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A week after WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018 it was time to attend another mega event. This time the journey was somewhat shorter as the event in question was Mega Sweden FAD 2018 just a 2½ hour drive north to Sundsvall. Last year’s FAD was in Uppsala and I went there with Madchicken and Ironhawk67. This year Madchicken had other engagements so it was just Ironhawk67 and I who made the trip. Of course, many other geocachers from Gävle found their way up to Sundsvall but all seemed to make a weekend of it and had driven up on the Friday. We just made it a day trip.

We made a short break on the way up to log Amors låda and Gubben i lådan, both with a high number of well deserved favourite points. I won’t spoil them by posting photos.

Our first stop in Sundsvall was the Mega itself where we registered and collected little goodies bag then wandered around. We found the fantastic dragon ”log book” which we duly signed.

FAD log(book) dragon

My nick on the log(book)

There were a couple of vendors of geocaching paraphernalia but to my disappointment the prices were much higher than at Geolympix so nothing was bought. I hadn’t bought anything at Geolympix apart from a few AAND’s as I didn’t think that there would be any difference in price but some items I saw were 10 times more expensive in Sundsvall and most twice the price.

Presentations at FAD

Mingle at FAD

We then drove into he centre of Sundsvall to do the daytime lab caches. On our way down we stopped for a very sneaky cache GC Sundsvalls Julkalender 2012 #6 St Nicholaus. A handful of people were there when we arrived but it still took quite some time before there was that ”aha” moment. I can see why the cache has so many favourite points.

The lab caches formed a multi of sorts with ten different places to visit. Each stop had a hint to the next so doing them in the right order helped even if it was not 100% necessary. Before setting off we stopped by the local kebab place for lunch. We needed energy for the walk around town.

FAD daytime lab caches

One of the lab caches was at the top of the stairs in Hotel Knaust

Once the lab caches were all found we ticked off a few trads and a virtual before getting to Panic Room, another highly favourited cache. The container was very special and I must admit to not having seen one like previously. We rounded the afternnon off with a Wherigo Sundsvalls stadspromenad. I couldn’t get the Wherigo loaded onto my iPhone but Ironhawk67 had no difficulties getting it on to his Android phone. In this case the problem was more probably the operator and not the phone.

We headed back to the FAD site to load the evening caches (GPS and smartphone) but stopped on the way up to find a couple of simple trads and a nite multi Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. This was a (very) short firetack trail that took us to a box with the final coords.

I normally use the standard geocaching app on my iPhone (usually as a complement to my Garmin GPS) but that doesn’t have the ability to load GPX files. I can see that I will have to invest 50 SEK for Cachly or 65 SEK for Looking4cache pro to get that functionailty. I also need to update the OpenStreet Map on my GPS to the latest version as the one I had didn’t show most (hardly any) of the tracks in the area around Södrastadsberget but the smartphone did of course.

After loading the night caches and warming up we set off again in the dark to find the multi FAD Sundsvall 2018 #1 – Tarzanstigen. There were other cachers out there in the dark and they had fun finding an alternative route to the cache.

Some cachers taking a short cut

We found a couple more trads before calling it a day and heading back home. I didn’t take a photo of the view over Sundsvall during daylight so I have to make do with this one in the night. Still quite a good view.

Sundsvall by night

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Last year I participated in my first Mega event which was Mega Sweden FAD 2017 as it ws not too far away from home. As I still had some frequent flyer miles to use I decided to visit WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018 as it was conveniently located less than an hours drive away from one of my brothers, and more relevantly the one that geocaches. He is half of ”zelger” and they had never participated in a mega and when I told them about my positive experience at FAD they were in.

I am not a keen myst solver and neither are they, however, we scratched our heads on the Friday evening and solved a handful of mysts. There was some lively discussion about how a myst can be listed as a letterbox/hybrid cache and even if we agreed it was stupid to give them that classification just because the CO stuck a stamp in the cache container of what is clearly a myst. It should be classed as a myst. Yes, I have read the geocaching guidelines, but I don’t need to like them. Rant over.

We started our journey mid morning and as always in England there is heavy traffic on most roads. When we got to Berkhamsted a closed road got us stuck in long queues. We finally made it and found a good spot to park on the road that passed by the night cache hub near Ringshall. Our reasoning was that there was probably going to be less traffic leaving from there than the main road in to the event site.

