Monday, 14 July 2014

Isle of Man

A blog covering the highlights of our trip for our weekend away on the Isle of Man.

Back at the beginning of January a caching friend, khoomfay, had uploaded some photos to Facebook from a trip to the Isle of Man, as soon as I saw them I told Mark I really wanted to go to Douglas to do the Heritage Trail walk , every time we discussed booking trips I would remind him that I really, really wanted to visit the Isle of Man .... Oh and there are a couple of wherigos too... sold!  So, in May we realised that our caching trips calendar was pretty full so it would have to be just a weekend (or wait until next year).  We were keen to visit sooner rather than later so settled for a weekend and just hoped we'd have enough time to do everything we wanted to do.

Of course, we wanted to find as many cache types as possible as well as a few other must-do caches and a plan evolved.

About 2 weeks before we were due to travel our daughter, Pegz, asked if she could come along, as she was intrigued about stories of cats with no tails and the Manx language .   We were really pleased that she wanted to join us, luckily the guest house still had a room available and we were able to add her to the ferry booking.


We decided to take the car ferry so we could take our bikes and also so we had the freedom to drive around the island.  As we would both be working on the Friday, we decided to travel Friday evening from Liverpool and return Sunday evening to Heysham as the crossing was later in the day.  Google maps suggested it would take two hours seventeen minutes to get to the port. So, allow three and a half hours and we'll have plenty of time to arrive for the 18:30 final check-in....Yeah right.  We managed to get away a bit earlier and left home just before 3 o'clock for what was the most stressful drive ever. Tomtom added on some extra time and gave an eta of 17:22.  First holdup was Bromsgrove and we sat in traffic watching the ETA tick up to 17:36 before we got going again. Traffic slowed again when we reached the M6 adding a few more minutes but we weren't worried.  50 mph speed limit on the motorway and roadworks... ETA ticked up to 17:50.  Still not worried,...much

From then on it was one lump of slow traffic after another with ETA finally reaching 18:16! Into Liverpool and there was a diversion nooooo!  We finally arrived at check-in at 18:15 phew! Only to be told that the ferry was running late.  Doh!

But then we were finally able to board the ferry and start our exciting adventure.
On board the Manannan

We were travelling on the Steam Packet Company catamaran which was built in 1998 and carries 820 passengers and 200 cars.  The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited is the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world, celebrating its 180th anniversary in 2010.

After we'd boarded, the announcement came from the captain to say that there was a technical fault with the catamaran and that it was running on reduced power.  We finally arrived in Douglas at 11.15pm.
View from our hotel
Our Hotel


Set off on the Heritage Power Trail at 6am, the weather forecast was for rain after midday so we were keen it get it done as early as possible.  The hotel owner didn't believe me when I told her it was going to rain today as the Isle of Man has enjoyed warm sunny weather for the last few weeks. Typical that it should choose this weekend to break.

The Heritage Power trail follows the old Douglas to Peel railway line, traversing the island from east to west.  On the Douglas side it starts at Quarter bridge and on the Peel side it ends near the car park of the House of Manannan.

We started the trail at #79 in Douglas, having first left the car in Peel and caught the bus back, ready to cycle back to peel.  The trail was absolutely brilliant and perfect for cycling.  The route is very popular with cyclists and we met quite a few today.  All caches were easy to find (apart from a couple of tricky ones) which meant we could keep up a good pace.

Once we reached #69 we detoured to the Spar shop for lunch supplies before returning to the route.

At #34 we'd been searching for about 5 mins when we were joined by about 20 beavers, no not the furry buck teeth variety but the little scouts.  One of the leaders asked if we were Geocaching and when we said we were she told us that one of the little girls in the group was a Geocacher but unfortunately she hadn't found this one before but then ALL the beavers wanted to know about it and all started searching for the cache, they couldn't spot it either. It was so funny to hear so many little voices asking what geocaching was all about. The leaders went away saying that they would take them all Geocaching very soon :D so we went back to searching and then spotted the very well hidden cache.

When we reached St. John we made a detour to do a longish virtual and a shortish multi.  We were soon back on the trail with only a few more miles to go.

When we reached #1 we rewarded ourselves with coffee and cake at the station cafe.

We returned to #75 afterwards as we'd been unable to get the GPSr to settle down under the tree cover earlier in the day.  This time Pegz spotted it straight away thankfully and it was amusing as this was the only one she'd help look for all day.

Altogether we cycled 13 miles and had a great time, we'd highly recommend this very rewarding series, lots of interesting things to see along the way and straightforward no-nonsense hides - fairly easy for the cacher but not visible to muggles - perfect!
Peel Beach

It was fun driving around the TT race route and seeing all the padded walls and lamp posts everywhere - told Mark that when I get another motorbike I'll be coming back to the island on it
Laxey Wheel

Then we drove to Castletown to play the Wherigo there - Bally Cashtal


What a great Wherigo, it was a good way to explore the small town and see the sights. Also we were rewarded at the end as the steam train arrived at the station just as we found the cache, so we returned to have a look and take a few pics.

