Posts Tagged With: hiking

Tintagel, Cornwall

Panoramic view of Tintagel Castle

Panoramic view of Tintagel Castle

Last week I took the geokids to Cornwall for a few days, so that Wolfie could spend some of the summer break with her boyfriend (yes I made him cache too). Anyway, Cadence and I found ourselves at a bit of a lose end on the Wednesday.  The weather was overcast but still warm and we really didn’t fancy a boring day at our basic campsite (it hadn’t got anything there for children to do).

As I had always dreamed of visiting the home of King Arthur of Camelot, with a romanticism of the medieval past imagined from all the stories, novels and television shows that have fuelled my enthusiasm for English history for as long as I can remember, we hopped into the car, loaded the GPSr to direct us and headed out.

The Old Post Office, Tintagel

The Old Post Office, Tintagel

The first thing we noticed about Tintagel was the age. There were ancient buildings amongst modern builds. One beautiful example was The Old Post Office described by The National Trust as “a 14th-century yeoman’s farmhouse -With a famously wavy slate roof and over 600 years of history”, and then there were the tourists. They were everywhere. (Now of course I knew that we were tourists that day too, but at least we had the decency to walk on pavements rather than in the road.)

Cadence loves a good sculpture

Cadence loves a good sculpture

Sorry I got distracted… back to ancient Cornwall. As I said there were beautiful buildings (I do love ancient architecture especially knowing a little about the crude tools that were used to build these perfect homesteads), and there was one little place where we were able to sit and admire Fore Street in all it’s hustle & bustle and bag ourselves a geocache at the same time. Tintagel – Extreme Stealth is a difficulty 3/terrain 1 traditional geocache in the heart of Fore Street, Tintagel. The cache owner, SMacB, describes it as “Nano, extreme stealth required. Possibly one of the busiest areas of the village” and repeatedly mentions stealth is required. Now here was a challenge we were not going to pass up. With a scratch of my leg the cache was in my hand and the passers by had no idea I was acting suspiciously, log duly signed and with another scratch or two the cache was returned to it’s home and the tourist’s were none the wiser.

Halfway up the cliff trail to Tintagel

Halfway up the cliff trail to Tintagel

Job done it was time to find Tintagel Castle to see if it lived up to my high expectations. The easiest way to do this was to follow everyone else as they all were going to and coming from the same direction. In no time at all, Cadence and I were trekking down a very steep and very long footpath & unmade road towards what is possibly one of the most famous attractions in the UK – Tintagel Castle. Home of legends, myths and magic.

On the crest of the cliff's

On the crest of the cliff’s

Despite the looming grey clouds which have a tendancy to make everything look miserable, I was still in awe of the medieval structure, although now all in ruins it still looks impressive and you can just imagine how imposing and intimidating it must have been at the height of King Arthur’s reign. Atop the opposite cliff looking over at the towering heights I felt very much at peace and at home. We spent a long time with mouths agape, speechless, at the top of Tintagel, imaging the knights enjoying their banquets and Merlin hiding out in his cave at the mouth of the sea.

Merlin's Cave

Merlin’s Cave

A time well spent dreaming and back to the task in hand – finding the geocache. Tintagel Castle was placed by Lunchbox back in Sept 2001 and has accrued a staggering 151 favourite points. Well knowing it had that many favourites and 1,170 found logs, Cadence and I thought it may be an easy find. We followed the arrow in the direction of the cache, read the description when we were close to ground zero and the hint (because we couldn’t see any obvious hiding place) and began our search.

Looking in the wrong place

Looking in the wrong place

Because of the strong breeze I decided that it wasn’t a good idea for Cadence to join in this hunt, so left her in charge of the camera. After some belly crawling, finger tip searching and more belly crawling I gave up and we sat together enjoying the view while I read up on the found logs. That was when I discovered we were in fact too high up the cliff. We hunted around for the path described in the logs and on closer inspection my fear of heights got the better of me and we logged a “did not find”.

Despite our slight failure we were not despondant, we had enjoyed our time in Tintagel, dreamed glorious dreams of Camelot and were now ready to move on to the next village that held more hopes and dreams – Boscastle.

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A Geocachers’ Kit List

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What’s in your backpack?

For quite some time I have wanted to share my geocaching backpack with you. Mostly because I find it quite heavy and don’t really know what I am carrying. My backpack has been part of my caching adventures for two years now, and I am forever filling it with extra items “that may come in handy”.

