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St Paul’s Church, Shanklin

Our plans for the morning were thwarted by light drizzle, a gusting wind and a high tide.

We had intended to spend the morning revisiting a multi-cache placed just above the high water tide. But the wind and rain meant the sandy beach was narrower than we would have liked so filed the cache away for a future visit.

Instead we focussed on three town centre caches.

We drove away from the hotel, and found – after several circuits of the local roads – a parking place and headed off for our first cache. It was only 200 feet away, and we were very surprised to find when we arrived it was ON church property. We thought we could see the cache from the pavement, so we entered through the gates of St Paul’s Parish Church. Of course, what we saw from the roadside wasn’t the cache, but we did then spot a nearby piece of camouflage and delightful watertight cache container. We dropped off the Blue Lamb Proxy Geocoin here, as we weren’t sure what other size containers we would find.

Good solid container

We then walked about 1/4 of a mile passing by many a Shanklin house, and more infuriatingly a small supermarket where we could have parked without angst for an hour or two. We took a small footpath between houses and arrived at a piece of woodland. This was the Sibden Hill and Batts Copse Nature Reserve, and hidden just inside was our target. The hint was quite curious “at the base of pipe tree”.

Sibden Hill & Batts Copse

Clearly the cache was near the ground so we searched behind various trees, in roots, in fallen trees all to no avail. Then we saw a tree growing around a metallic pipe. Why the pipe was there, we don’t know, but this was the tree we needed. A small brick covered the cache, and once removed we wondered how we had not see the pipe on our initial inspection.

How did we miss this ?

Another 1/4 mile walk followed, retracing our steps in part but we soon turned off to follow the wonderfully named ‘Red Squirrel Trail’. This is a 32 mile cycleway/footpath primarily following the route of an old Isle of Wight railway. The route starts in the extreme North of the Island at Cowes, and loops round both Sandown and Shanklin in the South East. Such a long trail to follow and we walked about 300 yards!

Red Squirrel Trail


The path should have been tranquil, but waterjet-cleaning was going on in the neighbouring caravan park, which made it quite noisy. This time a hollow tree formed the host, but in our haste to bypass a large puddle we walked right by GZ !

Last cache of the day!

So three caches found, and with time ticking and a ferry waiting, we headed back to car (via the supermarket to buy some sandwiches) for the journey home.

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Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We were in Shanklin to play in a Scrabble tournament (20 games over 3 days). The tournament had finished, but our losses had continued to outnumber our wins, and neither of us won any prizes. After the prizegiving, we left the hotel just after sunset, as the light began to fade, heading for – we hoped – the final location of the Smuggler’s Path multicache, based around Shanklin Chine https://www.shanklinchine.co.uk We’d had a look along the beach at lunchtime, and had decided that the tide would be OK to make an attempt on the cache.

Passing the end of the esplanade, and the beach huts, we continued along the beach, hopping over the groynes and skirting large puddles of seawater. It was still dusk but it became much, much darker once we left the beach to scramble into woodland to our destination, an ammo box chained to a tree. We needed to undo a combination padlock to get into the box/cache. And we couldn’t manage it. We put in what we thought was the correct combination (we checked later, yes, it was OK) but we could barely see the numbers on the lock in the gloom, and we couldn’t wrestle the lock open. After a few minutes we gave up and came out onto the beach again.

It was much, much darker now, and the light had faded by the time we returned to the entrance to Shanklin Chine and climbed up to the top of the cliffs, overlooking the beach. There’s a good path along here, and we walked along the clifftop, passing the cliff lift, which is shut in February, and shut anyway at night. There’s another cache along here, and we attempted it in almost total darkness, stopping as muggles loomed out of the night, and getting well scratched by brambles, and before Mr Hg127 finally grabbed the object we were looking for.

Night caching …


We returned to our hotel, down the steps by the cliff lift, which are ‘interesting’ at night, as they aren’t well lit all the way down, and back onto the seafront for a chance to reflect upon our efforts.

Postscript: if conditions were suitable, we intended to go back to that cache we had failed to unlock. But they weren’t. Next morning, a gale was blowing, and the tide was being pushed high up the beach.

Perhaps we won’t go and get that cache this morning?


The cache has been added to our ‘caches with a good idea of the solution’ list for a future attempt: perhaps when we return next year?
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On our previous blog we mentioned that we were going to Shanklin to play in a Scrabble Tournament. (20 games over 3 days).

Shanklin Sea Front

Sadly, by Saturday lunchtime, our Scrabble losses far outweighed our wins, so we decided to break off for a few minutes and locate a simple cache just 300 feet from the hotel.

The day was fine, and the warm winter sunshine had brought people flocking to the sea-front. Our plan of a quick ‘cache and dash’ was thwarted by a family at Ground Zero.

We paused.

Admired the view.

