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Geocaching is a treasure hunt with a GPS.You find a log book in a sealed container hidden by other geocachers, while trigpointing consists of visiting Ordnance Survey pillars which are often located at hill summits. In both cases the real treasure is the discovery of beautiful countryside, near to you, or far away. It's just good, clean, harmless fun with plenty of exercise and we love it!

Our Geocaching Diary

Solly's Box

29th December 2010 Coombe Hill Canal

Our first caches of the holidays despite having been off work for ten days. This was partially to do with the heavy snow that we had. Of course we still go out regularly, but just no caching. I had to go into Gloucester early, so rather than waste the trip we used it to do some caching. Very muddy fields, as you would expect at this time of year, but an enjoyable day. It would have been better if I hadn't ripped my trousers on a barbed wire fence, but hey. Coombe Hill is a misnomer. There is no hill to speak of. If there was one, then there wouldn't have been a canal here. It's more of a ditch these days though. The best of the day was Solly's Box, which I've been meaning to do since we started caching. At one point I was driving past it every day, but with no Will and Bob with me it would have been pointless. The cache by the trigpoint probably has good views, but I guess we'll never know!


Many Geocachers refer to Geocaching as a sport. There are many definitions of SPORT. Nearly all contain the requirement for physical activity (jumping in and out of a car doesn't qualify in my book), competition (Geocaching is not a competition. How can you compete against people that aren't competing against you?) and skill (very debatable).

Geocaching is a hobby. Period.


15th December 2010 Have you tried Spoilersync?

This is a free utility that's been around for years. You provide it with a list of caches (via a .gpx or .loc file) and it will go and grab all the spoiler pictures (photos that give away the exact location of a cache) for these caches. It uses the photo title to identify spoilers, searching for the word "spoiler" and exclude phrases like "not a spoiler". It's a slow process, as each listing is loaded and has it's image titles scanned. The download images can be automatically resized. Finally you can move them to your mobile device (if it supports .html) so you can view spoilers while you're caching without the need for a 3G signal and without the data cost. Some apps (such as WinMo version of Cachemate) can link listings directly to the spoiler images. The utility can be downloaded here.

Coordinates and altitude

11th December 2010 Welshbury Wood

Three caches along a walk from Littledean. The most interesting was Welshbury Iron Age Fort. It's nice to see a cache placed at an interesting location these days and with information supporting the hide. We extended our route somewhat to take in a maintenance trip on our own Sleep Well Old Friend cache. The land owners had found the cache while doing some maintenance work and kindly replaced it remarkably close to where we had originally hidden it. They very kindly wrote a nice log in the book too. It kind of restores your faith really when you get people like this.

We found this house's nameplate very appropriate for Geocaching, especially as it even uses the degree, minute format, which is used exclusively within the hobby.


13th November 2010 Blorenge, The Black Mountains

Having just read Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell, I wanted to come back and discover a couple of locations I had not visited which are featured in the book. The Mortimer's work at the Garndyrus ironworks (top of the Blorenge). Gilwern, The Balance, The Tumble, Punchbowl, Nantyglo, Coity and Pwlldu are a few of the locations featured in the book. We also had a chance to investigate an old tram tunnel on the mountain. There is also good evidence of the tramway with sleeper mounting stones still being present up to the old engine house above Abergavenny.

The only new cache on our route was rather less interesting, being just by the side of the road at a point of no particular interest. Other cachers seem to enjoy the novelty value of the prop used.

Tram tunnel on the Blorenge
Inside the failed mine

6th November 2010 Dark Hill Ironworks, Coleford

This is close enough for us to walk from home and as we both had new leather boots it was a good chance to start breaking them in without going on a mammoth expedition. The ironworks were where the Mushet family refined the art of making steel in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Of course we've been here many times before, but it a site well worthy of a cache. We visited another new cache nearby which was at the site of a failed mine. Despite the cache having only been active for three days it was already waterlogged. This is why clip-lock food containers are so popular, most other containers are not watertight. We walked back home via Coleford, where we had a naughty stop for lunch at the bakery.


30th October 2010 Coity Mountain

A typical geocaching trail along an railway converted to a cycle path started the day. The start was in the litter strewn Abersychan, so we were very glad when we got out of the town. There are two trails here. The first is the circular Varteg series the second interlocks with it along the Pontypool Cycle Route. At Big Pit we headed straight up the side of the hill through the boggy heather. It's a hard climb, as there's no real path for much of the way, but then we were off to Cipher Cache 10, which is placed in the middle of nowhere. In my last entry I commented on how hard these caches are, but to find the cache was under a random patch of heather with not even a stone as a marker was a bit of a kick in the teeth. We didn't really look due to an administrative error, but moved on rather disappointedly to SWMCC21. This was placed in a very findable location, but this time the cache was missing. We headed back south along the top of Coity to pick up another cache or two from the earlier trails.

