After a gloriously lazy morning finishing off my book, it was time to geocache!
The weather was absolutely horrible! So why cache today? 15 years ago to the day, Geocaching was born! As such, there was a new souvenir to collect on Geocaching.com, and who can resist a new .jpg for their profile?
Terri and I headed out to pick up some local caches that have sprung up over the winter. We started off with Attention Defici… oooooh shiny (GC5PJNQ), which is nearby the National Glass Centre. When we got to the parking place we were surprised to see this:
HMS Ocean is staying in Sunderland this weekend. It’s a really huge boat. We walked up onto the glass roof of the centre to get a better look. This is the weird view you get up on the roof – the gift shop many floors below.
Terri hoped that these designs weren’t covering up the cracks!
Back to the geocaching though. We found the cache near the Red House, a sculpture nearby the National Glass Centre.
Quite a view from the living room.
After a short drive up in the hideous weather, we ended up on top of the cliffs at Roker. The picture below doesn’t do justice to the wind and rain we were enduring by this point! Traditional Bank Holiday weather.
Next up, Top Bombing (GC5NM3R). Continuing the military theme we headed for a multicache set near an old Sea Mine.
We solved the clues from the nearby information board, and ran along the clifftops to the final location to keep warm. The elements didn’t want us outside today. Once we got to the final location, we quickly hunted out the cache and signed the log.
On the way back to the car, I picked up Church Micro 6343…Roker (GC5CCZ7) – which Terri had already found. Still freezing, we ran back to the car.
From one church micro to another, the next one on the list today was Church Micro 7369…Whitburn (GC5NA9Y). In our own traditional style we headed straight for the church in Whitburn. Except it was the wrong church. Whoops. Still a nice church though.
Nearby Whitburn Parish Church is this other red house The Red Cottage, which has cricket-themed decorations.
Anyway, we were in exactly the wrong place for the church micro. We walked back through the village towards W.M.#62 We Shall remember them ~ Whitburn (GC5NEB8). The War Memorials series is a relatively new one, and you complete them by reading information on the monuments which reveals the final location of the caches. The church micro series has really taken off, with at least 7000 in the UK. I wonder if the W.M. Series will do the same.
Before going to the final location for this cache, we went to the Methodist Church in Whitburn (the correct location this time) but were unable to unearth the cache. We had similar luck with the final location of the war memorial cache. We should have quit while we were ahead!
At the end of the adventure, we were left with a couple of new DNFs in the area as well as our finds – it’s been a while since we’ve had some local DNFs to grab! The souvenir unlocked itself and presented us with a new mission of finding various types of cache on various days throughout the summer. I wonder if we’ll manage it!
Jon had mentioned that parts of Cornwall look like the Moon from above, and sure enough if you look at satellite images, you can see vast expanses of white with the odd bright blue/teal lake scattered around. Who would turn down a trip to the Moon?
I can’t take credit for the first picture below – it has been borrowed from Wikipedia – click on the picture to go to the article about St Dennis. This image shows St Dennis parish church in the centre on a hill, surrounded by trees. You can also see the modern houses of the village of St Dennis. The two pointed hills near the top right of the image, and the strangely coloured lake, are the result of china clay mining in the area, which supported the village.
I’m getting ahead of myself. We started the day not on the moon, but on top of the hill by St Dennis Parish church, pictured below. We walked around the church yard and Jon spotted a headstone dedicated to a Mr Kent – a clue for a geocache but we couldn’t find the cache itself. The hill provided a fantastic view of the area.
We came down from the church and parked in the village. It was fairly quiet – let’s just say it is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. We headed off up the path towards the two big heaps. It wasn’t far into the climb before my boots were smeared with plenty of wet white clay. We dodged the biggest puddles and somehow avoided most of the mud to discover this alien landscape. The weather was quite changeable and damp, and the strange light led to some quite unearthly colours.
As we walked around the lake there was another fruitless geocache search, and we met a nice dog who quickly detected where we’d stored our sandwiches. The odd works vehicle rumbled by on the road. The hill below looks a bit less moonlike, but still far too pointy!
Elsewhere on the tops we came across some rare Cornish Mangroves, complete with water lillies. You can see a pointy hill in the background too. I’m really not sure what exactly the landscape is going for here. I think it has just picked all of its favourite things and combined them.
We came out of the other side of the moonscape onto a road, and walked alongside it when what should appear but a geocache! Water Hole (GC4FFK0) was a nano cache right on our walking route, and didn’t take too long to fish out.
We eventually ended up back in civilisation – can you spot the Cornish flag?
Next up was the village of Roche – pronounced to rhyme with coach. I thought that it seemed like quite a French name for a place in Cornwall, especially if that place had a big rock in it. So why did we go to Roche? There’s a very cool big rock there. And on top of the rock, there is a ruined chapel.
