Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Roaches

Back in 2010 we watched the Secret Britain series on BBC with Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury and they featured a place called 'Lud Church' ever since it's been on our list of places to visit.  During the week we were planning where to go for a day out on Saturday and as our daughter was heading off to the Peak District with the Explorer Scouts for the weekend to take part in the annual Dove Trek, it gave us the idea to visit Lud Church and then go on and find Staffordshire's Highest cache.  So that was the plan..... but then we saw the weekend weather forecast and it was for heavy showers so we just hoped that the showers wouldn't be too heavy.
Gradbach Youth Hostel

After a 2 hour drive we arrived at the Gradbach Car Park and set off towards Lud Church.  On the way we passed Gradbach Youth Hostel, it was bustling with walkers and outdoor types.

Lud's Church is a deep chasm penetrating the Millstone Grit bedrock created by a massive landslip on the hillside above Gradbach in the Peak District National Park, Staffordshire.  It is located in a wood known as Back Forest, it is over 100 m long and 18 m deep.  Inside the church it is mossy and wet and noticeably much cooler than outside the church.

Inside Lud's Church
There are many legends connected with this area - Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonny Prince Charlie have all hidden here from the authorities.  Another legend has it that Lud's church was named after a huntsman pursuing a deer on horseback and was led to the chasm.  He failed to see the danger but his horse Lud did, when the rider went too close the horse bucked and threw him to his death in the chasm. The legend also suggests that the huntsman still roams around the wood covered from head to toe in moss and is known as The Green Man.

We spent ages exploring and taking photos inside the church before heading back down to the car park.  A truly amazing place (Lud church not the car park!!).

We decided to relocate the car for our walk to Staffordshire's Highest Cache.  We were glad that we did because in the few miles that we drove the heavens opened and it chucked it down, then as soon as we arrived at the parking it stopped - how about that for timing?

Rock Hall Cottage
The path to the top passes Rockhall Cottage, it was built as a hunting lodge by Sir Philip Brocklehurst of Swythamley Hall, however originally there existed a cave dwelling known as Rock Hall at this location, this cave was occupied by an old crone called Bess Bowyer who lived to be nearly 100 years old.  The  Cottage is now owned by The British Mountaineering Council.  You can read more about the folklore connected with the cottage here.

Doxey Pool

The path takes you on a gentle climb up to the top path.  Along the path we passed a pool of water known as Doxey Pool.  There are two myths attached to this allegedly bottomless Pool.  According to one legend it is said to be the home of Jenny Greenteeth, a seductive mermaid who lures travellers to a watery grave.  Another legend says that Doxey Pool is named after the daughter of Bess Bowyer from the nearby Rock Hall Cave dwelling. It is said that Bess died of a broken heart when her daughter, a beautiful singer, was carried off by strange men one winter’s day.  The ghost, the ‘singing woman of the Roaches’ who walks the ridge on dark nights, is said to be the spirit of her daughter.

The Roaches

Really enjoyed the fabulous walk along The Roaches to the trigpoint and Staffordshire's Highest Cache, amazing views and scenery.  Then it was back along the top and back to the car.  A really fabulous walk which we would highly recommend......... and just by luck the rain held off until we got back to the car!

Amazing what you see on The Roaches!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Night Caching

A few days ago there was a discussion on Facebook about which of your own caches has had the most finds and how long has it been active.  AirEd posted that his Terror in Trittiford cache hadn't had many visits in the 12 months since it had been set.  It was a cache that we weren't aware of so posted that we'd try and pop along to do it this evening, we were contacted by caching friends Dadu13 and a meet was arranged.

Terrified in Trittiford!

We met up at the parking and off we went with our head torches.  The younger members of the group enjoyed finding the hidden reflectors, we were spooked by eyes that lit up in the torchlight but luckily it was just a muggle walking her alsatian and before long we were at GZ and Mrs Dadu soon had her hands on the cache which was covered in slugs. The children of the group weren't ready to go home yet and asked if we could go and find some more so as the night was still young we decided to head over to Copt Heath to find the new caches around the golf course.