Even though there is no ”Allemansrätt” (free right of way) in England the woods were open for all to use and even though there are many paths we needed to leave them from time to time. As we meandered towards the event location we logged a few of the handful of mysts/letterbox hybrids we had solved including Hotter/Colder – WG2018: “Ice Cold in Ashridge!“and some of the Big G mysts such as Big G: Hanjie

Ashridge is a National Trust site where the Bridgewater Monument can be found. The main estate is popular for walking free in a forest which is not so easily done in England.

Bridgewater Monument

As we approached the event location we wondered if everything had been called off. There was a small party tent with no walls for registering at the event and for TB and geocoin exchange. There was no-one looking after that so if you were interested in trackables you just had to hang around and assume that everything there was dropped. When we were there, I was able to find nine trackables. I’m sure that if I had hung around more would have turned up. There was a stall selling a wide array of geocaching goodies and JJEF demonstrating his gadget caches of which I have found quite a few on earlier visits to England. We had a good chat.

JJEF caches

Otherwise, there were just a couple more stalls and a couple of lab caches that we didn’t bother with. We could log one lab cache and that was by pure luck. As we walked towards the event we met a guy in a green sweatshirt with a word printed on the front of it. We had no idea it was Simply Paul the main organiser. We then found that a lab cache consisted of finding Simply Paul and using the word on his sweatshirt as the key to the lab cache. Easy, peasy as a famous TV chef would say.

Not hugely impressed, we headed off to find Read The Flippin’… Yada Yada: WinterGeolympix’18. We couldn’t have missed it if we tried.

A “Large” cache

Our path then took us towards Tim & Jon’s 1st Re-Stashed (UK’s 3rd oldest/Eng#2) via The Mossy Tree which was house in an ammo can, a not too common site these days.

The Mossy Tree: Join the queue to log it.

A few years ago half of zelger and I had been in the area to find Coombe Hill, which is the oldest cache in England together with a very interesting visit to Bletchley Park, so it was great to now find England’s 2nd oldest cache.

I’m used to wandering around Sweden’s evergreen forests so it was quite a change to be walking through a forest of deciduous trees. Many of them were sweet chestnuts and there were a few people out picking them up from the ground. Roast sweet chestnuts are a delicacy.

We wandered back to the cafe and joind a long queue to get a cup of tea. The coffee was terrible by all accounts. We also took the opportunity to find a letterbox/hybrid cache Rescue This & Save the World! Winter Geolympix ’18 located indoors where we probably spent more time logging the find than was needed, but it was much warmer than outdoors.

A letterbox/hybrid in a warm location

Of course, we arrived on a dry day that gradually changed for the worse. After early afternoon drizzle we were treated to rain most of the afternoon that got heavier as dusk fell. We found our favourite cache of the day TrOll FREE in the dark as the rain turned to sleet. We headed back towards the car arriving there at 18:30 where we decided that another bunch of night caches probably wasn’t our ”cup of tea” so we left and headed back to zelgers home for a meal and a beer.

Will I visit again if the Mega is repeated? I suspect not and it had nothing to do with the weather, just that the set-up mostly based on mysts was not to my liking.

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My last visit to England was in April but I had no opportunities for geocaching. This visit was made in order to participate in GC75FTF WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018. As it is about an hours drive from where my brother lives it was a great opportunity to catch up with family and make a couple of small geocaching outings.

On Wednesday both my brothers, one with his wife and one of the daughters in tow descended on Kings Cross station for a wander around the nearby area of Clerkenwell using the CAMRA Guide to real ale pubs in London as our starting point.

As we were starting our wander at Kings Cross Station it was only natural that we should visit Platform 9 ¾. There was a long queue of Harry Potter fans waiting to have their photos taken with wand in hand. I sidestepped the queue and took my selfie from the side then moved on.

Platform 9 3/4

From here we walked north to the Regent Canal and the new gasholder apartments that have been built. The whole area was industrial wasteland for a long time but is now a super trendy and extremely expensive place to live. A penthouse apartment was on the market for £7 million!

