We recently headed to Selsey on the south coast for a long break and Geocaching bonanza! We left home knowing it’d be very likely that we would reach our 5000th milestone before the week was out and so planned our Geocaching trips around finding something special at the right time!
We grabbed around 20 geocaches on our way down south including the Haroldsea Hunt series and began the Tuesday needing 74 caches. Tuesday was unashamedly all about the numbers so that we could hit our milestone conveniently on the Wednesday.
Tuesday 15th September
We started with redirected male’s “Sullington Heights” series which boasted 20 caches for only about 3 miles of walking. In case you hadn’t realised, the clue for the terrain is in the name of the series, however silly Cass hadn’t thought about it like that! We started the series by almost wading through a path of quick-sand style mud and followed that with a steep ascent. It was ok though and about 3 caches later and the hill was out of the way. With the sun shining through the clouds, the views were magnificent and well worth the climb.
The cache hides were easy ones to discover with detailed hints so we didn’t struggle with any of the finds and were just left to admire the views which seemed to be present at every cache location. It was obviously quite a popular walking location as despite it being a weekday, muggles were well dispersed around the area!
Once at the very bottom we were treated to a quaint waterfall at the appropriately named ‘Waterfall Cottage’ before ascending one last, short hill alongside a cow pasture.
All the way up the main hill of the series we were dodging cow pats so I was quite convinced that we would bump into our 4-legged friends, however when we finally did they were actually behind a fence! Phew!
With the bonus numbers collected we headed off to find the final stash and were greeted by a well stocked ammo can. A nice end to an enjoyable morning of caching.
All that was left was the afternoon. 20 caches down, 54 to go! Cue another redirected male series, AVR which with a few extra caches and a couple of slight detours would hopefully yield 45 caches over about 9.5 miles and take us very close to our final goal.
The series started off rather flat and on the way to AVR05 we bumped into some other cachers doing the series, mikelevett aka Mike and Christine (out caching with Cobbett and Matthew). We recognised the famous owners of the Sussex Amble series instantly from when they visited the Langdon Plotlands event in Essex this summer. We hadn’t spoken for long back then so they didn’t remember us, but it was a good opportunity to stop for a chat. They warned us that the next section of the series got a bit windy and hilly. Indeed it did and it was definitely a case of “Hold onto your hat!”. We climbed up the hill past a mill and herd of goats who all rushed over for some food. Unfortunately we couldn’t deliver!
We were around 3 miles from the sea at the top of the hill, however we could see the sea clearly in the distance.
We soon realised that we were in a national trust area, ‘Highdown Hill’ and I was quite excited when I noticed a trig point on my map so we stopped off at the trig before moving on.
The rest of the series went very well and we didn’t have any DNF’s. The majority of the caches were micros, however the hints were very detailed if needed and rather than using film cans, the CO had used slightly larger specieman pots. This really did make a difference and made the caches more satisfying to find. Despite this, there were also a couple of caches for swaps.
With only a few caches to go we bumped into mikelevett again. They had been doing the series in a slightly different order to us and we couldn’t have met them at a better time as there was a huge herd of cows in the field that we had to cross through and reinforcements were most welcome! However, we soon learnt that they were heading off to do the nearby church micro that we had already visited so we were on our own. Mike told us that they were friendly cows who would come up to us and say hello. I told him that’s what I was afraid of!!! We were, however slightly reassured and actually as we passed through the cows, they headed towards us, but over the other side of the field meaning that they effectively moved out of our way and we were safe. Phew!
We finished the day just 3 caches away from our 5000th find. It turned out perfect with what we had planned for the following day. Although we had to drive past some easy cache and dashes on the way home so as not to upset the numbers it was worth it for the place that we headed for our 5000th…
Wednesday 16th September
Our chosen 5000th milestone was a 5/5 cache in Portsmouth, The Caching Olympics Challenge – GOLD. A challenge cache that requires you to have found 100 caches in a day. On the day that we did the Chiltern Hundred series we found 123 caches so we knew that we qualified and all that was needed was to find it. There is also a The Caching Olympics Challenge – SILVER and The Caching Olympics Challenge – BRONZE. Silver requires 50 finds in a day, and Bronze requires 25 finds in a day. With 3 caches required, these olympic challenges fitted perfectly with what we needed!
We hadn’t realised that the caches were hidden in such a beautiful area, a large park called ‘Milton Common’ nestled deep in the city. Complete with some lovely lakes, views of the sea and bright sunshine it was a lovely area to go caching. There were also a few extra caches scattered in the park for us afterwards.
After picking up the bronze for cache #4998, and silver for #4999 we headed off for the gold! To get to the cache we had to lift up a large block of concrete. Along with the cache container, and many snails, we also found a little newt!
Mr. Newt didn’t want to move from his spot and was very comfortable. We encouraged him with a stick and managed to lift him out of the way. We thought he may have been a little hurt 😦
We ensured that our newt friend was out of the way before replacing the concrete block on of of the cache and moved on, happy with our choice of milestone! 🙂
The day wasn’t over and with the sun still shining, we headed north to complete the 7 Points Ramble. As soon as we parked up at the car park and saw the views we knew we’d be in for a treat with the series.