When I began geocaching all I would take was my smart phone (with only the free Groundspeak app installed), a pen and the local OS Explorer map with the geocaches already plotted. It was only after attending some of the county events and learning about the other things that geocachers’ take with them that I decided it was time to invest in a rucksack.

Today though I thought I should take a better look at what I carry about with me (other than a packed lunch and drinks).

  1. 10l backpack
  2. Piratemania V trackable tag (yes my backpack is trackable)
  3. 4 pens (one has a light for the all important night time finds)
  4. lock n lock box full of swappable swag
  5. St John Ambulance First Aid kit (old habits die hard)
  6. Micro fleece travel towel (you never know when you will get wet)
  7. Emergency Poncho
  8. Dog poop bags
  9. 3 hand torches
  10. 1 head torch (with red & white light)
  11. Rolson mutli tool
  12. Spare log sheets
  13. Spare nano geocache containers
  14. Spare bison containers
  15. Spare 35 mm container
  16. Telescopic magnet with torch
  17. Spare rechargeable batteries
  18. Garmin Oregon 450 GPS unit
  19. Personal field note book (for puzzles/multi’s and other notes)
  20. Personal stamp book (for letterbox hybrid geocaches)
  21. Spare notebook
  22. Emergency whistle
  23. Current trackable inventory

Okay, so that was a lot more than I thought, no wonder it is heavy… And not forgetting that smif247 also has his backpack too with much the same in. In addition to all the geocache tools (penknife, tweezers etc) and waterproof coats, we now have to carry an extra water bottle and food (for Misty).

Then there are days where we need to take even more:- climbing gear! That’s a whole other bag.

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Ropes!! What for?

Here we have three harness’s; two climbing ropes; two static lines; gri-gir’s; ascenders; prussiks; carabiners; chalk; slings galore. A whole heap of gear and for what? Well it would seem that not all geocachers are happy with “base of tree” or “ivy covered post”, so what do they do? They set geocaches at the top of tree’s (or suspended between two trees), some of which are not safe for free climbing, or on the underside of a bridge which you will need to abseil to and even half way down a chalk cliff face. I also saw a video on you tube once of a geocache on a dam. This brings me to the next bit of geocaching kit!

A Boat!

A Boat!

Are we going just a little too far now? Some bright spark thought it would be a great idea if there were geocaches out on small islands that were home to forts (Fort Micro #13 – Fort Darnett) and others even went as far as placing caches along rivers that are mostly accessible by boat alone (Float Your Boat).

I forgot to mention that a few times we have even had to take skateboards along for a ride (in long spider strewn tunnels). So what is next I wonder! I am rapidly running out of storage space for our extended geo-gear.

Skateboard as a mode of transportation

Skateboard as a mode of transportation

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Geocaching A&E

A current topic of conversation in my local geocaching Facebook group, Geocaching in Kent, is all about geocaching injuries.

Scrape from a brick wall

Scrape from a brick wall

Mizmazmoz asked “After a very brambly cache hunt today myself and friend were chatting about injuries from doing outdoor sports…..so the question is what is your worst caching related injury and has anyone ended up in a&e from geocaching?”

On our Facebook group there is a file called “The Accident Book” which has a few entries and photographs of some of the scrapes we get into just to claim a lovely smilie on our maps. It would seem that some of us (myself included) don’t always remember the advice that “no cache is worth dying over!”

The question has sparked quite a bit of interest with answers like;

Nasty Graze

Nasty Graze

SS Fangbangers – “I did climb half way up an old fallen tree, following the GPS and the branch gave way underneath me. Twisted my ankle but thats it lol”  

Kalle’s Crew – “I’m currently nursing a bruised coccyx from sliding a bit quick down a very steep slope and meeting tree roots”

Borrowed Wine – “I fell of the wing wall of a bridge once, pulled all of the muscles in my arm and shoulder and had some wicked grazes, that hurt. My brother standing there laughing didn’t help much.”

And of course there is always the cuts, bruises and grazes that seem to appear out of nowhere after a days caching in some fairly overgrown wood somewhere in the county.

