished our lunch and were about to set off again when we were joined by our geo-friend Harry The Furry Squid, so we joined forces for the rest of the walk and enjoyed catching up on news.  The rain held off for the walk and we were soon back at the car park. Including a lunch stop, we completed in a little under 4 hours.  All the caches were easy to find and were a good mix of hides and sizes.  There were only 2 fields with cows but they were no trouble at all.

Before returning home we headed off to Comer Wood to find some of the Arboreal Advenures caches, which are really great fun if you like tree climbing (luckily Mark does), we only had time for 2 of them so we will return another day to complete the rest.  The caches are set in beautiful woodland and it was a pleasure to return to this area.

Then it was time to head home, we timed it just right as the heavens opened and it chucked it down as soon as we got back to the car.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Scotland 2011

FĂ ilte gu Alba

Scotland 2011: Counties and Old Caches

Having done the oldest and highest last year, we decided to return to Scotland to find more of the UK's oldest caches.

Several of the oldest are the last remaining ones for the 'Month Set' statistics.  We also decided to visit as many counties as possible en route in order to colour in the county map.

The Plan

Stay four nights in the Scottish borders.
Stop off overnight in York on the way up.
Stop off overnight in Liverpool on the way back.

Western Facade of York Minster


We left home and headed to York calling at Stamford Bridge 'on the way', that was Humberside done.

Spent a lovely afternoon doing the excellent York City Walls Walk series and a couple of virtuals.
Parking fee in York for the afternoon and evening: £7:20.

Then we continued North, stopping overnight at the Travelodge near Scotch Corner.


Headed east to do a virtual that's been on our to-do list for a while - that was Durham done.

Steam Bricks - GC62D7

Continued into Middlesborough to do the Transporter Bridge virtual, really worth a visit and it was fun travelling over the River Tees and back again. You can read more about the Transporter here.
Bridge crossing: 2x £1:30

Middlesborough Transporter Bridge

Then on to the Is it Art and Echo of Echoes virtuals.
That was Cleveland done.

Angel of the North

Now back on track Angel's View View  (a 2001 cache) and Angel's View (only UK remaining cache set in April 2001).
That was Tyne and Wear complete.

Percy's Cross (only UK remaining cache set in May 2001)
Northumberland done!

Over the border and to our accommodation near Jedburgh which we would highly recommend.  The Lodge we stayed in was one of only three in the private garden of a B&B, the lodges are very well equipped and very comfortable.

Our home for the week


Now for the 'biggy'! Reivers' Revenge and Where's Georges Kidney stone?
The only remaining UK caches set in July 2001.

Setting off from Slymefoot

As the crow flies, Reivers Revenge is less than 13 miles away from our accommodation but by road it's a 43 mile drive!  We parked by Slymefoot Pub and  headed anti-clockwise up to 'Reivers Revenge', across to 'Where's Georges Kidney Stone' and then back down 'The Street'. And arrived back at the car for a well earned cuppa and an enormous sense of achievement. Two caches in an 8½ mile walk.
Scottish Borders - done!

On the Scottish Border

All going to plan so far!

Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh

Today we headed to Edinburgh. There are dozens of caches to choose from in the area but you can't do them all so we chose The Royal Mile.  This has been on our watch list since it was featured on Latitude 47 a few months ago.

A really enjoyable cache showing numerous interesting places along and near the famous Royal Mile.
That was Lothian done!

The other cache on our to-do list was the web cam.  Mark fetched the netbook from the car and we all sat down on the bench, made a connection and loaded the page! Great?! Wrongo! The battery on the netbook doesn't hold its charge too well and the thing just shuts down without warning. This is exactly what happened before we could get a screen grab!  Never mind. Mark hot footed it back to the car, plugged the netbook into the inverter and conducted the proceedings via phone. No problem!

Hard Rock Cafe

Having seen enough of Edinburgh we then headed over the Forth Bridge into Fife.
Parking in Edinburgh £15 for 5 hours.

Driving over the Forth Road Bridge

We had found caches within a few miles of Fife last year but had failed to actually find one IN Fife -doh!
That was soon rectified.

Fife - done.


1st September - We had nothing planned cache wise for today so had a quick look to see if anything new had been published in the area and there was one published two days earlier about six miles away! Well that was September's FTF ticked off!

Spent the rest of the morning visiting Jedburgh Castle & Museum and Mary Queen of Scot's house.
Free Parking!

Jedburgh Castle

We soon decided that was enough touristy stuff for one day and headed into the Kielder Forest to do the Forest Drive cache. The Kielder Forest is the largest man-made forest in Europe and covers some 250 square miles.  The cache is set 4 miles along a rough 12 mile long track which is open to the public. A toll is payable at the West end of the track but we just returned the way we had come and then parked up for a very pleasant walk to Hindhope Linn.


First wet day of the week and time to head homeward.
We had a 'list' of 'Must Do' caches and then a list of 'Nice to do' caches.
Kielder Sky Space was on the second list as it's another 2001 cache but it's not a month that we needed.
We took a detour on the way home to the visitor centre at Kielder Castle

Kielder Skyspace

After visiting the castle and having lunch we set off to skyspace as it is  'only' 1.3 miles as the crow flies from the car park.  Another great old cache complete with original logbook!  OK, it was actually a 5½ mile round walk but a fab walk through beautiful forest.

Yellow Stag Horn
Parking £4

Now off to a Travelodge in Liverpool stopping on the way to Sankey Waters (another 2001 cache)
Merseyside done!


Another Place, Antony Gormley

Albert's Famine was on the to-do list but we also wanted to visit Crosby Beach to see the Antony Gormley statues.  A quick check of the tide times and we decided to go to Crosby beach first.  Amazing piece of art. We were really surprised that there wasn't a virtual or even any other cache there which incorporated the statues!

The Yellow Duckmarine

We managed to park right by Albert Dock.  Found the information for the virtual and did the usual touristy stuff. After a couple of hours we'd all had enough and decided it was time to go home - taking in a couple  more Virtuals on the way of course!
Parking £5 for three hours

Royal Liver Building
Stats for the week
  • Counties coloured in : 9
  • Month Set squares filled: 3
  • Miles driven: 1044
  • Miles walked: 30+
  • We have now found all the ten oldest UK mainland caches.
  • Found caches in all the UK mainland counties.
  • Filled as much as is possible of the Month Set grid in the UK.
  • Parking £31.20
UK Mainland  Counties complete
Month Set Grid filling up nicely