Path to the summit

We had originally planned to walk up Snaefell, the highest mountain on the Isle of Man, yesterday to find 'Six Kingdoms' but as the weather had been quite cloudy we had decided to postpone it until today in the hope the weather would be brighter.

We parked up and couldn't see the top of the mountain but just as we set off the cloud lifted and we walked up in the sunshine although nearer the top the wind was very strong and it was quite bracing and once at the trigpoint it was a struggle to stay on our feet.

Really good to have found this cache and and add it to the list of UK's highest caches that we've found - Britains Highest Geocache:  Ben Nevis, Scotland
Scafell Pike: Scafell Pike, Lake District, England
Summit or Submit:  Snowdon, Snowdonia, Wales
Joey Dunlop - 26 times TT winner

Fastyr Mie

When visiting other countries if there isn't an event to attend, we hold our own, it's become a bit of a tradition now.  This is a great way to meet local cachers and often not so local as we found at our latest event:

So far we have held our events outdoors and just hoped for good weather. We were a bit worried yesterday when it rained that we may all get soaked today but luckily the sun shone all afternoon and stayed fine for our event. We arrived at the William Hillary statue on Douglas Head at 4.45 and straight away other cachers started to arrive.  It was a lovely surprise when Inishanier a reviewer from Northern Ireland arrived.  It was also really good to meet Stillroaming and twoofnine the COs that had set the excellent heritage power trail.  Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, it was lovely to chat to as many people as we could. The event was only supposed to be a quick half hour meet and greet but it had already turned 6pm before we looked at our watches then after another 20 mins we decided we ought to go off to the ferry terminal ready to board the ferry - Ben-My-Chree

Finally arrived home safely at 2am. 

That was the end of another exciting adventure and I've found the new place I really want to live

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A day out in Cheshire

The plan for today was to head up North to the Wirral and do a couple of Wherigos.  The weather forecast for that area was sun all day so we decided to also make a start on the Bike and Hike Series and do as many as we could before heading off to do the Wherigos.

Bike and Hike Series

What an absolutely fantastic bike ride!  We cycled 23 miles on brilliant cycle paths, saw lots of interesting birds and enjoyed the hot sunshine all day whilst back home in Warwickshire it was cloudy and raining.

We parked up near the Porsche garage not far from Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Village, got our bikes out of the car and off we went.  All started well enough, we cycled 500ft stopped, got off our bikes, searched, found the cache, hopped back on our bikes, cycled another 500ft and did the same thing again but as time went on the area got busier and each time we stopped we were having to wait for muggle dog walkers, joggers, cyclists to pass.... so it was taking longer and longer.... then there were the high number of 'throwdowns' sometimes it seemed we were finding the original and sometimes a 'throwdown' that had been left by previous cachers, sorry I know everyone plays by their own rules but I'm going to say it, there has to be a line drawn somewhere and that is basically cheating to boost your numbers ........ Anyway, after about 10 miles we decided to call it a day as we realised we were running out of time and wouldn't have time to do the Wherigos, so we decided to just cycle the remaining 12 miles to the end without stopping for caches, which felt strangely liberating as the bike ride was fantastic.  We may return in the future to complete the series..... or we may not

Onto the wherigos......

Port Sunlight WheriGnOme

Port Sunlight is a model village that was built by Lever Brothers to accommodate workers of its soap factory.  The name is derived from Lever Brothers' most popular brand of cleaning agent, 'Sunlight'.  In 2001 there was a population of 1450.  The village has over 900 listed buildings.

The wherigo was excellent and has to go to the top of my favourites list.  It took us to all the places of interest in the village.  It was such a peaceful and relaxing place to be with people enjoying the sunshine, bowling on the village bowling green and children playing in The Dell, which is a landscaped hollow which has been formed from a former tidal inlet.

The place was a little surreal, as soon as we left and drove out of the village you are immediately back in amongst the 21st Century hustle and bustle of the surrounding area.

A brilliant wherigo and I was so thrilled to find that I am now a member of the Wirral Gnome Society.


I was so excited when Mark told me that a new boat wherigo had been published and couldn't wait for the weekend to come so we could come and find it.

The weather was just perfect for a late afternoon paddle on the River Mersey.

The wherigo took you on a voyage along the river and you had to steer to different zones and then there was a timed stage which we had to paddle quite quickly to get there in time.  Eventually we found ourselves at the final location where that cache was found easily.  Then we could enjoy a more leisurely paddle back down river.

All in all brilliant fun and would highly recommend both of the wherigos if you like that type of thing.