2014 has been a fantastic year of caching. We’ve not found a huge number of caches (Well, not compared to previous years), but we have found some fantastic caching gems, had some great adventures and also had some crazy ideas ;).
It’s been really hard this year settling for a top 10, so much so that I have a top 11 (Plus some that need mentioning that didn’t make the list!). 2013 was a great year for fantastic adventures, but I think 2014 just about tops it!
11 – Ten countries in a day challengeNot only was this one a great adventure, but it was also a crazy one!
We were heading over to Munich for the world’s first ever Giga event so thought that while we were there we would attempt a country challenge. We’d done a four countries in a day challenge previously and so we thought we’d try and top it. It started off with “Let’s do 6 countries in a day”… which grew to 7… then 8… then 9… and finally 10 (Thankfully we stopped there!)
So on the Sunday after the giga event we headed off to Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland all in 24 hours with some time to spare as well! It was absolutely exhausting near the end as we had covered around 900 miles and been awake for 19 hours. It was a great adventure, but not one I’d like to repeat! ;-)
10 – Mega Scotland: The Beach (Traditional)We had a great time at the Mega Scotland event with the fabulous company of our friends, however, there were a couple of events that really stood out for me and were real adventures! JackieC arranged an event on the Isle of Cumbrae with the event situated in good proximity to a cache called The Beach which required us to paddle out to sea to an island. This year we had purchased a pretty decent inflatable kayak and had practiced with it in lakes and rivers, but were yet to head out to sea in it!
The weather was quite undecided and the sea looked a bit choppy, but we decided to give it a go as others had made it back alive! ;) So out I headed with doggywalker and Simon of Hollyncharlie. It was really hard paddling out in the sea as we were fighting against the current, but as we all had a double paddle each it was made a lot easier. Once on the island the cache was a really quick find. We hopped back in the kayak and went for an enjoyable paddle back to the shore feeling very pleased with ourselves!
9 – Mega Scotland: Scotland’s First (Traditional)Sticking with our trip to Mega Scotland, I think my hike up Ben More for the Scotland’s First cache and Lunch on Scotland’s first event has to be mentioned! This was easily the hardest walk I’ve ever encountered. I headed up with Simon of Hollyncharlie, Yorkie63, Doggywalker, Peegeenine and Tyler the Groundspeak Lackey. It started off easy up a nicely kept track luring us into a false sense of security. Soon we were ascending up the hillside through wet grass and a nearly vertical path. It was very, very hard work and the weather conditions didn’t really help.
It was such a massive achievement to get to the cache though. However, once we were up it was soon time to clamber down! I think the walk down was even worse than the walk up and I was worried about losing my foot down a hole or slipping over. Doggywalker helped me on the way down and kindly waited as I fumbled about finding my footing. The best bit was when we both slid down the hillside on our bums screaming “weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” like little kids. Hehe!
8 – Mae’r lladd-dy (Event)After enjoying the CBITD: Belly of the Weyre event so much in May we decided to head back to North Wales to enjoy the next CBITD event, this time in Cwmorthin slate mine. It’s great to go to North Wales as we have some really lovely caching friends out that way. This time we stayed on the event campsite which was lovely as we got to mingle. We were also joined by our good friends Yorkie63 and MummaD for the trip. Cwmorthin mine is located in Blaenau Ffestiniog. We parked there and headed up to the mine with a huge hoard of cachers.
This mine was absolutely fabulous and absolutely massive. After we entered we headed straight down one of the steep inclines where the mining carts used to run and then to a huge flooded section where the only way across was through the water or along the “Pole walk”. There were some fantastic artifacts inside this mine. Loads of old buildings and mining relics as well as a waterfall. The only slight downfall of the event was that the CBITD events had become so popular that there were so many people down there with us. We all really did enjoy the experience though and it’s a mine I’d love to revisit.
7 – Blackmoustache’s Splashmob! (Event)I think the Piratemania Splash mob (GC56X7A) was my favourite event of the year. It was so different to any other events that we had attended. Coniston water was a beautiful location to hold it and as there were so many people in the area for the mega that there was a great vibe! We arrived really early as from previous expeditions knew that parking could be a bit tricky around there. Our first trip across the water was to Peel Island again to the Swallows and Amazons cache. I had previous swum across to get the cache (And that adventure was <a href="“>my favourite caching moment of 2013!). It was a pleasure to revisit the island (This time in a more suitable vessel!) and head to the cache with our friends who hadn’t found it before.
After that we all hopped in our kayaks and headed out into the water ready for the splash mob. I can’t say I was a huge fan of being splashed, but it was quite funny watching others get wet (hehe!).
6 – Moe’s Tavern (Traditional)I was drawn to this cache by all of the favourite points that it had accumulated. The photos of the location looked really interesting so during a stay in North Wales we headed to the very north of Anglesey to take a look.
