Doodling around Hatfield Forest


Earlier in the week a trail had been published in Hatfield Forest, just down the road from us. It was Doodle Trail. They were obviously placed by someone working for the forest and had popped up on our notification emails as being placed earlier in the week. There had been a couple of logs in the week on the caches and most noted that they were quite obvious and easy to find so we decided to go and grab them this weekend before they got muggled! It was a nice short trail and close to home meaning that we could take Teddy, our Geodog.

We parked on the road (Β£4.60 parking in the forest was a little bit too much for just an hour’s caching) and strolled in. The first was down in the high muggle area. None of the caches had hints so we weren’t sure if we would be able to find them, but they were gigantic boxes that were pretty easy to find.

A very big cache!

The log books were especially prepared by the National Trust and had space for stamps. This cache had been found by a few kids before us. I’d guess the National Trust had some little nature trail where they got them to find it. Next we headed onto number 1, however it wasn’t a smooth ride as I managed to go arse over tit on a slippery bridge. I fell and smacked my knee which is now very badly bruised and swollen (I have a cold, wet towel on it as I’m typing this!). I also landed on my camera which it really didn’t need after I smaked it on the fence when I dived over to escape from the cows yesterday. Despite the SD card being knocked out (Still don’t know how the hell that happened) it still worked. Phew! We headed over to the cache and noticed a couple with dogs going to GZ. Hmmm… We didn’t think anyone apart from cachers would go that way and when we heard the snap of a tupperware box as we closed in on them we knew they were cachers! It was hollyncharlie! It was great to meet them at last as they are local and we had done a few of their trails and exchanged emails with them. We continued the trail with them.

A beautiful day for caching

Cache number 2 was slightlier trickier and all 4 of us were hunting. A previous finder had noted that the coords were 100ft off and as it was in a section with a lot of trees, so we totally widened the search. I eventually got lucky. It was just a brown ammo can sitting behind a tree with no camo! EEK! My GPSr said 70ft off.

Teddy with the cache

We continued to the other caches. Thankfully these were all easy finds with good coords. I guess the tree cover threw the other one off. The final cache was about a mile away so it was a bit of a trek. We headed through a field of cows, however as Hatfield forest is always packed with people I imagine these cows are quite used to the traffic. They didn’t bat an eye lid as we passed through.

Sniff, sniff... I smell cachers!

We found another couple of cachers at cache 6 (This series is proving very popular from the number of people who have logged it today!) I can’t quite remember their names though. Great to bump into so many people this weekend though, it’s crazy how you usually go weeks without seeing anyone else. After saying our goodbyes we headed through the forest and back to the car.

Part of the woodland

A view through the trees

We couldn’t resist grabbing a few in the area whilst we where there. We made a quick cache and dash of Hatfield Forest Bridge, and followed it with Fields of Gold to make it 8 enjoyable finds for the day.

Gotcha!

Just got to get out now!

So that was the end of our caching weekend. 93 finds, 3 encounters with other cachers, a scary encounter with cows, a pretty crazy attempt at an extreme cache, oh and a bump on the knee. Thank God I’ve got a week at work to recover until next weekend!!! πŸ˜‰

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10 Responses to “Doodling around Hatfield Forest”

  1. jane Says:

    Hope your knee is feeling better! After reading all the warnings on the NT cache page too!!

    Did you notice that the NT have asked that two caches in the park before their 6 to be disabled? The one I looked at had been happily there since 2002!!!! 500+ visitors. I hope the NT are going to give their permission! They used to be anti caching so this is a mixed blessing!!

    • geocass Says:

      The knee is swelling up nicely!!! Looks like I’ll have to take a couple of days off my usual lunchtime running routine though. I wish I’d put on my better pair of walking boots today, but they were still a bit wet from yesterday. I think I was just a bit unlucky on the spot I stepped 😦

      Hollyncharlie did mention about a travel bug hotel that had been disabled that used to be there, but we didn’t know about it. It’s a bit mean, I hope they do let more caches in there.

  2. Sarah Says:

    ouch! I hope your knee (and poor abused camera) recover swiftly

    I’m amazed at how often you bump into other geocachers, in almost three years it’s happened to us precisely once. And that was at a virtual where we were very openly having our qualifying photo taken holding up our GPS in a very obvious “look at me I’m a geocacher” way.

    Although to be fair you find a lot more caches than we do πŸ™‚ We average about 3 per weekend to your 90-something lol

  3. Sarah Says:

    oh I tell a lie – I did see some other cachers last week at a FTF attempt, but as half of Swindon turned out for that one at once, it hardly counts as a chance encounter πŸ™‚

  4. sxparx Says:

    Hopefully the two disabled caches will be reinstated especially the TB hotel.

    ECP didn’t see the need to disable any existing caches in the parks when we set our series and also approve regularily approve new cache requests on ECP land.

  5. coxydudes Says:

    You’ve been mentioned on the latest edition of the Podcacher Podcast!

    • geocass Says:

      Yeah I know πŸ™‚ I think that means I’m famous now! πŸ˜‰ I just wanted to get the word out about CACH’EYE and Sonny was kind enough to say he’d mention it!

  6. Karina Says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that it was my MSc Conservation Management class at Writtle College that designed the Doodle Trail for the NT at Hatfield Forest. As it’s a sensitive site they ask that any caches placed are approved by them as too much traffic in any one area can be detrimental to the ancient woodland – particularly if roots are trampled. This is why they have come across as “anti” geocaching in the past, but hopefully their taking an interest in it will gradually help them to work with genuine geocachers.

    Anyway, so you know, the idea of the trail was to give young children at Key Stage 1 and 2 an educational but fun treasure trail through the forest which they could do with their families. The main aim was to encourage children to enjoy the outdoors and to get to grips with the technology, whilst hopefully encouraging a healthy interest in the outdoors for the rest of their lives. We had to make them fairly easy to find and the activities simple, otherwise it would have defeated the object!

    Glad you enjoyed finding them… it’s a beautiful place!

    • geocass Says:

      Hi Karina, Many thanks for filling us in on the information about the series. It was a lovely series and were very glad that the NT embraced caching in Hatfield Forest. Many thanks for the hard work you put into helping with the caches. Will there be more to come? πŸ™‚

      • Karina Says:

        Hi Cass, I’m not sure that there will be any changes or updates to the ones at Hatfield Forest for a while as we handed over the project for them to manage the roll-out about a year ago. I do, however, know that the National Trust are rolling out geocaches and trails on some of their properties around the country and they’re currently advertising a couple of geocaching open days and introductions to geocaching on certain properties, which you’ll be able to find on their website. I think they’ll be quite sensitive about where future caches and trails are rolled out due to potential disturbance on ecological and archaeological sites, but they certainly seem to be embracing the idea! Cheers, Karina


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