Cockrobbinn joined me earlier in the week on the Isle of Wight and I realized we would have some time for geocaching not having done hardly any over the last couple of months; beach bums that we are if the sun is out and we have had some wonderful weather. On checking the app I noticed that on Wednesday 26th August it would be the very first anniversary of when we started caching by finding A Stone’s Throw from Salvation at about 2pm. I also noted that our total of finds stood at 357, almost equivalent to one per day!
We don’t normally number crunch but it seemed too good an opportunity to miss and surely we could find 8 caches before the deadline; we had some of Tuesday and up to 2pm on Wednesday to genuinely get 365 within the year. One thing we hadn’t bargained on though was our wonderful British weather. Tuesday and Wednesday decided to be the wettest days imaginable; I think the expression is “stair-rods from heaven”. Out the window went my plans to complete a nice little circuit of 8 plus a bonus at Chillerton called The Ridge – along the Shepherd’s Trail where the views are supposed to be magnificent and cover half the Island. I could just imagine the water rushing in torrents down the steep climbs and the mud; it’s not called The Ridge for nothing and I doubted we would see more than a few metres in front of us in that rain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually complaining about our weather as I think we have had a superb summer with July being the hottest on record, and very little rain all year.
Deciding to find more urban caches which wouldn’t involve five mile hikes across fields and ridges, we spotted a very recently placed cache local to us called Up and Over TB Hotel where we managed to park our Geocar within a very short distance and locate the cache whilst sheltering underneath Cockrobbinn’s massive umbrella (the one he forgot to return to his office when he retired!!). As an added bonus we retrieved Ajay Bains travel bug which we will help on his journey. I have to admit I had no idea who Ajay Bains was until I read about him online as being the train driver and biker from the Postman Pat series. He wants to be photographed with a bike and as it is the invasion of motor scooters (about 5000) on the I o W this bank holiday weekend, he might be lucky and get his wish!
As we had previously found most of the very local caches, we headed off to Ryde to find Ryde Hide which was all of 7km away (nowhere is very far on the Island!). This took us to the little back streets of the town, through a tall narrow gate and up a winding pathway into St John Wood which lays between East Hill and West Hill Road. The overhanging trees sheltered us from the worst of the rain but the footpaths were quite muddy. However, we found the cache – a small box containing the log book and a few bits and pieces to swap – quite easily although a muggle did look at us very strangely as we were off the pathway scrabbling around in the bushes at the time in the pouring rain. I bet he wondered what on earth we were doing.
We headed out of Ryde towards Fishbourne where we knew there were two caches which we hadn’t yet found, namely Jelly & Icecream and Quarr Blimey. Jelly and Icecream was hidden in a small residential area off the main road towards Quarr Abbey – somewhere we hadn’t visited before (the residential area, not the Abbey). It was also what is known as a ‘cache and dash’ meaning that we could park the car, find the cache and leave quickly which suited us perfectly considering the weather. I did wonder about the title of the cache until we realized that it was hidden in Jellicoe Road, hence the name. A nice little magnetic number hidden at the end of the road.
For years I had been pronouncing Quarr Abbey as Cwarr Abbey until someone pointed out that it is in fact pronounced ‘Core’. I therefore really love the name of this cache “Cor’ Blimey” or Quarr Blimey as it is written. If I had read the description right, we could have driven almost up to the cache, but being me, I saw the point on the map and decided that we could approach it by shooting off the main road, up Church Road and then left into Quarr Road. Needless-to-say, we couldn’t drive all the way along Quarr Road as there was a bloody gate in the way and it was padlocked!! We pulled up near the gate only to be told by a lovely lady out for a stroll that she didn’t really recommend we park there as the owner of the house was also the owner of the hovercraft and he didn’t take too kindly to cars near his property !!!! I did a nice bit of reversing and parked in a private road (where the lady lived) and off we set on foot. Thankfully it had finally stopped raining by this time. To be honest, I really should learn to look at maps more carefully. It quite clearly shows that Quarr Road turns into a wide footpath halfway along (it doesn’t show the gate though) then resumes into a small road nearer to Quarr Abbey.
It was a glorious walk, especially as the sun tried fitfully to break through the clouds. We eventually passed the old ruins of the original Abbey and Quarr Abbey House. I absolutely love the front door of this old house which is still in use.
Not too much further along we came across ground zero for the cache and although it had been raining heavily, the ground underfoot wasn’t too soggy even though we had to scramble through undergrowth into a small area of woodland. After a short search we came across a well-sealed bag containing the logbook and numerous bits and pieces to swap. The bag had a small Eiffel Tower attached to it although I’m not sure what significance that had to the cache or the area (perhaps I’m being thick).
