UK Mega 2015 – The 8th Annual UK Geocaching Mega Event


ukmegaessex2015_banner

After the original Mega 2015 East of England committees disbanded, the host for the 8th Annual UK Geocaching Mega event was up for grabs. With bidding finishing on 31st March for a new host myself and a few other Essex caching pals decided we would form a committee and bid for it. We won the bid!!!! I am delighted to announce to my blog readers that the UK Mega 2015 will be hosted in Essex. We are absolutely thrilled and so excited. We’ve all been working super hard this month as due to the previous problems we now only have half the usual time to fund raise and organise it!

Please head over to our website at http://www.mega2015.org.uk to meet the committee and see some of the fabulous attractions and caches that Essex has to offer. We are still working round the clock to develop the site and add more content. This is just a taster of things to come!

You can also head over to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UKMega2015 and “Like” the page for all of the latest news, or you can follow us on Twitter at @GeoUKMega2015 too.

There are still lots and lots of exciting things to come! :)

A Geocaching coach trip to Chichester!


On Saturday 1st March we headed off on a coach trip to Chichester organised by geocachers Hollyncharlie. We attend wonderful bi-monthly events in our region called the “Essex/Suffolk BorderCache and Piffle” meets and the trip was arranged associated with the meets. So at 7am all 49 of us geocachers departed from Essex and headed down to Sussex. The main focus of our trip was Church Micro 5000 which had quite recently been placed at the magnificent Chichester Cathedral. A nice, and slightly rare requirement of this particular church micro multicache was that you had to go inside the cathedral to collect the clues to find the final.

As soon as we arrived we headed inside and we were all bowled over by the size of it. Beautiful stained glass windows lined the walls. There were tombs, sculptures, and paintings covering the entire inside. So much to see. Whilst Andy researched the clues with some other cachers I was busy taking photographs of the cathedral.

Saint Richard Of Chichester statue

Saint Richard Of Chichester statue

Stained glass inside the cathedral

Stained glass inside the cathedral

A very large stained glass window

A very large stained glass window

A dog at the foot of one of the tombs in chichester cathedral

A dog at the foot of one of the tombs in chichester cathedral

Private prayer area in Chichester cathedral

Private prayer area in Chichester cathedral

A very modern alter

A very modern alter

Small Tealights burning inside

Small Tealights burning inside

Another tomb

Another tomb

After finding all of the clues most of the cachers headed off to find the church micro. Not us though. We teamed up with BigBadJohn1402, Tazzy1234, Blessed&Loved and Squirtchy to find a cache in an underground bunker, Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler. The problem with this was that the cache was 6 miles away. So we hopped on a bus with the plan that it would drop us about 100m from the bunker… but it ended up dropping us 1.5 miles away! Lol! Nevermind, it was a lovely day for a walk and it would be a quick find once we got there… Ah. Another plan that didn’t go quite as we had expected!!!

The entrance to the bunker wasn’t at the coordinates we thought and after about half an hour of us searching all around the area we were still no closer to finding the cache. So I grabbed Andy’s phone which despite being in a woods had fabulous signal and did some internet research to get a better idea of where the entrance was. So off I trundled with Squirtchy. Still no luck! :-( We headed back and all met up with the plan to all head to this newly researched location and split up with the hope to find it. I then noticed that Andy was missing and I had his phone! Eek! I shouted and shouted, but got no reply. I was a little worried, but we headed towards the suspected location hoping to see him somewhere. Suddenly we heard a call “I think I’ve found it!”. We all rushed over to Andy and he had indeed found the entrance to the bunker, not quite what we had expected!!!

The bunker entrance!

The bunker entrance!

We moved the sticks out of the way and clambered down into the bunker. Not the usual ROC post that we are used to climbing a nice ladder into! The entrance had fallen in a bit over time but with a bit of careful maneuvering we made it. The buker was only small and it was a quick find in the end (As planned ;)). What an adventure though. After about an hour of searching we had finally found it and Andy was our hero for actually finding the entrance over 0.1 miles from where we expected it to be.

Inside the bunker with the cache

Inside the bunker with the cache

Peekaboo!

Peekaboo!

