Team Essex’s Trip to Brugge


And so it was the weekend of the Brugge MEGA event, “Brugse Beer III” which unfortunately has nothing to do with “beer” and much more to do with “bears” but nevermind, that didn’t stop us! I joined the massive 19-person Team Essex (Andy750x, Hollyncharlie, Helennbrian, Foxscout, BEASTMARSTA, Original Red Hen, Doggywalker, Tazzy1234, BigBadJohn, Yorkie63, MummaD, Riskt4ker, Natlie92, and lemontom) and headed to Brugge for some great caching and great bears beer!

Day One – Four countries in a day

We met up at the Euro Tunnel at 5am in the morning (!) and thankfully all made it there with time to spare to pick up our first cache of the day: End of the Wall which started off our mission for the day to find caches in 4 countries. We then boarded the Euro Tunnel for a smooth ride across to Calais.

On the Euro tunnel

On the Euro tunnel

Jen of Hollyncharlie had planned a nice little itinerary for our journey through France to Brugge where we were able to stop off for a few nice caches. One of the first took us to the Ghyvelde Fossil Dunes where we had the chance to stretch our legs and grab an earthcache and a traditional on the last remaining fossil dunes in Europe.

There were many sheep and lambs on the dunes

There were many sheep and lambs on the dunes

View of the large fossil dunes

View of the large fossil dunes

At 'La dune fossile de Ghyvelde' earthcache

At ‘La dune fossile de Ghyvelde’ earthcache

This was an interesting spot to stop at because at the beginning of the path was the Belgium and France border. After grabbing our French caches it was then time to head off to Belgium for our 3rd country.

Doggywalker in Belgium whilst Yorkie63 stays in France

Doggywalker in Belgium whilst Yorkie63 stays in France

One of the chosen caches was in a particularly interesting location: Part of the film set for ‘In Vlaamse Velden’ (‘In Flanders Fields’) where a battlefield had been constructed. We could spot this in the distance whilst searching for the cache.

A film set for 'In Vlaamse Velden'

A film set for ‘In Vlaamse Velden’

As rain clouds closed in on us we headed to a cache hidden at a very nice monument which was constructed to remember the Battle in 1914 to recapture the village of “Ramskapelle” from the Germans.

A monument for the battle to recapture "Ramskapelle" from the Germans in 1914

A monument for the battle to recapture “Ramskapelle” from the Germans in 1914

Remains of the buildings near GZ

Remains of the buildings near GZ

Our morning Belgium caching was cut short as the rain decided to pour down on us. So we headed to The Netherlands for our 4th and final country for the day. We headed into town for an hour or so to grab a couple of caches before stopping at a lovely little cafe for lunch. Mission Accomplished! πŸ˜€

Unsuspicious?

Unsuspicious?

Well you can't go to Holland and not see a Windmill!

Well you can’t go to Holland and not see a Windmill!

We headed back to Belgium and to our hotel in Brugge. After a quick check in and spruce up it was time to hit the town and hunt down the beer caches.

Our stroll into Brugge was along the lovely canal. We were able to pick up a few caches as we walked to the centre. Geheimzinnige rustplaats was a particularly nice cache as it was placed in a secret garden in the city which we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for the cache.

Lovely graffiti lines the subway in Brugge

Lovely graffiti lines the subway in Brugge on our walk in to the centre

Now, at this point I should probably mention that as well as following an arrow we were also following a Brugge beer guide of the best bars in the city (hehe). Our first stop was Snuffel backpacker hostel. Now, I must admit on first impressions I wasn’t keen on the place, but after I spotted how cheap the beer was there really wasn’t much to complain about! πŸ˜‰ This gave me my first opportunity to sample cherry beer and raspberry beer. Wow! It was amazing!

Hanging out in the Hostel

Hanging out in the Hostel

Mmmmm... Cherry beer!!!

Mmmmm… Cherry beer!!!

We carried on to another cache before heading to another bar, ‘t Poatersgat (“Monks hole”). As soon as I saw the entrance I knew we just had to go inside and have a look! It was like heading into a secret underground lair. πŸ™‚

Down into the Monks Hole!

Down into the Monks Hole!

Here we sampled banana beer and forest fruit beer. Both very nice. Now, we were of course in Brugge for the caching, but we’re only mere mortals and were also there to eat and drink as well! πŸ˜‰ However, our little bar trip was soon over and we were back to caching as we headed to the BB3: Meet ‘n Greet event. At least here we were able to combine the caching with the beer as there was a little bar in the corner.

