We had such fun Geocaching in 2011, and it seems that we did pretty well with our 2011 caching statistics, finishing with 3541 finds for the year. Out of those 3500 caches there have been some real gems so I thought I’d share some of our top 10 favourite caches and caching moments of the year…
When we headed to do the Shipbourne Stroll series we were under the impression that it was your usual geocaching series, but we were totally blown away by the creativity of the caches that we came across.
It was very clear from the quality of the caches that the cache owners had gone to a lot of effort (and spent what would have been a fair bit of money) creating the caches that they placed. Amongst the custom containers, there were Q&A caches where you had to work out the numerical answer to open the padlock and there were also two outstanding caches which required special tools, hidden nearby, to retrieve them. These were the highlights of the series which when put with the other hides help this series sit comfortably at position 10 on our list.
At just 10 caches this series in Dunwich forest isn’t particularly large, nor are the hides particularly exciting and I don’t think this series would feature this high on many other people’s favourite list, however from the moment we parked up in the forest there was definitely something magical about it, like we were in Narnia! It was simply a lovely place to explore and we picked a lovely sunny day to explore it. Also, whilst emerging from the trees after finding the 2nd cache we gained some company for some of the walk as we bumped into our caching friends Grimmerscotting! Both of us were about 80 miles from home and had no idea the other would be there. We couldn’t have planned it if we tried! We finished the trip to Dunwich with a picnic on Dunwich Heath, which has also had caches placed in it since we visited so we have a great excuse to go back!
Goldhanger West Event. Cachers came from all around to join in with the challenge to complete the Goldhanger Westseries that was released on that day, however there was a twist… We didn’t have coordinates to find the caches, we had little rhymes to get us from cache to cache. Rhymes like the following:
“Pretend you’re a young horse and do no wrongs.
Gallop the path for 1.1 furlongs.
Down the steps to a rusty pole.
Find the cache my little foal.”
We all had emergency envelopes with clues on how to get to the next cache if we got stuck along the way and to add the competitive edge, we were scored on how long it took us to complete the series and had points deducted for opening the emergency envelopes with winners chosen at the end of the day. We had an absolutely brilliant time, and mainly completed the circuit as a group because everyone got stuck on a particular cache and joined up. So for the time, thought, and effort that went into it this event easily deserves a spot in the top 10! We will be looking out for the Goldhanger East event coming this year for even more fun!
Climate Chaos was a set of 5 puzzle caches hidden around Hertfordshire. Sadly it’s recently been archived by qichina, the owner. To reach the final puzzle, The Solution, all of the other puzzles had to be solved.
It wasn’t simple and they required a lot of brain power, a fair bit of walking, paddling in a river, and a great deal of time to solve which made getting the final cache feel so rewarding. We also had a massive disaster on a trip to one of the caches which involved a DNF, Andy locking his keys in the car, and me getting completely lost in the dark!!!
The CO had spent so much time planning the series, setting up the puzzles, and setting up the caches that the theme of the puzzle (Saving the world from the evil Mobbex corporation) feel so real and like a true geocaching adventure. In the final cache we got a little crystal as a souveneir to keep. This is a series of caches that I know everyone who has completed them will have on their top 10 list of caches, it’s just such a shame that no more cachers can enjoy them as much as we did.
MEGA Wales fits comfortably into our top 10 favourites, not for the MEGA event itself, but for whole experience. The highlights of our trip probably deserve their own places in the list, however I’m counting them all as part of our trip to Wales. For us it wasn’t the MEGA event that was the good bit, it was the great experiences and caches we found whilst we were in South Wales. The reason MEGA Wales is on this list is for the following caching moments:
a) Margam Country Park – There aren’t a huge number of caches in the Country park, and we didn’t manage to get all of them as they are very spaced out, but it is a fine example of quality over quantity. The containers themselves aren’t particularly noteable, however the park is easily the prettiest we have ever been to and there are the most amazing features to explore once there.
b) Side Points series- The side points series is the one that EVERYBODY who went to the MEGA did. Everybody else had done it before us and we kept hearing stories left, right and centre about how fabulous it was. We went to see for ourselves and it was truely fabulous due to the custom containers that the CO had created.
c) The night caches – On a wet, windy night we joined up with hollyncharlie, helennbrian, mel-ray and heffalump to do a couple of night caches. These were the first that we had ever done and they were absolutely brilliant. It was such a muddy route which ran next to the stream, so was quite dangerous in the weather we did it in, but that all added to the fun of it and even though we were all mucky and wet by the time we had finished, we had brilliant fun. The night caches themselves were brilliant ones that had clearly had a lot of thought put into them.
