Monday, 21 April 2014

Copthill and Back

I had wanted to Geocache today but wasn't sure where, and I had gone back and forth on several locations and in the end, given up. A lunchtime call from Everyonesmum with some good news that she had found a flash stick I had lost meant that I headed out that way to pick it up, and once I arrived she decided that we should go 'caching! We had looked at Copthill and Back several times recently, and decided that it would be today's hit!

We arrived at the suggested parking and squeezed the Geocar into a space. The first hit was, in fact, GC2GWN6 - Uffington Bridge, which we almost abandoned after an extensive fingertip search by us both, but I stuck my head over the armco and did a visual search, and straight away I had it!

Across the road, a herd of cows patiently watched our search. This made me anxious; firstly, we had the Biggest Geodog with us, and she is terrified of cattle and secondly, cattle make me naturally anxious as I'm not a fan of being trampled to death...! Never mind, the series started on the other side of the river, so we would deal with the problem of the cattle when we came to it.

Both myself and Everyonesmum had been heavily involved in the Stamford and Deepings Canal project, and my first series was commissioned by them to map the length of the canal through caches; if I had been quick enough, it would be caches along this stretch, but I was tardy with my placements and Izaac rightfully got there first! Nevertheless, this series still starts by tracing the extensive path of the old canal, which is what you follow on your right hand side. The size of the canal is noteworthy here; closer to the Deepings, a lot of the fieldwork has caved some of the canal in and it looks considerably smaller, but here it has kept it's original size. Copthill and Back 1-9 all follow the path of the canal here, and it's a beautiful little footpath.
Stood in the old canal bed.

I have a thing for quaint staircases...

Moving between #9 and #10 was where we first encountered any trouble. To begin with, we had to navigate some loose cattle in a field; Everyonesmum kept the Geodog with her while I ventured into the field to see what the cattle would do. After decided that they weren't interested in us, we passed the field quickly and into a field of sheep (which make me decidedly less nervous). The Geodog shows no sign of her collie breeding and ignores them completely, and for now they ignore us! We crossed the second field and into the cricket ground, walking along the edge following the old canal again... only to find we should have stayed in the sheep field! Heading back, we discover that the cache is not only in the sheep field, but in the middle! We don't want to push our luck, so Everyonesmum stays at the edge of the field with the dog and I make my way across. In doing so, I unknowingly walk between a sheep and her lamp, separating them. This agitated te sheep and she followed me, watching intently while I search for the cache and gradually getting more and more angry. In the end, with no cache, I decide not to aggravate her further and I abandon the search. 

A quick find buoys our confidence again at #11, and we divert from here up to Morrisons in Stamford to pick up some drinks and GC110JG - Off Yer Trolley (Stamford), a cache that has been on my hit list for a while but I keep forgetting to collect. 

Back to the trail and Everyonesmum and I discuss the pros and cons of abseiling off a bridge to get a cache after I explain to her that GC2GAFD - Sneaking Around Stamford - Hang on a Minute was not viable for today's expedition - I did get under the bridge to see if I could see it...

Instantly, I realised that I had a conversation with a friend about this very article last summer during a picnic under the bridge, before I was really into Geocaching, and we had no idea what it was or what its purpose was. At least now I know!

We made another mistake here and walked down the field, not realising that there was a footpath the other side of the fence, but once we were in the right place we had another run of easy finds, although there was one dislodged cache which I hope I've relocated properly, and one DNF despite an extensive search. At this point, the Geodog is fed up, being the laziest collie known to man, and decides that this is not what she signed up for when she got excited about getting in the car.
Go on without me...!

A nice surprise mid-series was #17, which is one of the largest caches I've come across in a while and stocked with fab items! I dropped a TB here to continue moving and added a few swaps of my own, but took nothing. 

By the time we had worked our way back to #20 (and discussed the mysterious pumps that lurk here... We wonder if the cows know how to work them?!) the cows had moved themselves to the top corner of the field and ignored us and the Geodog as we passed. She was more than happy to leap back into the car and be chauffuered home, and given that it was nearly 7:30 by the time we finished, so were we!

The whole circuit, including going up to Morrisons, took us around 3 and a half hours, which is longer than we anticipated, but it was throughly enjoyable. Much like West Deeping and Back, the predictability of the caches is pleasant, particularly for Geokids, and it keeps the pace moving well. It's a shame that we struck upon two DNF's, particularly as they are not really caches we pass often, but I'm sure they will smile at us eventually!

-Finds Today; 21 each
-Total Finds; RFF - 429; EM - 77

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

EveryonesMum's Geocaching Birthday!

Yesterday was EveryonesMum's birthday, and we celebrated in Geocaching style! I, my brother and my father bought her a Garmin Dakota 10 GPS, the Geokids filled her Geobag with all sorts of useful things and her best friend bought her Premium Membership.

With all that in mind, she and I set out today to test run her new unit and so that I was confident she could use it. We talked over how to set up Pocket Queries, and ran a few onto her unit. Heading into Peterborough, we decided that on a gorgeous day like today has been, we would strike onto a walk we had earmarked for a while, Crown Lakes Country Park.

Pulling up, I booted my unit, an eTrex 30, up as mum sorted her own out. At this point, I discovered that my own Pocket Query had not picked these caches up, although has all the ones surrounding it - very odd. I managed to retrieve all the co-ordinates from my phone, however, and input them into my GPSr manually. Off we went!