Last summer Winter-Smith shared a story with us about this very topic. He had been on a walking holiday with friends in The Lake District. It wasn’t specifically a geocaching holiday as some the friends were ramblers rather than geocachers, but that didn’t stop Winter-Smith from convincing the group to find a few plastic tubs along the way. During a day’s hiking one of the group slipped and subsequently fractured her leg. Miles from any road and half way up a mountain, Winter-Smith knew he would need to call mountain rescue as they couldn’t move her. He had this to say, “We didn’t admit to being cachers, claiming to be walkers instead, but I did use my GPS unit to pass grids to the mountain rescue team and helicopter.” Embarrassed to admit to being a geocacher??

Wave goodbye to Mountain Rescue

Wave goodbye to Mountain Rescue

So what’s your caching injury stories? Have you been shipped off to an emergency room? I haven’t yet, but I do have several pairs of jeans that now have large holes in the knees and on the back of the upper legs from jumping over brick walls or tripping on trailing ivy across footpaths.

Please share them with us.

In response to this post over on Google+ I have the following story to share, I laughed so hard my eyes watered. I did apologise for my insensitivity.

Dougbromac had this to say; “I would imagine that this topic will get a lot of traction.

My most recent was just day before yesterday. I had to scale a cliff and my reward a a foot-long cut down the front of my right leg. I had a hot date with the peroxide bottle that night. Good thing I clot fast.

My worst was up Aiea Loop when it started to rain as I was taking an unnecessarily hard approach to a cache down a steep hill. (I’m prone to that.)

The earth turned to slime in the downpour and there I went downhill, like in the movie “Romancing the Stone” going down the mud flume. The only thing that stopped my slide was hitting a strawberry guava tree. Caught me in the ribs and knocked the wind out of me and was surprised on inspection I didn’t have a broken rib. I just laid there as I waited for the incapacitating pain to subside, the rain pelting down, slowly rinsing the mud off my face as I stared up into the treetops.

I didn’t finish the hike. Once I could even move again, I limped and drug myself back to the car and stripped down in the parking lot and stuffed my completely muddy and saturated clothes in a plastic trash bag and drove home barefoot in my underwear. I would have needed a firehose to knock all the mud off.

Later on at home I had to take my clothes and boots to a car wash and power spray the mud out of them.

And to add insult to the injuries, I didn’t get a single cache! This happened before my first find for that hike!

Lesson learned. It’s not like in the movies. The rocks and trees and far harder than they appear and you fall much faster than you’d think.”

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Light feedback from Cadence

Over the few years of caching, my family and I have encounterd lots of weird and wonderful geocaches including lars (doesn’t) lights the way  and many more (to go over them would take a million years).

Many people seem to be addicted to geocaching or just simply have no idea what it is, but we are neither, like the land between the trenchs! We do a lot of things in our life but geocaching sort of holds it all together even if I don’t admit it often. Without geocaching many more people would be sitting on the sofa watching tv or playing computer games. Unhealthy but enjoyable!

Not everyone enjoys caching but we do, not every one likes the outdoors but we do! Without us the world would be full of unknown forts and castles! They would be myths on television or cartoon games on the computer not live and in your face, not rough or smooth nor fun!

I may moan and groan about caching and long walks but I know deep down that I enjoy them that they hold me together and make me, Cadence, me!

Please remember I am 10 🙂

Cadence

Categories: CadencetheGeokid, Geo Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Knights Quest

Young Knights on their first quest

How many of you remember the adventure books from the 1980’s/1990’s? You know the ones… at the end of a chapter you had to make a choice, a or b, one choice would almost certainly lead you to your doom and the other may get you closer to the end of the adventure or just prolong the agony of failure!

If you do remember then you’re showing your age, just as I am, but that is not the point. A while back someone pointed me in the direction of a puzzle geocache in Deal, Kent that had the theme of those adventure books. Well, not just the theme, the whole geocache was written and presented in the same style as the adventure books.

The Knights Quest by seamanrob (rob & royst), rated a D3/T3.5, with the potential to cover between 6 & 8 miles depending on how you “play” the story looked incredibly interesting and very different.

The journey begins

The introduction reads “As the legend foretold, the hero would come with technology beyond our understanding – an ability to seek far and wide, to communicate with many and the ability to battle with heart and mind. It seems the legend may well have come to pass. Are you the brave soul who desires to take up our noble struggle?” The Phantom Knight hovered ahead, awaiting your response. It was a long time since he last set eyes on a traveller with the potential to solve the mystery that had vexed him for all of his life and still now, more than 1000 years after his death.’