As it happened we were able to make a circular walk of 2½ miles out of it and took in a couple of other caches in Knowle before finding our way back to the car.

Great fun and a great way to spend a Thursday evening.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Caching in Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire

Cars from the 60s Series

Caches - 16
Length of Walk - 4.6 miles

Can we stay here instead?

As the forecast was for a lovely sunny day we decided to make the most of it and do some more Marrow Bone caches.  We are always really pleased when we see some more of these great caches published as the area is only just over ½ hours drive from home so ideal for Sunday caching trips or days when we need to stay closer to home.  Our daughter completely surprised us this morning by asking if she could come along with us!!!!  She's in training for the Annual Explorer Scouts Dove Trek so is keen to get a few more walks in beforehand as she is determined their team will win this year.

Nope it's not down there ;)

The series is set around the theme of cars from the 60s era.  The walk starts in Bishops Itchington, a village 6½ miles South East of Leamington Spa.  The route takes you along footpaths, across fields and along quiet lanes to Knightcote then back again.  As we approached Austin A35 we could see caching friends Poshrule and Roger Rabbit, enjoyed a chat before going our separate ways as they were going the other way round and were almost at the end of their walk.  At the end of the walk we realised that we too perhaps should have gone anti-clockwise as the route wasn't particularly well marked through the farm at Humber Sceptre and we had to take a short detour across private land to rejoin a footpath but apart from this there was no problem with the route.

All the caches were well thought out with a nice variety of hides and sizes with good views on the way round.

We completed the walk in 2 hours 20 minutes.

Then it was on to the second series of the day.

Bird of Prey Series

St Michael's Church, Stockton

Caches - 17 + 1 Extra
Length of Walk - 4.2 Miles

A circular walk starting from Southam in Warwickshire, the route takes you out as far as the village of Stockton.  All caches are named after Birds of Prey

T shirt weather!

Took us a little while to find somewhere to leave the car, in the end we parked in St Wulstan Way then made the short walk to Hobby.  Before setting off we dug deep into the bottom of the caching bag and applied some sun cream, we could feel the backs of our necks burning after walking in the sun in the morning, it's amazing how intense the sun has been today.

All the caches were straightforward to find and the walk was very pleasant.  One thing we noticed was how quickly the nettles are starting to grow now the milder weather is here, lots of signs of spring with tadpoles, daffodils and lambs.

A cluster of mini-trigpoints

We completed the walk in 2 hours 10 mins then all too soon it was time to head home.  When we were heading home down the M40 I yelled out  'THERE'S POSHRULE AND ROGER RABBIT' and our daughter commented how crazy that would sound if there'd been any non-cachers in our car - they were at Norton Manx a cache we'd found a few weeks ago.

What a brilliant weekend of caching we've had

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Caching in Leicestershire

Parish Ramble

Caches - 30
Length of Walk - 6.5 miles

St Peter's Church, Arnesby
We were looking at walk ideas for the weekend and spotted this series on our to-do list, looked perfect for the time that we had available today.

The walk starts in the village of Arnesby which is about 10 miles south of Leicester.  We parked up near the church in Arnesby and set off at 09:25, we set a target to complete it by 13:00 at the latest as we had another shorter series lined up for the afternoon and needed to get back home fairly early  for taxi duties

The walk takes you through the nearby pretty villages of Shearsby, Bruntingthorpe and Peatling Magna in the Leicestershire countryside.  

St Mary Magdalene Church, Shearsby

En route we stopped to find the cache at the church of St Mary Magdalene.  We approached it a little apprehensively as GZ appeared to be in the churchyard and the church is in an elevated position above the houses so we felt a little conspicuous, a quick check of the listing and it explained that the villagers are aware that the cache exists.  The oldest grave in the churchyard dates back to 1601!