We retraced our steps hoping to find our Geocar still safe and sound and not clamped or worse, towed away. I think the highlight of our walk back was recognizing the house built in 2010 and featured on Grand Designs; a series I love watching on TV. It actually looked smaller than I remembered from the programme but truly magnificent in a lovely setting.
By now Cockrobbinn was chomping at the bit as it was getting near his feeding time so we headed home; four caches found – four still to find but we still had Wednesday morning before our official year was up.
bright and sunny grey, wet and windy but one thing I am is determined when I set my mind to something so the weather was not a problem (not sure Cockrobbinn is quite so eager sometimes). We decided to head in the opposite direction towards County Bridge which could be found inbetween Sandown and Shanklin. I was getting very adept at parking in naughty places and we just slotted in on a double yellow line as I didn’t think any traffic wardens would be out in the awful weather!! County Bridge soon located; appropriate hairpin bend found on it but the place was dreadful, smelly and quite disgusting with rubbish and debris everywhere. Previous logs indicated that the cachers had seen the container but been unable to touch it but I didn’t feel happy guessing at which one it was so our first of the day was a DNF. Gutted…………
On to Shanklin where we parked in the old part of the town, this time officially in the carpark. We set off to find Nostalgia: M&As Golden Wedding Anniversary. Quite appropriate really as I have never been quite so close to divorcing Cockrobbinn as when we found this cache. It was quite a long walk from the car on probably the wettest August day we have ever had; the description of the cache rubbing it in rather by telling us to enjoy the wonderful views of the bay but we couldn’t even see a few feet in front of us. I’ve forgotten to mention that on this trip I was using the GPS on my iPhone and Cockrobbinn was following carrying our Geobag which contains everything we need for caching. Overjoyed to find the cache quite quickly once we reached GZ, my pleasure soon turned to incredulity when it was discovered that Cockrobbinn had forgotten to bring along the bag so we had no pen to sign the log. I sat on a wooden bench in the pouring rain whilst Cockrobbinn ‘ran’ back to the car (about 1km away) to retrieve the bag. My apologies to F-eline who happened upon us as I was signing the log as I was incapable of speech at that time and I just handed the log over and showed where the cache was hidden so they could also sign it and replace it. What a start to the day – one DNF and one found but no pen…..
Onwards and upwards as they say…………. another in the Nostalgia series was next on our list – Random Hyde. Again my map reading skills let me down (I do admit I am not perfect) as I decided that we could approach this cache down a little lane which was more of a footpath meant for walking than for cars. At least a mile long and looking like a river in full flood in parts, I could have done with my old landrover but we managed to reach the end and parked almost indecently quickly in the caravan park (in someone’s car parking spot) which is known as either Lower or Upper Hyde (I’m never sure which). Reading the directions it seemed that the cache was hidden along the ‘footpath’ we had just driven down and it didn’t take long to backtrack and locate it amongst the trees. Despite the rain, this was a lovely cache – well hidden and perfectly dry. Two down – two to go!
The next cache on our list was further inland and as the name suggests – Sandford Fill Up – was located near a petrol station which thankfully had public conveniences; very public as the door didn’t close! I don’t mind nipping behind a bush or a tree but it was rather wet and rainy and I was already damp enough. My trainers squelched with every step! A very quick find, nicely hidden and soon signed. Three down and just one more to find.
We headed towards Godshill to find Troll Bridge Godshill as the cache was supposed to be located just inside ancient woodlands so not too far to walk (or wade as the case may be). I managed to park very close – so close to the ancient wall that Cockrobbinn had to clamber over the gear knob to get out the driver’s side. A short walk into the woodland led us to the prettiest stone bridge I have seen in a long time (a raging torrent underneath) BUT we couldn’t find the cache. On checking the previous logs, the cache hadn’t been found since May and the previous cacher had requested maintenance so I don’t think it was there. Another DNF so still one to find. I think Cockrobbinn was feeling a bit despondent by this time.
Determined to succeed I spotted Ramsdown Ramble #1 wasn’t too far away and it was also located in the grounds of a pub. We could either drown our sorrows or celebrate as the case may be; I think both of us had almost had enough with the weather being so bad. Thankfully we drove into the pub car park and within a few minutes found a camo bag hanging in a holly tree. Over the moon, we signed the log and headed into the pub for a well-earned drink and something to eat. It was lunchtime and we had managed to find our 365th cache before the 2pm deadline I had set.
We completed our 365th cache on Wednesday, 26th August exactly one year after starting Geocaching.
Our thanks have to go to Tarzan and Cheetah for introducing us to this wonderful hobby, also to Mr. and Mrs. hg137 (Sandhurstgeocachers) who showed us their blog and got us interested in blogging. A big thank you to all the wonderful geo-friends we have made mainly online but also the few we have met in the field and for the help and support we have received. Hopefully we will meet many more in the years to come.