We noticed a plethora of plaques nearby.

We read that Shanklin pier was destroyed in the Great Storm of October 1987.

Remnant of Shanklin Pier

We read that from where we stood PLUTO left the UK during WWII. (PLUTO stands for PipeLine Under The Ocean and was used to pump fuel from the UK to France to support the D-Day landings).

PLUTO left the UK here

We read that a time capsule had been placed here in 2000. Not to be opened until 2050.

Although less than 20 years ago, the year 2000 was a different place.
Most people didn’t own a home PC, even less an internet connection.
GPS technology hadn’t been turned on. (And no geocaches had been placed!)
And a mobile phone was.. just a mobile phone.

Where would you hide a cache here ?

As we reminisced (2000 was a special year for Mr and Mrs Hg137 too) GZ had become free.
We stood around – looking as innocent and nonchalant as only geocachers can – grabbed the cache, signed the log, replaced the cache in unseemly haste – and headed back to the Scrabble hotel!

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Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We were on the wonderful Isle of Wight, ready to spend a weekend playing Scrabble in Shanklin. While crossing the island, Mr Hg137 had a business appointment in Rookley, in the centre of the island. He went off to do that, while I … was turfed out into the snow to find the nearby Church Micro cache.

Rookley Methodist Church, Isle of Wight


Rookley Methodist Church is the starting point for this cache, overlooking the triangular green. This particular cache could be solved by finding seven numbers placed on various items around the green. There didn’t seem to be a best order to do this so I crunched around in the snow, gradually crossing off clues as I went. After a few minutes I’d got all the numbers except one – I just need to find the year that “Les” was born. Just then, Mr Hg137’s appointment had finished, and he joined me in a second snowy circuit of the green, spotting the remaining clue within five minutes. Of course, it was in a place I’d already looked, though clearly not hard enough; in my defence, lots of people have trouble with this specific clue.

We then worked out the coordinates … got them wrong … did them again … and set off for the location of the cache. Arriving at GZ (Ground Zero) we stared hopelessly at the object for a while, then read the hint, looked at the correct place on the object, and spotted the cache almost instantly, a nice dry container inside a rather damp camo bag.

Mondrian was here?


Success! We went back to the geocar, admired the Mondrian-inspired garage door across the road, and set off for Shanklin.

Postscript: later, we checked our tally of Church Micro (CM) cache finds. We were were really pleased to find that we had reached 100 finds. That takes us from Curate to Vicar on the awards list on the Church Micro website http://www.15ddv.me.uk/geo/cm Another small step towards sainthood for us!

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On our previous blog we mentioned that we were going to Shanklin to play in a Scrabble Tournament. (20 games over 3 days).

Shanklin Sea Front

Sadly, by Saturday lunchtime, our Scrabble losses far outweighed our wins, so we decided to break off for a few minutes and locate a simple cache just 300 feet from the hotel.

The day was fine, and the warm winter sunshine had brought people flocking to the sea-front. Our plan of a quick ‘cache and dash’ was thwarted by a family at Ground Zero.

We paused.

Admired the view.

We noticed a plethora of plaques nearby.

We read that Shanklin pier was destroyed in the Great Storm of October 1987.

Remnant of Shanklin Pier

We read that from where we stood PLUTO left the UK during WWII. (PLUTO stands for PipeLine Under The Ocean and was used to pump fuel from the UK to France to support the D-Day landings).

PLUTO left the UK here

We read that a time capsule had been placed here in 2000. Not to be opened until 2050.

Although less than 20 years ago, the year 2000 was a different place.
Most people didn’t own a home PC, even less an internet connection.
GPS technology hadn’t been turned on. (And no geocaches had been placed!)
And a mobile phone was.. just a mobile phone.

Where would you hide a cache here ?

As we reminisced (2000 was a special year for Mr and Mrs Hg137 too) GZ had become free.
We stood around – looking as innocent and nonchalant as only geocachers can – grabbed the cache, signed the log, replaced the cache in unseemly haste – and headed back to the Scrabble hotel!

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Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We were on the wonderful Isle of Wight, ready to spend a weekend playing Scrabble in Shanklin. While crossing the island, Mr Hg137 had a business appointment in Rookley, in the centre of the island. He went off to do that, while I … was turfed out into the snow to find the nearby Church Micro cache.

Rookley Methodist Church, Isle of Wight


Rookley Methodist Church is the starting point for this cache, overlooking the triangular green. This particular cache could be solved by finding seven numbers placed on various items around the green. There didn’t seem to be a best order to do this so I crunched around in the snow, gradually crossing off clues as I went. After a few minutes I’d got all the numbers except one – I just need to find the year that “Les” was born. Just then, Mr Hg137’s appointment had finished, and he joined me in a second snowy circuit of the green, spotting the remaining clue within five minutes. Of course, it was in a place I’d already looked, though clearly not hard enough; in my defence, lots of people have trouble with this specific clue.