We took a wrong turn and found this

With our interest piqued we knew we had to go and give this a good go, so as a family we went out during the summer break, laden with supplies and with a couple of extra “knights”, kallescrew & nick the trucker. We arrived at the start early on a Sunday morning and began the story, choosing our first weapons and the first route we headed out into the unknown, confident that we would complete the quest!

The new team of Knights listening to the introduction

I had to learn very quickly how to use the crib sheet and deocder as everyone seemed to be relying on me to give them accurate co-ordinates for each stage.

Although we all chose to stay together on the quest, we did all choose different weapons which made the day a little more interesting. Unfortunately at the 4th stage of the quest I died along with kallescrew and Jellybeans, but the lads and CadencetheGeokid were safe and able to carry on. However their route went down the hill then back up the hill and a few times we found we had crossed the same path several times.

A little further on Cadence also succumbed to death and the boys were on their own… their victory didn’t last long however, as they were unable to find one of the stages which was vital for their completion and the quest had to be abandoned after having walked the best of part of 6 miles in over 5 hours.

Intrepid searching

But my tale doesn’t end there. Smif247 had been in touch with seamanrob and it wasn’t long before he gave us the heads up that the quest was back on and all stages were back in play, with the story re-written in places. A quick post on Facebook inviting other Kent “Knights” to join us on the quest and a new plan of action evolved.

15 September we met up at 10 am at the parking co-ordinates with fellow “knights”, LisaSullivan, Sueatsea, Addict1, Manky Badger, Tia67uk, Martinwalks, Winter-smith, earle140465 and geodog Fudge. We decided to stick together as a team, however again we all chose different weapons at the the first stage, so we could help each other out where possible.

Giant fungi

 

As you will read in our logs on the cache listing we came up against a 40 minute issue quite early on in our quest, but that didn’t deter us in the least, we just reversed up to the previous stage and took the other alternative. The bonus was that smif247 and I had been out before, so when we knew we were walking past a stage, we stopped off and grabbed the relevant clues so that we wouldn’t have to do all the back & forth like last time. I mean, there’s almost a mile between most of the stages with the exception of one that is only 90 ft away but very cleverly hidden.

Along the way we did manage to loose a couple of “knights” however we do believe in not leaving a man behind, so we “carried their bodies with us” to the end.

Interesting tree

The end, well now there’s a story, we read the details in the last container only to find we were missing a vital piece of the puzzle. This meant we had to back track to the area we spent a long time looking at earlier in the day. Supplies were running low and so were our energy levels, but back track is what we did.

An extra hour of hunting, with 10 pairs of eyes, back and forth over the same piece of ground, emails back and forth to the cache owner because this last tub was eluding all of us completely. By this point several of us began rechecking clues and numbers to see if we had made a mistake, while smif247 decided to widen the search, 150 ft up the path he went (he doesn’t like to be beaten), and a further 10 minutes or more passed before we heard him yell “I’ve got it.”

Smif247 will NOT be beaten

At last the final little piece of information was in our hands and the final stage was now within in reach. Relief on all our faces as we punched in the final set of co-ordinates and began the last leg of the quest to the resting place of the log book.

Is it this way?

By the end of the day we had covered almost 9 miles in six and a half hours and all for one smilie on the map. But I have to say this is one of the best geocache’s I have ever completed. It was well written and well executed and it must have taken the cache owner months to plan and set. To support your journey, seamanrob has created crib sheets, help guides, decoders and even mp3 audio files for each stage, and finally there were bonus questions to answer so that you can claim a certificate. I also know that during the re-write he has added two bonus caches which will be available soon, needless to say I grabbed the relevant details for them so that when they become available we can run out and claim the finds for those.

So if you are beginning to get tired or bored of the same old 35 mm film canisters at the base of an ivy covered tree and you are looking for something a little different and more challenging then I can highly recommend this adventure. It’s not all about the numbers…

The quest is complete

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It’s all about the Numbers!

CBN-110 geocaches, 14 miles

Chelmer & Blackwater Canal

Most of the country are either sat at home in front of the television or at Olympic events. Smif247 and I on the other hand decided we wanted to avoid the Olympics for just a little longer and attempt to better our daily records, both distance walked and the number of finds.

