A European Adventure – The Munich Giga and 10 countries in a day challenge!


The first ever Geocaching Giga event of 5,000+ people was being held on Saturday 16th August 2014 in Munich, Germany. Myself and some caching friends quite fancied an adventure there so we caught the Eurotunnel on the Thursday evening with Kris&Co, FayR+R, Decker1527, Yorkie63, MummaD, Foxscout, Doggywalker, The Box Teddies, and BEASTMARSTA for a real adventure around Europe!

Friday: The trip to Munich

It was a 9 hour drive from Calais to Munich so the following morning we headed off to make our way there. We changed our route slightly to encompass a very old cache named simply “Geocache”, but popularly known as GC40.

Our route to GC40 took us past a few cache and dashes. Our favourite was La grotte de Revogne at the grotto of Lourdes at Revogne (Beauraing). The grotto was built in 1885 as a place to pray. Inside were holy statues, candles, flowers and a few prayer benches.

The Grotto

The Grotto

Inside the Grotto

Inside the Grotto

We then headed for GC40. It was a quick cache and dash not far from the road, but was a big ammo can originally placed in July 2000.

Yorkie63 opening the can

Yorkie63 opening the can

The logbook

The logbook

Me with the cache

Me with the cache


It was then a straight run to Munich arriving around 11pm, grabbing a quick pizza, and getting a bit of sleep before the Giga.

Saturday: The Giga

We parked at the Olympic stadium and took a stroll to the main event, the Munich Giga event. It was a fair walk, but we knew that we were going in the right direction as we could see lots of people with GPS! After grabbing our admission bracelet we headed to the stadium via the entrance gates.

Me and Donna at the Giga

Me and Donna at the Giga

It was already very busy with cachers inside and we got a great view at the top of the steps overlooking the stadium.

Downstairs

Downstairs

A busy stadium

A busy stadium

Once inside we bumped into some cachers that we’d met before along with many of the others who had traveled from Essex with us. An Essex flag photo was definitely in order!

Essex!!!!!

Essex!!!!!

There were many stalls around the stadium, but they were absolutely crammed with people crowded around buying things. It certainly was a popular event. We had a look around the stalls before heading to see the Lackeys who had heard all about us from Tyler. I think they tried to run, but they didn’t get very far and they were soon tied to our Essex flag!!!

Annie has been captured!

Annie has been captured!

Rayne has been captured

Rayne has been captured

We were particularly impressed with the effort that Rayne had gone to to dress for the event, although he would have looked better in a red Mega Essex T-shirt!

Rayne and his lederhosens

Rayne and his lederhosens

Around the stadium the organisers had many games including cow milking, beer glass holding, and beer mat throwing!

Cow milking game

Cow milking game

Beer holding game

Beer holding game

The logbook was an interesting idea. We all signed benches with different coloured pens. However, as it had rained before our name wasn’t very easy to make out on the bench, but it was there nonetheless.

The logbench!

The logbench!

After grabbing a bratwurst for lunch (You have to, don’t you!) the heavens opened and we got completely drenched! We were still smiling though! :)

Wet Essex!

Wet Essex!

So that was the end of our trip to the Giga and once the heavy showers had passed we escaped to the car to get changed into some dry clothes. Our next stop was to head off into Munich centre to finish some of the lab caches and grab the webcam cache, The heart of munich. At the webcam we met our German friends, Waterandsun, who we had met at the Scottish Mega so we took the webcam screenshot of us, Yorkie63, MummaD and them at the fountain.

The heart of Munich web cam

The heart of Munich web cam

In our red shirts

In our red shirts

That was our 7th icon for the day as we’d already found a traditional, giga, puzzle, wherigo, earthcache and
lab cache. After the quick break in Munich we were back on the road again and heading towards the Czech Republic.

We stayed in Germany as close as we could get to the Czech border on the Saturday night ready for our epic mission of finding caches in 10 countries in a day. It was a really quirky hotel that we picked too. We were greeted by a stuffed fox on our way to our rooms and then found a load of dolls hiding in the upstairs corridors around our room. If it wasn’t so funny it’d be terrifying!!!