We managed to find all of the caches on the series easily, however were quite surprised to see in a lot of cases the caches were actually sitting on top of the camo and completely out in the open. Naturally we hid the caches a lot better than we found them. The way back was up through a sheep field with some very dainty looking sheep in it. There was also quite a hill on the way back, but what do we expect with such nice views?!? 😉
After completing the 7 Points Ramble, we headed up another hill on the opposite side of the car park to find a virtual. This required us to have our photo taken at the Trundle One trig. There were again spectacular views from the top!
Thursday 17th September
Our previous caching days had mostly been hitting trails which included a lot of caches over just a few miles. On Thursday we got to do a series I had really been looking forward to since our previous trip down to West Sussex, JaceBy’s Balls. On the previous trip we just didn’t have chance to fit the series in, however it would have been a crime to miss it again! Why is the series so special? The caches are quite well spread out on the series, however it’s special because it follows a trail of 13 chalk balls that sculpturer, Andy Goldsworthy had created. The series therefore isn’t just a case of finding the caches, but also finding the balls and the CO did a good job of adding instructions to each cache page on where you will find the next ball on the series.
So up the hill we went in the magnificent sunshine where we found our first chalk ball. These balls were definitely bigger than I expected (said the actress to the bishop ;)) as I was expecting them to be the size of those boulders that the blokes on “Britain’s strongest man” lift.
We carried on along the series, thankful that the route to the first ball was the only hill and entered a woodland which carried on for pretty much all of the series. It was fabulous and an absolute blessing on such a hot day. Woodland trails are my absolute favourite and this one was a real haven for interesting mushrooms. We were however slightly disappointed when we got to the second ball as it was really cracked and parts of it were on the ground. It must have taken quite a whack for it to break.
The chalk balls were placed in varied locations along the path. Some were hidden by undergrowth so it was quite a challenge to find them, but we made sure that we spotted every single ball on the series.
At cache 15 we ran out of balls and retrieved the bonus cache. Last year when we looked at doing the series it was a linear trail with instructions on how to catch a bus back. Since then, however, the CO had hidden some additional caches to take you back in a loop which integrated with some ‘Novel Caches’, caches based on books. There was, for example, The Hobbit, which required me to squeeze into a very tight spot to retrieve the cache
There was also The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (One of my favourite books when I was little), Kidnap in Willowbank Wood, Alice in Wonderland, and Little Red Riding Hood. Some of the Novel caches were custom containers which were great, others were just real monsters to find. We were pleased to find them all however before looping back to the last couple of JaceBy’s Balls caches. We had been really lucky in that the paths were perfect along the entire series until we got to the last cache which was so overgrown. The damp grass soacked the bottom of our trousers. This continued all the way down the hill back to the car, however there were some lovely views despite being a bit uncomfortable with wet legs!
In the evening we headed off along the coast near to where we were staying for 2 earthcaches and a virtual. I always feel compelled to visit an earthcache or virtual even if it means a considerable walk for a single cache as I know it will usually be rewarding whereas you can never be too sure with physical boxes. The first Earthcache we headed to was 45 Million Fossiliferous!. This was quite an interactive earthcache in that you didn’t just have to answer questions and take a photo, but actually search the beach for fossils! You then needed to identify the correct name for your fossils and send the names to the CO along with a measurement of their size. There were mainly two types of fossils that we found, ‘Turritela’ (Pointy one) and ‘Venericor Planicosta’ (Shell-like ones) You could tell these were fossils rather than normal shells as they were all a browny-beige colour. There was also the possiblity of finding sharks teeth on the beach. We walked up and down for a while, but didn’t find any. Photos on the cache page suggest that although we failed a few others have actually found them. I absolutely loved this earthcache as I’ve never really been fossil hunting before! I wish we had left a bit more time in the evening for our search as I would have loved to have found a shark’s tooth!
We stopped off for a very quick and easy virtual, Days Gone By – West Sussex before heading for our final earthcache, West Wittering – West Sussex (Spit). This took us to a section of the beach where we learnt how longshore drift had helped build natural sea defense using the sand on the beach. The earthcache answers this time around were really quite hard and we spent a while pacing up and down trying to answer them. It turned out that if I’d listened harder in Geography at school I probably would have been able to answer the questions, however I did a bit of research later and was able to pick out the answer, but it was indeed a very hard earthcache.
There were beautiful views from the beach though as the sun was going down and as we headed back to the car we watched a young couple catch crabs from a crab pool using a stone covered in bacon dangling from string. It worked very well and they were hooking them out at lightening speed. I just wished I’d known about it so we could have caught some too!
Friday 16th September
Friday was our last day and we headed off for a final caching series before heading home, Out and About in Sussex, 32 caches over about 6 miles. Typically my camera died as soon as we started the series and I discovered my spare battery wasn’t actually charged (typical). There was enough battery however to capture a photo of the worst guard dog in the country! 😉 As we walked through a farm on the series he barked at us, ran up to us, wiggled his bum, and then rolled over for his tummy to be tickled! He escorted us through the farm before jumping into a hole that some builders were digging!!!
The series was ok, however not one that I would leave a favourite point on as we felt that it lacked variety with the hiding places a little. It was all very fence/post/stile oriented and you probably could have worked out where most of the caches would be hidden without even looking at the GPSr! Saying that, it was a nice stroll on a sunny day to end our caching trip before heading home.
Overall we had a lovely few days caching down south and were more than happy with our choice of cache for our 5000th milestone. Roll on 10,000! 😉