Chelmer & Blackwater Canal

On Saturday 28th July 2012 we decided we would join a few good local friends, Winter-Smith, Nick the Trucker and Martinwalks, to do a 14 mile series of caches in Essex known as Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation (CBN). This is a series of 110 geocaches, all but one are traditionals. The walk starts at the Heybridge Basin where the canal meets the estuary to the North Sea and finishes in Chelmsford at CBN 110.

Beautiful views

My personal record was just 10 miles with 51 geocache finds from last July when I went and completed the Meopham March. There are rumours that the Meopham March is due to be archived sometime in September. So if you want to grab yourself 52 finds in a day, then go out and get it this summer.

On my way to a personal best

We knew that the day was going to be tough on us for a variety of reasons. Neither of us have ever walked that far and certainly not at approximately 2 miles an hour (including stopping time to find geocaches). I still suffer a lot with fatigue and pain so the route was definitely going to be a challenge for me and frankly I didn’t think I was going to make it to the end.

Smif247 having a well earned breather

What made the walk much easier was the great English weather. We have had highs of 30+ C all week long and I was concerned that Saturday was going to be too hot, but the weather was on our side and we enjoyed more comfortable temperatures of 20 C with a nice light breeze at times as we progressed along the picturesque canal.

Cows trying to keep cool

Another bonus was some of the beautiful scenery that we experienced throughout the day. We saw beautiful clear water, summery flora and fauna, exquisitely decorated canal boats and river homes, animals trying to keep themselves cool and lots of people enjoying the area with picnics, barbecues and cycling or walking.

Decorative canal boats

There were even times of playfulness. Smif247 decided to turn one of the bridges into a set of monkey bars, while the rest of us were searching for a letterbox cache that we hadn’t realised was actually archived and no longer at its ground zero.

Monkey Bars?

And at other times, Smif247 thought it would be a laugh to move some of the lock gates! Thankfully he didn’t have a lock key or he would have drained a lock too.

So glad he didn’t have a key!

Early on we decided on the tactic of leap frogging, as one person is signing a log, the rest of the group move on towards the next cache, this gave us a good chance of finding all the caches before dark. A good idea considering we didn’t leave CBN 001 until Noon.

Martinwalks looking for a cache

We noticed that we weren’t the only ones out attempting this power trail and we finally caught up with Flexburyites somewhere between CBN 40 to 50. After a lovely chat with him we sped on towards CBN 065 so that we could stop for “lunch”.

Winter-smith signs a log

We arrived at the Papermill Lock Tea Rooms just after 4pm where we took a well earned rest with teas, coffees, sandwiches, ploughmans and home made cake. Just as we were beginning to sort ourselves out to carry on, Flexburyites had caught up with us again, after a quick wave and chat off he ventred. We hung around a little longer enjoying the afternoon sun and the canal atmosphere, and of course a photo opportunity.

Papermill Lock

Leaving the tea rooms just after 5pm, feeling very pleased with ourselves for having got that far and knowing the only way was onwards towards the car at CBN 110, we set off at a reasonable pace. Not as fast as the earlier part of the day but still making good progress, roughly 8 minutes between each find.

Another log signed

I began feeling the strain and pain around the 80 mark but I kept pushing myself, determined to finish. The guys were great and gave me plenty of chances to grab short rests so that I didn’t hold anyone up.

Are we nearly there yet?

One of the breaks was when we grabbed a cache that wasn’t part of the CBN series but still along our route. Boys being boys went to sign the log and play around in the pill box very close to it while I stayed on the tow path and waited patiently, regaining energy, ready for the momentum to keep on.

“I can see the end!”

We didn’t just grab 110 finds from the CBN series, we finished the day with 116 finds thanks to the other caches along the route with virtually no detours. We arrived at CBN 110 at 2030, and what a relief this was for me! I don’t think I have ever felt so excited to find another micro, but believe me, it meant that I had done it. I had surpassed my personal bests. Beaten my body and beaten my fatigue; even if it were just for one day.

WE DID IT!

Kent Cachers on Tour end the day with a well earned drink at The Old Ship

 

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UK Cache Mag

UK Cache Mag

 

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Job hunting in education. AGAIN!!!

Throughout my adult life I have been continuously told that the best way to find and stay in a job is self-promotion. Compile a good curriculum vitae with a detailed section on personal interests, on job applications always describe other skills that may not necessarily be relevant to the position you are applying for; something that I did when I applied for work in secondary education last summer, resulting with a position at a new academy in Kent.

