Air Station 106
We decided to take a trip up to Kettering on Friday to grab some caches up that way. The main focus of our attention was the “Air Station 106” trail. This was a trail of 12 caches (Plus two laid by others) around an old airfield opened in the 1940’s, “Grafton Underwood”.
There was a cache placed in the entrance, RAF Grafton Underwood which was an easy find to get us started and in a lovely large bison container which I can imagine would have cost a few pennies.
It was then on to Air Station 106 #1, another easy find despite (like all in this series) there was no hint, “Ah, this isn’t going to be too hard after all” we thought. We parked the car up and walked on to Air Station 106 #2. This is where it all went a bit pear shaped!!! The caches were all small cylinders, not huge, but not tiny. They were all hidden in the woods with a vast amount of tree cover, and there were absolutely no hints! We spent about 15 minutes wandering around trying to locate the cache, but found nothing but mushrooms!
We left the cache as a DNF and moved on very disappointed. We hoped that we wouldn’t have these problems with all of the caches as we’d travelled to Kettering especially to do them. To get to cache 3 we did about 500ft of bush whacking through brambles, but once there realised why we were taken there as it was the site of ruins from one of the buildings. A lot of areas to search, but after lifting enough bricks the cache appeared. Hooray! I was so surprised, but this gave us a big morale boost.
On the way to cache #4 we passed a massive building. This was the biggest one in the woods. We couldn’t resist going to have a look inside. Nothing exciting, just rubble and pipes, oh and dirty magazines (Don’t think I’ve ever seen pillboxes without these additions!)
Cache #4 took a few minutes of wandering around in circles, but we eventually got it and moved on to another cache that was placed by someone else, Grafton Park Wood. This was a lovely find as it was a nice sized ammo can. Very appropriate for the location and we wished that the rest in the woods were as good as this one.
Cache #7 resulted in our second (and thankfully/surprisingly our last) DNF. We must have spent about 25 minutes here. There were so many places to search as there were 3 ruins. VERY frustrating, but we moved on to the next.
Cache #8 was very nearly yet another DNF, however I managed to spot it after about 10 minutes. We were beginning to spot a trend with the finds and realised that pretty much every time we found one the GPSr said we were 30ft off. The caches were usually popped into holes in trees with no camo over the top or under a brick.
Continuing on from this cache brought us back out to the main parking area where there were picnic benches so we stopped for lunch. The idea was that the trail would be finished way before lunch, but it was taking us about 3 times longer than normal due to all of the hunting. The next 3 caches were surprisingly quite easy to find. In these cases there weren’t a huge number of places to look which meant the lack of hint wasn’t too much of a hinderance, unlike with the others when there was an entire wood to choose from!!!
Cache #12 was a bit of a pig, just to finish us off! This one was a 15 minute search around a big building with a fair bit of rubble scattered around. Eventually, we found it in quite a common cache location, but one that was slightly different for this series.
There was also a trig point right next to where cache #12 was, which was a nice addition.
We were quite relieved to have finished this trail and shocked that we got away with only 2 DNF’s! It was a lovely location to walk around, and one that kids would probably love (I know me and my brother loved the old pill boxes when we were kids!) however the difficulty of the finds did spoil it a bit and the caches were quite mean and didn’t feel very rewarding, but more of a relief! I think if they were hard hides because they were clever or crafty, it would have felt more rewarding, but it doesn’t really take much to chuck a small tube in a hole in a tree in a wood without a hint and call it difficult, because quite frankly it is! The highlight here was definitely the ammo can hide though, a lovely cache.
After the trail we headed to Brigstock for a scattered collection of drive-by series. There were nice spots to pull of the road to retrieve them and all of the caches were easy hides with good hints. We picked up 9 of this series.
On the way to the Air Station 106 trail, and then after the Brigstock drive-by’s we did a series of around 20 drive-by caches placed by mark&kate64. The weather had worsened by the time we’d finished, so drive-by’s were quite appropriate. There was something very special about these caches though: They were all named after Led Zeppelin songs! Led Zeppelin are absolutely one of my favorite bands ever, so I had my eye on this series from the minute I saw it and because I am such a massive fan I ensured I wore one of my Led Zep T-Shirts to cache in!
