Monday, 31 December 2018

Year in Review -2018

GC35: Power Island
Well, yet another year draws to a close.  We've been on some amazing adventures, it's been fun looking back on all the exciting trips to write our Year in Review.

We travelled quite a bit this year.
Our first trip of the year was a hectic, fast-paced trip to Portugal and NW Spain in March which netted us 400 or so Wherigos.
Our 1000th Wherigo find


In May Mark nipped over to Norway to attend a Mega and find some more Wherigo Geo-art.

Someone call Health and Safety!




A week later we attended Geowoodstock which was the USA's first Giga Event.


While 'in the area' we also completed the Jasmer grid for a second time. This required a fair bit of driving and a trip on a power-boat but wasn't too bad as we only needed three more caches.

Completing for a third or fourth time would require a LOT of travelling so we won't be doing that anytime soon.



In July we attended a Mega Event in Austria but decided to do a bit of a road trip and include Slovenia as well.




The following weekend we headed over to Dunkirk for the Geonord Mega Event.
With our friend Arnokovic



At the end of July we attended Piratemania and then the UK Mega the following weekend.


The Yorkshire UK Mega was the 10th Anniversary Mega Event and we were awarded a special trackable for being one of only 15 teams to have attended all 11 'UK Mega' mega events.

Towards the end of August we flew to Krakow, Poland where we attended a Mega Event before visiting Auschwitz, driving to Warsaw and then flying home from there.



At the end of September we flew out to Malaga and travelled down Gibraltar via Ronda where we enjoyed a few days there before travelling back up to Malaga.

Ronda
Referendum Steps - Gibraltar

Winter Geolymix was our 7th and final Mega event of the year.



We have made a few videos of our trips and put them on our YouTube Channel, we hope to add more when we have time to edit and upload them so hit subscribe if you'd like to see updates.

This years' new geocaching milestones etc:

No new furthest caches this year.

New Countries:
Norway
Slovenia
Poland
Gibraltar

New cache types in previously visited countries:

Austria: Mega Event, Event, CITO, Webcam, Virtual, Lab Caches, Wherigo, Letterbox and GPS Exhibit

USA: Giga Event, CITO
France: CITO

'Rare' cache types logged in 2018:
566 Wherigos
11 Webcams
95 Virtuals
150 Lab Caches
7 Mega Events
1 Giga Event
1 ‘Maze’ Exhibit


So, what for 2019?
Well, with the UK Mega being up near Aberdeen, we will probably make a longer trip of it, we have a few ideas but nothing set in stone yet - in the campervan of course.. then there's all those new Virtuals to do... and maybe finally finish the Little Quest... we hope to have some really big news (for us) in a few weeks so stay tuned folks.

Christmas 2018

We had a lovely few days at home with our family over Christmas, it was great to get everyone together and we even managed to get out for a couple of good walks.

On Christmas Eve we walked up to Rivington Pike, it was a lovely sunny day and the views were fantastic.



Rivington Pike

Before Christmas dinner we headed up to the Forest of Bowland and enjoyed a very foggy walk from Victoria Tower, Quernmore on Hare Appletree Fell.
Victoria Tower

After Christmas we'd planned to get away in the camper-van for a few days as we didn't need to be back at work until the New Year.

Thursday - First of all we needed to head down to Alcester to visit family.  Whilst we were there we did a spot of maintenance on a couple of caches in the area.  We've archived a lot of our caches when we moved but have been trying to keep a few of them going.  Then we headed up to Sheffield to drop our daughter off before continuing on towards Norfolk.

Our main focus for the trip was to do the new virtuals, Wherigos and LQs.

First stop was a virtual in a place called Digby.  An old village lock up.  It was dark by the time we arrived but it didn't matter, we were still able get a photo.

GC7B82J The Village Lock Up

As there were so many caches to choose from on our route we decided to just stop off and find Church Micros if they were nearby.

On Friday we enjoyed a wander around West Lynn to play West Lynn ferry walkabout Wherigo.

Church Micro 11126... West Lynn

View of Kings Lynn from West Lynn

The days are so short at the moment that it makes fitting everything in to daylight hours quite difficult, so by the time we reached Sandringham the sun was setting and we had to have a very brisk walk around the Sculpture Park to do the virtual.