I was awarded a position within the academy on my own merits and for that I am grateful. I enjoy my work supporting lower ability students in the classroom and I am confident that I am making positive progress with the young people I am assigned to.

I am not just a newly qualified teaching assistant (Level 3 obtained Summer 2010), I bought with me several years’ experience of 1:1 and classroom support at both KS1 and KS2 education, therefore understanding the needs and difficulties of students who are struggling to rise above SATS levels 2 and 3. Many of the children I have supported since 2005 have not just had learning difficulties; they have also been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, emotional and behavioral issues or have ADHD.

In addition to providing support in schools, during my free time I started a successful Beaver Scout colony in 2007, once established I progressed to Cub Scout leader, planning and running balanced programs for 8-10 ½ year olds. I am now in my sixth year as a fully qualified and warranted Scout leader. This position is not just about sparing an hour and a half a week, but often includes extra time planning and researching a wide variety of subject matter and then delivering it to the young people in a fun format, teaching them new skills in a way they understand and remember.

Having this experience and relatively new skill proved invaluable when faced with a KS3 class, whose teacher, who in unforeseen circumstances, failed to arrive for a lesson and no cover or supply had been provided, leaving me to deliver a lesson without preparation or back up.

In addition to this skill, I have developed my own learning, mostly with an interest in the outdoors; walking, hiking, map reading, camping and geocaching, all of which I have obtained and maintained over the past six years. During my teen years I was an avid archer. Regularly breaking club and county records, some of which I still hold today. Thanks to this talent I have often assisted other Scout leaders (who hold GNAS qualifications) to deliver taster sessions on activity days and camps.

After having been informed by human resources just a few weeks ago to look for work as there was no guarantee of an extension to contracts, the principle hosted a compelling assembly to the lower school. Explaining to the students about taking risks, find their hidden talents and not to wait for opportunities to fall into their laps. That they would have to work for their goals and dreams, In essence self-promotion!

Following on from that assembly, I read an article in a local paper about the principles pledge of “Local jobs, for local people!” This compelled me to write to him, outlining my existing skills, and as a local who supports his school and his vision, in the hopes that they reconsider their position on continuing existing contracts.

Support assistants are often the image of consistency in secondary education, especially in an establishment that still has a high turnover of teaching staff due to the ongoing changes and teething problems that come from having a brand new school. Is it fair for pupils to continue to put up with a long list of supply teachers and cover supervisors? Only to have all the support staff laid off at the end of the academic year!

I am not just a little upset that twelve months on I am having to look for work again and self-promote to schools and academies that may not necessarily be looking for someone with my skills and talents, but I am saddened that I may not be there to see the students I have helped this year, to grow, mature and achieve to the best of their abilities. They are great children and I have developed a good working relationship with them, in that I am a common face with common interests, a familiarity when they are faced with yet another new member of staff!

UPDATE : 26th JUNE 2012
Well it would appear that it is official and my self promotion letter did not work. I really do now have to pull out all the stops and appeal to all schools in the area! Why, oh why do teaching assistants have to go through this every year.

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Categories: Life goes on, The Freelance Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Chalk and Cheddar – Cozendon Woods

Heading out to Cozendon Woods

Over the past 12 months, geocaching has taken us to many interesting places, with many stories to be told about each one. However today’s story is one of the more interesting ones.

After getting a referral on the Geocaching UK group on Facebook from solesearchers, we followed a trail out to Cozendon wood near Ifield. The hunt for Chalk and Cheddar began. Parking up at the suggested co-ordinates and following the restricted byway out to the woods, hoping that the few spots of rain wouldn’t turn into a large downpour.

Snowdrops in bloom

Bluebell carpet

 

 

 

 

We thought this would be a normal afternoon stroll in the woods and for the most part it was. We followed the footpath into the tree line and were soon marveling at nature’s garden. Gorgeous snowdrops and scented bluebells carpeted the ground, the beautiful architecture of the century old trees, many still standing yet there were many others that had come crashing to the ground. Leaving natural sculptures in their wake. These woods were quickly becoming a calm and serene place to wander.

Resting in the bivouac

As we were using my garmin oregon 450 to navigate (using the map), we took a path to our left when we really needed to have taken the path straight ahead. If we had have taken that path then I don’t believe we would have seen the man made bivouac just to the right of the footpath.