The steam train from Coity
The Brecon Beacons from above Aberdare Country Park

27th October 2010 Merthyr Tydfil

Having been on the Cipher Cache series for a few years now, it was several months ago that I solved number 9. We had wanted to go and get it whilst passing Aberdare on the way back from the South Wales Event on the May Day weekend. The weather was terrible then and we had put it off many times since due to the length of the drive. You'd think that a series of the most difficult puzzles I have come across would be followed by a nice easy stroll. None of it. OK, it's not the hardest ever, but it's about 1,000 times more strenuous than the average cache. We had a lovely walk, despite getting caught in a shower. We had left our gear in the car as it looked so nice, and thought our day was going to be ruined. We were pleased to know that we could now go out and find #10, which we had also solved (and 11 too), as it was much nearer home.


It was a strange caching day for us in that we actually drove between caches. Well, we had to. When we travel so far we make sure we do the caches that we really want to do. For us that meant the forth in the Merthyr Marathon series. The series follows the industrial history of the area and is fascinating to us, not least for the superb locations you are taken to. I have been so taken with the 19th century history that I read Alexander Cordell's Rape of the Fair Country. An excellent book, especially as I know pretty much all of the locations in the book. It certainly changed my opinion of Cyfarthfa Castle though. Bought from the proceeds of the ironworks, while the workers were starved, killed or maimed as they attempted to earn a starvation wage for their large families. The workers were paid in tokens that they could only spend in the ironmaster's Tommy shops. The ironmasters squeezed their wages and raised the cost of provisions in the shops. It was a very hard life. Even if you didn't die before your time, you would undoubtedly end up maimed, or blind from the furnace glare.

Ctfartha Castle, home of the Crawshays

The ironworks themselves were amazing. A substantial part of the furnaces are still there. You can even wander around the interconnecting tunnels. We did start doing #5, but ran out of time as we had another cache (at least) that we definitely wanted to do.

A week ago I had had a log on out High Tea cache explaining that it had been sought out because the requirement to find Resuscitator - Challenge Cache was that you firstly had to find a cache which had not been found for at least a year. Although we had long since completed the CC series, one of the caches had been replaced with a new cache. I had never bothered with this cache, as I already had visited the location. Today I had a reason to find CC8 Groesfaen, though we had a bit of a palaver finding the cache due to my misinterpretation of the hint. Unfortunately this meant that there was no time to find Turn Right at the Station, which has also not been found for over a year.


24th October 2010 Along the Usk

We've come to know the Usk quite well, as the M&B canal follows it for much of it's upper stages. This walk was supposed to take in three caches, but due to problems with footpaths we had to divert away from Llancayo Windmill. The walk was stressful at times, with so many cows and bad waymarking, though the farmer we approached was very friendly. I wish they would put the signs up though! We barely saw a person all day, except at all three cache sites. At the final cache a family (with an unfriendly dog) were collecting chestnuts right next to Cosmo's Cache. It may be the first time that I had to tell someone what we were doing, as it would have looked way too odd otherwise. You can't walk 13 miles and then just leave the cache because there are people there - though we have done that before now. Of course you don't have to walk that far. We just choose to.

A private beach by the Usk

17th October 2010 Llangarron

Five caches on a short 7 or 8 mile walk. The most interesting (Llangarron Crash)involved the crash site of a WW II plane in the village. These caches are only a short drive from home, but in a total cache desert. It's a very peaceful area with views to Garway (where we had been walking the previous day) and the Black Mountains. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and buzzards everywhere you looked, circling effortlessly for prey.

At the end of the walk we went into the church to find the memorial to the plane's crew. We had parked in the church car park and came out to find that someone had scraped our car, leaving several deep scratches in the bumper. Grrrr!


9th October 2010 Home turf

In the last three weeks we'd picked up three caches, including SWMCC 5, which is our last real Brecon Beacon cache, having first gone for it nearly 2 years earlier. I could brain the idiot that has made it so difficult to place caches there now. We also had a rare FTF.

