This weekend we had a bit of a contrast in cache locations. We had Saturday in Darenth, Kent which was covered in litter as far as the eye could see including used needles, fake number plates and a dead dog in a bin liner. Sunday was a much nicer day when we stuck around in our home county, Essex and visited the pretty little village of Coggeshall…
Well, what a day we chose to go caching! We should have known when we stepped out the door Saturday morning and the heavens opened that it probably wasn’t going to be the best idea, however we had plans and I had drawn up a map, and a to do list and we had a job to do so headed down to Kent.
We started the day with the Galloping Gallops trail around Longfield. This was a trail of 14 caches. It carried on raining as we stepped out of the car and decided that it wasn’t going to stop! It was quite an interesting start to the trail as all around the countryside here were white tyres poking out of the ground! It was a strange thing to see, and something that followed us around for the entire trail. Still not sure what they’re all about!
One of the disappointing thing about some of the caches in the series was the logbooks. They were tiny!!! And not only were they tiny, they were shiny (ooh, that rhymes!) Our pen wouldn’t write on them, so we wrapped a sticker around instead. I don’t think they’re going to last very long!
The trail continued around a field and then through a quaint little woodland. This was nice, and much needed sheltar from the rain. It was then back out onto the fields before we got to Southfleet where there was an additional cache, Middle of tree or is it three?, Church Micro 74…Southfleet, and the puzzle cache, Park in it maaaaan.
At Southfleet we bumped into a massive flood that covered the road which just showed how much it had been raining. We watched a few cars cautiously struggle through it.
It was then back to the fields for more mud. The trail went a little bit downhill from here (and I don’t mean the terrain) as the next 4 caches were hides at the base of hedges. The hides really weren’t very exciting and some of the camo was very subtle so they took ages to find. The rest of the trail however was nice.
We then relocated to Darenth. We got there at about 11:20am, a bit too early for lunch, but we had planned quite a large trail which meant we’d have to take our grub with us and eat it in the rain. Instead we did a mini loop of a few standalone caches in the area. We started by grabbing some numbers from a memorial for a RAF flying officer who died in WW2, A flying visit.
This was a convenient one to start with as it was located at the place we wanted to go to start the loop. We followed this by going along a footpath to some fishing lakes. It was a nice stroll along the river, just when we thought we couldn’t see anymore water! 😉
There was a lovely cache hidden along here, it was The river no 1. The hint was a bit misleading and we spent a fair amount of time wandering around in the trees whilst the GPSr wrongly directed us. Eventually I spotted some suspiciously stacked stick o’flague that could only mean one thing. I homed in on it and finally we had the cache! I looked down at the GPSr and typically it said “4ft”. It was a lovely big stash that had 3 big TB’s in it. We did well for TB’s today, and swapped everything we have. We now have a cuddly army, although the goldfish is my favorite!
We followed the footpath and ended up in a short high street. Here we managed to lay our hands on a slightly crafty hide which could have taken a while, but luckily I put my hand straight onto it.
We also had a bit of a half hide whilst we were here. On the approach to fish and chips I read the previous finders log which said he’d found the magnet for a nano, but no cache and said that the CO said his find could be allowed. We found the same so logged it, along with a Needs Maintenance log. I can’t believe that the last cacher didn’t log a Needs Maintenance and the CO, being aware of it, hadn’t been out to replace it especially as that finder was there over a month ago.
After a bite to eat back at the car we headed for the main trail in this area, Walk Around Darenth. There were a few caches on the run up to the trail that the CO had hidden leading up to the trail. The first was Wonky Steps. Right, I’m going to have a bit of a moan now… brace yourselves…
The area where this cache was hidden was fly tippers paradise. At the side of the road there were tyres, bottles, and your general rubbish. It was really tricky to search around here so we widened our search a bit to try and avoid it, but it was just everywhere. Whilst searching around here we spotted 2 number plates with sticky tape on the back of them that had been clearly used to stick over plates that i would guess had been used to steal a car.
That wasn’t the strangest thing, however, I wandered slightly up the road and saw a black bin liner that was dumped. I saw some hair, and then noticed a tail and back legs. It was a dead dog 😦 This made me really sad and I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. We decided to call off the search as it was just too horrible. We did however take a final quick look on the way back and did find the cache. It was inside one of the dumped tyres. I was really disappointed with this hide. Fair enough the CO may have thought it’d be cool to hide one in a tyre, but it was such an unpleasant place to search. We continued onto the series.
