The 2014 UK Annual Mega event was held in Scotland this year. So we headed up to Ayrshire for our first trip caching in Scotland and had a great time attending the events that the Scottish Committee put on. So here’s a blog on some of my favourite events!
On the Tuesday morning we headed to Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae for the Cumbrae Day event. To get there you have to catch a ferry across from Largs. We took a few cars over so that we could grab some of the caches on the island whilst we were there as well.
We started by sweeping around the Western Coast of Cumbrae. There were lots of cache and dashes to keep us busy on the route to Millport. Once at Millport we inflated our kayak for another watery cache, The Beach (http://coord.info/GC3QXKB) placed on The Eileans out in the sea just off of Millport Bay.
We’d taken our kayak out on rivers and lakes before, but never the sea so I was curious as to how it would hold up in rougher water. Andy opted to stay on dry land for this cache having drunk way too much rum the night before so my shipmates were Sue (Doggywalker) and Simon of Hollyncharlie. Andy gave us a push into the sea and before long we were paddling our way to the island…
The sea was quite rough, but with three of us paddling with three double oars we made short work of the trip across. It wasn’t long before we landed and a few other cachers helped pull us in and on to the island. We were joined by Sue (Slumped) who we had made friends with on the trip as well. She hired a Fatyak to get across and arrived shortly after us and we all headed off to find the cache together.
As we are accomplished sailors, we discussed tactics to sail back on the opposite side of the first island to use the current to help us get across with ease. This worked very well and it felt much easier getting back. We paddled alongside Slumped in her fatyak for a little while as well before we hit dry land again. What a great adventure!
After the event (and some lovely cake) we headed up the other side of the island mopping up as many of the caches as we could. One little gem that we found whilst on the island was Romancing the Stone, place at Cumbrae’s only surviving standing stone knows as the “Gouklan Stone”. We followed the route on how to reach the cache from the cache page description whilst feeling a bit like we were trespassing, but once at GZ we spotted it along with a tourist information plaque so we were reassured that we were allowed to be there.
Lunch on Scotland’s First
On Wednesday morning I headed off for the event at Scotland’s First cache with Doggywalker, Simon of Hollyncharlie, Bonustown (Tyler, the lovely GroundSpeak lackey), Yorkie63 and Peegeenine. We had to set off super early as the cache was a two hour drive from the campsite. We ended up arriving around 9am. The challenge was to climb Ben More (“The Great Mountain”). I’d heard from others who had already walked up it that it was a very difficult climb. People always say that up hills though don’t they? So how hard could it really be????
We joined a lovely track which slowly ascended up towards Ben More and took a steady walk up admiring the beautiful views. Before long, however, our lovely track ran out and we were left on our own to decipher the best route up. We passed what looked like a stream before spotting something that looked a little bit like a path. We decided to start the steep ascend towards the summit.
It started off ok, but it rapidly got steeper and steeper. According to the GPS we only had half a mile to walk to the cache. I’ll admit that it was the hardest half mile I’d ever walked in my whole life though! The elevation of the mountain was OK and as I had expected. My huffing and puffing was soon remedied by a quick break to admire the views each time I got a bit tired, however, the uneven ground just didn’t let up!
One section on the way up needed a hands and knees crawl whilst holding on for dear life as the incline was so steep. Eventually, however, after an hour and a half of careful navigation we made it to the top and managed to claim Scotland’s First cache!
After a very brief lunchbreak we headed down. I’d like to be able to say it was easier on the way down. It was just as hard though. I was very cautious not to slip on the uneven, wet ground or lose my foot down a hole or stream. We did take a few shortcuts on the way though and me and doggywalker slid down the hillside on our bums using our walking sticks as a break and giggling and laughing all of the way down. That was definitely the best bit! Haha!
Eventually we got to the bottom. Did I enjoy it? No! Would I do it again? Certainly not! Am I glad I did it? Hell yeah! What an achievement! “The Great Mountain” certainly lived up to it’s name, but it didn’t beat us!
Tam’s Terror Trail
On Thursday evening it was time for Tam’s Terror Trail night event. JackieC, the organiser, kindly let us set up our UK Mega Essex 2015 stall at the start of the series so that we could chat to cachers and offer them a tipple of locally brewed Bishop’s Nick Beer.
