A real underground adventure – The old Bath stone quarries

Our trip to Wiltshire was spurred by one particular cache series, BearClawz’s “Above Below“. We’re very fond of underground caches and this series was a step further than we’d been before with the other subterranean caches we’d attempted. The caches are hidden in old Bath stone quarries just to the East of Bath. We’ve visited a cache in a cave, in a quarry, and been in bunkers before, however these presented much more of a challenge because you have to travel a considerable distance underground to retrieve the caches. Much more of an adventure!

The quarries in the area were producing stone as far back as 1833. When exploring the quarries with modern day high-lumen torches and taking pictures with cameras with powerful flashes it’s easy to forget that the miners With just candle light or the light from home made oil burners to see whilst working down in the tunnels. The work was all manual with the blocks of stone being sawed by hand. Some quarries in the area were modernised with a rail system, however others used horse and cart to transport the cut stone up out of the quarries. More photos and information about the quarries can be found on Derek Hawkin’s website.

In order to work out the entrances for the quarries you first have to solve a puzzle. You also have to decipher some text to work out the route through the quarry as you obviously can’t use your GPSr down there. I’d solved 5 out of the 6 puzzles so we headed to Wiltshire to see what we could find!

Just for starters

In the series there is one cache that isn’t in a quarry… well, not anymore!: Above Below – The Steps With a lower d/t rating we decided to head there first to warm us up, so on a rainy Sunday we left the campsite and headed to GZ. It was a simple cache, however it was situated near a derelict site: Monkton Farleigh Ammunition Depot. This used to be Monkton Quarry, however it was converted into a sub-depot of the Central Ammunition Depot by the War Department in the build up to WW2. It was used up until the 1950’s. The ammunition dump took thousands of men 7 years to construct and it became Britain’s biggest ammunition store with the capacity to store over 12 million tons of ammo. It was constructed in a way so that it would not be obvious as an ammo depot to enemy reconnaissance. It is accessible from the transit shed where The Steps lead down underground with remains of the conveyor belts that transported ammunition either side of them. We only explored the entrance to the old store, but after seeing pictures online I wish we had ventured deeper in. It’s definitely a place I’d like to return to for a better look.

Looking down the steps

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Going underground for our 10,000th find!!!

After all of our fun in the US we were left at about 75 caches away from our 10,000th find. We thought long and hard about the cache that we wanted for our milestone, after all 10,000 couldn’t be just any old film can! We still needed to get the 74 other caches though so on Saturday 21st April we headed just north of Cambridge for a couple of walking series…

Alconbury Amble

Alconbury Weston

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