Heading out

Heading out

When we finally made it back into Chichester we dashed around picking up a couple of urban hides and then headed to the final for the Chichester Cathedral Church Micro 5000 cache. This was quite a special find for us as we had planned it so that it was our 500th Church Micro find making us “Bishops” in the church micro statistics!

Church micro find 500!

Church micro find 500!

It was then time for a mad dash back to the cathedral where we met up with all of the others on our coach trip for the Essex/Suffolk BorderFlash & Piffle #1 event. It was a flash mob with the idea that at 3:15pm we would all assemble at the cathedral and point to the point!!!

Point to the point

Point to the point

Very pointy!

Very pointy!

Hehe, I think we must have confused a few muggles!

It was a great day out and I think we can honestly say our day was a lot different to that of the other cachers who came along on the coach!!! :D

Lab Caches and I <3 Geocaching


A while ago Geocaching mentioned their new “Lab caches” idea. A lab cache is a new cache type that Groundspeak announced in August. In the announcement Groundspeak said that lab caches will count towards your find count and would only be available at Mega Events. The special thing about Lab Caches is that you must find a code in order to mark the cache as found like with Wherigo completion codes. I do like the idea of having a code in order to log a cache as it’s a good verification that you did indeed find it. Since the announcement there have been a few lab caches and it was announced that there would be one at the Kent MEGA. On your geocaching profile they give you a new cache type icon that Walter White would be proud of!!! ;)

Lab cache icon

Lab cache icon

Lab Caches can be anything and give a playing field for Groundspeak to experiment with new ideas. As they don’t exist after an event and there’s no log it’s a bit of a hard concept to grasp!

To make it that little bit more trickier there was an announcement recently on the Geocaching blog about an “I <3 Geocaching" lab cache which will be available to premium members between 3rd and 28th February. So try and get your head around this

I-heart-geocaching-blog-banner

During this time period you will be able to hide one personal lab cache (and no more than one) for one person. You create your personal lab cache and a URL will be generated. You then pass that URL onto somebody (Or a few people if you wish but it’s meant for “One special person”). That person can then log the cache using that URL. Once it’s logged it’s automatically archived so nobody else can log it. You must involve a code in the process. So if you hide a container there could be a code written inside which the finder then inputs when they log their find (You will have specified what this code was when you created the cache and it will have been hidden from the view of others). There doesn’t have to be a container though. These caches can be hidden anywhere even in your house. The code may be a word written on a monument somewhere (for example) like a virtual cache.

Groundspeak say that that this idea of personal lab caches could be used for marriage proposals (!), presenting your friend with some cinema tickets, or taking your friend on their own personal adventure.

At the moment it’s just a test and your find count won’t go up after logging an ‘I <3 Geocaching' cache. So what's the point? Well, I guess we're helping them test out some new features and they probably figured it was about time after challenges were ditched! At the moment the geocaching statistics system doesn't support lab caches anyway (It will in the future) so although you do see your find count increase with other lab caches they won't fill a space on your caching calendar, won't be included in your MyFinds PQ, and don't count towards your hide count.

It does all sound a bit mad at the moment, like Challenges did. I'm not sure Geocaching needs lab caches but maybe this is an attempt to fill the empty hole left when challenge caches disappeared. I love the idea of having a code to log a cache though and would like to see this feature made optional for physical cache types. So I'm going to say let's wait and see what comes of it all and give them a chance. It might develop into something completely awesome! :D

Top 10 Caching Moments of 2013


2013 was the year that we found our fewest caches! After reaching the 10,000 mark we made a big shift towards finding quality caches at lovely locations. That together with me working hard on university assignments meant that we didn’t get as much caching in as other years. We did, however, have some brilliant caching moments and some awesome adventures in 2013…

10 – NineSquared (Cumbria)

The Squeeze

Back in 2011 we worked hard to complete our d/t matrix only to have someone change one of the difficulties for a cache that we found and shoot a big hole in it!!! On a trip around Nottinghamshire this year I spotted Thanks Mack! which would fill the gap nicely and we successfully found it.