At the Meet and Greet

At the Meet and Greet

Day Two – Wherigo’s? Yeah they’re easy, I wrote the book blog…

Overnight some of the bright members of Team Essex had decided we should attempt to hire out bikes and cycle around the city for the caches. It turned out to be a brilliant idea and we headed to the hire place to borrow 15 bikes!!! After a bit of haggling the chap at the hire place agreed to allow us to have the bikes for an extra hour, so we were sorted until 4pm. We all lined up ready for the Team Essex bicycle race!!!

Bicycle Race

Bicycle Race

We weren’t completely au fait with the Brugge road laws, but nobody died so I guess we did alright. The general idea was to try and stick to the red paths (Which went well) and not cross the road when you’re not meant to (Which didn’t go quite so well! Lol!) and stop every now and then for a cache. Zoete Inval was a particularly nice one to find as it was a ‘large’ cache in a very urban location.

STOP! Time for a cache

STOP! Time for a cache

Next we headed to attempt The City Gates Bike Race wherigo. There was a nice family version of this or a harder athletic version. These were particularly interesting wherigos as they had a time limit. Both were 9km routes, but the family version allowed 60 minutes to complete it, and the athletic version allowed 30 minutes. Easy, eh? We started off with the family version which took us along a lovely track past many of Brugge’s windmills along the canal. Soon after we started foxscout, tazzy1234 and Riskt4ker decided they had what it takes to try the athletic version and headed back to the start to give it a go!

Yorkie63 and lemontom race ahead

Yorkie63 and lemontom race ahead

Andy750x races on to the next zone

Andy750x races on to the next zone

The rest of Team Essex are in hot persuit

The rest of Team Essex are in hot persuit

One of the many Windmills along the Wherigo ride

One of the many Windmills along the Wherigo ride

We made it to zone 22 of 26 when our family version of the cartridge timed out on all our GPS. Oh dear. Our detours for other caches, and some stalling at road junctions meant that we hadn’t done enough to get the Wherigo to release the coordinates. In the meantime the rest of Team Essex had also been timed out from doing the Athletic version. 😦 We decided to spread out and have a hunt for the cache in some likely locations, as all good cachers do. Unfortunately we didn’t find the cache we were looking for, but instead found a mysterious container with a handwritten note inside which was signed by one other group of cachers before us! I wonder what it was!

This cache is still a mystery!

This cache is still a mystery!

We headed to a nearby bar on route whilst the valiant foxscout, tazzy1234, and riskt4ker had another bash at getting the coordinates out of the wherigos. Sadly it didn’t end well. The GPS they were trying to do the family version on had crashed and lost everything, and the athletic version had timed out when they were only 400ft from the last zone. What a disaster. Eventually we all ended up at the bar, we were all particularly impressed with Riskt4ker’s 16 mile bike ride πŸ˜‰ Whilst at the bar I decided to ask a “local” if he could translate our mysterious cache note. In a broad Northern accent he replied “It says, ‘Deirdre get your knickers down'” and chuckled away. The bloody English get everywhere! πŸ˜‰

A well deserved rest after the massive bike ride

A well deserved rest after the massive bike ride

Yorkie63 and Simon of Hollyncharlie didn’t want to give up on the wherigo and with some encouragement from the team tried again to get the wherigo coordinates to appear. It was third time lucky and with the coordinates for the family version, Team Essex were all able to find the actual cache after a long day of trying. Hooray!!!!!!

After resting our saddle-sore bodies for a bit we headed back into Brugge for the evening. There was one cache that we just had to try to find as it had 183 favourite points. It was Stairway to…. So off we all went to GZ, surprised that Riskt4ker could make it after the 20 mile bike ride earlier. This took us to a lovely little spot along the river.

Prisoners at 'Stairway to...'

Prisoners at ‘Stairway to…’

Beautiful views along the canal

Beautiful views along the canal

The next stop was another earthcache, Stad gebouwd met Crinoiden where we found a water pump covered in fossils.

Thankfully the fountain didn't work

Thankfully the fountain didn’t work

The rest of our evening included plenty of beer and a trip to The Druids Cellar before heading back to the hotel for our well deserved rest. Riskt4ker deserving it most after his 50 mile bike ride earlier… πŸ˜‰

Day Three – MEGA!