The park is beautiful! I had no idea it was here, and certainly no idea it was as gorgeous as this! Mum and I have decided to come back with the Geokids and the Geodog one day to wander around; the water is crystal clear and there were opportunities for the children to paddle as well as explore.

In addition to the beautiful lakes and huge open grass land, we suddenly found ourselves trailing through woodland in an almost magical, fairytale setting - tiny bridges and dabbled sunlight all added to a mystical feeling! 
The views from the end of the walk (for once, I walked a cache trail in the correct, chronological order!) were breath-taking too! Mum commented that it felt like we were on holiday, and it really did.
All the caches were in good condition and easy to find, except #9, which we spent ages back and forth on and eventually had to resign ourselves to a DNF, sadly. But, we consoled ourselves with our plans to return another day with the Geokids & Geodog in tow, so we will hit it again then.

On my way home after dropping EveryonesMum off, I swung by GC3298V - Brilliant Fenland, which has been on my hitlist for months but the layby has always been occupied by resting lorries; luck was in my favour today and I quickly had the cache in hand! But here, just like at Crown Lakes, my GPSr didn't have the cache on it, but did have surrounding caches. I need to investigate why this is happening! Looks like I'll be spending the evening resetting all my pocket queries...

-Finds Today; RFF - 10, EM - 9
-Finds Total; RFF; 408 (I found some duplicate logs that I had to delete! It bought me back under 400!), EM; 52

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ferry Meadows Rumble - A Cachers' Day Out!!

Pip_Squeek and I have been on the look out for events recently, and we were very excited to attend our first, Ferry Meadows Rumble!

We arrived a little after 10:30 with EveryonesMum and the Anticachers in tow, and signed the log. We stayed around a while and chatted, explored the TB's on offered and I swapped some around before we decided to head out. Unfortunately, EveryonesMum couldn't join us today as she is not yet a Premium Member (Boo!) so she and my Anticacher left to have an impromptu driving lesson, and we dragged Pip_Squeek's Anticacher around with us!

He found a stick to harass us all with...!
We had the intention of hitting all of the FM Rumble series, but that quickly became apparent it wasn't going to happen - they're a lot bigger than they look! We started off chronologically, picking up a few that we were also missing as neither of us had cached the park at all yet but the first cache evaded us. We weren't sure what we were looking for and with a large amount of tree cover, our GPS's kept throwing us back and forth. With such a large selection of trees and possible locations, and with so many caches to find, we moved on after about 10 minutes. 

At #2, we caught up with the Chilly gang and their lovely Geokids. They already had this cache, and thanks to the Anticachers keen eye, we soon did too. Working together for #3, we then split so that we could do up and do GC2PXJC - 007 Octopussy Bridge. I had no idea we had a local interest in the 007 films, so it was an interesting historical aspect for me, but no cache here, unfortunately. :(
Do do do do do, de do do.... DO DO, do do dooooo!
Back on track at #4, and catching Chilly again and they left and now the finds start rolling in again. We joint find #5 and split again - we had already decided to do it in an order that felt logical for us, so we headed for #6, then #8, #7 and #9, resulting in us zig-zagging across the field. At #9 we headed for an interesting piece of local art, passing a family on the way down, only to realise we were heading the wrong way and turned ourselves around. In doing so, we caught the eye of the family we passed and they came and introduced themselves as Rivereagle, and we shared the find with them after their geokids had struggled - Lovely to meet you all!
Triumphant Gandalf-Cacher!
We were warned by Rivereagles that the next cache's co-ordinates were out, as they were working the opposite way around, and so we were cautious at the next, using the clue that they had given us. We were joined by not one but two other cachers, 2versus1 and Smiglet, and Pip_Squeek claimed the find by eye here. Onwards with 2versus1 and while we hunted by the bank, Mrs2v1 claimed the find at #11, after we all thought Mr2v1 had got it! We stayed with them for #12 and then split again, and feeling rather like we were stalking them stumbled upon the Chilly gang again, we shared our find at #14.
Back at the main centre of Ferry Meadows, we decided enough was enough for one day, and after having found Frenchtart and Canillo25 to help us with the last find, we packed up and went home.

The caches were a lovely circuit but I'm not sure they're worthy of being premium caches - It's such a shame that everyonesmum couldn't join us! Mind you, it is just my opinion that a cache should be exceptional in order to attract the premium only tag, perhaps I'm being snobbish with that.
After reading through comments on this post, and a bit of googling, it appears in a chinese-whisper sort of way I've misunderstood this! Although my understanding that Premium caches can be exceptional containers or locations is correct, it is also accepted that they are in high-footfall, high-risk areas where muggles are likely to destroy containers. It also turns out that Everyonesmum could have joined us and there are ways to allow her to log the finds, but from what I've read on the forums it's becoming increasingly controversial, with a quote from a Groundspeak moderator being; "We are currently looking into out Guidelines in regards to basic members logging Premium Member cachers and will clarify this issue in the future". I wait with baited breath.... (Thanks to HolyWarrior/MarcusMaximi for helping me clarify this!)

The event was lots of fun and I have lots of trackables to catch up with now, as well as some new ones to trael it. It was really lovely to see so many cachers around, meet with them and to share our experiences with them - Really looking forward to the CITO events now!!

OH! I just remembered - This took me over 400 too! Yippee!!

-Finds Today - 18 + 1 event each, just the event for EM.
-Finds Total - RFF; 402, PS, 284, EM; 44