In August when we were in the Lake District we decided to head for NineSquared, a challenge cache which required you to fill your d/t matrix before finding it. The cache was hidden in 2008 before challenge caches got really popular and as result you have to work quite hard to actually get to GZ and find this cache. It was a steep climb up “Side Pike”, followed by a tight squeeze through rocks, following the wrong route to the cache, back tracking a bit, and then finally a successful search at the summit. There were the most beautiful views of Blea Tarn from the top.  Our route down was via a different route so it made for a lovely circular walk. It was a beautiful day that we did it on and we have really fond memories of it. A very rewarding challenge!

9 – Enchanted Wood (Yorkshire)

Druid’s Temple

We stumbled upon Enchanted Wood by chance after looking at an OS map and thinking that it looked to be an interesting spot and then having a look at the location on the Geograph website. The cache was hidden near “Druid’s Temple”, a stone folly built in 1820. When I look for caches in areas we are heading to I usually go by how many favourite points a cache has. At the time of writing this particular cache has 115 finds and just 7 favourite points!!! I can’t believe it!!! It may be because the cache is hidden slightly away from the Druid’s Temple, but even so it’s a nice location with views of a reservoir. Although the stones don’t have the kind of mystery that makes Stonehenge appealing, it’s a really interesting place to explore and brilliant that you can walk around the stones and enter the back chamber. In my opinion this location is a real hidden gem!

8 – Cathedral Cavern (Cumbria)

Cathedral Cavern

I first visited Catherdral Cavern in 2012, however it’s the most stunning place to go back to.

At the time of writing it’s the top rated cache in the North west of England with 191 favourite points. The scene that the light creates as it shines through the diamond window and hits the central pillar is absolutely stunning. There’s a cave around the back and also a pool of water where there are little fish. We also strangely spotted a goldfish on our visit!!! In the area there are many other quarried areas, but the diamond window of Cathedral cavern makes it the most unique and popular. As well as being a great destination, the walk to the cavern is also very enjoyable which we made into a circular walk which involved a couple of other nice caches in the area.

7 – The City Gates Bike Race Wherigo (Brugge, Belgium)

Signing a cache on route around Brugge

In April, we headed to Brugge with Team Essex for the Brugse Beer III MEGA event. It wasn’t the MEGA event itself though which is my fondest memory of the trip, but our attempt to hire bikes to get around the city and in particular find The City Gates Bike Race wherigo.

We found a few other caches in the city whilst we were cycling around, however the wherigo was our main “Mission” for the day. ;) The Wherigo required you to complete it in a limited amount of time and could therefore only be done on bike. We experienced a timeout and a GPS crash, but on our 3rd attempt we eventually found it. It was so enjoyable biking around with all our friends and a very scenic location to do so too.

6 – Imbibing Imber II (Wiltshire)

New cachers nickic2k and PrincessTan&Harley

New cachers Nickic2k and PrincessTan&Harley

I had visited Imber before during the Jubilee Weekend in 2012, however revisited on 29th December 2013 for a little one day road trip to the area with our friends Nickic2k and PrincessTan&Harley. They’ve been my best friends for years and been Geocaching with me a few times but have only recently got their own Geocaching accounts and Imbibing Imber II was their first Geocaching event. Imber is a tiny village on Salisbury Plain which was evacuated in 1943 so that the military could train in preparation for D-Day landings. Residents were told that they could return to their homes after the war however this never happened and Imber is still very much a Ghost Village. Imber is owned by the MoD and still used for training so is only open on a few days of the year. 2013 marked the 70th anniversary of the abandonment of the village. I’ve blogged about Imber before here where there’s a lot more information about it.

Inside the church it was very busy

Inside the church it was very busy

It was a beautiful day for the event and we were also joined by fellow Essex cachers Hollyncharlie, Infinson, Sircache1, Fincache, MummaD, Yorkie63, Beastmarsta, and Doggywalker. A long way from home but lovely to see all our friends. We arrived quite early at 10:30am so that we could get a parking space before the 12pm event started. It was definitely the right choice as the event was absolutely packed full of cachers. We had the chance to explore the church and look around before everyone else arrived and made it difficult to even move around!!! ;) After the event we all headed off to do the St. Giles church micro multi-cache as the clues for this can only be found in the church when Imber is open to the public. It was a short walk to the final location which had some really wonderful views. A great bonus for our trip to Imber as we had only really come along for the event.

