Winter caching adventures in Kent, Northamptonshire, and Essex

Hill climbing in Trosley Country Park

I’d been a very busy puzzle-solving Geocacher over the past few weeks and had cracked 18 puzzles around a country park in Kent. Although the puzzle locations were quite spread out they could be combined with an existing series, plus other caches to form a couple of circular walks of about 6 miles and 8 miles. It looked like a lovely area to explore with a lot of the caches showing as being in a woods. I’d noted that the walks may be a little hilly in places, however may have slightly underestimated the elevation as it was a bit higher than we anticipated!

On Saturday 14th Jan we got started in Trosley country park with mel-ray at 8am before the car park opened so it was very quiet with just the odd early morning jogger busying themselves on the footpaths. With a chill in the air and the low winter sun we soon entered the woodland area of the country park only to be nearly blinded by the sun crashing through the trees.

The winter sun breaking through

We started picking up traditionals and started to do a multi which required you to get clues from around the park. The second clue took us to the very bottom of a massive set of stairs and we ended up at the bottom of the dreaded hill! With the caches we needed at the top there was nothing we could do but ascend the hill that we had only just come down. It was a cold icy morning and the views from the top looking out into the countryside were absolutely amazing from this point.

Winter views

It was then back down the hill to collect a load of puzzles at the bottom. Very satisfying to scoop up so many puzzles all at once, however not so satisfying when we looked back at the hill that we knew we needed to climb back up very shortly!!!

It doesn't look so hard when you're standing here!

After completing the puzzle circuit it was time to go back up the hill again. This time around we had picked up a less steep route so we weren’t quite so out of breath by the time we got to the top. Once at the top we were rewarded with a big bucket-sized cache, North Downs Amble. The cache was listed as an ‘other’ so I spent some time hunting for a tiny nano before I turned around and spotted a huge container!!!

Sun-kissed cache

We entered back into the woodland of the country park gathering up some more traditionals and puzzles before heading back towards the car. On our way to the last cache, Trosley’s Track we heard a lot of rustling in the trees. We looked up and there was a squirrel running from branch to branch. There was then another squirrel… and another… and another, and we counted a dozen squirrels running in the branches above our head! One fell through a branch and landed on the ground near us. He was fine though and started to make his way back up. We were quite amazed to see that a few other squirrels had run down the tree to come and see if he was ok! It was also quite amazing to hear them communicating with each other through little squeaking noises. I’d never heard squirrels talking before and soon we realised what all of the fuss was about because right at the top of one of the trees was their nest. That was where they were all headed to.

Wait for me!

In order to collect all of the caches in the area, we then moved the car a few miles south. Before that however we collected What do you call a 60ft tall lamp?. I thought the puzzle was the hard bit, however we soon realised that the cache retrieval was! The cache was about 4 meters up a lamp post! Luckily we had brought our telescopic ladder with us and Ray, our monkey, carefully did the retrieving. According to the cache description you don’t need a ladder to get it, however it’s beyond me how else you are meant to get it!!!

We then started Trotiscliffe Trail a series of 26 caches over 5 miles, however we extended it to include our puzzles. We were also able to take a detour to grab PWU #6 Pilgrim’s Progress. Getting stage 1 of the puzzle was good fun and included me climbing up a fallen tree!

An easy tree to climb

Unfortunately the final stage wasn’t as fun and involved us climing, you’ve guessed it, that blooming hill for a third time!!! After continuing Trotiscliffe Trail we were given the task of climbing the hill for fourth and final time. This time was the hardest. Flagging a bit from the previous 3 times and with an extremely narrow path we made it to the top for the last time.

Back in the woods

We had to weave in and out of the woods to get our final caches as the path was so water logged that we couldn’t even attempt to walk along it!

Nearly a river!

It was then finally down to the bottom of the hill we’d climbed 4 times during the day. It was a brilliant day of caching and really satisfying to find all of the puzzles that I’d solved. They were really enjoyable puzzles to solve as well. We finished the day with 64 finds and some very aching legs! πŸ˜‰

Solo caching in Northamptonshire

On the Sunday I had to head up to Leicester for a course. I decided to set off early and make the journey worthwhile by picking up some caches and attempting to reach our 6000th find.

I started off by doing the Thorpe Malsor series, near Kettering. This was a series of 9 caches over just a couple of miles. Perfect for a little series to complete on my own. I started off at Thorpe Malsor church collecting a clue for a multi that I’d planned to complete by grabbing the clues on the way around.

Thorpe Malsor Church

Unfortunately Church Micro caches aren’t very popular up that way so I wasn’t able to grab any in the area. I continued on with the series which went past a huge reservoir, Cransley Reservoir. With the sun low in the sky there were some great views over the water.

Cransley Reservoir

Cransley Reservoir

There was a good variety of cache container and hiding places on the walk and despite the lack of hints I was able to find most of the caches with ease. The larger caches were well stocked and well marked too.

Thorpe Malsor #7

By the end of the Thorpe Malsor series I had all of the numbers I needed for the Thorpe Malsor Trundle multi-cache and conveniently on 5999 I made this multi our 6000th find. Not the most amazing cache for a milestone, but nice that it was a regular that required a fair bit of work to find.

I carried on the day with drive-by caches as I made my way north. One of my favourites was RAF Harrington. There was a memorial here dedicated to United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force. The GPS pointed me into an overgrown woody location behind the memorial. I went round in a circle without spotting the cache, however I did spot a little robin jumping from branch to branch. He was unphased by my presence and carried on his business whilst I searched…

My little robin friend

I spent a little bit longer hunting amongst the trees and going around in circles again trying to find the cache with no luck when suddenly the robin flew past my eye level and as I followed him I spotted the cache. “Thank you Mr. Robin” I said. I don’t think I would have found it without his help!!!