A lock on Regent Canal


Expensive gasholder apartments

We followed the canal eastwards aiming for the first pub on our list. Along the canal bank we found Narrow Minded which both zelger (my brother and wife geocaching team) and I gave favourite points to due to it’s construction and placement. I won’t post a spolier photo.

After finding the cache GC3Y2QD Calthorpe at the gates of a small park we wandered on to the next corner and the Calthorpe Arms. Lunch was great value in this pub as was the quality of the beer.

Calthorpe Arms

From there we passed through a couple more pubs where real ale was served before walking down the pleasant street Exmoouth Market with small ethnic shops, stalls and cafes arriving via a short stop at the Exmouth Arms, at Bone House in Spa Field Park just as a police drugs bust was going on.

As zelger really enjoy multis we decided to try The Smoothe Field Mystery and spent an hour or so visiting 7 waypoints before arriving at the cache. As we were also sightseeing it was a great way to see parts of Clerkenwell that we would otherwise have missed.

For example, at step 4 we found this bed of nails and behind it a colourful wall mural. The spike were painless according to my youngest brother who tried it out.

Resting on a bed of nails

Decorative ironwork at Smithfield Market

An alien in London

Another alien in London

I found the alien mosaics fascinating and it seems that they are a very common sight in Paris but can be found all over the world. I recall seeing one on an earlier occasion but don’t remember where.

Near to the starting spot for the multi was a virtual from 2001 that we just had to visit. A Meating place for Martyrs. Yes, the spelling is correct as it is close to the Smithfield meat market.

We were now happy with our day in London and headed for the nearby Farringdon tube station to start our journey back out of London.

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Luleå, some 735 km (460 miles) north of home, was the point furthest to the north east that we visited. From here our journey took us more or less due west. If we had taken the shortest route it would have been just 240 km but we made a detour through Boden then up to Storforsen on our way making our route 325 km.

After a good hotel breakfast we set off towards Gammalbyn where we found a modern virtual cache Världsarvet Gammelstads kyrkstad and a micro at Tribute to Deo Gloria. Vi then visited friends in the nearby Sunderbyn before driving on to Boden. As I also enjoy urban exploration (UE) this is a place I could have spent a few days in as there are so many old and disused installations. However, considering the set up for the trip I had to choose just one place to visit and that was Rödbergfortet. Of course, we had to look round the town centre first, but finally got out to where the interesting things are!

No longer forbidden to be here

Entrance to Rödbergsfort

Rödbergs fort

Rödbergs fort

After the visit to the fort I found Anl. 1 followed by Point FortyNine. It doesn’t mean a thing to me but my son-in-law spent a year at I19 in Boden and he remembered it immediately.

P49

As we were approaching Älvsbyn I saw the sign to Storforsen and as it was just 42 km off our route (all distances are larger in the north of Sweden) we drove upp there. I have visited once before sometime in the eighties when I was working in Piteå. It’s impressive and also has a regular size cache there Storforsen.

Storforsen up stream

Storforsen downstream

We carried on to Arvidsjaur feeling thankful for a working A/C in the car. We had memories of our holiday in the south of Sweden in 2010 when the A/C packed in and all the workshops were closed for the Swedish summer vacation. It was as hot then as it was on our trip north this year – 25-30°C and a tough journey.

The only thing we stopped to see in Arvidsjaur was a local shop selling Same artifacts where the favourited cache Same same but different was cunningly hidden in a wooden figure outside the shop.

Our stop for the night was in Arjeplog at a hotel that was converted into a hostel. Bring your own bedding and get a full hotel breakfast for a reasonable price. Of course we had to grab a few caches, the first one being A tribute to Einar. We also visited the picturesque wooden church with a view over the lake Hornavan.

Arjeplog church

Interior of Arjeplog church

From here we started our drive homeward making a brief stop in Sorsele for a quick Park ’n’ Grab cache at SORSELEGÅRDEN.

Timber in the form of forest was just about all we saw during the day, apart from a few reindeer that insisted on occupying the road in several locations

We saw plenty of reindeer on our journey

and quite luckily, the DMU running on the Inlandsbanan which is a single trip per day in each direction.

This train full of tourists passes by once a day,

We had just stopped for coffee and a cache at Meselefors. I nearly stepped on this adder as I was about to have a bio break.

