Dunwich Forest (Norfolk)
Firstly Happy Easter to anyone who is reading this when this is published. Not only have we been spoilt this year with time off work “for free”, but we’ve so far been spoilt with amazing weather that’s meant to last! I’d been looking forward to my time off so much that I’d already planned a few caching trips very early and was really looking forward to exploring a few new areas.
On the Anglia News about a month ago they had a feature on “Dunwich Heath” and said that it was one of the top 10 picnic spots in the country. The videos they included looked pretty nice, so I made it my mission to find an excuse to cache in the area and visit the Heath for a picnic. Good Friday looked to be a stunning day, so we thought we’d go for it. There aren’t (yet!?) any caches around Dunwich Heath, however Dunwich forest was just a couple of miles down the road and had a series of 10 caches in it.
We started perhaps a bit late at 10:30am. It was quite a long drive from home though. The sun was beating through and the pine trees of the forest stood tall in their neat lines like big bright soldiers. The light at the end of each row almost looked like an exit to another world. I’m guessing Narnia… ;)
The forest looked very pretty indeed with brightly flowering gorse bushes on either side of the path as we approached the first cache in the Dunwich Forest series.
The first cache however, was a bit of a pain! Although we were admiring the vast rows of soldier pine trees earlier, we began to dislike them a lot when we realised that we were looking for a micro hidden amongst them. Every single tree looked identical!!! We searched, and searched, and eventually I noticed a tree that looked a tiny bit different to its brothers and sisters and the cache was ours. Phew! It was in a very long, thin tube however so it took us a while to extract the log. As we were about to emerge from the trees we spotted a group of 4 “dog walkers”. We looked a bit suspicious so I put my David Bailey hat back on and pretended to be taking some piccies. We finally stepped forward to notice the dog walkers had GPSr’s. The sun was shining brightly on them and we couldn’t quite make them out, “Have you found it?” they asked, but before we could answer we heard “It’s Cassandy” we stepped further forward out of the sunlight and noticed that we knew these cachers! It was fellow Essex cachers Grimmerscotting with their friends ssdawnstar. We’ve recently bumped into quite a few cachers out and about, but this encounter was particularly weird because we were about 80 miles from home… and so were they! What are the chances of bumping into cachers that you know here??? A lovely and unexpected surprise though which meant we had a nice bit of company for some of the trail.
So… 6 pairs of eye + an extra 2 pairs from Daisy the dog meant we had no excuses for not finding the caches now!!! ;) We did all get a little worried however when we approached cache #4, read that the hint said “oak” and then looked at a massive oak tree swarming with bees. A quick check of the GPSr confirmed that we needn’t be worried as we were 100ft away from GZ, phew!
We had a wonderful stroll catching up with Mr + Mrs Grimmerscotting, plus new acquaintances ssdawnstar, but at cache #6 we said fairwell as they were heading off to the beach for a break. Little Daisy looked like she could do with a cool down in the sea anyway!
We carried on in our two-some back into the forest. We wondered how we’d cope with the caches on our own, but we were ok! There was a lovely variety of cache sizes on the trail ranging from tiny nano to a regular, and including some crafty caches. It was clear that the cache setter had put a lot of thought into the trail. The forest was also well sign posted with brilliant paths that would probably be suitable for walking on all year round.
We were also treated to the start of some bluebells flowering in the forest.
There were 9 traditional caches in the trail plus a mystery cache for the bonus. We’d managed to find all of the caches so were pretty hopeful for the bonus. As we carried on along the trail to the bonus we passed some ponies grazing in the field. They seemed quite happy and weren’t phased at all by us walking past.
We were lucky enough to find the bonus without a problem and end our first series of the day on a high! :D
Picnic-ing at Dunwich Heath
The forest was beautiful and had plenty of pretty places to sit and enjoy the scenery, however the reason for our long trip had been to visit the heath so that was where we headed next. It was just a couple of miles south from the forest and an area maintained by the National Trust. We definitely weren’t disappointed with our chosen spot. We sat high up on the heath and enjoyed some lovely views of the Norfolk shore line. We could hear the waves gently crashing from the beach below and spent some time simply enjoying relaxing here.
Suffolk Stroll (#11 to #22)
As lovely as it would have been to have spent the afternoon doing nothing on the heath, we had our sights set on some additional trails. The first of these trails was the Suffolk Stroll (Caches #11 to #22) The Suffolk Stroll is a series split in two halves, caches #1 to #10 over 3 miles, and then caches #11 to #22 over 4 miles. The trails were a few miles drive apart from each other. We were closer to the second half so did this first.
The terrain for this trail was completely flat, which is exactly what we needed on such a hot day. In spite of this we were still treated to some lovely views across the fields.
There werw also some lovely wild flowers growing along the paths, and some pretty ones as we passed along a footpath that went through a garden.
To make it slightly harder, the caches didn’t have hints so we had to rely entirely on our cacher’s eye! I think our cacher’s eye must be quite well trained by now as we did manage to find them all in the end, despite a few struggles. In a couple of cases some of the caches hadn’t been found by the last few cachers, but we took on the challenge and persevered to get them. They turned out to be placed in very awkward locations so it was no wonder there were a few DNF’s on them. One was 8ft up, which took us about 15 minutes to find. It was clear to us that the caches shouldn’t have been there. We replaced them in slightly kinder places and were even fortunate enough to bump into the CO’s after we emerged from the footpath from doing the rest of these caches. We told them about the 8ft one and they confirmed it should have been much lower, so it was a good call!
On the way to the last cache we passed through a very interesting gate that had been constructed using hazel, string and a few nails (A sign nearby told us all about it)
Further up from the gate was “The Landing stage” the sign told us that a sloping mound would be built behind the frontage to give access to an oak boardered platform to form a jetty on top of the posts that are already in place. The sign told us this would be finished on May 6th. A nice and unexpected addition to the trail.
Past the hazel art was a field full of sheep and little lambs. We stood and watched a couple of the little ones skipping and play fighting after finding the final cache.
Suffolk Stroll #1 to #10
To finish off our day in the area we headed off to the other part of the Suffolk Stroll. We started it at 7pm and took full advantage of the longer daylight and managed to finish by 8:15pm. It was definitely a lot more pleasant walking at these cooler hours of day.
We were treated to more nice, flat footpaths, however unlike the previous set of caches a few of these did have hints. Grimmerscotting had told us they’d completed this trail without a problem yesterday so we persevered on all knowing that they were there. We somehow managed to be a little competitive today and kept score of how many caches we’d both found. I was losing after the previous Suffolk Stroll, and tried my hardest with this one, but got beaten 6-4! It was a good laugh rushing to the caches though to try and find them first, something we never do when we have hints to work with.
As the sun began to set in the evening we were treated to some lovely views across the fields. A perfect end to a perfect day. Although we had to travel quite a distance to do these trails they were well worth it.
We finished the day with 36 finds. Tired and exhausted, but still smiling! :)