Further along this path we looked on in awe at the wonderfully different ways the roots on the trees had formed. Some root formations had widened so far that they had split and created two trees, others had gaping holes right through them creating mini

Ivy roots wrapped around a fallen tree

bridges. One of the fallen trees had once had creeping ivy wrapped around its trunk and resembled a python hugging its prey.

After having walked this path for more than ten minutes, I took another look at the GPSr map and noticed that the little blue pointer attached to the pink line with the blue dot on the end was in direct line of the part one co-ordinates! At the same time Smif247 pointed out that we would need to change direction and head west to reach our first goal.

This was where we discovered that others had cut through here too. There were definitely recent tracks through the undergrowth, watching our steps

Is this a washing line?

and being incredibly careful not to damage any of the foliage, we headed westwards towards the plotted co-ords.

This was when things began feeling a little odd! We came across a large clearing, well off the path, and most definitely recently used as some sort of camp.

A thin rope was tied between a couple of trees with energy drink cans attached to it. On the right hand tree, someone had hung a saw up using the same rope as the make shift “washing line.” This saw however was incredibly weathered and covered in rust.

About 20 foot away someone had begun to build a shelter and had a bonfire

The framework of a shelter and the other saw to the right of the picture.

circle just in front of it. To the right of that there was another saw embedded into a nearby tree. This one was in much better condition than the last and looked as though it may have been used not too long ago.

We begun to turn ourselves towards the direction of stage one, when we found an upturned wheelbarrow, blackened from wood smoke and flames, residing by a smoldering tree root.

The smoldering tree root

Why on earth was there a smoldering tree root? This wasn’t a small one either, and most certainly being kept under control as the greenery within its perimeter was pretty much damage free. We came to the conclusion that the wheelbarrow was being used to control the flames. Someone, it would seem, was living out here in the woods, because that tree root would only need some extra tinder & logs to re-light the flames. Not only that, someone had even piled some good sized fallen logs nearby, which looked ideal for creating a new fire near the part built shelter. Hence keeping the root smoldering perhaps.

This was when I began to feel a little jittery, and strangely like we may have

Stage 2

been getting watched. I wasn’t the only one, Cadence was also getting agitated and bought us back to the task in hand.

Turns out we were only about 150 feet from part one. We departed the camp quickly and came across our prize fairly soon. Despite me going round in circles waiting for the compass to catch up and point me in the right direction. Smif247 on the other hand had already found the container with the new co-ords and was already programming them into the Groundspeak app on his phone.

Cadence was the first one to GZ

Still feeling a little jittery after finding the camp, we hastened up the footpath towards stage two, still discussing the unusual find. It wasn’t long before we found where we needed to go and Cadence was the first one sliding down to ground zero. We didn’t need to borrow the tool from stage one, which saved us the walk back, as we always carry at least one with us in our tool kit.

While I was more intrigued by the chalk formation and snapping photographs, Smif247 and Cadence were busying themselves with the final geocache. Investigating the contents and signing the log book.

We spent quite a bit of time down there investigating the cut out “rooms”

Brick work chalk

under the beautiful woods above. At some point in the past someone had actually cut through the chalk from one “room” to another. Just the right size for a small child to crawl through. The way the chalk sat together looked like brick work. I’ve never seen anything like it before and am so glad that solesearchers had found this spot and left a cache there so that others could also see nature at work.

Easy tree climb

After replacing the cache and scrambling back to ground level we found the well used bridal way and headed back towards our point of entry. We were back to marveling nature at work, me snapping pictures, Cadence climbing fallen trees and Smif247 pointing out the man made mud ramps along the path and the random trials bike wing mirror casing.

When we reached the bivouac we decided to investigate this area further. The people who built this, also had a stash of firewood close by and a fire circle behind their shelter. Not too far from this we noticed that someone had spray painted arrows and dots on trees along a route, so we followed this and came across a large tree that had a ladder built on to it and the starting frame for a tree house.

Not only that, there appeared to be many “hiding” places all over the woods.

The beginnings of a tree house

Most were reminiscent of geocache hides using stick-o-flage. All of the ones we looked at were empty though.

I would highly recommend that geocachers and muggles alike come to these woods, not only for the natural beauty but because there seemed to be so much to discover here. One of the best afternoons I’ve ever had.

