Sunday, 16 June 2013

Chesham in the rain/sun/thunder/rain....aka British Summer

Madcats with the cache
I met up with my bestie yesterday for a spot of lunch, a lot of chatting and, of course, some geocaching too.

We tend to opt for halfway (or thereabouts) locations to meet and this time we went for Chesham.  What a place!  If you look a that map on geocaching.com for the area, you are absolutely spoiled for choice. Talk about a cache-rich location.

I had downloaded a PQ ready and G had put the caches onto her iPhone too.  We had decided before heading out to do the Ashley Green series.

Finding a pub we could meet at, we opted for The Black Horse on Chesham Vale. Somewhere good to have a spot of lunch and a nice little ring of 16 caches nearby for us to do.

Getting there was another story.  It was ok for G coming from the opposite direction from me, but I decided to come up through from Beaconsfield and Amersham to be met with the whole of Chesham town centre closed for a fete/show with floats, band and dancers.  Doing a u-turn in the road (with most of the other traffic) I headed back out of the area having been less than 1 mile from my destination.  Thank goodness for a GPS as when I felt I was far enough away for it not to lead me back to the same area again, I turned off and it guided me happily around the road blocks and to the pub.  It had taken me over 2 hours to get here.

Soaked but having fun
Once arrived, we checked G's phone as she had downloaded the local caches.  The whole Ashley Green series wasn't showing up but there was a pretty good ring to walk so we weren't too worried about that.  I thought it would be useful to open the PQ I had on my phone.  This was another lesson learned. I thought that PQs were saved to you phone for offline use.  It seems not.  No signal for me and no access to the PQ.  Pretty pointless then having 500 caches in the area that I couldn't access.  Fortunately we are on different networks so G could download a few more for us.  After a very enjoyable lunch, off we went.  The pub informed us they do not open again until 6pm but we will probably be finished well before then...or would we?

Wisely, we took our waterproof jackets which was a good call because it started to rain a little as we were heading to our first find.

First of the day was Ashley Green - Hollow a nice easy one for us both.  Which way shall we now go. Right was the option and away we went. Ashely Green - Nesting was another easy spot.  Somehow the more people try and 'hide' the cache, the more obvious it becomes.  Even without knowing the exact coordinates, seeing a pile of sticks at the side of a tree is a pretty sure sign.  Stick-o-flague put back and away we went.  It was now raining quite a bit but under the tree coverage we were fairly well protected.
Trying to keep the phone dry

Ashley Green - Tree was next.  What can I tell you about this that you can't already guess?  Yes, lovely tree.  Cache found and signed and away to the next.  Ashely Green - Post a Field Note took us a few minutes to locate.  The rain was heavy now and the GPS was bouncing around a bit.  There were a few suspects around too but we got there in the end.  Much of our missing it at first was to do with the fact that we were engrossed in our conversation - well, what would you expect of two women out caching?

Ashley Green - Flamstead Farm was next for us. Took a while to locate this one as we spotted an obvious place (complete with a few sticks) but nothing seemed to be there. Upon climbing up the bank a bit, it was clear that the container had gone and all that was left of the cache was a small, temporary log book in a plastic bag.  Dry enough to sign but we popped a maintenance request on for the CO.

Ashley Green- Snowhill was next and we crossed the road and headed up the alleyway.  The rain was pouring down, thunder boomed all around us and G was hunched over her phone reading the clue.  What kind of idiots cache in this weather?  Madcats and DreamScorpio it seems!  Not to be deterred by the noise around us, we started our search.  Probably took a little longer here than we needed as we were getting drenched but we got there in the end.  Now a decision.  Did we go back down the alley and off to get the rest of the Ashely Green caches that were on the map or did we detour to a wooded area a short way ahead to collect some of the Hockeridge series?  There was a nice little loop around the forest after all.  Well, we were out, we were wet already so we may as well grab a few more in woodland right?  Off we went.