5 – Hoffmann Kiln (Yorkshire)

Inside the Hoffman Kiln

The Hoffmann Kiln in Yorksire is a huge unused 100m lime kiln which way built in 1873. Apart from the collapsed chimney, the kiln is in very good condition and safe to explore inside. To empty the chambers of lime, the men had to work inside the boiling hot conditions. Powdered lime covered the men’s clothes and if it got on their skin caused an itchy rash. Airbourne dust also got into their lungs. Because the working conditions were so terrible and there was no mechanical method for emptying the chambers, this Hoffmann Kiln closed in 1931.

Near the kiln is a traditional cache and also an earthcache that requires you to visit the kiln. On our visit there were actors filming scenes for the 2014 movie Soldiers of the Damned and luckily we timed our visit when they were having a lunchbreak so we were able to go inside. We did take a peak at the sets though and witnessed a few of the special effects in action. It’s just an amazing place and great to explore. You don’t realise just how big it is until you actually visit.

4 – Victorian Show Cave (Yorkshire)

Looking through the window to waterfall cavern

Yordas Cave used to be a Victorian show cave. Just outside the entrance is a cache of the same name.

It wasn’t compulsory to visit the cave to find the cache, but we just had to! :) As soon as you take a few steps into the huge entrance you can hear the gushing of water. We carefully stepped through the 50m high main chamber, across a stream which was running through the middle of the cave and were greeted by the thing that was making all that noise! A huge, furious waterfall! We peeked through the window to “Waterfall cavern”. Mysterious and magnificent. A true gem.

Yordas Cave (From the Norse “Jord ass” which means “earth stream”) is one that’s easy to explore without any caving experience or any clambering and crawling. It includes a main chamber known as “Great Hall of the Giant Yordas”. A pretty cool name! The entrance is large and very welcoming with stone steps leading in and although you can explore it further with the right gear you can still visit the waterfall by simply wandering in.

There is a theory, that many of the places in the novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë are originaly in Yorkshire. If this is true, the most likely place for “Emily’s Fairy Cave” would be Yordas Cave.

3 – St. Herbert’s Island (Cumbria)

Andy rowing us to St. Herberts

St. Herbert’s is a little Island on Derwent Water in The Lake District. The island was named after an Anglo-Saxon priest and hermit who once lived there.

To get the cache on the island you need a boat. Fortunately there’s a boat hire place on that lake and so we were able to hire one and row out. It had been ages since Andy had rowed a boat but he soon got the hang of it and did all of the hard work like the true gent he is! ;) I did all of the navigating though to keep him on course!

Once at the island we went and explored and made a quick find of the cache. A really peaceful place. It was about 3/4 miles rowing to get to the island and just a really lovely trip. You might even say it was quite romantic! :)

2 – Gunnerside Gill (Yorkshire)

Blakethwaite Smelt Mill and Waterfalls

Whilst staying for the week in Yorkshire we headed to do The Miner’s Trail which took us for a walk of 7 miles around where Grassington Lead Mines once operated. It was a great walk full of lots of history and whilst on the walk we bumped into geocachers 63kazza. As we were all doing the same thing we continued the walk together. They told us that if we liked this, we would love “Gunnerside Gill”. I hadn’t spotted that area when I was researching places to visit before the trip so once back at the cottage I did some research and although not a series there were a few caches up along there which took you for a walk past many old mining locations.

So we picked a day where the weather was nice and headed up there on a 10 mile walk up to 1900ft! We saw so much great history, mine shafts, mining levels, smelting mills, dressing floors, the smithy, tunnels, rock crushing machinery. Brilliant!!! We were quite worn out after our long journey high into the hills, but it was absolutely worth it for what we got to see.

1 – Swallows and Amazons (Cumbria)

On the island

And so finally my most favourite moment of 2013 has to be my crazy wild swimming adventure! I’d not long learnt how to swim but decided I was confident enough to swim in a couple of lakes in the lake district to get geocaches! Andy had been swimming for years and so would be able to save me from drowning!!! ;) My first attempt was with the cache Treasure Island. That was just a 200ft swim which I completed successfully (Which is more than can be said for Andy who, like usual, ended up injuring himself!!!). With confidence from that swim it was time to try Swallows and Amazons which was more like a 400ft swim. It was a lovely day for it though and although the water was cold at first I soon got used to it.