We’d saved our trip on Tam’s Terror Trail until last so that we could go on the event after midnight and therefore attend the event on Friday 1st August rather than Thursday 31st July. You may wonder why… The 7 Souveneirs of August challege started on the 1st August requiring you to find a traditional, puzzle, multicache, earthcache/CITO, event and virtual/wherigo/letterbox cache to earn the final 7th Souveneir. As we still had Tyler, the Groundspeak Lackey, with us we decided to head out during th early hours of Friday morning to be one of the first teams to do it and so that he could be the first Groundspeak Lackey to do it too!
Our first icon was the Tam’s Terror Trail event. This spooky night event took us through the woods in Eglington park visiting its creepy inhabitants.
My favourite part of the trail was when we got to a selection of tombstones. To my surprise there was one for me! :D :D :D “Geocass – Killed by a computer virus” Haha! Tyler also had his own as well which played on the fact that he was meant to fly to Paris in the week, but his flight got cancelled so he got the pleasure of staying with us for longer! :)
We then stumbled upon a spooky looking table of witchcraft. We all took a closer look and as I went around the back something grabbed me and I screamed and screamed and screamed!!!!!!! (Apparently I scream like a real girlie girl!) It was a witch who had come out of the shadows when I was least expecting it. I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but from the Go Pro footage I shot of it I obviously was! ;)
We eventually got to the end and it was official, we had survived Tam’s Terror Trail!
We quickly got prepared and shot off into the night to finish the 7 icons. We started with a puzzle, As easy as, and then headed towards Glasgow for an Earthcache and traditional. About a mile up the road from those was a letterbox and then we swung round back to base grabbing a multi and arriving back at the tents at 2:30am! I didn’t log my finds until the following morning, but even with that I finished 38th in the world. Tyler was 21st!
Another great event in Scotland was the Highland games. On Friday Evening the field was marked out for wellie wanging, caper tossing and haggis throwing. Lots of people joined in with the games and it was great fun! I tried my hand at wellie wanging and caper tossing, but unfortunately didn’t do very well! I think it’s safe to say that everyone had great fun trying though.
We were all really pleased that Simon of Hollyncharlie won first place in the men’s Wellie Wanging and returned back to Essex base camp with a shiny trophy!
Mega day was a very different one for us this year as this year we were actually manning a stall, our UK Mega Essex 2015 one! :D Our friends on the North Wales 2016 Mega committee were also there with their stall and a very special guest, a giant draig!!!
They also presented us with a fantastic hamper of welsh goodies to add to our raffle for fund raising. It looked to be an absolutely fantastic prize and I had my fingers tightly crossed that I would win it!
We had many visitors to our stall throughout the day, sold lots of merchandise and managed to do lots of fund raising. Although we didn’t manage to get out and do much caching we did have a fabulous time chatting to other cachers who visited the stall.
At the end of the day was the closing ceremony where we got handed the golden ammo can and officially became the next UK Mega event!
There were some great interactive lab caches set out for the Mega including this one which made us all chuckle.
In the evening of Mega day was the cèilidh at Ayr Racecourse. We were all totally surprised when we got there to find a red carpet, smartly dressed waiters and waitresses and posh tables with candelabras on them. It looked amazing!
We were brought the most wonderful Haggis, neeps and tatties for dinner and then followed by a strawberry cheese cake.
Once we were absolutely full of food it was time to dance (!). A fantastic Scottish band played all night and taught us the traditional dances. It was a great evening and I think it’s safe to say that all attendees had an absolutely fantastic time!
Sunday morning was CITO time and we headed to the beach for a clean up. It was absolutely pouring with rain, however that didn’t stop the determined cachers who all scaled the beach with their green bin bags.
The beach was covered with giant jellyfish, but we avoided them and cleared a good section of the beach before retreating from the rain to the pub.
Goodbye Ayrshire – Hello Essex
The Ship Inn in Irvine was the setting for our Handover event and the end of our trip to the Scottish Mega. It was a fantastic pub and the served amazing food and as everyone had headed back early from the CITO due to the rain. The warm pub and nice grub was certainly more than welcome!
Although it was a happy day because of our great event, it was also a very sad day as Tyler, the Groundspeak Lackey, had to go home. :( We’d grown very fond of him over our 10 days and he really had become part of the team. So we headed outside for a final goodbye picture of us all.
And so that was the end of Mega Scotland and it’s our turn next year to host the next annual UK Mega event, UK Mega Essex 2015! Maybe I will see you there? ;)