We then worked out the coordinates … got them wrong … did them again … and set off for the location of the cache. Arriving at GZ (Ground Zero) we stared hopelessly at the object for a while, then read the hint, looked at the correct place on the object, and spotted the cache almost instantly, a nice dry container inside a rather damp camo bag.

Mondrian was here?


Success! We went back to the geocar, admired the Mondrian-inspired garage door across the road, and set off for Shanklin.

Postscript: later, we checked our tally of Church Micro (CM) cache finds. We were were really pleased to find that we had reached 100 finds. That takes us from Curate to Vicar on the awards list on the Church Micro website http://www.15ddv.me.uk/geo/cm Another small step towards sainthood for us!

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Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
While finding caches in the woods near Ottershaw, we came upon this tiny little thing:

Mr Hg137 said it couldn’t possibly be a trackable, it was too small and didn’t look right, but it had all the right words and numbers on it, so we took it home with us. Arriving back at home, I did a little research on what we’d found and what it had done in the past.

The first anomaly was that it shouldn’t have been where we found it … its last recorded location was three weeks and six miles away, in Lightwater. No matter, the last cacher who had it must have failed to record that it had been moved.

Having sorted out the ‘where’ and the ‘when’, it was on to the ‘what’. It turns out that this little scrap of laminated card is a proxy for a trackable called the ‘BlueLamb Geocoin’. The owner has chosen to send out a proxy for the trackable, rather than the original, as lots of trackables go missing (we know, it’s happened to us too). We come across theses before, though the others we’ve come across have been pictures of the original trackable. And here is what the original looks like:

The geocoin, or its representative, started off in Alabama, has travelled to all corners of the main part of the USA, then crossed the Atlantic to travel round France and Germany, and has now hopped over the English Channel where it has visited Worthing, on the south coast, before moving to the area south-west of London. We’re not sure where we will take it. Hampshire, maybe, or the Isle of Wight?

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Ottershaw is a village on the outskirts of Chertsey and Woking, just minutes away from the M25.
More importantly, from our perspective, Ottershaw is on our route home from RHS Wisley.

So, on a cold-ish Friday morning we set off for a quick visit to Wisley (we were hoping to see the big Lego exhibition – but we were a week early – doh!) and then find a few caches on the return journey.

Wisley provided us with some winter colour with snowdrops and colourful Alpines in the warm greenhouses. So, with no Lego to see, we headed off to find some caches.

We had loaded 12 caches, 8 of which were part of a series called “Eli’s Walk”.

Our first three caches, though, were not part of this series. Instead we started with a very simple church micro (no graves to find, no numbers to calculate, no waypoints to enter into the GPS). This was number 60 in the Church Micro Series – the cache was placed in March 2008. The Church itself, Christ Church, was built in the mid-19th Century and became the Parish Church for the (then) scattered villages between Woking and Chertsey. It was designed in the studio of Gilbert Scott – and his Gothic Revival style is clear to see on the Church.

Christ Church, Ottershaw

Our next two caches could be described as “Cheesy”. One was called “Say Cheese” and the other “Ottershaw Supreme”. Both were hidden just off tracks in woodland. This is a photo of one of the caches…but we recommend finding the other..just for the fun of retrieving the log!

“Who ordered the pizza?”

And so onto Eli’s Walk. We crossed the busy A320 and started the series at cache 3.

We reached a crossroads on an unmade road, the GPS pointed in one direction towards a 5-barred gate. Blocking the route was a van. We asked the driver whether there was a footpath beyond the gate, and he informed us that it was ‘just houses’. We needed another path!

We walked on slightly concerned that the GPS was still pointing away from our route and our map didn’t indicate another path. A lady dog-walker approached. We enquired how we could get to ‘Ottershaw Park’. This was the name of the track that the cache was on.

‘Ottershaw Park ?
No, you can’t go there.
That’s a private estate.
The back entrance is down there but you’re not allowed in’

We were now mightily confused.

We walked on further and looked back. Both the van driver and dog walker had disappeared. We decided to investigate the track that no-one wanted us to walk along.

Ottershaw Chase


As we did so, we saw a swing gate and noticeboard side onto the path. This reassured us, as, to our limited knowledge, not many private estates have such features. In fact there were no houses to see! The noticeboard stated we were in ‘Ottershaw Chase’ not ‘Ottershaw Park’ which was the name shown on the geocaching map.

We were in woodland! And the cache was only 300 feet away!

Our GPS wobbled. A lot. We searched 3 trees before laying claim to our fourth find of the day, a small Tupperware container.

We walked on, accompanied by the sound of woodpeckers thrumming bark, and magpies swooping in and out of branches. An occasional squirrel scampered up a tree as we approached.

