MEGA PirateMania 2013!!!


And so it was time again for the PirateMania MEGA event in the UK. This time around it was based in Stratford-Upon-Avon on Saturday 27th July 2013 which was just a short distance from the location of the annual UK MEGA event being held the following weekend. PirateMania is all about having fun, dressing up, having a drink and having a laugh. There are some geocaches thrown in for good measure too! ;) I arrived on the Friday afternoon with our Team Essex shipmates: Andy750x, Infinson, Fincache, Sircache1, Tot66, PeCeH, Kris&Co, Yorkie63, MummaD, Natlie92, HollynCharlie, Helennbrian, Doggywalker and Stones2005. We were also joined by BigBadJohn1402 the following morning making a group of 31 of us! We set up camp in a large area making a circle so as to have a communal area in the middle for the kids and adults to play! :-)

The main Piratemania campsite

The main Piratemania campsite

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10 things you didn’t know about Geocaching.com


Ok, Ok, so you probably do know some of these things but I thought it was a good title for the blog. ;) I thought I’d put an entry together about all of the cool little things I’ve learned after using the site for a good few years. Hopefully someone will learn something from this…

1. You can add dynamically updating stats to your geocaching.com profile

Thanks to Groundspeak giving access to the Live API to developers we now have project-gc. This site allows you to get up to date statistics about geocaches as well as your Geocaching statistics. In the past you would have to use GSAK to manually generate your stats and copy and paste the html code to your profile page on a regular basis to keep up to date. Thanks to Project-GC we can now just paste the code in once and it will automatically update itself!!!

To do this, visit the Profile stats page of the site and click ‘Create dynamic image HTML code‘. You will be instantly given the link to add your stats to your profile. Simply paste it in and you’re up to date! :)

Part of the profile stats that will appear on your Geocaching profile page

Part of the profile stats that will appear on your Geocaching profile page

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Garmin Oregon 600 Review


Garmin have recently released their Oregon 6xx series of GPS. In the range are the 600, 600t, 650, and 650t. The ‘t’ models include “Full European Recreational mapping 1:100K”. The 650 units include a rechargeable NiMH battery pack (this can be purchased separately for the 600 for under £20), an 8MP geotagging camera, a torch, and a larger storage capacity. The devices are currently retailing at between £370 and £500, depending on the model and whether you add 50k OS maps to your purchase. I took a look at an Oregon 600 with 50k OS maps to see if it was a worthwhile upgrade…

First impressions

The Garmin Oregon 600t

The Garmin Oregon 600t

My first impression of the device was that the screen seemed smaller than the Oregon 450 that I’ve used. In fact the screen size is the same (3″ / 240 x 400 pixels). Whereas previous Oregons have the protective raised plastic around the edge of the screen the new version is completely flat with the glass of the screen extending to the edges. This does make the device appear to look more modern and phone-like, however means that the screen isn’t as protected around the edges and gives the illusion that the screen is smaller than it is. It also seems a bit of a waste as it’d be more desirable if the screen filled this vacant space. The glass used on the screen is however “chemically enhanced” meaning that it should be more scratch resistant and durable and therefore doesn’t need that added ridge. Check out this YouTube video where they throw it on concrete and hit it with a hammer and it still doesn’t break!!!

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A few nice caches in Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire


After our trip to Yorkshire for the week we spent a couple of days around Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire. Our caching friends had always raved about the Alphabet Soup series and the favourite points all over the caches speak for themselves! So on the way back from Yorkshire we stopped off to do the series.

On the way down the M1 we couldn’t help but notice a massive old house and wondered what it was. A quick look on the GPS revealed Sutton Scarsdale Hall, a ruined 18th century manor which was free to visit (Thanks to finding ‘The ruin of me’ (GC28657) cache on the GPS so we reprogrammed the Satnav and headed there first.

The room layout in Scarsdale Hall

The room layout in Scarsdale Hall

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Yorkshire Caching Gems


Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales is such a beautiful area. We visited many caches at beautiful locations during our trip there, so here are a few of the most special places that we saw…

Stones and Rocks

Brimham Rocks

We headed to “Brimham Rocks” on a lovely sunny afternoon in search of the Brimham Rocks earthcache (GCZKJ9). The National Trust have also placed a few Geocaches around the area which were hidden in well marked and decent-sized containers. Brimham Rocks is covered in balancing rock formations which were created by the erosion of Millstone grit and have created some amazing shapes. I remember seeing the interesting formations on the top of Kinder Scout in the Peak District. It seemed quite unusual to see such large, interesting formations at this particular altitude though (under 900ft).

The view of Brimham rocks - You can just see the mushroom rock!

The view of Brimham rocks – You can just see the mushroom rock!

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Yorkshire Dales – Geocaching at the old lead mining sites


In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Britain was the main producer of lead. Lead mining was a big industry in the Yorkshire Dales and the landscape is now littered with remains of the mining which was once a very busy industry here. There were a few caches hidden near old mining remains in the Dales so we spent a few days exploring the area and caching…

Grassington Lead Mines Trail

We started our tour of the mining remains with The Miner’s Trail (GC1D74K) which took us on a 7 mile walk along where Grassington Lead Mines once operated and up to the old chimney at the top of the hill. It was a long walk to the first cache from Grassington Village and on the way there we passed a lovely waterfall and bridge over the stream.

Waterfall on the way to the first cache

Waterfall on the way to the first cache

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A “Busy” weekend with Team Essex


Last year I was very excited when I saw the Sussex Olympic Rings puzzles released and I tried very hard to solve them. We didn’t get the opportunity to head to Sussex to actually find them last year, but with the bank holiday coming up and my fingers tightly crossed for good weather I teamed up with Stones2005, Yorkie63, MummaD, Helennbrian, Hollyncharlie, and Andy750x to form Team Essex and we headed down south. 2 heads are better than 1 and as 10 heads are even better than 2, so together we managed to also completely solve BHQM (Burgess Hill Question Mark). That gave us 85 puzzles solved and ready for finding during our Busy weekend in Sussex…

Day 1 – Challenge caches and a challenging hill!

I headed to Sussex with Andy750x on the Friday and we decided to set ourselves a mini challenge. As we had 85 puzzles lined up to get, we thought we’d aim to grab 100 puzzles for the trip so first we stopped off in Kent to find the Assiduous Cacher Challenge caches. I’d worked out a long while ago that we qualified for 17 out of 20 of the challenges, so that was good enough for me to justify a nice morning walk around Scadbury Nature Reserve, where they were all hidden.

Entering the Reserve

Entering the Reserve

The reserve was an absolutely beautiful place to walk around and was reasonably quiet in the morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there were many butterflies all around. It had been quite a mission trying to work out which challenges we qualified for, however, it was well worth it for the beautiful walk through the bluebell-filled woods.

The reserve was full of pretty bluebells

The reserve was full of pretty bluebells

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