Saturday morning our first stop was Wells-next-the-Sea to do the virtual.  This is our first visit here and we loved it, although judging by the size of the car park it probably gets very crowded at peak times.




We'd really like to make 2019 the year we finally complete the Little Quest series.  We found our first one in 2008 and even though we finished our county map a long time ago we never got round to doing the LQ caches.  Out of the 47 we only have a handful left to find and the plan was to find three on this trip.

LQ:Norfolk

Next stop was Burgh Castle Wherigo.  This was an unexpected little gem.  We'd never heard of Burgh Castle before this Wherigo.

The late 3rd century 'Saxon Shore' fort at Burgh Castle was built as part of the Roman network of coastal defences, it was probably abandoned just over a hundred years later. Three of the imposing stone walls survive today, almost to their original height.  This is one of the best preserved Roman monuments in Britain. The fourth wall collapsed into the surrounding marshes a long time ago.



We'd never come across a round tower church before and after reading up about them it seems they are found mainly in England and mostly in East Anglia.

Church Micro 9121...Burgh Castle

There are about 185 surviving examples in the country.  According to the cache listing for the Church Micro at Burgh Castle there are 124 are in Norfolk, 38 in Suffolk, 6 in Essex, 3 in Sussex and 2 each in Cambridgeshire and Berkshire.
Church Micro 7644...Belton
Apparently round tower churches are found in areas lacking normal building stone and are built out of flint. Corners are difficult to construct in flint, hence the thick, round walls of the towers.


Then we drove to Somerleyton to do the new virtual at the Hovercraft memorial column.  This is a great place to have a virtual.


Next place on the whistle-stop tour was Southwold Pier to do an old virtual called Pier Pressure.  Once again it was a race against daylight.  This has been on our to-do list for a very long time.

Southwold Pier has quite an interesting history.  It was built in 1900 and was originally 810 ft long.  It was built as a landing stage for the Belle steamships that travelled from London Bridge.  It's hard to believe now but until the early 1930s most holidaymakers travelled by sea and Southwold was a popular destination.  Over the years, as the roads improved the steamships lost business and Belle bought coaches instead.
The Pier Water Clock

In 1934 the T-shaped landing stage was swept away by a storm and was never replaced.  At the outbreak of World War II engineers exploded a section of the Pier to prevent a German landing.  A further section was destroyed by a drifting sea mine in 1941.  In 1979 another storm reduced the length to just 60ft.

Various other changes occurred to the pier over time and in 1987 it was privately bought and by 2001 the pier was now at its current length of 623 feet.

It was sold again in 2005 and became a family run business by Stephan and Antonia Bournes and in 2013 was sold to Gough Hotels who continue to make improvements.


If you visit you  must visit the brilliant Tim Hunkin's Under the Pier Show - it's a collection of coin-operated arcade machines all created by the Tim Hunkin the engineer.  You might be familiar with him from The Secret Life of Machines on Channel 4.



We came out just in time to see the sun setting.

We regularly see wild animals when out and about, it's very hard to capture them as they move so fast, quite often we are lucky enough to capture them on our dashcam - the wild boar was posted on a previous blog.  Here is a short clip of a small deer we saw down a country lane.


Sunday morning we were up bright and early ready to explore Norwich.  Another first for us as we'd never been to Norwich before.

Luckily we found free parking so enjoyed wandering around for a few hours finding caches.

Looks like a belly

As we approached this sculpture I thought straight away it looked like a belly, apparently that's what a lot of other people think too.  It was created by Bernard Meadows and is entitled Public Sculpture.  It was commissioned for the Easter Daily Press in 1968 and was installed outside Prospect House in Norwich in 1970.  We couldn't decide if we liked it or not πŸ˜€


After this we headed to LQ: Suffolk and by the time we got there, you guessed it, it was dark.  A bit of a rummage and we soon located the cache.

LQ:Suffolk
On Monday we headed to Rutland stopping off at Peterborough on the way to play a couple of Wherigos.