The next hide was Travel bug hospital stop. This was a really neat hide as it was a travel bug hotel that was stocked full of first aid kit in case there were any accidents or injuries whilst out caching! As it was still well stocked, I should imagine everyone (thankfully) has been ok.
Because of the way we had started the trail it turned out that we were doing it backwards, which was fine. On the route we encountered even more rubbish dumped absolutely everywhere. I honestly have never seen so much fly tipped in a place before, it was unbelievable. One of the caches was hidden at a scrap vehicle site. Again, don’t think I’ve seen so many rusty old vehicles in one place before. The hint indicated that it was actually in one of the rusty old vehicles. We got close to GZ and there was a burnt out old landrover that was crashed into a tree. We searched the land rover for a little while getting very grubby, but ended up with no cache. We then squeezed behind the landrover to check out another possible location and got lucky and found it. It was a clever hide, but I’m not sure I like the idea of hiding caches in old crap, which seemed to be a recurring thing throughout the whole series. We thought at first that the land rover was just part of it, however we then noticed fresh tracks across the field where it had been driven around it, pushed down the bank and then set alight. Such a lovely area!
The rest of the trail didn’t get that much better as there was pretty much rubbish at every cache site, and if not there was rubbish on the way to the cache site.
At some times I wondered if the CO had actually walked the trail. It seemed as though they probably drove to a site, hid a few caches, drove to another site, hid a few more, etc. and hadn’t experienced the full amount of rubbish that was everywhere. I also questioned some of the hiding locations. For example, there were two stone footpath signs. One was on the side of the road where there was a field and farm gate. The other was on the other side of the road at the bottom of someone’s very short driveway. The cache was hidden on the side where the house was! It seemed a strange spot when there was a perfectly good spot over the other side. A few logs also mentioned that they had been questioned and stopped by some of the people at the house when finding.
The final rubbish surprise came when we passed through an orchard only to notice that a huge pile of used needles and syringes had been dumped at the side of the path!!!
We finished the trail by climbing down from the fields and jumped down onto the road right next to a matress dumped in a lay by!!! I’d love to say I’d recommend this trail as there were a few good hides, but the rubbish that was covering the entire area completely spoilt it! It was also the fact that it wasn’t just your usual rubbish, it was quite extreme, horrifying stuff! It’s certainly not a trail that I would like to do again, despite some of the enjoyable hides. It was the dead dog in the bag which really did it for me!
We finished the day on a high however by grabbing a couple of puzzles that I’d solved before heading home. I must say, I’ve never felt so in need of a bath from a caching trip. The horrible rubbish everywhere made us feel so dirty. We finished the day on 43 finds. It wasn’t a very nice day out weather wise, and the area was definitely not nice to walk around, but at least we’ve got it out of the way!
Sunday caching in Essex
My poor doggy Teddy hasn’t been too well over the past few weeks. He somehow did something to his foot which caused it to swell up and go all nasty. As a result we’d only taken him for very short walks as we didn’t want him to hurt himself or get it dirty. It looks like a week of antibiotics had cleared it up good, so today we decided to take him for his first long walkie trip since it happened.
A real letterbox
On our way to the caches, we decided to try something a bit different, a letterbox. This isn’t a Geocaching letterbox hybid, but a real letterbox. These are listed on the atlas quest website. The one we attempted was Peace, Eartling! hidden in Finchingfield. Unfortunately despite a good rummage we couldn’t find it. It has only been found once before, in July 2010. Maybe we didn’t look hard enough. With real letterboxes you don’t get coords, just get instructions, like so:
Find the Fox Inn in the center of the town and look for the stone cross monument that sits on the town green. When you get closer you should be able to read Dunmow on stones right in front of the monument. The top of the monument has the years 1914 to 1919 on it. There are stone mushrooms holding up a chain around the monument. Go to the far back left corner to the yellow varigated Euonymus and look under the stone mushroom cap. The box is under the edge, in the shrub.
I would like to find a real letterbox one day though. There are a few around the area so we will keep trying!