We took a short walk to GZ to find a cute little sea cavern. Thankfully we had got the tide times right and our path to the entrance of the cavern was reasonably clear (Well, apart from the alien-like slippery seaweed that was everywhere!) Once at the entrance we clambered through the cavern to the back and then up and out of the top where we quickly found the cache!
I really loved this one. It was very different and a worthy adventure.
5 – Off-Piste and in the dark (Multi)Off-Piste and in the dark is another cache that had been on my to do list for absolutely ages! The reason I had wanted to do it was because I knew one of the stages was located in an old mine, Sandford Levy. As we were in the area with geofriends for a tour of Banwell Bone Caves it made sense to try to find it while there.
This fantastic 7 stage multi took us around Sandford woods before a trip into Sandford Levy. Not only was the underground exploration great, the other multi stages were great fun too. The mine was a particularly interesting one. It was a horizontal passage around several hundred metres long with two intersecting crossroads with tight, short passages. The mine was dug in 1830 in an attempt to locate ore, but wasn’t a commercial success. However, it found a new use in the second world war when it was used by the Auxiliary Unit of the local Home Guard. A paving slab floor continues along the start of the mine which was created by the home guard. Some remains of their wooden bunks can be found inside the mine as well. I think my favourite part of the mine was the quartz geode that we spotted on the way out. An absolutely amazing crystal formation! The final hide was an ammo can which made the multi feel like a great achievement!
4 – Suitable for Miners! (Letterbox)Suitable for Miners! is quite recently placed in comparison to some of my favourites from this year which had been sitting on my to do list for years. As we were in North Wales for a week I really wanted to visit Suitable for Miners! as it was placed underground in Drwys y Coed copper mine. Once parked, we took a short clamber up the hillside before we reached an adit which confirmed that we were in the right place. We slowly waded through the water following the instructions on the cache page and exploring the mine as we went along. It was only a short walk to GZ once inside, but as we crept closer we were treated to hints of beautiful blue colours in the rocks that lined the walls of the mine. Once we did reach the final location there was a massive explosion of the most beautiful shade of blue. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before underground! It’s a great mine for those beginning to explore underground as it’s only small, but very rewarding. We enjoyed it so much that we visited again later on in the year on our second trip to North Wales.
3 – Banwell Bone caves (Earthcache)Banwell Bone Caves had been on my to do list ever since I heard that there was an earthcache there. It looked to be such a unique location. It wasn’t an earthcache that you could just wander up to though, it was on private land and you had to book a private tour around the bone caves with 10 or more people in order to get to it. So, I organised a trip there with some of my geofriends and we assembled a party big enough to be allowed on the tour. All we needed for the earthcache were a few facts from an information board, but there was a whole lot more to our tour than that. After getting the information that we required we headed down into the bone cave, a large underground cavern which was around 40ft in diameter and 20ft tall. Our tour guides had placed candles around the cave which made it feel very spooky! As our tour guides also owned the land that the bone caves are on, they were extremely knowledgeable and we learned so much from our trip. After visiting the cave we were shown to Banwell summer house and Banwell tower before finally being welcomed into the owner’s home and treated to a cream tea. The perfect end to a lovely morning.
2 – TIBI DABO CLAVES (Puzzle)Tibi Dabo Claves is a puzzle cache in Cambridgeshire which I solved in 2011. It was a really time consuming, yet very satisfying, puzzle. The kind of puzzle that I wish all puzzles were like instead of “You’ll manage to solve it if you find the right page on Wikipedia!”. There was the sense of progress and mystery as I creeped ever closer to the solution. There were also many layers to peel off to finally get to the solution. When the final coords were revealed I was ecstatic! It turned out, however, that solving the puzzle was the easy bit! Getting our names in the logbook was a much harder task as the final location was a very wet place: The River!
At that time I couldn’t swim so I had tried to convince Andy that he needed to do a bit of wild swimming down the river in the name of caching in order to claim the find. Unfortunately, despite lots of attempts to win him round, Andy wasn’t in any hurry to squeeze into his budgie smugglers for some messing about on the river!Finally, this summer, I bought an inflatable kayak! We’d taken it out on calm lakes and got on quite well so decided to finally try and grab our archenemy, Tibi! Out we went on a rainy morning with the sound of thunder crackling away in the sky. Nothing was going to stop us! I have to say we soon realised that it’s a lot harder paddling down the river then on nice calm lakes. We clocked it at over a mile of paddling and we had some amusing mishaps as we traveled towards GZ which involved us crashing into a bank of nettles, me blaming Andy for it and swearing at him, and also recording this on my Go Pro to laugh at afterwards! It took us a little while to spot the final cache once at GZ. To retrieve it, however, we had to wedge the kayak between some brambles while hoping that it’s inflatableness (I know that’s not a word) wouldn’t be compromised! We were fine though and we signed and replaced the cache without any problems. The trip back down the river was a lot easier. Maybe our paddling had improved!