There were a few muggles sat on the island who were watching me as I did the swim across, no doubt thinking “What the hell is she doing?” hehe. Crazy woman! But it didn’t take long to get across to the other side.

Woohoo! I did it!

My main fear swimming in the lakes was that I was going to hit my knee on a rock that was poking out of the water, but that didn’t happen. I was extra careful as I approached the islands and escaped without any injuries. The island itself was really lovely and peaceful and just such a great location for a cache. The swim back was as much of a success and as I neared the shore a big group of muggles jumped into the water and started swimming across the the island as if it was a walk in the park!!! Oh well, I was still impressed with myself as I’d been afraid of water for a very long time. I’ve certainly overcome all of that now! So that was my most memorable cache of 2013. It helped me to face my fear of water and feel like I’d really achieved something. Not only was the trip across to the island a great achievement, but the island was a really wonderful location. I’d love to return again, swim across, and picnic on the island on a sunny day.

And over to you…

What were your most favourite caching moments of 2013? Did you have any crazy adventures? I’d love to hear from you in a comment below and perhaps get some ideas of great caches to visit in 2014.

Happy new year everyone and happy caching!

The Halloween MEGA 2013


After the huge success of the “Halloween Hides and Creepy Caches” event going MEGA last year, the organisers arranged arranged yet another spooky Halloween MEGA event for this year. I headed to Salcey Forest with Andy750x to meet up with many of our caching friends for a day of Creepy caching!

After registering with “The Fuzzy Bears” at the main centre we were able to grab the list of cache hides for the event. We teamed up with mel-ray, stones2005 and Helennbrian. Thankfully Mr. Stones2005 had brought his laptop along so were were able to quickly download the caches rather than manually type in all of the waypoints!

Welcome to the Halloween Mega!

Welcome to the Halloween Mega!

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A true caching adventure in The Lake District


For the Bank holiday weekend myself and Andy750x decided to head up to The Lake District and have a bit of an adventure concentrating on some quality caching with caves, boating, and wild swimming on the agenda! I’d left booking the campsite a bit late and everything central was fully booked apart from one campsite, Sykeside. It turned out to be an excellent choice however as the facilities were brilliant and it’s definitely a campsite we would recommend for anyone planning on heading out that way.

Treasure Island

We arrived extremely early and after pitching the tent headed off for a little explore around some local caches which I’d ear marked. I thought it’d be best to start as we meant to go on with a true adventure and a cache called Treasure Island which was just north of the campsite and a very rare terrain/difficulty rating: 1d/5t. The cache is hidden on a little island on Ullswater. Now, you COULD get a boat and paddle to the island. Or you could swim to it. Those who read my blog entry about our adventure kayaking on the River Nene know that me and water don’t go together! I was so annoyed at myself that at my age I still couldn’t swim that towards the end of last year I took some group swimming lessons and actually learned. I followed that with some practice and was soon confident. I’d measured the distance to “Treasure Island” from the shore as being about 200ft and reckoned I would make it. It was a 1.5 mile walk to the shore opposite the island which was beautiful and very scenic, however our route down the bank to it included navigating some ferns, gorse bushes, and brambles, but we got there in the end.

Looking down on treasure island (The island closest)

Looking down on treasure island (The island closest)

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UK MEGA Event 2013 (West Midlands)


After unpegging the tents we headed off on Monday 29th July slightly east from PirateMania to prepare for the UK MEGA. We were staying for the whole week with most of the Team Essex crew who also attended PirateMania so that we could attend all of the side events as well as the main event.

Monday

As we couldn’t pitch up on the campsite until 4pm we all headed off to the first side event, Let’s Go Fly a Kite at Burton Dassett Hills Country Park. The country park is a very popular destination for kite flyers and there were many geocachers up on the hills having a go. I had bought a £2 rubbish kite to fly for the occasion and after SirCache1 kindly got it up in the air for me (On the first go as well!) I was able to fit in well with the rest of the attendees!

Lots of cachers and kite flyers

Lots of cachers and kite flyers

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