The first cache was Trambled Under Foot and was possibly the nicest location of them all by the river.
The series started with some standard containers hidden to the side of the road. This one took a little searching:
As the series continued, the containers got more exciting and unusual. It was clear that quite a lot of work and thought had gone into them. We were also really impressed with the parking spots for the caches. All were in laybys or gateways off of the road.
Whilst I was researching these caches I noticed that the CO had said there was an odd one out and whoever guessed which one it was would win the little quiz. There was no prize, but it was easy for me to work out which one it was and I emailed him to tell him, even though I hadn’t found them yet! I asked him why he hadn’t named one of the caches “The Lemon Song” as that’s a very cool tune and one of my favorites. As a reward for winning the quiz he then published a cache called “The Lemon Song” for me. 🙂 This was the last cache we grabbed at the end of the series
We’d managed to accumulate quite a few TB’s in the trip and ended up with Scorch the dragon, a Yeoman bear and a guitar. I thought it would be good to combine them ! 😉
An Amazing Earthcache
We stayed over night in Kettering and awoke to rain. The plan to start today was to grab our first ever Wherigo cache. Before that however, we stumbled upon an absolutely amazing earth cache. It was at the site of a natural spring in a nature reserve. The cache was Red Springs – Chalybeate Earthcache. The spring was formed where water infiltrates through the earths surface and appears through the ground. High pressure pushes the water through the ground where it collects. As Northampton sand contains ironstone, iron content leaches into the water and deposits at the base of the pond giving the red colour.
We spent quite watching the water bubble up from under the pond. You could see the iron deposits scattered all over the base. We really enjoyed this earthcache as we’ve never visited a natural spring before.
Our first wherigo
And then it was onto our Wherigo, Where it all started. This wherigo gave you a little history lesson on where Geocaching came from and had you walk to important places and interact with important people. You also had to grab a couple of items (Bucket, Logbook/Pen, and swag) and then place them at a location near to the final. A fun idea, and if you hadn’t picked one up you had to go back to get it! Luckily however, we were on the ball and had no problems there. The one problem I had however was that my iPhone crashed at stage 1 saying it had run out of memory and so the wherigo app closed! Luckily as we were at stage 1 I could restart the phone and carry on. It then behaved happily ever after! We played it on both an Android and an iPhone and both worked fine! 🙂
The route of the wherigo however was REALLY muddy and we got covered in it. It didn’t help that it was chucking it down with rain as well. We finally got the the final which was at the base of a tree in a hedge! Little me got into the prickly hole and retrieved the cache. At the same time a guy on the quad bike came down the track! He gave us some very weird looks (Obviously hadn’t seen a young lady squatting in a bush before!!!)
We had managed to collect a couple of caches along the route, which I think may have been intentionally placed in the path of the wherigo. One was near the very beginning that we walked straight past as we were concentrating so hard! We returned to it at the end which was probably not such a wise thing to do as the rain was really coming down! It was the letterbox Ten Years! Walgrave Letterbox and at a bridge across a river. The problem was that because of all the rain the river was so high that there was only about 30cm to put your foot on! “If that’s under that bridge then we don’t stand a chance of getting it” said Andy. I looked through the slits in the bridge and saw the container, “It’s under it, I’m getting it” I howled as I squeezed under some fencing and balanced very carefully on the the tiny bit of bank that remained and reached down. My fingertips jusssssst about touched it and I managed to roll it out being extremely careful not to roll it into the water. Eventually I got it! There was a TB in it as well so we had to do a bit of juggling and got out our (very appropriate) goldfish TB to pop in! I think he will like it there! On ducking back under the fence I managed to get mud all on my chin. I was also covered in mud already and had soaking wet trouser bottoms. We looked like a right state by the time we got back to the car! haha!
And some more drive-by’s
It would have been nice to have done some trails, but it was the most disgusting weather. We were even contemplating just going straight home, but we stuck at it as there are plenty of drive-by’s in this area.
