Sunday, 20 May 2018

Norway Vikingevent 2018

This trip came about as several pieces fell into place at the right time.  I (Mark) noticed the 'G' geoart last November and thought it would be cool to go and find them. I then looked to see if there was a Mega Event anywhere in Norway and as luck would have it, there was one in May just down the road from this Geoart.  A quick check on Ryanair’s website and they had flights out on the Friday and back on the Sunday at £29 each way.  Better still, the flight out was early in the morning and the return flight was late at night giving almost three full days in Norway. This was really good to see because all too often, return flights are in the morning giving very little time for anything on the final day.  Donna had run out of holiday allowance but said I could go if I wanted to so I did!😎

As anyone who is familiar with our caching style will know, we always try and do the maximum possible number of cache types per country.  Norway has all possible types but the last remaining webcam is a bit of a drive away. By ‘bit’ I mean over 150 miles and four hours each way!  It would be a challenge fitting this into the trip. 😅

A Friday night meet and greet event was published as was a CITO on the Sunday so I knew I’d have to include those into my trip.

Yet another piece of luck was that another Event and another CITO were published for the day of the Mega. This was ace news as it meant I wouldn’t need to be in the area for the Friday or the Sunday morning.
Arriving at Torp
Anyway. I arrived at the airport at about 10:30 and picked up the hire car. I had selected a small automatic as it was only a couple of pounds more than a manual and as automatics are usually less common in Europe there’s more chance of a free upgrade.

Not this time though. The car was a Toyota Yaris Hybrid and it was pretty impressive. Not the fastest car I’ve ever driven but easily the most economical.  It would happily trundle along on electric with the petrol engine switching itself on and off as required. It was doing over 60 mpg and that was certainly not taking it easy 😉

First cache a Mystery (well a Challenge cache)  about three miles from the airport then a Virtual and Earthcache nearby.
Whaling monument Virtual
Next stop a Multi I’d pre-solved about 70 miles away in the direction of the Mega Event. This should have taken about an hour and a half to get there along the E18 but the road was closed in several places for upgrades and new tunnels. The Norwegians seem to love tunnels....

Some time later I arrived at the Multi and then did the first five of the G for Geocaching Wherigos.

When I returned to the car it was roasting hot and I thought it was a bit late to start on the main Wherigo series so decided to set off to do the webcam.

 The scenery was amazing

Tiny church

A tunnel along a twisting road up a mountain
Four hours later I arrived at Egersund and messaged Donna asking her to do a screen grab. It’s very hard to Phoon and screengrab at the same time.

Job done, headed back stopping for a nearby trad on the way. I arrived at the event parking location at about 01:00 and slept as well as I could in the car.
I’ve slept in the car on solo caching trips on a few occasions and it’s been OK; but that was in a spacious Ford Mondeo estate. You can probably imagine that a Yaris is not a pleasant car to sleep in.

The event was 06:30 to 07:00 and I was up and awake by five. Chatted to a few other cachers at the event and joined in with the CITO before heading to the nearby town of Arendal to do the first batch of ten Lab Caches.
Cute doggie at the CITO


Once these were all logged I headed back to the Mega stopping at a Rimmi 1000 supermarket on the way. We’ve been to some expensive countries but Norway is horrendous for food. A tub of cherry tomatoes which would cost about 60p at Aldi in the UK were abut £2.50 and sliced cheese about £4 per pack!  Continuing on towards the Mega, I found some local caches before it opened at midday.

Viking logbook!
The Mega Event Venue

Vikings doing Viking-y things

One of the Lab Caches was throwing a Viking axe at a target. Here's my attempt:

Once all of the second batch of Lab caches were logged, I left the site and headed to do the Wherigos.

This is a series of 67 ‘Reverse cache’ Wherigos. This type of Wherigo can sometimes have you going round in circles but as these were placed at close intervals and along a path it was just a case of going to the next one each time.

The co-ordinates were a bit iffy on a lot (due to a combination of tree-cover and the method used to set this type of cache I presume) and some of the hints were confusing.

All the hints were originally in Norwegian so I had translated them all before-hand in preparation.

The trouble is, you don’t know how accurate the translation is until you reach GZ and ‘under mountain’ is not of much use sometimes

I’m not usually too keen on linear walks but the linear nature of these caches (roughly set out like the branches of a tree) meant that I could have another look for caches on the return and it was quite remarkable how I could be totally stumped first of all and then find that cache instantly on a second attempt.

Little house in the depths of the forest

It was 10 pm by the time I finished numbers 6 to 43 and after getting my water bottles refilled at a garage a couple of miles away, I parked up for another awful night’s sleep.

Up bright and early, just before sunrise, to continue the walk. Finished all the Wherigos – it had taken a total of about thirteen hours – and headed towards the area where I’d done the Multi on Friday. This is a series of 101 Multis along cycle ways and quiet lanes. Some of the cycle way ones are not really possible by car so I headed to a stretch along a lane and as luck would have it there were two other cars there already. The Norwegians had solved all the Multis before hand but I hadn’t bothered because it was tedious translating every page. Anyway, I tagged along with these other two cars up to the end of the trail

I then began to make my way back towards the airport finding a few Challenge caches and Wherigos on the way

Back to the airport to go home

My driving route for  the weekend:

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Long Weekend in Portsmouth

We have been wanting to take a trip to Portsmouth for quite some time, we were last in the area in 2013 but didn't have time to visit Portsmouth city itself.  Now we live much further North it's a lot further to travel to get here meaning an ordinary weekend isn't really long enough.  So we planned a trip for the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Oil seed as far as the eye can see

We've had a few DNFs recently on some of our own caches back where we used to live so we decided to break the journey and stop off on the way to do a spot of maintenance.  It was really strange being back in an area I lived for over 30 years and I will admit that I shed a tear or two, I knew it would be emotional re-visiting after 2 years away, I kept on reminding myself of the new places we've been able to explore since moving and the places yet to discover and who knows what the future may hold.  You can't really dwell on the past, times change and life moves on I suppose.

