Our finds stood at 298 and I was looking forward to reaching the 300 milestone. Saturday afternoon found us with a little time to spare and I had spotted a short series of caches very local to us along Cove Brook, which started – or to be more correct, ended not far from our grand-daughter’s school in Hawley, Hampshire – just over two miles away. Seemed perfect so off we set and parked in a quiet road right by the bridge over Cove Brook and very close to #8.
We were just a few meters from the bridge and could see a really lovely pathway going along side the brook on the other side of the road but that was heading towards #7. The problem was, there was no sign of a path leading towards #8 and the only place it could be was completely covered in stinging nettles so we decided to head for Cove Brook #7 and have another look for #8 when we returned to the car.
Cove Brook is a lovely little stream rising in Farnborough Airport and running for two miles before it joins the Blackwater River near the M3 – we never knew it existed. The pathway was quite wide; trimmed grass verges and lovely and dry underfoot with dense undergrowth each side. We came upon GZ quite quickly and the clue led us straight to the telegraph pole nestling deep within the undergrowth which unfortunately included very tall stinging nettles. We gamely poked and prodded the undergrowth but when I read the previous log I was ready to move on as they mentioned how difficult it was to retrieve the cache because of the overgrown foliage. However, Cockrobbinn was not to be outdone and stretched in and managed to reach the small plastic cache box. Hooray. That took our total up to 299.
Just one more…………..
Carrying along the footpath we passed underneath the M3; one of those concrete slab bridges which don’t look too pretty but do the job. We passed a lovely watering spot where a black lab and a cocker spaniel were enjoying a swim then came across some deeper undergrowth in which we found GZ of Cove Brook #6. Our 300th find was nestling between the trunk and a branch of a large tree hidden deep in the bush.
There doesn’t appear to be a #5 for this series so we walked on in the direction of Cove Brook #4 still following the lovely little stream. Although we were in quite a built-up area, this quiet stretch of brook was really pleasant except for one thing – there was dog mess everywhere. We encountered the dreaded stuff as soon as we got onto the footpath; it was on both sides of the path, on the grass verge, on the path itself, in poop bags chucked into the undergrowth – absolutely everywhere. I love dogs; have had dogs for much of my life, but I cannot understand how people can allow such dreadful fouling of a public footpath. It is such a terrible shame. It’s not the poor dog’s fault but the lazy, self-centered owners who cannot be bothered to clear up after their animals. They should be hung, drawn and quartered as far as I’m concerned! I am very rarely a negative person but during this walk I got quite despondent; I couldn’t even sit down on the grass to sign the log books it was so bad. Rant over………….
Leaving the dog mess aside, it was a lovely walk on a warm sunny day. All along the brook were massive weeping willow trees and the compass on my iPhone was pointing straight ahead. Everything looked great until about 20m from GZ my signal started to do a right-hand turn and I could feel a sort of sinking feeling in my stomach. Oh dear, whoops, about-turn! We were on the wrong side of the brook and it was quite deep at this point. We debated about carrying on and looking for a bridge or turning back as we knew we had passed one some way back, so we decided to retread our steps in case there wasn’t one ahead. It didn’t take too long to get back to the bridge and soon we were on our way – this time on the correct side of the brook.
At last we came upon GZ for Cove Brook #4 which was exactly opposite where we had reached on the other side of the brook. The cache was very craftily hidden behind an old tree stump deep in the undergrowth and inside was a Mystery Geocoin.
This coin had started its travels in Ireland and its mission was to reach London and return to Ballymena, Northern Ireland. We knew we would not be going closer to London in the near future so we left the coin in the hope that another cacher could help it on its journey.
Numbers 3 and 2 of this series, like number 5, did not show on the map and so we decided to head back to the car and find #1 and #0 at a later date. To be honest, I was so fed up with the dog mess I really wanted to go home and put our trainers in the washing machine. It’s not fun having to look on the ground all the time in case you step into something nasty. Funny really, I don’t mind cow pats or horse dung or even sheep droppings (not that I particularly want to step into them) but dog mess is really ‘shitty’.
Arriving back at the bridge we decided to try and find the path leading to Cove Brook #8 which had alluded us at the beginning of our walk. We literally walked all around the houses but there was no way through the gardens so we attempted to push our way through the stinging nettles at the side of the brook. I was wearing cut-offs so didn’t get very far. Cockrobbinn made it a bit further than me but even he had to give up within a few meters as the nettles were stinging through his jeans and they were waist high – not a good place to be stung !! Looking at the activity on the log, this cache hasn’t been found since February and probably won’t be until the nettles die down unless someone is wearing cast-iron underpants. Also, last June other cachers had to give up due to the overgrown pathway so at least we are not on our own. We’ve made a note to try again later in the year.
We reached our 300th find on 6th June 2015.