We started by grabbing a few of the Just Northamptonshire series. In this there are 116 caches which stretch around the border of Northamptonshire which would probably take about 200 miles of driving to cover. I know that some cachers have visited the area or plan to visit the area just to do this series, however in my opinion it’s a very long way to come (From out Essex way) just to do 200 miles of driving! Even though these are meant to be quite easy park and grabs, I was quite disappointed with the lack of safe parking! They were on quiet roads and in a lot of cases we had to park on the side of the road and I would quickly jump out and grab the cache! We weren’t very happy about doing that. At cache #6 I was looking along the side of the road for “Ivy post” according to the hint. On the right hand side of the road were 3 posts covered in ivy. On the left hand side were about 7 posts with no ivy. I stuck to the right and after about 5 minutes of searching due to having to stop every time a car came past I still hadn’t found it. Eventually one car stopped and reversed back towards me. I was a little bit worried, but the lady wound down her window and pointed to the left hand side of the road and said “Are you Geocaching? It’s behind the first post!” I later found out it was Green Brigade. She was the FTF for the cache. What luck! I was a bit annoyed with that one because there was no ivy on the post it was hidden behind, but it was nice and quite amusing that another cacher was able to pass and help me.
We only managed to do the first 8 of the series. When we got to number 9 we joined on to an extremely busy A road. We then saw the cache was on the left hand side of the road (Which from the hint looked like it would be on a sign) and the parking place was about 800ft up the road. There was no way I was going to walk down the side of this road to that sign, so we gave up and abandoned the series. I knew of some other drive-bys which I’d added to the list. These included a lot of the D’abby Dash and Abby’s Pit Stop series. I’d checked them out on Google Street View before hand and noticed a lot seemed to be at “Welcome to this village” signs. I thought they’d be your usual nano’s on signs so we gave these a go.
First we stopped off at Church Micro 942… Passenham This was quite an unusual hide as the GPSr pointed to it being inside the churchyard. I followed it and after fumbling around for a little while it turned out it was indeed in there. I really do dislike the ones in the yards, as they make me feel a bit guilty for searching there!!!
We headed off the Abby Pit Stop #1 which was in a lay-by. The hint said “fence” and the description said “nano”. Hmmm… There was a gate there too so we hunted all over that. The part of the gate near the fence seemed to make sense. 5 minutes later and we had nothing. Hmm… All of a sudden a car pulled up to the layby. We acted unsuspicious (As unsuspicous as a couple gathered around a fence with a silly gadget dangling around my neck could be) “Have you found it?” the lady asked. Phew! Cachers! It turned out it wasn’t just cachers, but the cache owners roan65 and ratz42. They asked if we wanted a hint and yes we did. They played the “Getting warmer” game until I was next to a post and I was “Very hot” I searched all over it (It was a bit difficult as that one was quite over grown) but emparassingly found nothing! “Try searching a bit higher” I moved my hand up and felt it! It was one of those tiny Eppendorf tubes (Like a magnetic nano but about twice as long) which was fitted into a hole that had been drilled into the fence. It was a clever hide indeed, something we hadn’t ever experienced before. The CO’s warned us to expect more so we were all geared up for their future hides.
At the signs, the magnetic nanos that I expected were these Eppendorf tubes drilled into the wooden flowerboxes at the base of the signs. Clever indeed. I’m not sure however if I would do something like this. Many Geocachers hide their tubs in places where permission hasn’t been granted. At the end of the day it’s just a tubberware box under some sticks and it’s not hurting anyone. What if you deliberately drill a hole in something to put the cache in it. Is that now vandalism? I enjoyed finding the caches, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d be comfortable doing myself.
We did a few other drive by’s on route including Northants Churches: St Mary, The Virgin, one near a village pump (That I thought was on the pump and managed to turn on whilst searching and get a wet foot!!!) and we also found a trigger point too.
In the end we did have an enjoyable trip. The Led Zeppelin series was a wonderful drive-by series which we really enjoyed because of the clever hides and safe parking The Air Station 106 series was a lovely location, but we would have probably been spending a lot of favorite points on it if the hides were more exciting and a bit friendlier! Despite the muddy paths we really enjoyed our first wherigo experience and I’m looking forward to the next one. The Red Springs earthcache nearby was really worth doing as well. We won’t be making any special trips to finish off the Just Northamptonshire trip however as it just wasn’t our sort of thing. All in all, a successful caching trip, I just wish the weather had been a bit kinder so we could have done some nice trails.