Just as we got to the phone box in Bruntingthorpe my mobile phone rang so Mark nipped in to find the cache, leaving me outside chatting on my phone, the people tending the garden of the nearby house looked over and must've thought it a bit of an odd thing to do, with Mark standing in an empty phone box and me on a mobile phone standing outside - oh well

Ornate stile

The walk is very pleasant and the route is well marked.  A lot of thought has gone into setting this series, with some nicely crafted caches.  All caches were straightforward to find with useful hints where needed.

Completed the walk in 3 hours and 10 minutes so well within our target.   Then it was back to the car for hot soup and rolls - yummy!

Then it was off to Cosby for our second walk of the day.

Pirates Plunder

Caches - 9 caches
Length of walk - 2¼ miles


Anything piratey appeals to us so we were keen to do this series once we'd spotted it

The walk takes you along a stretch of the disused Great Central Railway which was closed in May 1969 near the village of Cosby in Leicestershire.

It must be here somewhere :-)

All the caches were fairly straightforward to find and were all pirate themed.

Really enjoyed the walk in an interesting location which took us an hour to complete.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Wast Hills Nr Alvechurch, Worcestershire

Almost spring :-)
WHW Series

Caches - 10 + 3 extra with a short detour
Length of Walk - 3½ miles

A free afternoon so we decided to head over to the Wast Hills to walk the dogs, oh and pick up a few caches whilst we were there .  The Wast Hills Walk is a series of 10 caches set on a 3½ mile walk.  We've already found the existing caches so I think there are a possible 16 to be found, with a short detour here and there.

Parked up near The Peacock Pub and headed off on our walk.  We'd taken a gamble taking the dogs with us as we'd read about the stiles but we just hoped they would be dog-friendly.  We needn't have worried and we are pleased to report that the route is completely dog friendly, there were quite a few stiles but the dogs were able to squeeze under or around them easily.

Spring is definitely on its way, with lots of signs to be seen, lambs, catkins, daffodils and even the sun put in an appearance for us.

Lots of lambs about on the Wast Hills

A very enjoyable walk which we completed in 1 hour 40 minutes.  All the caches were very straightforward to find with sensible hints where needed and a good variety of caches.

Before heading home we made a detour to find Bonus - 1 by 1, we'd solved this one when it was published but we decided to save it for our trip to the area this afternoon.  We are gradually working our way through the many Blindmouse caches but as it's a bit of a drive out for us it's taking quite some time.  A very enjoyable cache.  We remembered going along this path to a cache we did not long after we started caching.

Then it was time to head home for tea

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Hobditch Hunt

Poppy and Whisper

Caches - 40
Walk Distance - 9.5 miles (We split the walk into 3 shorter walks)

Hobditch Hunt is a series of 40 caches set on the country lanes and footpaths around the village of Ullenhall in Warwickshire.

Across the Track

24th February - As the series is fairly close to home we decided to split it into 3 walks.  The day they were published we'd just dropped our daughter off at a sleepover and had a free evening ahead so we decided to head out for a spot of night caching.  We parked in a small lay-by near to HH30 and followed the circuit around to HH40 then across the field to HH29 and back to the car, making a walk of 2½ miles.  We managed 9 FTFs before bumping into Big Batch who was doing the series in a different order, enjoyed a brief chat before going our separate ways.  Haven't done much night caching lately so it was really good fun.  Can't comment on the suitability for dogs on this circuit as we didn't have them with us but as far as we can remember there were no dog proof stiles.  All the caches were very nicely crafted and thought out, with a good variety of sizes from nano to Regular - our favourite being HH35 - Chicken Run.

Completed the second circuit on the afternoon of 2nd March.  Parked up on the verge and started at HH01 and followed the circuit around to HH13.  All the caches were straightforward with useful hints and good hides.  Our favourite of this circuit has to be HH05 as it's the first of this type we've found.  A short section of the walk involves a return trip along a private driveway, when we returned the owner of the property was sweeping the driveway and as we went to acknowledge him he turned away - the path has probably never had so many visitors   The walk was very enjoyable and once again nicely thought out caches but unfortunately this circuit wasn't at all dog friendly with many dog proof stiles to negotiate and we spent quite a bit of time finding gaps in fences etc for Poppy and Whisper to get through.  When we got to the dog-proof fence and stile on the way to #11 we decided to go our separate ways, Mark continued alone to #11 and I took the longer route down the lanes with the dogs as we knew there'd be more dog proof stiles on the way back.  