The oilseed rape was in full flower, I've missed having this on our doorstep, the smell was intoxicating, we don't really see any where we live, not sure if it's just not really grown in our area or we just haven't been walking in the areas that it's grown, most of our walks at the moment are up in the Lake District or on the nearby West Pennine moors.

We realised we'd be passing near to Wolverton on the way back to the motorway so we couldn't resist detouring to do jimjink's Wherigo there. It was a lovely mild evening.  I can't remember the last day we had back home where it didn't rain.  I attempted to put the washing on the line for the second time this year this morning and by the time I'd pegged out the 3rd item it started to spit with rain!  Thank goodness for the heated airer....😃
A quick walk around the harbour before bed

We carried on all the way then to Portsmouth without any stops and arrived about 10pm.


The plan for today was to spend the day cycling around Portsmouth finding caches along the way.

We were up bright and early and the sun was already getting warm, it looked like we might be in for a scorcher.

Seemed really strange being in shorts and T-shirts after it being cold for so long.  This is the first time this year I've been out without first grabbing my coat.  I burn easily so made sure I applied lots of suncream, it was windy so I knew I'd burn if I didn't.

Portsmouth was really cycle friendly so getting around on the bikes was no problem.  We found a few Earthcaches along the way which were good fun, although I haven't been able to walk past an old building since without stopping to check for fossils.
As the weather was so beautiful we'd stopped reguarly to sit and enjoy the warm sunshine, we lost track of time and we were much later getting to the dockyard than we'd planned.  It was close to closing so we only had time to quickly do the virtual at HMS Victory.  It would've been nice to have a look around but just seeing it up close was amazing!
I'd read about the folding Brompton bike hire on Twitter a while ago, what a great idea, it's located right next to the station.

We stayed on a fantastic little campsite, the facilities were great, very clean, run by people that reallly cared about the place and it was reasonably priced too, would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to stay in the area, it was one of the best sites we've stayed on and over the years we've stayed at a lot.

Books, games, maps, tourist info


After breakfast and an invigorating shower in the heated shower block, we set off back into the centre of Portsmouth to do a few more caches which we ran out of time to do yesterday

We worked our way back up the peninsular to Curry Micro Wherigo. Yes, you did read that right! Obviously inspired by the phenomenally successful Church Micro caches, Curry Micros show cachers local Indian takeaways etc..It was a nice enough Wherigo though.

All this time we were keeping an eye on the time as we'd planned to do tiwep Virtual.

After a bit of prior research, we'd identified a suitable place to launch our inflatable kayak and we aimed to launch one hour before high tide to give us ample depth of water and so the return leg would be easier.

We parked up, unloaded the kayak and proceeded to inflate it. By this time, a group of locals appeared from the direction of the water with kayaks and asked if we'd kayaked there before. When we said we hadn't they pointed out the best spot to launch in order to avoid sharp submerged rock. What a stroke of luck! We've had the kayak a few years now but this was our first time out since finding  Special-Ops - Leama in September 2015.  It was great fun and I can't wait to take the kayak out again.  There are a couple of boat-only caches in the Lakes I've got my eye on

Here's a very short video that I've put together:

We'd worked up quite an appetite by the time we got back to the campervan so relocated to Portchester Castle to cook up something to eat before exploring the area. It's amazing just how old this castle is.
Church Micro 6574 - Portchester


Today’s plan was head east to LQ:West Sussex then head back west picking up a few Wherigos before heading home stopping for LQ: Hants on the way.

I'd noticed that the LQ West Sussex cache page said it was cyclable. We don't need telling twice and once we'd parked up and had a cup of tea, we were off peddling up the road.

OK, admittedly it was a gloriously sunny day but I'm sure this place would be just as amazing in any weather. The cache location is at the top of a rise where the views across the fields of yellow rape-seed and woodland were fabulous.

After a while we decided to press on, whizzed back down this hill to the van and on towards the first Wherigo of the day stopping off to do a Church Micro Multi on the way.

The park where the Wherigo is has a Pay and Display carpark so we decided to check out an alternative parking spot round the other side. Being on our bikes, the extra distance didn't really make much difference. We rode towards the main carpark and it was absolutely heaving. People were queuing to park, queuing to use the toilets, queuing for the shop and even queueing for the Pay and Display ticket machine. We were thankful that the Wherigo soon took us away from the masses and into the relative peace of the woodland.


Soon we were back at the campervan heading West to do a handful more Wherigos then we reluctantly decided it was time to head home but not before detouring for LQ Hants on the way of course! We arrived home at about 22:30.  A fantastic weekend.

That's all folks, hit 'FOLLOW' in the sidebar if you want to be notified of the next instalment and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you'd like to see more videos 👩👨