Foxy!

Foxy!

This was just outside our bedroom door! Lol!

This was just outside our bedroom door! Lol!

Sunday: 10 Countries in a day

After a good night’s sleep and thankfully not getting murdered by the dolls in the night we headed off just down the road from the hotel for our first cache, Willkommen in Altschönau around 6am.

Germany - Country #1

Germany – Country #1

We quickly dashed to the Czech Republic for Usmev, prosim! Bitte lächeln! before a long drive through Germany to Austria. Austria was such a beautiful place and driving through it was a real pleasure. Our chosen cache and dash, [A12] Spore06 – Ampasser Hof was at a services with beautiful views also.

Views from the Austrian GZ

Views from the Austrian GZ

Austria - Country #3

Austria – Country #3

We soon crossed the toll road over into Italy and became 8.5EUR lighter! However at least we managed to grab two caches for our money. The first was just a cache and dash, Picknick am Brennero however right next door was the earthcache Passo del Brennero – Der Brennerpass at the boundary stone between Italy and Austria.

Italy - Country #4

Italy – Country #4

At the earthcache

At the earthcache

The Austrian/Italian border

The Austrian/Italian border

A reasonable drive across to Liechtenstein after crossing back through Italy and spending another 8.5EUR on the toll got us to Liechtenstein’s First. This cache wasn’t originally on our itinerary, but a friend had mentioned it had spectacular views. It was a fabulous location, despite the very steep and winding road up to it. There were also some very cute baby donkeys on the nearby grassland. All the way to the cache and back we were accompanied by percussion from the cow bells. It was a fabulous adventure. We then headed off to our intended Liechtenstein cache, 1. TB und Coin Hotel im Fürstentum Liechtenstein and walked into Switzerland from it to get our Swiss cache Treffpunkt Autobahn. A very long drive to France followed where we picked up TB hotel A4 Strasbourg-Metz, aire de Narbéfontaine before grabbing Have a break – A6 exit Bridel in Luxemburg, followed by Belgium’s Have a break – A4 LuBe in the dark!

Belgium - Country #9

Belgium – Country #9

One final country was not too far away and we eventually found 3x is scheepsrecht in The Netherlands to complete our challenge and finally get some sleep. 19 hours of driving and caching and over 900 miles covered! We were absolutely knackered and crashed near GZ for a few hours to awake in the morning fully refreshed (not!)

The morning after!

The morning after!

Monday: The Recovery!

We spent Monday recovering from our challenge and cat napping here and there. As we were in the area, however, we decided to take a drive to a very remarkable location that we’d heard about. It was a work of art known as the ‘See-through church’ in Limburg, Belgium. There was a cache at the “real” church first so we headed to that.

The church

The church

After the cache find we stepped inside to experience the ‘Proximity Effect’. The Proximity Effect is a set of speakers hanging from inside the church which are on pulleys. They lower themselves down towards you and play noises recorded from inside and outside of the church. It was like some crazy Doctor Who/Sci-Fi invasion of robotic creatures as the speakers moved up and down above our heads. Totally weird, but totally amazing!

Yorkie63 and Andy with the creatures

Yorkie63 and Andy with the creatures

Run!!!!!

Run!!!!!

One of the speakers

One of the speakers

After experiencing this very strange piece of art we headed to the see-through church which was absolutely stunning! We walked around and explored observing how the church appeared to dissolve into the landscape.

Approaching the church

Approaching the church

Starting to take shape

Starting to take shape

Nearly complete as we enter

Nearly complete as we enter

Looking across to a real church

Looking across to a real church

Inside

Inside

The tower

The tower

Inner join

Inner join

Looking up to the spire

Looking up to the spire

Nearly disappeared!

Nearly disappeared!

Our final piece of art was Untitled #158 which was near the cache Mariënlof. This strange, circular wooden construction made you feel quite dizzy as you walked around it!