Please lift me over :-)
Fast-forward to Sunday 4th March and we had a couple of hours free in the afternoon and just time to complete the final circuit.

Whisper waiting for a bikkie :-)

We parked on the verge and walked down the lane to start at HH15.  This circuit was probably our favourite of the series, it was completely dog friendly - apart from just one dog-proof stile at HH17 but the dogs were able to get under the barbed wire fence further along so no problem really.

We set off fully goretexed but the rain stopped not long after we set off and we enjoyed a lovely walk in the afternoon sunshine but the wind was still bitterly cold reminding us that it's not spring yet.

Then that was the series complete, we've really enjoyed doing them and appreciate the time and effort that must've gone into setting them.

Caching in Staffordshire

Chorley Circular

Nearly Spring!

Caches - 32 + Bonus
Length of walk:  6.2 miles

A 6 mile walk around the village of Chorley in Staffordshire. The walk takes you along quiet country lanes and public footpaths. The bonus cache can be found en route and you will find the co-ords in a few of the caches in the series.

Our trip to Chorley today was planned at the last minute, the weather forecast didn't look great and we had time constraints so we had a few ideas of places to go and this one looked the most feasible in the time we had.

We parked at the suggested parking nearest to #1 just after 10.00 and as we were putting on our boots and waterproofs another car pulled up and we recognised it as Mr Wizz another cacher we'd met previously on a night cache as part of a meet up from the West Midlands Facebook group.  We explained that we were going to try and finish the walk by 13:30 so warned him that we might walk a bit fast this point I feel I ought to explain.... we have never really thought of ourselves as fast walkers until we bumped into another cacher a few months ago and he was sweating profusely trying to keep up with us and commented that we walked very fast.  We nearly always only cache together so don't usually have to take anyone else's pace into consideration (our teenagers walk fast too) anyway........... by the time we got to the second cache Mr Wizz said that he had a lot more time to spare today than us and we should carry on ahead, so we said our goodbyes and carried on.

As it happened the rain cleared up just after we set off and the sun shone for most of the walk, it was a cold wind but the sun helped to keep us warm.

At #10 we met Wandering Wells, it was really good to meet them as we'd had email contact with them recently so it was very nice to put faces to names.  It made us smile as we said how nice it was that their children were so keen and they explained the payment system for every cache that was found, we have resorted to these methods in the past to keep our children keen.  We left them behind at #18 as they were stopping at the pub in the village for their lunch.

Farewell Church

At #14 we spotted a couple in the bushes, we felt sure they were cachers so we stopped to say 'hello', it was John & Felicity, they explained they were only doing part of the circuit as they were on a walk from Chester to Lichfield!  That's one of the best things about caching, the people you meet and you instantly have something to talk about.

We really enjoyed the walk today, the cache owner has gone to a lot of time and effort to set this series, with very well crafted caches and good hides.  We completed it in just over 3 hours and were back at the car by our target of 13:30.

We didn't have our dogs with us today so we can't comment on the suitability for dogs but there were quite a number of stiles so possibly it wouldn't be the best walk with geo-mutts.

Chase Memorial

Then we just had time to head up to Cannock Chase to find  Chase Memorial.  This one has been on our to-do list for quite some time so as we were fairly close decided to make the 10 mile detour to find it and we're very glad we did. We parked up in the car park next to the Katyn Memorial and then made the short walk to the cache.

Katyn Memorial

It's always good to find old caches and this one was set in September 2001, looking through the past logs is like looking at a Who's Who of cachers .  The original cache was a tupperware tub but in 2009 it was replaced with a very nice ammo can.

Chase Memorial

Then at 14:30 it was time to head home.

Cannock Chase