LQ:Rutland

Normanton Church
Wow what an amazing church.  We'd never been to Rutland Water before so had never seen the church.  St Matthew's Church is a grade II listed building, and was built between 1826 and 1829.  It was based on the design of St John's, Smith Square in Westminster. The building was once the private chapel for the Normanton Estate but was de-consecrated in 1970 as it was due to be demolished as part of the reservoir construction and luckily it was saved after public outcry.  When it was time to flood the area it became obvious that the church would be partially submerged once the high water level was reached.  It was decided that the lower level of the church should be filled with rubble and topped with concrete to create a new floor making it approximately 60cm above water level.  A causeway was built to prevent it being on an island.  Boulders have been put in place as a defensive breakwater.

Unfortunately a wedding was due to take place on the day of our visit so we were unable to go inside.

After this we drove around the other side of the reservoir to The Great Tower virtual before starting the long journey home.


It was a really fun trip and we were really lucky with the weather, it was very mild every day and it didn't rain once.  We'll be returning to Norfolk, preferably when there's more daylight.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Long Weekend in Llangollen

In 2016 the UK Mega was held in Llangollen in North Wales, we were only able to attend the event for the day so didn't get chance to do many of the surrounding caches.  We've been planning to come back ever since.  There was a post on Facebook a few weeks back saying that some of the caches would be archived early next year so we decided to make a concerted effort to get the puzzle caches solved and get over and find the caches.  We had a day's holiday left to use up for this year so we decided to have a long weekend in the Llangollen area.

We set off early afternoon on Friday and stopped overnight in Whitchurch.  We enjoyed a walk around the town and found a few caches.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early ready to start on the 2016 puzzle caches around the lanes of Wrexham.  The plan was to find as many of the caches as we could on our bikes in the short hours of daylight that we had.  

We really enjoyed cycling around the lanes finding the caches.  The weather forecast had been for rain showers throughout the day but we only got caught in a couple of light showers and on the whole the weather was bright and sunny.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to Llangollen.

It rained all night and when we woke up it was raining still, it didn't look hopeful for our bike ride but after we'd eaten our breakfast the clouds lifted and the sun came out.


The plan for today was to do the MEGA series on our bikes which was a linear route of about 8 miles.
Coffee and Cake before we set off

The route was quite hilly so we planned to stop for the caches on the uphills on the way out then on the return leg stop for the ones we missed.  This proved to be a good method and we made very good progress.
Horseshoe Falls in the background
The route was very scenic and is one of the best caching series we've done on our bikes.



Great fun whizzing down the hills



We were about 1½ miles from the end and the sky went very dark, the heavens opened and the rain came down, very quickly the roads became more like a river and we were glad to get back to the van to dry off.  We finished the series in just under 4 hours.

Monday



A bit of a later start to the morning and got up in time to see the sun rise.  The skies are much clearer this morning so hopefully the rain will stay off today.
             Mild enough for shorts!

Trevor Quarry

There were a couple of Earthcaches nearby so we decided to do those first,  Really interesting, I love Earthcaches that involve looking for fossils.



We'd run out of daylight yesterday to do the caches around Horseshoe Falls so we decided to do those next.  We relocated the van and parked in Berwyn to start our walk.
Llantysilio Church

Horseshoe Falls is a weir on the River Dee about 5 kilometres north-west of Llangollen.



We last visited back in 2013, the river wasn't as fast flowing then.

2013

In 2009 Horseshoe Falls and 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.  This includes the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct .... for non-Welsh speakers this is pronounced 'Pont-ker-suck-tay' 😁and Canal (including Chirk Aqueduct near Oswestry.  The canal was awarded World Heritage status because of the bold civil engineering solutions needed to construct a canal with no locks through such difficult terrain.


It was very pleasant wandering around finding the caches and being a weekday it was much quieter.

The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge is a footbridge over the river Dee at Berwyn near.  It is jointly owned by Llangollen Town Council and Llantysilio Community Council and the bridge links the two communities. The current bridge is the third bridge at this location, the previous bridge was destroyed in a flood.  There are some interesting old pictures of the bridges here

On the way home we stopped off at Pontcysyllte to find a puzzle cache that I'd solved by chance a few days ago.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

By this time it was starting to get dark and we decided, very reluctantly, it was time to head for home.

A great weekend, we'll definitely be back in the area soon.