The following Saturday was the Wiltshire Event. We love Stan’s events and always attend if possible. Great attendance, excellent food and, of course, Wadworths 6X from Russell the landlord and a good old chin-wag with RoobyDoo (Keith), Furtive Ferrets (John) and TurnerTribe (Suzanne) among others. Even won a minor prize in the raffle. Before the event we did a lovely little circuit of 8 caches along a very quiet and still K&A canal.
Got home from Devizes and found that a cache (1st Stratton Scouts) had been published close to home, in fact probably the closest one there’s ever been. Well it had only been out for less than 2 hours, surely we’d be in for a shout for the FTF. Logging on to the cache page we found it had already been visited by 5 caching teams. The initial disappointment was quickly replaced when I saw that the Chaos Crew had bagged the FTF – a long over-due FTF for Sarah & team!
It was further dissipated when, a couple of hours later, two new caches (2 = Cuddly Toy Hotel and 1 = On The Way.....) were published by Newmanmadhouseteam up near the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. I knew that I was due a Sunday morning lie-in, so donned the head-torch and set off in the pitch black. The mud ensured that I had grown 6” by the time I had reached the caches to grab the FTF’s. The Cuddly Toy hotel is a really good cache, but is a bit out of the way – it deserves a lot of visits in the summer. On the way back I grabbed the 1st Stratton Scouts cache (couldn’t resist). I was a bit spooked at GZ, at around 10.30pm, when I heard a noise behind me as I re-hid the cache. A youth was in the woods about 30 yards behind me – doing what I have no idea. Needless to say, I legged it out!
Had a Sunday morning lie-in, had Sunday lunch and then was just getting ready to go out and grab a couple of caches on the Downs when a whole new series based around Covingham, Eldene and Liden was published by Newmanmadhouseteam (again). Well what to do? Grab as many as possible of course! Over the next 2 hours I got round all 10 caches, grabbing no fewer than 5 FTF’s! It could have been more: I failed to find one cache first time round (Toolaroola grabbing it!) and was beaten to another by the Middleleaze Moles as I stood and watched. Great to see new caches being hidden on this side of town though - an excellent weekend of caching thanks to this new-ish team.
2 whole days then passed before my notifications signalled a few new caches being published near Lacock, south of Chippenham. In fact these were right on the edge of my notifications area and it turned out to be 20 caches over 6 miles in a circular walk from Lacock. The next morning dawned and it was absolutely pee-ing it down. I logged on and noticed that the Lacock village caches had all been nabbed first thing, but the rest were pretty much untouched.
Therefore, after lunch, I drove across for a FTF hunt. I’ve never been to Lacock before and was surprised at how pretty it was. Ditto for the surrounding countryside – the route cut through some delightful areas and was absolutely full of varied and very cunning hides from start to finish. I won’t spoil it for anyone who reads this, but I would recommend you give this a go! I would rate it as definitely a 5* series, I can’t think of a better one (well maybe my MDT!).
If I were you I’d start on the village caches mid-morning in Lacock and aim to be at the Bell on Bowden Hill for lunch. You can then walk off the lunch around the circuit and return to Lacock for a cream tea – what a day! By the way, here is one of my favourite caches from the series – not a clever one, it just made me smile - Simples!
Anyway I had a pretty busy day rather than a pleasant amble around the caches fortified by real ale and a cream tea. In the end I finished in the pitch black, reaching my final cache (#1) at 6pm and fumbling blindly for the cache container. I managed to bag 21 caches with only 1 DNF. Among these were no less than 14 FTF’s, so a good day all round!
The following evening a new cache was published just outside Watchfield, Force 10: Zoe by Eaglegale. Another first hide by a cacher I met briefly at the last Swindon Soirees event. Sniffing another FTF I was up with the larks the next day and snagged the cache about 10 minutes before Flones, another local cacher. To paraphrase Robert Duvall, I love the smell of an empty logbook in the morning!
The weekend, last one of the month, was wet, full stop. No geocaching at all. But all was not lost: on the Monday at tea-time 3 new caches were published – one by our friends Newmanmadhouseteam at McDonalds on Great Western Way (Take Five) and two over in Sparcells by new hiders the Dartmoor Devils. We quickly rushed out to Maccy-D’s straight to the cache. Whilst piling in (subtle I’m not), we were approached by another cacher who turned out to be iBertie (Paul), who had beaten us to the cache but couldn’t find it. This has happened to me a few times and is a right b@st@rd to put it mildly. Anyway I quickly located the item and even offered a joint FTF with Paul (must be going soft in my dotage!), but Paul, who is a gentleman and a scholar and also hider of the very good nearby Central Park cache, was having none of it.
We returned home, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves and over the course of the next couple of hours I noticed the Sparcells caches hadn’t been logged. Cue action! So a quick drive to the first – Sparcells’ First Cache – Bridge Over Troubled Water – where I parked up close by (just how I like it …). Needless to say the cache was under a bridge. Opened it up, blank logbook: good call! The second cache was less than 200 metres away, walked quickly no other cachers in sight. The log book contained a name – beaten to it by the Furtive Ferrets; I uttered a rude word and signed the log. But a good evening to end to a great month.
Summing up February: lots of finds and lots of FTF’s. Discovered a great series at Lacock and pleased to see all the new caches around Swindon, mostly put out by new hiders. The future looks very bright indeed!
A review of my cache series
Marlborough Downs Trail – 1 or 2 visits per cache. Will refresh sometime around Easter.
Lower Stratton Loop – remains popular. At least one cacher a week does the series.
Sevenhampton Puzzles – not much interest since early in the month. Interest waning - puzzles too difficult or are puzzles just not popular?
Caches found this month: 94 (2nd highest month ever)
No. FTF’s this month: 25 (record month)
Total caches found to-date: 1,078 Total FTF’s: 89