We’ve just come back from a weekend trip down near Brighton. We stayed down there camping and I must say I really enjoyed it! We didn’t get much experience of the tent though as we just used it as a B&B when we weren’t caching! It was great fun though!
The purpose of the trip was to grab as many caches as possible using trails. It was all about the numbers! There are literally hundreds of trails in West Sussex and we’ve barely made a dent in it…
On the Thursday evening when we arrived we headed out on a trail after putting the tent up. We bagged about 25 over 10 miles (as we walked from the campsite to the location, so that added a few miles on) and went past the Windmill where they filmed Jonathan Creek! I’ve always wondered where that was! It was a lovely walk and we saw so many animals at that time of night including an owl. The only bad thing was getting to the tent at 9pm and having to cook our Vesta currys in the dark! Hehe!
The following day we tackled a trail called SWOF 2 and got us our 600th find. This was 50 caches over 10 miles however we got majorly lost and also went and grabbed a few others whilst around there so it probably totted up to 15+ miles. We didn’t take enough food so were starving by the end of it. It was a long day of caching from 9:45 to 6:30! Yikes!
On the third day we did 2 trails (Henfield Hike = 16 and Wineham Wander = 32) plus a few random ones and a few along Brighton seafront. Caching on a Saturday night in Brighton did honestly sound like a good idea at the time, however was perhaps a little risky! Saying that it was fun being super stealthy! That concluded a day of 56 caches – our best day ever, including our 700th find which we made to be the virtual at a lighthouse.
On the final day we went and did Findon Sheep Fair. That gave us 24. We planned to do a few more but were so knackered from all the walking that it was time to head home!
Boy were our feet aching! We must have walled over 40 miles for the grand total of 161 caches! Wow! We did however only manage to swap 1 TB!!! And that was in a random cache nearby to where we were doing a trail.
We did have some interesting adventures though…
We met some overly friendly sheep and had a herd of 50 block our access across the field. They all ran up to us and wouldn’t stop bleating! They thought we had food for them! After 5 minutes of thinking “How the hell are we going to get past?” we came up with the idea of clapping our hands. That scared them enough for us to sneak past!
We had two finds which we very nearly DNF’ed. They weren’t in their spots, but on the grass nearby. We worked out that a bird must have stolen one of the micros from the hole in a tree where it was meant to be as he saw it shining in the sun.
We also found one with a huge string of DNF’s spanning back to May. The cacher who had found it a few weeks before we got there said in his log that due to the string of DNFs it obviously wasn’t there so he hid a micro he had spare in the obvious location. Top marks for helping out and replacing it, but unfortunately it was the wrong spot as the original cache was still actually there! The cache wasn’t missing and whilst searching for this new micro I found the original cache! It was in a tree near where a load of stinging nettles were. They’re dying off now so we were able to get at it. The nettles would have deterred the cachers between May and July! I’m wondering whether to carry some micros with us as there are indeed some DNF spots where we KNOW the cache should be but has been muggled.
We also found one of the cleverest hides ever! It was along the seafront. Benches were all along a large wall with plants up it. We spent 15mins searching the trees along the sea wall, the magnetic bits of the benches, under the benches… Then suddenly there it was! It was dangling all the way down behind the benches, below ground level on a piece of fishing wire! I may have to recycle that idea! It was a great trip but we did learn a few things about doing long trails…
We did the 25 trail on the Thurs without a break and didn’t break on the trail of 50 until we felt like we needed it. After that we had to stop every couple of caches because our feet were killing. It would have been ok if it was any old weekend, but as we were non-stop caching every day this approach didn’t work! The next 2 days we stopped for 15mins approximately every hour and changed shoes half way round as they put pressure on different parts of our feet and gave some relief to the sore bits! We thought it worked anyway!
Take plenty of food and water
This is an obvious one. Were always very good with water, but don’t take enough food. We have learnt now and will stock up! Wholemeal bagels are recommended to runners before a race because they are slow releasing and packed full of carbs to keep you going. We will stock up on them and some good quality cereal bars. These things are light and don’t need keeping cool. Another thing we do on hot days is half fill our bottles of water and freeze them overnight, then in the morning top them up. This keeps the water nice and chilled whilst not being just a block of ice all of the way around!
Smaller trails win over bigger trails
If you are after the numbers like we were stick to a couple of packed small trails rather than a massive circular trail. With the biggies you will end up doing way more miles per cache (“MPC” what a cool abbreviation I have invented! 😉
Don’t forget nettle season
If a cache was laid in winter it may be blocked by nettles now so prepare to search amongst/past them. Wear gardening gloves and avoid wearing shorts (one day I will listen to this advice!!!)
The cache may still be there
If it’s not in it’s home and there have been no recent DNFs then the cache may still be close. An animal may have moved it, it may have got dislodged by rain, falling sticks, etc, or the last finder may have not stuck the magnet back on the right piece of the object. If you DNF, don’t give up! Pay attention to the area as you walk away.
Keep a piece of paper in your pocket handy for scribbling down any interesting finds. Most of your trail logs will be short and sweet, but if you keep a few reminders in your pocket you can make some of the logs more exciting and useful.
Take a good camera
They do add some extra weight to the backpack but I wish I had taken my DSLR as I could have snapped some beautiful views, animals, and some cool looking fungus!
So that was my first camping and caching adventure. Now I need to sleep for a week!!! 😉 Some cachers may look down on us for doing such an intense number-hungry run, but I can assure you we worked bloody hard for them!