 

by Luminesence

 

Cadence and Smif247 underground

Categories: Geo Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Extreme Geocaching

I have got the bug for extreme caching at the moment, Lumi  is hoping it will pass soon after having to fill in for me on the latest supermarket sweep 11.

As it had her down an undergrouond tunnel in a river bed.

SS #11

So anyway on to todays adventure, by early this morning I had a call about a new cache that had been placed, but not through the usual channels and here were the coordinates.

Out the door I rolled at 0214 to meet up with two other cachers that share the madness and off into the night we drove. It took about three hours to get to GZ, we overtook two “cut it squirt it” trucks on the way, both on a blue light but hey ho!!

At the intersection

At GZ we jimmied open the outer shell so to speak and found our selves in a long tunnel heading west for a quater mile. We came to a cross section, looking to the left it was a small corridor that had a cave in at some point, turning right looped all the way back to the start, but came out five foot to the left, over the river.

Starting back to the cross section we went straight over. ‘By now it must be getting light’ I thought, as I could see the occasional air vent on our route. After about 400 yards the tunnel took an upright turn linking in with an underground rail track.

We could hear the occasional rumble of a tube train; but it seemed safe so we continued on our way. Ten minutes later we overheard voices in the

We'll go this way then

distance! ‘It must be someone else’ we thought, looking for our award. But no! Turns out it was the boys in blue securitiy checking the new olympic tunnel structure. After getting chased down one of the tubes we made it safely into a side room, about 4×8 feet and it had a small ladder leading up, so we followed it, up and out into what was fast becoming the worst caching experience ever. As we broke into the light it was only then we realised we had just been caught in an april fools blog.

Happy caching and keep out of strange holes in the ground!

Categories: Geo Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Kent Cachers go Barking Mad in Boxley

Barking Mad

The sleepy little village of Boxley, near Maidstone were not prepared for the invasion of Kent Geocachers last weekend (Saturday 10th March 2012).

Lardy-bloke & GCmozart

 

 

 

 

A little while ago TopropeIan publicised an event entitled High Tea,

“Afternoon tea, is a small meal snack typically eaten between 2pm and 5pm. The custom of afternoon tea originated in England in the 1840s. At the time, the various classes in England had a divergence in their eating habits.

The guys on the "pull"

or for those being a little more adventurous stay for HIGH TEA”

for the geocaching community which just so happened to be taking place in the vicinity of a particulary high cache.

There were many instructions given for this “event” including

  • You will not “have to climb a tree”
  • There are no picnic tables to stand on
  • Specialist equipment is required (and will be available)

To name just a few. This seemed like a challenge! More investigation was required so a quick log on to Geocaching.com to see what caches were nearby.

A few minutes later we discovered a traditional cache within a few feet of the

Mrs Bacass taking a rest

event. But not just any kind of traditional cache. This had a D/T (Difficulty/Terrain) rating of 3/5 and went by the name of “Barking Mad”. On further investigation we discovered this is considered to be extreme caching.

Not a lot of thought came next, Smif247 & I were most definitely going to the High Tea picnic, in the hopes we got a chance to try for this cache.

We were not disappointed. The day arrived and early on the day our email alerts began pinging! An added bonus, along the route in to Boxley new caches were being published. Result!

High Tea picnic

Bag packed, food packed, travel bugs packed. Boots on, lets go!

Arriving in Boxley we discovered that it was very difficult to find anywhere to park. Which could mean one of two things; The event was bigger than expected or Boxley really is a tiny little place. Turns out it was both.

At the site of the event there was a massive tree, easily 60ft tall and was adorned with ropes and pulleys.

Beneath said tree there were many people all awaiting their turn to climb up the tree, mingling, eating, and logging travel bugs. Swapping stories of geocaching exploits, sharing puzzle solutions and enjoying general chit chat.

Kalles crew

Little Miss Naughty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 50 geocaching teams were in attendance throughout the day and

Smif247

many people attempted the climb with the assistance of TopropeIan, Sir-Lancelot and Ginger4x4 with others chipping in to help along the way.

Such a well attended event and cache, the logs on the pages say it all really.

I wonder if the guys will do it again sometime, perhaps for another extreme cache such as Let’s Face it!

 

By Luminesence

Categories: Geo Stories, Geocaching Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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