Today we decided to tackle the WTF series near Ealing, London. The series was recommended for biking, so we took our bikes with us on the trail. We ended the day with 33 finds, however it wasn’t plain sailing all the way and we ended up with a massive 12 DNF’s! I think the most we have ever DNF’ed in a day is about 3. Needless to say morale was quite low…
A brave start
I had filtered the terrain and difficulties for the series and noticed that one particular cache stood out as having an unusual difficulty rating, WTF: Metal (jin). We knew it was high up under a bridge from reading previous logs and that we would need to go into the river. We decided to get prepared and purchased a fold-up grabber and a telescopic magnet to help us with this task (and future caches!) We parked nearby and walked to this cache, leaving the bikes in the car. We went in the river in wellies, however had obviously picked the wrong time of year to attempt it as the river was too high and we couldn’t get to it without flooding our wellies. The cache was probably about 1 meter too far along. Damn. Unfortunately we couldn’t use our new tools, however they did come in handy for future caches on the trail. We had to give this particular cache a miss and retreated back to the car to grab the bikes.
Onwards, and upwards…
We got off to a good start with the first one that we attempted on our bikes. We had hoped for some great footpaths, however these ones were horrible. They were overgrown and soaked. We had gone out in trainers rather than our walking boots and it wasn’t long before our feet were soaking and cold. 😦 Some of the paths here were really close to the river and with the slippery mud was quite scary. We just hoped it wouldn’t be like that all the way round…
When we got to the second cache, Pecker! How big’s yours? it was quite clear that we had picked the wrong time of year to visit these caches. We had to do a bit of tree climbing, but the tree was way too slippery. We didn’t give up though and used our handy new fold-up grabber to rustle around at the top of the tree and grab the cache. Bingo! It wasn’t long until we reached our first DNF though, on our 5th cache, Rodz Last? This was amazingly high up in a wet tree that we just could not climb without doing ourselves a mischief. It had to be left. Not even the handy grabber could touch it.
We followed this with 5 finds, 4 DNF’s, and 1 did not attempt (As we missed it). It was really confusing on this part of the trail as we were away from the river and going along the roads. We ended up on the wrong side of the road a couple of times and just generally got confused trying to make our way to the river. Morale was at an ultimate low at this point. We were contemplating going home or finding some other caches in the area, however couldn’t find anything. *sigh* We’d come over 50 miles to get to the trail, so returning home was just not an option. We had a rethink and decided not to get dishearted with DNF’s. They seemed to be all part of it. We also decided to change tactics and instead of trying to attempt the entire trail decided to stick to a small section of it.
With a revised attitude we tackled the rest of the series and managed to find 8 in a row. WOW! One cache, End of the Line, looked like some locals had set up their own mini bar.
Our next cache was back on the river (hoorah) where the paths were a bit easier to suss. We spent quite a while searching for Piccadily Line? Stop right there when I managed to pull a little magnetic thing away from a metal post. On closer inspection it must have been missing something as there was no lid (perhaps that was the lid???) so we signed some paper and pushed it into the hole in it then reattached it. It HAD to be the cache as there was no other reason for a little magnetic thing (that looked like part of a nano) to be attached to the pole!
On WTF:Tic tac toe I think we totally made up for all of our previous DNF’s! This was a 1.5D/1.5T cache, but had a string of 12 DNF’s before we found it! The cache owner had visited and said it was there so we were absolutely determined to find it. 15 minutes later it was ours, and you know what? It was so simple! I think all of the autumn leaves that had fallen and covered it made it harder for us, but as it hadn’t been found since May we felt very smug. A big morale boost to keep us going!
We finally got onto the Canal path and the cycle ride finally got enjoyable. I think if we had started at this point things would have been so much better. The cache Brown? Flush it down was next to some lovely, random artwork along one of the buildings.
We stopped on a bench along the canal for lunch and had some visitors, the geese and the ducks. They were quite interested in our sandwiches. I managed to skillfully throw the ducks some bread whilst avoiding the geese, however felt a bit mean so crept towards a goose to hand it a crisp. It opened it’s mouth up and started flapping trying to get out of the water to get me. AH! I quickly threw the crisp and ran away. Hehe!
We looked up at the sky. Blue and grey. Hmm… I wonder which one would be heading in our direction. I bet you can guess! 😉
We carried on along the canal path and reached More Ammo than Cammo that we couldn’t attempt. I very nearly took the plunge to get it when we noticed a loud buzzing. We looked in the ivy covered tree that surrounded GZ and spotted something quite unusual at this time of year. A swarm of wasps! After a few seconds it became apparant that it was more than a swarm. There must have been a nest! Going under the wasp covered tree to get the cache simply wasn’t an option and we decided to leave it. There are 8 wasps in just the photo that I took!
This was followed by a few easy finds, and as expected some did not finds. However, we didn’t take it too seriously and didn’t get bummed about the DNF’s. We even started to laugh about them!
It then started hammering it down with rain. Luckily there were quite a few bridges to hide under to wait for each shower to pass. The waterproofs had to come out!
The sun eventually came out and we ended up under another bridge. There were some lovely mosaics here designed by children from Belvue School.
We decided to end the trail at this point and biked along the pavements for nearly 2 miles back to the car. We then moved the car to a new location as despite the WTF trail being circular, there was a line of caches that was a little off-course. We left the rest of the circle for another day (In the summer) and moved to this stretch.
We grabbed a couple along this stretch, and naturally DNF’ed a couple. One that we did find was WTF: 91 miles to Braunston and was our first Regular of the day.
We headed slightly off course for one of our final caches of the day. This was one that we definitely wouldn’t be DNF’ing as it was an earthcache! It was The Hanwell Sarsen Stone. Sarsen stones always fascinate me, so it was worth going a little bit out of the way to get it and this one was massive! Although our earthcache, The Leper Stone is the tallest single standing one, this looked like it could be a contender for the biggest one!
We managed to get our timings just right and get back to the car just as it was getting dark. Although we found 33 today, which is a respectable number we couldn’t help but feel disheartened by the amount of DNF’s. After we had come to accept them however it wasn’t so bad. If anyone is thinking of doing the WTF trail I wouldn’t recommend the autumn/winter months. I think the trail will be most enjoyable in the summer when the sun is shining and the water is glistening. I definitely thought we tackled the worst part of the entire trail today as the footpaths weren’t great and a lot were confusing. The bikes became quite an inconvenience as we had to keep an eye on them at all times and often had to venture quite far off of the path. When we got onto the canal paths it was great and the hides much closer to the path. We shall be attempting this trail again, but when we have lighter evenings and when the sun is shining. I think it will then really show its true colours and be a happy day of messing about on the river!!!