We stopped off for Wombling Free on route to the Peak District because its difficulty/terrain rating was a rare one to find and nicely filled the d4.5/t5 rating that was missing on our matrix.
Unfortunately the cache has been archived, but I wouldn’t rule out this one perhaps returning (in which case we’d happily do it again!) To retrieve the cache you had to visit an abandoned quarry so armed with hard hats and head torches we ventured into the deep dark maze. It was quite scary, but quite exciting at the same time which is the reason why this single cache deserves a spot in the top 5!
Running for 14 miles from Heybridge Basin to Chelmsford and boasting over 100 caches this massive powertrail was certainly one of the highlights of the year. Despite the containers being just film cannisters and placed as close as possible as the guidelines allow, the series was hugely enjoyable because of the scenery and walk along the canal. We passed by many locks along the river and learnt about the history of the canal from the information boards on the route.
Although we did the series in December, we had brilliant weather and brilliant company as we were joined by other Essex cachers. We completed the series in about 8 hours and finished in the dark after finding all of the caches in the series.
Completing The Chiltern Hundred had been something we spoke about to mel-ray every time we went caching with them! We waited until May when we had plenty of daylight and started at 5am in the morning. Although the series could be completed in 3 loops, our ambitious mission was to complete the series in one day and we did it, all 110 caches and all 23 miles. Boy did our feet hurt afterwards! We saw some brilliant scenery along the way and there were some very interesting hiding places too.
We also did maintenance for drsolly whilst completing it so were able to replace missing caches and damaged logbooks to revive the series for future visitors. It’s an achivement we are all very proud of.
This single cache is Kent definitely deserves a place so high in the top 10. Hidden in Fort Grain Tower Battery, which you can only reach when the tides are right, retrieving this cache is a real adventure. The first part of the mission is to choose a time of day when the tide is low enough for you to reach the fort. The second part is to get across about a quarter mile of wet, muddy, and slippery causeway.
Once at the base of the fort you’re not off the hook just yet as you have to ascend an old ladder that looks like it’s held on with a bit of cotton (perhaps an exaggeration, but it certainly doesn’t look safe!), finally you need to go all the way to the very top (don’t look down) and locate one of those tiny plastic vials and your mission is complete (oh, apart from getting back down the scary ladder which is even worse than going up) It was quite an adventure, but so very exciting!!!
We headed to the Peak District for a week to grab caches to fill our difficulty/terrain matrix. By visiting this area we were able to fill in 14 high terrain squares that we needed. I’d heard that the Peak District was very picturesque however I didn’t expect it to be quite so amazing. The Jaggers Cough/Crookstone Knoll combination was the first series that we attempted there, attracted by the high terrain rating of the caches. We ascended via Crookstone Knoll which was pretty knackering, but not too bad and at least we were over the worst… right? Wrong!
To get down we had to scramble the rocks of Jaggers Cough which I’m sure isn’t that big a deal for seasoned peak visitors, but this was the first time we had done anything like this and it seemed like quite an easy way to die!!! Eventually we passed some other people venturing up and down the cough and we at least realised we weren’t the only ones doing it. The rock scrambling was amazing! And a route we would never have taken if caches hadn’t been placed there. It was such an adventure, and although it was pretty scary at first we eventually got into the swing of it.
It’s probably unfair of me to mention just the Jaggers Cough and Crookstone Knoll caches, as there were some other amazing caches there too: Fairbrook Naze, Grindsbrook Golden Secret, Grindsbrook Silver Secret, and Monsal View. Many of these also involved scrambling and climbing which was great fun!
It’s quite hard to find those really special caches that are out there within the 100,000 UK caches other than from hearing from others, so I’d love to hear if any of my blog readers have favourite caches from last year which we could visit.
Happy Caching and a very Happy New Year!