Untitled #158

Untitled #158

Looking through to the other side

Looking through to the other side

Walking around

Walking around

After a trip back to Calais and a Eurotunnel crossing we were back home in the UK with one final task: Find the CHALLENGE CACHE – 10 COUNTRIES IN A DAY cache. A small reward for our epic drive around Europe!

Great fun and now Alice Clark!!!

We did it!!!!!

We did it!!!!!

Mega Scotland 2014


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!

Cumbrae Day

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.

Catching the ferry across to Cumbrae

Catching the ferry across to Cumbrae

Views out to sea

Views out to sea

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…

Out we go...

Out we go…

Disappearing into the distance

Disappearing into the distance

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.

Landed on the island

Landed on the island

Views across

Views across

Got the cache!

Got the cache!

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!

Approaching Sue

Approaching Sue

Hi Sue!!!

Hi Sue!!!

Boat selfie!

Boat selfie!

In perfect sync paddling back

In perfect sync paddling back

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.

Gouklan Stone

Gouklan Stone

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????

Ready to climb

Ready to climb

To Ben More!

To Ben More!

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.

The deceivingly nice track!

The deceivingly nice track!

And up we go...

And up we go…

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!

Up through the long grass

Up through the long grass

Peegeenine heading up

Peegeenine heading up

Wonderful views

Wonderful views

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!

The event at the top

The event at the top

Me with Scotland's First

Me with Scotland’s First

We made it!

We made it!

More cachers on their way up!

More cachers on their way up!

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.

The Essex stall at the start of the night event

The Essex stall at the start of the night event

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.

Meeting the skeleton

Meeting the skeleton

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! :)

Tombstones

Tombstones

My tombstone

My tombstone

Tyler and his grave!

Tyler and his grave!

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! ;)

Scary witches!

Scary witches!

We eventually got to the end and it was official, we had survived Tam’s Terror Trail!

We survived!!!!

We survived!!!!

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!

Achiever award!

Achiever award!

Highland Games

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.

The Highland Games

The Highland Games

Andy Nesbitt

Andy Nesbitt and Rab C. Doggywalker

John tossing

John tossing

Tyler tossing

Tyler tossing

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!

Champion!

Champion!

Mega Day

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!!!

North Wales 2016 Mega Committee

North Wales 2016 Mega Committee

Cass and the Draig

Cass and the 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!

Getting our lovely hamper

Getting our lovely hamper

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.

The Mega Essex stall

The Mega Essex 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!

Scottish closing ceremony

Scottish closing ceremony

There were some great interactive lab caches set out for the Mega including this one which made us all chuckle.

Lift his kilt for the lab cache answer!

Lift his kilt for the lab cache answer!

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!

An impressive event

An impressive event

The Team Essex table

The Team Essex table

We were brought the most wonderful Haggis, neeps and tatties for dinner and then followed by a strawberry cheese cake.

Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties!

Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties!

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!

Doing the Gay Gordons

Doing the Gay Gordons

I bet you look good on the dance floor...

I bet you look good on the dance floor…

CITO

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.

Beach combing

Beach combing

Lots of green bags

Lots of green 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.

Big jelly!

Big jelly!

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!

A busy pub

A busy pub

Ship Inn, Irvine

Ship Inn, Irvine

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.

Farewell!!!

Farewell!!!

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? ;)

Piratemania 2014 with the Essex Crew


And so it was time again for the fabulous yearly Piratemania Mega event. This year it was further north in the beautiful town of Cartmel, famous for their wonderful sticky toffee pudding (And yes, of course we had some whilst we were there!) :D

We headed up on the Friday night with our Team Essex crew of Doggywalker, Yorkie63, MummaD, Natlie92, Riskt4ker and Hollyncharlie. Before long we had pitched up the Essex camp and were ready to sail the seven seas and plunder dubloons!

Just in case you couldn't guess who the tent belongs to!

Just in case you couldn’t guess who the tent belongs to!

Proudly flying the Essex flag

Proudly flying the Essex flag

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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

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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!

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