In the morning we headed to the MEGA event. It was very busy and we entered the main hall where we handed in our registration forms and then queued to get our GPS loaded up with all of the new caches that had been released.

Entering the MEGA

Entering the MEGA

Queuing to log the MEGA

Queuing to log the MEGA

The next building was where all of the trackables were being held. In here was a giant trackable ammo can and giant trackable chair. Suffice to say we didn’t pick these up to take home!!!!!

A giant ammo can!

A giant ammo can!

Take a seat!

Take a seat!

Because when you’re caching in a big group you have to look the part, we all had Team Essex T-shirts which we were wearing for the MEGA event. We all lined up and a nice lady took our mug shot to mark the occasion.

Team Essex!!!

Team Essex!!!

Just in case we forget who we are!

Just in case we forget who we are!

We also all had personalised TB’s ready for a TB race from Brugge to Essex. One slight problem was that myself and Andy750x slightly… erm… forgot to bring our. Whoops! I guess we’re not going to win now then. Lol!

Something missing?

Something missing?

Many new caches were released for the event and as the nice Brugge MEGA people had loaded up our GPS with them we were ready to go and headed off to do some of the nearby series combining some walking with driving to the new GZ locations. You definitely couldn’t miss Team Essex hunting for the caches though in our distinct bright red T-Shirts!!!

The hunt is on

The hunt is on

Yorkie63 delivers the goods

Yorkie63 delivers the goods

The area that the new caches were hidden around seemed very religious. There were little shelters along the cache routes which had religious statues and paraphernalia inside of them. One even had a bed inside. I think if we had this sort of thing back at home it’d get vandalised in an instant!

Awwww, such angels

Awwww, such angels

A bed for the night in case we miss the train!

A bed for the night in case we miss the train!

One of the series took us around Ruddervoorde and Waardamme where the street were lined with very well decorated cows. The caches weren’t hidden on the cows but were near them.

Much better to cache near than the ones in the Meadows!

Much better to cache near these than the ones in the Meadows!

Fancy a ride?

Fancy a ride?

BB3 – Jachtkoe was a particularly tricky hide and we were all there for a good 10 minutes trying to find it. Clever foxscout did get it in the end, but we attracted some muggle attention during the search!!!

Hunting for a rather tricky cache

Hunting for a rather tricky cache

An onlooking muggle

An onlooking muggle

After completing a few more series our trip in Brugge was over and we headed back to Calais to catch the Euro Tunnel home. I had an absolutely brilliant weekend Geocaching with Team Essex and we had great fun. The highlight for me was probably our frantic biking around Brugge as even through we had a few failures with the Wherigo we had such fun attempting it. I’m just glad that I didn’t bike the 100 miles that Riskt4ker did. πŸ˜‰

Happy caching!!! πŸ˜€

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8 Responses to “Team Essex’s Trip to Brugge”

  1. hollyncharlie Says:

    Brilliant Cass πŸ™‚

  2. stuthehikeruk Says:

    This was nothing more than a booze run disguised as a caching adventer πŸ˜‰

    Looks like you guys had a great time. Nice pictures. Love the stairway to?

  3. jane Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! We had an exhibit of Cows here a couple of years ago. Great photo ops! Maybe your TB’s can race to Brugge instead!

  4. THE BIGGEST BADDEST JOHN Says:

    Another brilliant blog Cass, Thanks for your company on the weekend and to all of TEAM ESSEX can’t wait for the next installment in europe in October though I don’t know how many of those photos you are going to legally be able to publish!!!

  5. toflabeuze Says:

    Hi, the “mysterious container” you found seems to be a “ciste”, a french variant of geocaches (only mysteries without GPS coordinates, only “crypted”/mysterious sentences to find the box) πŸ™‚

    • geocass Says:

      That’s brilliant. Thank you so much for solving the mystery. I have heard of “cistes” before, but never pursued them. I would never have guessed that’s what it was. More likely a cache from open caching or terracaching. I will have to look it up to try and find out what we found.

  6. Doggywalker Says:

    Excellent blog Cass! Everything covered including riskt4kers 120mile round trip [;)]

  7. Top 10 Caching Moments of 2014 | GeoCass UK GeoCaching Says:

    […] event so thought that while we were there we would attempt a country challenge. We’d done a four countries in a day challenge previously and so we thought we’d try and top it. It started off with “Let’s do 6 […]


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