Due to the need to acquire various pictures on my geocaching profile, I headed out to South Shields today to grab two caches that would fulfil all of the requirements of the Road Trip and bag me no fewer than 5 souvenirs! Not a bad haul for two caches!
I solved the puzzle cache The 55th Parallel (GCNZDG) the internet way yesterday afternoon, and headed out to grab it this afternoon. I took the bus towards South Shields. Along the way a wasp got on the bus (without a ticket) and caused plenty of chaos. Happily I avoided most of it and got off near the final location sting-free, past a lovely rowan tree.
Once I followed my GPS, the cache was quickly discovered, signed and put away. As I wasn’t sure if my coordinates were correct, I was very pleased to be able to locate the cache so quickly. This cache earned me the three souvenirs below.
“A Souvenir by:Geocaching HQ. Additional Information:Favorite Points are a geocacher’s way of figuring out which geocaches are the best of the best. You earned this souvenir during the Geocaching Road Trip ‘15 by finding a geocache with 10 or more Favorite Points.”
“A Souvenir by:Geocaching HQ. Additional Information:Sometimes you just have to get your adrenaline flowing or your mind racing—and what better way to do that than with a geocache? You earned this souvenir during the Geocaching Road Trip ‘15 by finding a Terrain 5 or Difficulty 5 geocache.”
“A Souvenir by:Geocaching HQ. Additional Information: It takes determination and brain power to conquer most Mystery Caches. Way to power through and make the find! You earned this souvenir during the Geocaching Road Trip ‘15 by finding a Mystery Cache.”
I walked along Ocean Road past the fair and up along the leas towards the earthcache Frenchman’s Bay (GC1XQHD). The view from the leas is often spectacular, and Frenchman’s bay is no exception with its perfect sandy beach, now inaccessible to people.
This cache brought me the last two souvenirs below.
“A Souvenir by:Geocaching HQ. Additional Information:The geocaching game board, a.k.a. the Earth, is pretty awesome. Good job learning about it or for cleaning it up! You earned this souvenir during the Geocaching Road Trip ‘15 by finding an EarthCache or attending a CITO event.”
“A Souvenir by:Geocaching HQ. Additional Information:You did it! Way to go! Thanks for being a part of this amazing geocaching journey. You earned this souvenir during the Geocaching Road Trip ‘15 by earning all five of the other souvenirs.”
Without really meaning to, I have taken a very minimalistic approach to this challenge, and completed it in only 3 caches. I’m not sure if it would be possible to do it in any fewer.
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…
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!