A very muddy path led up to the base of the rock, and we avoided most of the puddles again to get to the foot of this ladder. We climbed right up to the top for a lovely view of… well, Roche.
Jon bravely ventured outside of the chapel walls on the top, but I stayed by a doorway and tried not to think about the wind and the drop… It’s a very dramatic place to put a building, and was made even more so by the wind and drizzle.
Terri noticed a cluster of caches on her map, so we made a date for a day of caching and set off for Barnes Park in Sunderland.
We started off at the beginning of the Barnes Park Walk series. This series has a mystery cache (GC3X7QB) at the end of it, and in order to find it you have to take down some details from each log. We started by heading for the first one Barnes Park Walk #1 – Is Jack Watching You? (GC3NTJ8) which was a quick find for us. We photographed the clue and got straight onto the next one.
Walking along the top path, we began to realise that the park is actually on quite a steep slope and at some stage we were going to hike back up to the car! Though the slope did give us plenty of nice views.
We carried on to Barnes Park Walk #2 – Trees R Us (GC3X7KW). This one took a while longer, but we spotted it as we were low to the ground, sneakily hiding under a bush. This is perhaps a temporary container, but the log was still intact and once again we signed the log and photographed the clue to the mystery cache.
Next up: Barnes Park Walk #3 – Penny for your Thoughts (GC3X7MK) which was also unearthed quickly! We were on something of a speed run by this point! So speedy were we that we forgot to note down the puzzle clue… not that we realised that until much later.
As we were near a gate and there were three other caches fairly nearby, we decided to extend the walk and struck out for some other nearby caches, starting with Electricity (GC4W20V) which has a funny hint which made us giggle. There was something cute about the container too!
We walked on towards the next cache, The Railey (GC4YRHN), past some wall-based philosophy…
Where could it be?
We eventually found it tucked away amongst some foliage in a very nice convenient spot. Onto the next one, The Blue Signpost (GC4WA6G), which was a slightly longer walk away. We realised that we had found 5 caches in under and hour, and really fancied squeezing in a 6th! Happily we got there with a few minutes to spare and found it quickly. Terri executed a manoeuvre and we signed it and replaced it.
We had a quick sit-down lunch at the carvery and rehydrated. Well rested and restored, it was back to the park to finish off the walk. We got to Barnes Park Walk #4 – The Ivy (GC3X7NB) was fairly quickly found, though we did find a different bit of string in a different bit of ivy before getting our hands on this one. Always be suspicious of string in foliage…
This corner of the park was absolutely lovely, with a fairly new “sensory garden” with tickly grasses and fragrant plants. You can see a special stone on the right hand side of the picture below, which will resonate when you hum into it on the right note. We had lots of fun searching for it!
There was also a stone glockenspiel! How often do you get to have a go with a giant one of these?
A walk through the park past the lake took us towards the next cache, Barnes Park Walk #5 – Ribbit Ribbit (GC3X7NX), located in some bushes.
We found this brilliantly-shaped cache amongst the undergrowth after a search. We hadn’t DNFd a single cache all day and were feeling pretty good…until… Barnes Park Walk #6 – Tree Shephard (GC3QED2) which eluded us entirely for 45 minutes! We didn’t get anywhere at all with it, and fared no better with Barnes Park Walk #7 – Buzz Bee (GC3X7PF), placed near the exit to the park. It was at this point that we decided to sit down and work out the coordinates for the bonus mystery cache. Trouble was, we had forgotten to note down the letters and numbers that we needed on the logs. Oh well, back around we went!
After we’d finished feeling silly, we plugged in the numbers and went off to the coordinates of the bonus cache. We got it!
We were very pleased with ourselves. We’re so used to urban caching and finding nanos and micros (which are lovely in their own way, of course) it was really cool to find a cache that was so huge! After wrestling the can open and signing the log we went back to the car for a swift relocation to the next cache, JMC Remembered #3 (GC2VDDD). A cache placed as a memorial.
After a break in the house which included minty magnums and fridge poetry, we got back on the road again and headed for the River Wear, which has a few caches along its southern bank. The first cache here, Pottery Lane End (GC4826F) which was down this pretty path.
After I did a little bit of nettle-battling and spotted the “has to be the right place” spot, Terri was nominated as the tall person to reach up to this one.
The path along the river made for a very pleasant walk.
We went to the end of the path, encountering a few fishermen and boat enthusiasts. Terri soon had her hands on Claxheugh Rock Boat House (GC4804P).
We debated about going further along the river for the next one, Rock House Farm (GC3R7HG), but decided to drive there and park a bit closer, as it looked like it was going to be on top of the cliff. As you can see from the picture below, we were right!
As you can tell, the sun was hinting at setting by the time we got here.
Back to the car, and we headed for some more urban caches. Terri had found this one, Exchange (GC417V1) before, but it was a simple pick up for me too. A cool handmade container.