As we arrived at our next cache (number 5 in the series) we finally understood the dog-walker’s words. There WAS a private estate of houses, and we couldn’t enter. Nearby though was a cache hidden under a log pile. The GPS was out about 40 feet here, and we walked past the log-pile before widening our search area.

We paused for lunch. It had been a long morning. And a nearby, super-large, stile was just big enough for both of us to sit on without encroaching upon the private housing estate of Ottershaw Park.

We decided at lunch to use this stile as our furthest point of the day. We would have two more caches to find as we returned to the car, and it would leave 5 Ottershaw caches to find when we next visited Wisley.

Our penultimate cache was ‘magnetic’. For some reason we conjectured about the type of magnetic container before we arrived, and of course guessed wrong. Our search was hindered by a Southern Water Van parked nearby with its driver watching us as he chomped on his lunchtime sandwiches. We searched gates, fences, several padlocks, a nearby Southern Water building, more gates, drain covers… all to no avail. Then on our third search of a particular area we found the cache. Very well camouflaged, yet hidden in plain sight.

“Base of tree” – sigh.


Our final cache, like many others, seemed to be a little-bit-out GPS-wise. The hint ‘base of tree’ didn’t help much as we were on the edge of woodland with trees surrounding us. As we searched a number of light aircraft were landing and taking off from the nearby Brooklands Airfield, causing us to look up periodically rather than looking down for caches. After our tenth failed tree search, we saw the host, and the cache neatly hidden.

So, after a slightly false visit to Wisley we found 7 caches out of 7 and left ourselves some more caches to find on another visit!

Here are a couple of the caches we found :

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Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The first Saturday of 2019 seemed a good time to get out for a walk and some geocaching to counteract the eating excesses of Christmas. As the days were still short, we chose somewhere local (ish), Weston Patrick in Hampshire. We have walked around here before (the Three Castles Path), also cached around here (the Westeros and GOT series). It’s good walking country around here, undulating and rural with woods and tiny villages.

To summarise the route: it’s a great walk of just over five miles along tracks and paths, none of it on roads, starting and finishing at the hamlet of Weston Patrick. There’s a gentle climb over the first half, and a similar descent over the second half. There’s quite a bit of woodland, a nature reserve at Closedown Wood, and, a surprise for us, a gas storage facility tucked away at Humbly Grove https://www.humblyenergy.co.uk There are 24 caches, some easy, some quite hard to find, and a mixture of hides.

Parking in a tiny lay-by, we set off along the WP Country Loop cache series. A track climbed gently away from the road. It was quiet, save for the sound of a distant (pheasant?) shoot. There were caches spaced along the route, so we paused at intervals to search for them. Our searches fell into two categories, which seemed to alternate:
• One: an almost instant find, signing the log, and satisfaction.
• Two: a long, cold search, checking everything at least three times, then finding the cache in an already-searched spot when on the point of giving up, and creeping despair.
A third category crept in a couple of times:
• Three: a long, long, long, cold search, checking everything many times, then not finding the cache, giving up, and despair.


There was a variety of caches to keep our interest and tax our finding skills, and it was great to be out in the open air, but it was grey and dank, with a cool breeze, and the cold gradually seeped in during our category Two (eventually successful) and category Three (never successful) searches. After thirteen caches and eleven finds over about two and a half hours, we decided to head back to the car, leaving us with the second half of the series to complete on another, warmer day. We walked speedily down the hill (we didn’t get any warmer!), not stopping to look for more caches, then diverted very slightly to get a final cache for the day, the Church Micro (CM) at Weston Patrick https://uptongreychurch.co.uk/the-churches/weston-patrick We huddled in the porch to eat our lunch (we didn’t get any warmer!) then found the information we needed to search for the cache. It’s on a memorial just outside the churchyard, which marks a sad wartime event – a Spitfire was being delivered to RAF Tangmere, near Chichester, but crashed near the village.

From there it was a short walk back to the car, a chance to sit and have a warm cup of coffee – or two – before we headed home.

Here are some of the caches we found:

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This trackable – found in our cache during a maintenance visit – is named after an area of France in the Champagne region, and wishes to visit lots of countries. So far, since June 2017 it has visited France, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Spain (Canary Islands), Ecuador, Canada and Britain. It has travelled over 47,000 miles and visited nearly 2400 caches… not bad for 18 months travelling!

Many of those caches were accrued in undertaking a large series that the trackable is named after ‘Le Pays du Der’. This is a series of 1300 caches (predominantly drive-bys) set out as a series of figures of eights centred around Longeville-sur-la-Laines.
The series seems to be a ‘rite of passage’ and reading some of the logs, cachers come from all over Europe to undertake the full 1300 caches in 3-5 days ! Phew!

We don’t have such large series in this country, but we will try to place the trackable in a series rather than an isolated cache miles from nowhere!

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