Madcats and DreamScorpio with the cache
The slope leading down to our first one Hockeridge - Back to Basics was very slippery from the rain and, for some reason, covered in dog poo!  How unpleasant. So not only were we trying to not slip over, we were trying not to tread in a slalom of dog mess.  Slip-sliding our way to the bottom, we got into some relative cover of trees.  G had a look for the clue but the iPhone was protesting at being dripped on and took it's own sweet time to tell us.  My phone, on the other hand, simply refused to come out in the rain (no signal still).  Clue to hand and cache followed shortly afterwards.  Decision on direction made and away we went again.

G nearly fell down the rather steep bank on one side was we were making our way to the next cache.  We were discussing if the area had been a chalk pit due to it's depth and shape and she slipped on a tree root.  I grabbed her but luckily she was stumbling backwards rather than forwards.  I didn't fancy carrying her back to the car.

Bones 13 Hockeridge was a bit of a tricky find.  On the bright side, the rain was dying down and the sun was trying it's best to make an appearance but everything (including us) was very soggy and the GPS was having a mad moment.  We had both forgotten what the clue was so were searching multi-trunked trees until G re-read it (memories like goldfish we both have) and then we made the spot.  All the containers around this circuit are a pretty good size so a shame there were no TBs to be found for us.  Signed and for the first time we took our hats/hoods off and the birds started to sing.

Pond in the middle of nowhere (well, a forest)
Hockeridge - Stumped Again was a quickly. Stump-tastic in fact! Splish-Splosh made us wonder if we were going to get our feet wet(ter) again.  If it wasn't for caching, how would we ever have known about this pond in the middle of a wood?  Bet it would be lovely in the sunshine!  Fortunately, at least it wasn't raining at the moment so we took the opportunity to get a quick picture by the bench.  The way that G sat down had me in stitches. Little did I realise the kind of limbo-sit was all to do with her trying to get her coat under her so she didn't get a wet bottom sitting on the bench.  If only I'd videoed it.  The clue suggested some small trees but how small is 'small'?  How long ago was the cache placed too as they could have grown by now!  Questions aside we started our search.  I was fairly convinced that a tree almost in the water could have been the item but there clearly was nothing there.  G spotted some more likely suspects and off we went to search.  We decided geo-sticks were in order (yep, sticks used for prodding and poking) as the leaf litter was so wet.  Finally the shout went up and G had found it having kind of ducked/crawled under some branches.  A nice result after a short search around when we'd almost given up.  She logged, I signed and put back.

Hockeridge - Triple Trunks speaks for itself.  Cute little log book here.  It's raining again.  Hockeridge - Post a Field Note had has stumped.  We got to GZ but despite the good clue and the GPS pointing us to the location, a thorough (we think) search turned up nothing.  It wasn't easy going due to barbed wire protecting the farmer's field and quite a selection of holly bushes.  Never to be deterred though we got stuck in.  Nothing came to hand so we considered that perhaps we needed to be in the field itself so walked up a bit further to see if there was a path but all we were met with was more barbed wire and signs saying private.  A DNF for us here so we ventured back along the forest path.

Hockeridge - The heart of it was next and the GPS was trying to get us to go over the ancient remains of a wall into private land again but fortunately caching senses took over and we soon had it to hand. Surprised to see a packet of chocolate buttons in the cache.  I don't know anyone who would give their child sweets or chocolate from a cache but I could see it causing a lot of problems for some poor parent.  Perhaps the person who put them there didn't realise they aren't things to leave in a cache.  Hockeridge - Fallen had us looking under the wrong tree at first but realising we couldn't get anywhere near the other end of it, we spotted a more likely candidate and made the find quickly. More sweets in the container.  Thunder and rain had stopped again now, thank goodness. We are positively steaming!

Soaked in the field
Hockeridge - In plain view was actually an easier spot than we suspected.  The trouble is that we aren't that tall, especially in flat walking shoes/boots.  We really could have done with stilettos or a small ladder here.  However, with a stretch, I managed to get it and just about put it back.  A favourite point from me for this.  Back we went down up dog-poo path to continue the Ashley Green series.