That was a quick one, and as we realised we were smashing our PBs for the number of caches found in a day, we powered on to Halford’s of all places, to pick up another bison tube, Retail Returns (GC3X4M8) which needed Terri’s longer fingers to grab!
We were beginning to tire by this stage, but our final cache of the day, Spooky School (GC57KZQ) wasn’t far away. This disguised cache blended in well with the surroundings, an would have taken us longer if we hadn’t seen a similar one recently. The old school was indeed very spooky – abandoned buildings always have that feeling about them. At one point a fire engine screamed by and we both jumped!
After 16 caches + 2 DNFs, we were well and truly worn out. What a brilliant day out! Next adventure: Holy Island…
Having completed the hideous task of clothes shopping early, Terri and I squeezed in a few caches. There were five different caches all pretty close together. The first was Make Mine A Half (GC33KXH) which was a very quick find for us – a micro squeezed into a bus shelter window with a view of the Tyne.
The next cache was Trow Quarry – Near a Pew, Enjoy the View 1 (GC3NXTM), a cache by the same person as the tricky cache from my previous post. This one was a homemade disco cache, hidden in a nook near a set of benches. We sat on top of a rock and enjoyed the view for a bit before moving on.
The next cache, Yuck to Green (GC4P95E) took us up to the top of Trow Quarry, to search for a “Brian”. I absolutely loved this homemade disco cache, which was very well adapted to its environment. It would be hard to say more without giving it away! Fans of 60s kids’ TV programmes would possibly have understood what they were looking for a lot quicker than we did, as we wandered about saying “Brian” and trying to come up with famous ones. Once found and logged, we headed out across the fields.
Though we had a bit of a walk to the next site for Less than Half a Mile to Go (GC3NXTC), we knew what we were looking for, having found one of this cache owner’s caches previously. Terri grabbed it almost straight away and we signed it quickly. I really like this type of cache, and always appreciate hidden in plain sight ones like this one.
The musical railings made for great entertainment for our little walk back towards the car.
Our final cache of the day, Rattler (GC2B06C) which was a tribute to the old railway line which used to run alongside all the industry, moving raw materials out of the area. I had had no idea that there was a railway along the coast in the past, but this little piece of evidence still remains.
We managed to rack up these five caches in just over an hour! Can you imagine what we could have achieved in a full day? Probably, if you know your five times table…
Terri was in need of ice cream and I reluctantly agreed to put myself out for the sake of our friendship. We enjoyed a Minchella’s in the sun and once there was no ice cream left, our thoughts turned to a very nearby geocache (GC3NXTP).
Suitably energised, we headed to the cache site. Somehow I put my hand on it straight away this time, after at least 4 previous attempts. We found that we had no pen, so dashed to the cafe quickly to sign it and bring it back. Once we rounded the corner, we saw two more people checking in between the wooden slats… Geocachers!
It was really nice to meet fellow cachers on the hunt!
A visit from Matthew (an out-of-towner) necessitated a tour of Newcastle taking in the sights, and the Newcastle Invasion geocache (GC3Y1AF) fitted the bill perfectly. This cache is a multi-cache, which means there are lots of intermediate stages before the coordinates of the final cache are revealed. We had a lot of fun going around the various sights, finding mosaic aliens all over the city. One of the aliens evaded us, and we missed another one in the Baltic by accidentally waiting too late so it closed – despite having gone into the Baltic and played in the lift earlier in the day!
We didn’t have quite enough information on the first day to complete the cache, so the next morning we had another go at the one we’d missed in the town centre. It was completely obvious where the alien was! No idea how we missed it… We plugged the answers into the clue given, and came up with a set of viable coordinates. These led us to a lovely little spot where we quickly grabbed the cache and signed it. I really enjoyed this one! We headed down to the quayside to watch the bridge tilt and popped into the Baltic to photograph the alien we’d missed…just for the sake of completeness.
We also revisited another cache in the centre of town, Meet Under the Clock (GC235X2). I’ve had a few goes at this, but this time a clue from a previous log gave me the prod I needed to look closer at something.
I showed Matthew the site of a cache I’d found before, Eldon Square from … New to Old (GC4T967). Which is a brilliant hidden-in-plain-sight cache. He found it very quickly – three in one day isn’t a bad start!
For the first time since my first Geocaching adventure, this cache search began after the sub disappeared – the only time Terri and I could get together yesterday! We headed to Whitburn Bomber (GC30THF), conveniently close to parking as Terri was still limping a bit! Nonetheless, we donned waterproofs and big boots and headed through the soaking field under the cover of duskness. This cache was a very quick find indeed, mainly due to the low number of choices to hide it! My catcher’s instinct seems to be starting to develop. We signed the log and moved on.
Flushed with success, we walked South towards Tyne Ferry 5 3/4 (GC4D5E4). After negotiating some long grass we searched all over the sign before getting our hands on the cache. As we signed the log, we enjoyed Seaburn’s lights and the view back over the beach.