I nearly stepped on this little creature

Björn Lindströms art on a Same tent

The slightly larger community of Storuman gave us a good glimpse of The Wild Man.

The wild man in Storuman

Vildmannen as well as a short visit to the railway station for another quick Park ’n’ Grab cache.

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It’s raining today! The first time in weeks, so what better opportunity is there to catch up on my blog? The geocaching reviewer has been chasing me to either carry out some maintenance on a few my caches or archive them.

One of them (GCGQCR Söderåsen) was 50 km to the west of us at the top of a hill that, when it was placed in August 2003, had a view to the coast. Since then the trees have grown and there is no view. There are no other caches nearby so the number of visits is minimal – 81 finds in 15 years. The decision was easy – archive it.

The other cache that was 50 km away, this time to the south (GC1VZ5T Vegavallen) was easy to get to and has had nearly 300 visitors in the nine years it has been there. We were invited to friends’ wedding in Tierp, the home of Vegavallen, so it was very convenient for me to replace the cache at the same time.

The next closest cache that needed some attention was GC1W8HM Upptåget #1 – Gävle. The sign on the lampost that was the hiding place for the cache had been replaced and I guess the person who did the work threw the cache away. Anyway it was a moment’s work to place a new magnetic cache behind the new sign. Even though this is a boring micro it is one of the two remaining caches in the Upptagået series with 567 finds in nine years putting it some way behind GC1X8J6 Upptåget #13 – Uppsala which has had 923 finds in the same time.

The closest cache that needed maintenance was one of the last few caches that I have placed GC5BFZ3 Hemlingby Trail #11 – Dunk. Even though it has only been found 35 times in 30 months it has 12 favourite points. In this case the cache was in excellent condition but the tree stump it was attached to had fallen over. It’s a 20 miute walk to the cache from the car park and I needed my cordless screwdriver with me to be able to remove the cache from the now horizontal stump and move it to a nearby vertical stump. The new stump is in much better condition and in the three plus years since the cache was placed this very exposed place, which is the reason it didn’t get placed there originally, has disappeared amongst new bushes. It’s still easy to get to but not obvious from the path.

Cache placed on a new stump

I had to update the coords somewhat due to the move but that was quickly done. Now, I just need to find the motivation to get the handful of gadget caches in my garage placed out somewhere in the world. Let’s hope the rain stops soon.

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Geocaching with DS8300 by Ds8300 - 5M ago

A visit to central Italy wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Pompeii so on Wednesday we duly set off on the journey there. Firstly we took the Metro to the main Termini railway station in Rome then an Intercity train to Naples.

Intercity to Neaples

It took about 2 hours, so twice the time the high speed train takes but at about 65% of the price. Between Naples and Pompeii we took a local train. It all looked very easy when I read about it on the Man in Seat 61 site and basically is was. The Circumversuviana trains are small EMU’s that are completely graffiti covered and very basic. There were 21 stops on the 35 minute trip and I stood all the way in sweltering heat on a packed train. It was great to get off and have a cold beer before entering the ruins at Pompeii.

It was suggested that we pay €12 for a guide on top of the €15 entrance fee but we were happy to wander around on our own looking at the ruins and building our own impression of what it looked like 2000 years ago.

The first view of Pompeii

Pompeii square

Dog preserved in ashes

The visit was primarily of general interest but of course I had to find a couple of caches while we were there. It was no surprise that there was an earthcache on the site Mt.Vesuvius- Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii earthcache

but I was reaslly pleased to find a regular size traditional hidden by the theatre. What’s on stage today at the Theater of Pompeii?

Cache found at theatre in Pompeii

The local train back to Naples wasn’t quite as full as on the journey out and it didn’t stop at all stations so we were quickly back in Naples. We then had a dilemma. Should we spend some time there, including dinner, then take a train back to Rome or take the train back to Rome in time for dinner there. As mentioned there are different classes of trains running between Rome and Naples. High speed – 1 hour and €46, Intercity – 2 hours and €27 or local – 3 hours and €14. Because of the time of day and availability of trains in the coming few hours we decided to splash out and take the high speed train so we would have time for dinner in Rome. The onboard screen indicated we were travelling at speeds up to 280 kph. Not quite at the Shinkansen speeds but OK.

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