The RAF Harrington Memorial

I was also able to find 3 of the YOSM trig point caches whilst I was in the area. They were YSM 408 (Arthingworth), YSM 428 (Cold Ashby) and YSM 413 (Cloudesley Bush). I’d travelled quite a way out of my way to get them, however they are special caches so it’s worth it. The Cold Ashby trig point is argueably the most special of them all and has an extra plaque on it which reads: “THE FIRST OBSERVATIONS FOR THE RETRIANGULATION OF GREAT BRITAIN WERE MADE AT THIS TRIGONOMETRICAL STATION BY SERGHANT T.F.MULLINGER, ROYAL ENGINEERS ON 18TH APRIL 1936. THERE ARE 11,678 SUCH STATIONS AND THE LAST OBSERVATIONS WERE MADE AT THORNY GALE IN WESTMOR-LAND ON 4TH JUNE 1962.

Cold Ashby Trig point

The plaque

It was an absolutely brilliant trig point to find and I was very pleased that I went to find it. I ended up at my hotel room at 4:30pm after finding 26 caches on my own including reaching or 6000th milestone. A very enjoyable day caching on my own!

Essex FTFs and Night caching

On Sat 21st Jan we stayed local as we had planned to meet some other cachers in the evening for a bit of a night caching session. We started off with Claire’s Walk in the company of mel-ray. Claire’s Walk was an existing smaller series, however was archived and extended to make a longer walk of 16 caches. We really enjoyed the previous series which saw us finding our 500th cache and this new extended series was even better. πŸ˜€

The series took us through some lovely woodland areas. Other cachers had reported seeing loads of deer around whilst walking the series, however we weren’t so lucky today and all we got to see was fresh deer prints in the mud. We were also able to reminisce about the old series that we did in July 2010 (4 months after we first started caching) and were quite impressed that we remembered part of it. We especially remembered the old green caravan abandoned in the middle of the woods.

Room with a view

Through the woods

Once we’d emerged out of the woods and onto the footpaths around the fields our boots got very clogged up with mud. It was certainly quite muddy around this area and in some points so flooded it looked more like a river than a path!

River path

Cache #9 on the series was a very special find for us as it was the cache that we had found as our 500th find during the old series. It was great to find it again more than 5500 caches later! The photo we took back then is the photo I use on the far-right of my blog page! πŸ˜€

Our 500th find and our 6023rd find on the same cache

Nearer the end of the series we re-entered the woodland and had some easy finds and a lovely stroll through the woods.

Wot? No cache?

We had a really lovely stroll on Claire’s Walk and on our way back to the car my iPhone pinged to say that a new series of 17 caches had been published, Rio’s Ramble. I checked the caches and they were actually only 4 miles from where we were! We stopped and took a break so that we could have a cup of tea and a few nibbles whilst I multi-tasked by scribbling down hints and coords from my iPhone. Eventually we had enough information to input into our GPS and go to start the new series and even try for some FTFs…

We parked up at the parking location, but unfortunately had been beaten to it. We spotted McWomble’s car. We headed to the first cache all the same and bumped into him whilst he was coming back to the car to change his boots. After a quick chat we set off. He had already found #1 and cache #2 was an existing one that had been renamed to fit with the series, however we were delighted when we got an FTF at cache #3. At cache #4 we met up with McWomble again for a joint FTF and had him join us for some of the series. We then got FTFs on cache #5 to #13.

There were some lovely views on the walk and although quite muddy in areas the paths were easy to walk. At one point we even passed through a turkey farm. The turkeys looked a bit cramped though, so it was a bit sad to see. I’d never seen a white turkey before.

The turkeys in their pen

Views of Chelmsford

Our luck ran out nearer the end when some other local cachers had done some quick FTF drive-by’s on the last few caches, however we were able to get a joint FTF with McWomble at the end on the bonus and Wow! What a bonus!!!

A very big bonus stash!

Our unexpected afternoon of caching had given us 12 FTFs. It was a very convenient publication time too as we were a bit stuck as to which caches we were going to attempt in the afternoon anyway. We ended the afternoon after walking 11.5 miles.

The fun wasn’t over yet though and we headed to Romford for a spot of night caching with mel-ray, grizzly bear, jacord, Andy K!, The Flower of Life, and LittleMan333. Snapper333 had placed a short series of 4 night caches around Bower Wood in Romford and with all our head torches lit we headed off into the night. Some of us were also equipped with glow in the dark spiders which we attached to our hats to make it a little bit spooky!

Ready for night caching!

The fire tacks were really bright and obvious to see so they were easy to follow (there were no excuses as we had so many torches!) and thankfully we had brought our monkey (Ray) with us again as one of the caches which was a 5/5 required quite a climb!

He's up there somewhere

Following the tacks

Snapper333, the CO, had accompanied us on our night caching adventure. It was mainly so he could laugh at us all struggling I think! πŸ˜‰ We had a brilliant laugh though and he had even brought tomato soup and french bread for us all for the end of the evening. We all huddled up with our soup and had a good chat. The perfect way to end a lovely day of caching!


2 Responses to “Winter caching adventures in Kent, Northamptonshire, and Essex”

  1. Bill Derwent Says:

    Great post Cass and made for a fantastic read – as always. It never ceases to amaze me how many caches you snag in your outings. If we get 10 it’s been a good days caching, lol!

  2. Karon Smith Says:

    We used to live near Trottiscliffe and often used to walk in the country Park pre-caching. It was lovely to read the log and we will have to check out the puzzles for the next time we travel to Kent.

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