Oh God, she’s moaning again…
One of the first caches of today was Footpath Cache. Our first one!. It was about half a mile’s walk to GZ and we didn’t mind that as Teddy was quite happy to race through the muddy puddles and stretch his legs. We got about half way to GZ however and I read that it was a micro. I suddenly became very disappointed. Wheras we don’t mind the walking, a mile (there and back) for a micro seemed a bit silly. We got to GZ and sure enough, there was a film can hidden at the base of a post. My heart sunk because about 150ft from the hiding place was an awesome tree with a big hole in the base which could have comfortably fitted a regular, probably an ammo can. I never really worried about micros too much before, however now I feel that if it’s a random cache, out all on it’s own in the country side then it’s either got to be in a really cool location, or a container that’s actually worth walking for. This one was neither. I emailed an Australian cacher once who had done some caching over here and they commented that they thought it strange that in this country you have a lot of micros hidden where a bigger cache could have been. I don’t have anything against urban mircos, church micros, sidetracked micros, or micros on trails, but when there are loads of other great locations suitable for hiding something much bigger I do have to question what goes on in a cache setter’s mind. OK, rant over. I’ve been in a bit of a ranty mood this weekend (You may have noticed! 😉 ) I can’t be bothered to sugar the pill anymore. If I don’t like a hide, I say so and hint at ways to improve it in my log and I’d welcome people to do the same if they were disappointed with something I’ve hidden if it means it can be made better.
There are a few recent drive-by additions that were made to the Halstead/Braintree area a few months ago and as we were that way today decided we would pick them up. I dont think it’s worth going out especially for drive-by’s so we picked up the ones which were convenient and lead us to better things. One was in a particularly interesting spot however, next to a bus that’d been turned into a little cafe and another was at one of the road mirrors which was quite fun. I got laughed at for doing my hair in the mirror, I reminded him it’s called multi-tasking! 😉 This layby series nicely filled some gaps as we travelled between caches.
Next we headed to some caches placed by gillywig. We are always surprised by the accuracy of the hides that gillywig place as they are “naked cachers” No, not people who cache without clothes on, the term for these are nude cachers (Which believe it or not do exist!) Gillywig cache without a GPSr, using OS maps and Google earth. You may think this may be near impossible, however they’ve got over 1000 finds and their hide coords are absolutely bang on so I really applaud them for it! They also choose nice hide locations. The first one of theres that we did was Lightning Tree, appropriately named!
This was a nice hide as it had coordinates in it for Another Lightning Tree. Kind of like a find one, get one free cache! 😉 After this we went for one of their puzzles, Pentominoes that I’d solved in the week. It took a little finding, but we got there in the end and made Teddy do his usual pose in front of the container. I think he’d enjoyed the past few weeks off of posing!!!
Next stop was another YOSM cache. This time it was YSM 124 – Maplestead. This trig looked a bit lonely stuck out in a ploughed field all on its own so I went and kept it company for a little while.
We headed into Wakes Colne for a Sidetracked cache at the station. It was quite a nice spot and we liked the little steam train called ROBERT that lived there.
From here we had to change our plans and divert from my todo list. Chappel Bridge at Wakes Colne looked like it was having work done on it and it was therefore closed. It was quite a big diversion to get around it so we had to change our caching route. We stopped off at Church micro #694 Fordham first which was an easy find, but looked like it was situated next to Essex’s answer to Woodhenge!
Next we headed to the quaint little village of Coggeshall. I was amsed to see a hardware shop there called “Fork ‘Andles” which made me smile! The first stop there was a nano at a duck pond, Stop and feed the ducks! I think the world and his wife and children were here today though and I had to be really careful when looking for the cache. I knew where it’d be, it was just a case of finding the exact spot. After a bit of shoe lace tying/dancing around I eventually spotted it and was able to sneak it into my hand. I enjoyed this cache as it was quite rewarding to sneak it out from right under the muggles’ noses.
We finished off this area with perhaps our favorite caches of the day, not because of the hides, but because they were in a nice location. The first was Church Micro 1150 – St Nicholas Chapel, Coggeshall which was a nano at a lovely little Chapel next to Coggeshall Abbey.
We then took a muddy walk to find The Abbey of Coggeshall. It wasn’t far from the Chapel and there were some lovely old buildings.
The cache was in a decent hiding place, and all in all it was an enjoyable way to end the day. We finished with 21 finds, and one muddy and knackered doggy. I can hear him snoring as I type this! 😉