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

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