Ashley Green - A Micro Gate was next for us.  Which gate though as there were quite a few along here?  GPS finally settled and we were at the right one. Much fumbling under the gate(s) and prodding turned up nothing more than a few slugs out due to the rain.  A DNF again for us.  We're not the only ones though so perhaps it has gone.

Across the field we went to Ashley Green - Treehouse. We had to walk across a field to get to this that had grass at knee height and a very narrow piece of 'path' through it. To say that we both got completely soaked again was an understatement. I now realise my boots have a hole too!  At least the sun was shining now though and with the wind that was starting, we should be blow-dried in no time.

What are you doing?
As we approached GZ we were so busy chatting (see a theme here?) that we overshot the area by about 30 feet.  Back we went and the cache was soon in hand. The treehouse was a bit further down the path. I bet the farmer's children had some fun in that but how to get into it as the rope was about 6' off the ground.  Perhaps they were very tall children.

Ashley Green - Unhinged took us past a collection of animals on the farm.  G, who keeps chickens, commented on the lovely breeds that were there and took some photographs. The alpaca was quite curious about what we were doing but not as curious as the horse who stuck his head over the gate and whinnied at us repeatedly. Maybe he thought we had polos on us.  We were being beaten by the wind at this point and the sky was an amazing array of colours with the the sun trying very hard to break through the black thunder clouds.  What kind of nut goes caching in this weather?  What next for us?  Snow?  Anyway, the gate was soon in front of us and we had another fumble around and the cache was soon to hand.  We were drying nicely from the wind and now had more of a field to walk across giving us ample time to natter and dry out.

Wet, wet, wet....
Ashley Green - Crossroads was in the middle of a field.  The crossroads in question were public footpaths. A very well trodden cachers path greeted us and we had a rummage.  Rather a lot of nettles around on this caching expedition due to our great British summer weather no doubt.  As I had jeans and long boots on, I tramped around searching.  However, neither Madcats nor I noticed the dog walker almost upon us as I retrieved the cache with a loud "Found it".  Wonder if he knew what we were up to?  Signed and away we went, keeping an eye on the skies.  Only a few more to go.

British Summer
Ashley Green - Inside was next but we were a bit confused here. GPS was telling us to go onto private land. Surely the CO wouldn't put the cache where we would be trespassing but there was simply nowhere we could see it could be on the right side of the area.  We ventured over the logpile (which contained a lot of barbed wire upon closer inspection) and just into the wooded area.  A scout around turned up nothing which was a surprise as apparently this was a very large container and an easy find.  Not for us I'm afraid.  Another DNF logged. Looking at this cache, we are the only people not to find it so I wonder if we were getting a bit tired at this point and our cachers instinct was failing us as we were both quite thirsty and looking forward to getting back to the pub so we could change out of our wet boots and socks (of course we had spares in the car - we're cachers don't ya know).

Now a bit windswept
Back along the right side of the property and to Ashley Green - Pipe.  Chatting away again we went a little past GZ before we realised. Doubling back it was a quick spot.  G helped me down the bank and I stuck my arm up the pipe trying to find the cache.  Being of little memory between us, we had read the clue and both forgotten it again (what are we like) and once I was up to my shoulder, a voice said "under" to me, grinning. I'm sure she did that on purpose... ;-)  Cache found and off we went for our penultimate one of the day.

Ashley Green - Tube had us stumped.  The post clearly said that it was private land beyond. The public footpath was where we were so surely we weren't to trespass again?  Nothing around the post at all.  A cachers path seemed to lead under the holly but neither of us had any intention of (a) crawling under a holly bush or (b) going into private land.  I'm sure the farmer would be less than impressed to see people grovelling around in his holly.  Reading some logs we saw that indeed it seems that we need to enter this area. Nope, not for us.  Off we went listing another DNF (we're the only ones again).

Ashley Green - Butcher's Grove was to be our last of the day.  Once again we wandered past engrossed in conversation. Not too far to go back though to make a retrieve of our last of the day.  Fabulous. It was now 6pm so we headed back to the pub and had a dessert to share (we opted not to have pud before we went caching) and a well deserved drink before parting company and heading off home.  I'm pleased to say I was home in less than an hour.

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