1 – Werewolf (Puzzle)And finally at the top spot we have the fantastic puzzle: Werewolf. This was a puzzle that I’d solved in 2012. I was drawn to be because it seemed like everyone was raving about it. To give an idea of how good it is, it currently has 171 favourite points! As I delved deep into the mystery and gradually peeled off each layer of the story I became more and more confident that I was getting closer to the final coordinates. It wasn’t easy though. There were many different dimensions to the puzzle and it was very clear that a lot of thought had gone into creating it. There was much jubilation when the final solution was revealed and I had managed to crack it, but as it was a long way from home (Yorkshire) it unfortunately had to remain unfound.
As we had headed to Scotland for the 2014 Mega event we were looking for somewhere to stop off to break up the journey on the way back so we decided to stay somewhere near the Werewolf puzzle final in the hope that if it was a nice day we could take a hike and finally get our names in the logbook.Well, we were lucky with the weather and the sun was shining brightly so we headed up the moors towards the cache. We were pleased that we picked a nice day for it as it was really quite hard to navigate across the moors. Everything just looked the same! We could imagine the setting of the Werewolf puzzle there with mist covering the ground and visibility being extremely poor. Once at GZ it did take us quite a while to find the cache, but eventually Andy shouted “Found it” and the story came to a great end. We are always pleased to find an ammo can, so it was a great reward for the hours of puzzle solving. A really fantastic cache that I’d highly recommend. Even if you’re not planning a trip anywhere near it the puzzle is very enjoyable and rewarding regardless of the cache find.
And the rest…
Here area few fantastic caches/events that didn’t quite make it into the top 11 list. So, in no particular order..
Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler ? (Puzzle)
We visited this underground bunker cache while on a coach trip to Chichester. It was made into even more of an adventure because we had to catch a bus from Chichester to get to it and then walk a mile up the road rather than just parking in the layby next to it!
We thought that the hard bit was over, but then we had to find the bunker! The entrance was just an open hole in the ground and we were searching for ages! We were all scattered around the woods googling on our phones where it might be located to try and get a bit more information when suddenly Andy shouted “Found it” and we all rushed to GZ and descended! It wasn’t a big bunker, but the hunt for it made it into a real adventure!
Bram Stokers Whitby Cache (Virtual)
We visited this virtual while in the area for my birthday weekend (I say in the area… we were 50 miles away!) and made a special trip for the virtual. I didn’t expect much from it as the photo gallery was just full of pictures of people sat on benches (As that’s what the virtual required) but the views from GZ were fantastic. Having never visited Whitby I didn’t realise how pretty and scenic it was. This cache opened my eyes to it!
The Belly of the Weyre (Event)
We attended the Celestial Bar in the Dark – Belly of the Weyre event whilst spending the week in beautiful North Wales. The event was held in Penarth slate mine.
It was a great experience to explore this abandoned mine with many other keen geocachers. The mine itself was quite small and humble, but the lower level had a few interesting old mining artifacts. The mine was positioned at the top of a very steep hill climb. We’d never have known this one existed if it hadn’t been for the event. Nearing the end of the event we enjoyed our miners picnic and a sit down in one of the larger chambers.
Our first underground event and a very enjoyable one at that!
Ceriog Challenge: Perpetual Darkness (Letterbox)
The CO of this underground letterbox cache offered to guide us around Cambrian slate mine so that we could find this cache.
We entered via a pipe which runs into a stream. It was a very interesting mine to explore with lots of “wet bits” that apparently cave divers like to explore.
Unfortunately the cache has now been archived, but it was a great hiding place: Underwater on the end of a rope. You had to pull the cache to dry land to be able to open it and sign the log!
Suitable for Ninjas (Traditional)Yet another underground cache, Suitable for Ninjas! :D
I’d had this one on my hit list for a while, but didn’t get the chance to visit on our trip to North Wales earlier on in the year. It’s rated a 5/5, but it’s not a very tricky one as the mine it’s hidden in is very straight forward after the tight crawl in.
We headed there with Sharon of sharant, yorkie63 and MummaD. It was a short walk to the entrance followed by a little bit of wading past sheep bones and then a short search for the cache.
It was, however, still a great adventure. The mine was very colourful along the walls with blue, red and grey rocks which shone in our torchlights.
And over to you…
What were your most favourite caching moments of 2014? I’d love to hear from you in a comment below and perhaps get some ideas of great caches to visit in 2015.
Happy New Year to all of my readers. Hope you’ve had a great year of caching. Wishing you lots of fun adventures for 2015!