It was the Geek Steam BBQ in Colney Heath today, so I set off a little earlier and tried two different options for a cache before I arrived. But it was a DNF at both! Very frustrating.
Eventually, after the festivities had ended and friends were heading to the pub at dusk, I managed to locate Quackers #5 along an old railway line, now a cycle track. Phew. This streak is still stressful! I’m glad I have decided to give up when I reach Day 400 – only two days to go!
I’ve had an absolutely awesome day out caching today, with geofriends David (Tot66) and his son Calum (Caliber2000). David and I were discussing our DT grids at an Essex Meet a few weeks ago, and he offered to take me out caching by kayak, so we could grab some hight terrain caches long the River Lea near Ware. It was the Messing About On The River series by Noztradamus&JackNano. Today was the day for my maiden voyage!
Having inflated the kayaks, we set off but discovered we were on the wrong bit of river/canal/tributary! So it was out of the inflatables again and portage them past the big weir to a better place to put in. However, this left us downstream with another weir in between us and No. 1. So we decided to go for 2-5 first and come back for No. 1 later.
Once we arrived at GZ, I quickly spotted the cache at No. 2 and Calum volunteered to reach up to make the grab while we kept his kayak steady. That wasn’t so bad, but after I’d signed it, he spent an age trying to get the Bison’s lid screwed up again. Many times we thought he would end up wet, but his balance won out and with some relief, he finally did the container up and sat down back in his K1. Phew!
Thankfully No. 3 was much easier – difficult from above on the bridge, but easy peasy by boat. Again I did the signing honours and replaced it as we paddled underneath.
The going was fine until we turned up a side tributary towards No. 4. Fallen trees had trapped the skegs which meant a bit of bumping was needed to get us over the obstructions. Once we got to GZ here we ran aground – it was very shallow! David gave up and got out, so he had a little paddle while signing the log for us all!
Backtracking and taking a further paddle up the main stream got us to No. 5 – again a tricky climb but with us steadying Calum’s K1 as he scaled the barrier, we got the log down and back safely.
We then set sail back towards where we had started. The clouds had burned off and the sun was shining as we paddled along. It was a lovely day for Messing About On The River, for sure!
The GoPro proved invaluable for taking some photos. Thankfully I’ve got a waterproof housing for it, and the remote control app on my phone – which was in a dry bag – so there were no worries about getting the tech wet. And a good job too…
Having manoeuvred ourselves back to the second smaller weir, we got out of the boats and sat for a quick rest on the bank. Unfortunately, upstream of the weir (where we needed to put in to tackle No. 1) there wasn’t any easy portage points. We chose the best we could manage and I was trying to get back into the kayak when disaster struck!
Yes, of course, I went in the drink, and got very wet. But it was all great fun and Calum managed to take these photos which I’ve montaged together to immortalise the event!
We tried once more and this time I made it into the boat without embarrassing myself again! Once at GZ, the current from the big weir was too strong for us to maintain a position to grab the cache, so we decided to call it a day. 4/5 wasn’t a bad score for our efforts, and I have now filled four empty DT squares with just one to go!
We had also targeted a couple of other adventurous caches to tackle after the river, both by the same CO, The first was Nano’s Secret Nuclear Bunker, which was in an abandoned Royal Observer Corps underground hideout. Great fun to explore (it was tiny, it didn’t take long!).
It brings home just how awful it would have been to have been stuck down in one of these things – there was barely room to swing a cat. One small room and an en suite loo – that was it!
We found the box and the codes required to open it to sign the log. Then it was a bit of a climb back up, but we all escaped easily!
David was glad to be out in the fresh air again!
The last of the extreme caches today was Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Head torches at the ready, we made our way inside… It was a huge storm drain tunnel which we had no trouble standing up in – and seemed to go on forever!
I’m not sure how far we walked but it took ages as we had to pick our way carefully along the slippery brick floor. There wasn’t any water underfoot, apart from the odd puddle. I can’t imagine what it would be like when there’s full flow in here!
Thankfully there was only one way to go, so we didn’t get lost!
We were told we needed to go right to the other end, turn around and begin our search. The hide was quickly spotted, and we then had to do the walk in reverse. Perhaps we should have tried getting out this end to see where it went above ground?!
There were a couple of easy trads within striking distance of the tunnel, so we decided to go for those as well. The last was a lovely duck-themed box, The Duck Pound II which encouraged you to give the ducks a good home. How could we resist? I’m now the proud owner of the little blue guy you can see here (who has since turned into the intrepid traveller, Caz’s Little Quacker):
So all in all a Grand Day Out, great fun with lots of laughs and certainly pushing the boundaries of my caching experience to date. Can’t wait to do it again! I have certainly been living up to my Life Begins geocoin’s motto today.
Still in Kent staying with Julian today, we had some muggle-related business in Margate at lunch time but took the opportunity on the way back to Deal to stop off in Cliffsend, Pegwell Bay to have a little geowalk.
The first find was a Multi, The Vikings Are Coming, themed around the replica Viking lonship, Hugin, which is on permanent display on the cliff top. I collected the numbers while Julian went for a wander around the now-disused hoverport below, which he remembers well from his childhood growing up in the area. He and his friends used to take day trips on the Hovercraft to France like they were getting the bus to Canterbury! And his parents used to do their weekly shopping in Cité Europe as it was quicker, cheaper and easier to pop over there than going to the local big town. How times have changed!
After finding the multi, we went for a little potter to pick up some other nearby trads, including one overlooking a duck pond. I do like a nice duck – and this one was particularly pretty!
Then I persuaded him to drive us past the “Ham Sandwich” sign, which I’ve seen before, but wanted to take a better photograph of. We retired to the nearby pub in Finglesham for a quiet pint. I was idly flicking through nearby caches on my phone when I noticed there was one at the sign which we had missed! (I hadn’t loaded up every cache in Kent onto my GPS, despite what you may assume).
So we detoured again on the way back to Deal to have a root around. It was a tricky blighter, but eventually I spotted it safely lurking in the undergrowth.
I nearly forgot to mention that I’ve now reached the Day 300 milestone – so only 66 days to go for my full year geostreak! How time flies…
Just time for a quick cache and dash today, a jazzyjessups recent hide in the Village Signs series, VS#460 Blackmore. The ducks were initially happy to see me, but as I didn’t have any food, they soon lost interest.