Today we did a circular walk to pick up two caches along the disused Wye Valley Railway. We are lucky enough to be able to do this walk from home. Penallt Halt is very close to where our archived Steaming into Wales cache used to be. I used to walk here from home most Sundays before Geocaching. I loved to have a pint in the Boat Inn and watch the river go by. The only trouble was that it made the hills on the way home very hard work.

Penallt / Redbrrok viaduct
A dog-rock with Snowdon behind

4th September 2010 Snowdonia

We'd been planning to get up to North Wales all summer (and the last 2 years too) and right when we'd just about given up due to terrible weather we had a hot spell. Being a Bank Holiday weekend and not having reservations we decided to set off on the Monday as everyone else was coming back. We stayed for 5 nights camping at Swallow Falls, near Bettws y Coed. Every day was scorching hot. Perhaps a little too hot for serious walking.

When we arrived we searched out a campsite. We firstly tried a farm at the foot of Tryfan. They told up that none of the farms allowed dogs, which was a real shame, but they very helpfully pointed as Swallow Falls, where dogs and children were even allowed in the bar. Hot food available too.


We put up the tent and headed straight for Snowdon. There wasn't enough time to get to the top, so we picked a more challenging route (with no caches) and saw how far we could get. The next day we headed for Great Orme. The Orme is a peninsula, jutting out into the sea from Llandudno. We did a few caches, but mainly enjoyed wandering around the almost island. We had a few frustrations, like the family sitting right next to the cache at a remote quarry spot. While I waited I sat on my GPSr and damaged the screen on the very sharp rocks. Fortunately I had a good quality screen protector on, which took the damage. I've now resorted to cheapy protectors as I can't afford to keep sending the life-time guaranteed ones back to the States.

Will loves to wander up and down the pier in the early evening. It's a shame that the place wasn't very dog friendly. We got an early night so we could be up with the lark.

Great Orme
The last few feet to the summit of Snowdon

We arrived at Pen-y-Pass quite early to be sure of getting a parking place. It costs £10 to park there for over 4 hours! and don't expect to do it in less. We beat the crowds. We were really pleased to see the sun eat up the thick mist in a few minutes to reveal such beautiful scenery. We soon caught up a couple who were finding it hard going already and we had the best of the walk to ourselves. As the Pyg track joined with the Miners' track, things were a little busier. We had a good chat with a few others making the trip. Most friendly walkers stopping to congratulate Will at doing such a good job at his age, but there were many younger. At the top we jostled for a photo at the topograph (with flush bracket) as the train loads were eager to stake their claim having walked all of 20yds from the shop. The whole atmosphere has been ruined by the train, so we retreated to find the nearby cache and a bit of peace. There's also an Earthcache here which doesn't require too much thinking.


I usually look at all the nearby puzzle caches when making a trip like this, and try to resolve them before we set off, but there were no real puzzle caches in the area. The nearest were in the Prestatyn area and mostly owned by Team Marzipan, Golden Retriever owning folk that we had been in touch with in the past. It was a boiling hot day and we spent forever looking for micros and nanos with no success at all. I had the route incorrectly in my mind and walked miles in the wrong direction before realizing, so we just headed back and abandoned the 15 odd caches we had planned. We made one find out of the 5 caches we attempted, which must be our worst stats ever. We did find a bat clinging to an old railway bridge support in the middle of the day though. The last full day was spent on Tryfan, but we did no caches there. What a great trip. The landscape was more rugged than I had imagined, but we will be back as soon as we can.

Llyn Pandarn/Snowdon Panorama
The view from Wye Eye

28th August 2010 Catbrook

Our average caching outing these days involves about 12 miles of walking and two caches. Today was another one of those. It had the advantage of being local and the disadvantage of being along paths we mostly knew. Llandogo to Bigsweir, from Puzzle to Prize was a bit unusual in that the initial stages were all in Llandogo in Wales, but the final cache was over 1.5 miles away in England. I really couldn't see the connection between the two sites, especially as the walk is linear (the Wye removes any chance of a circular walk) and along a road with fast moving cars. Both sites are worthy of a cache, but just not the same cache. Adding to my comments on multicaches, I know that very few people will ever walk from one site to the other with over 3 miles in total. The Wolfe Cache helped us plan our route back up the steep hillside and broke up the walk a little. We also had a chance to check up on our Wye Eye cache along the way and enjoy some superb views.


22nd August 2010 Mitcheldean

We'd intended to come here four days earlier on a circular walk when we did Cut to the Chase near Ross on Wye, but Will had a very unfortunate accident in the rain whilst crossing a stile. We were both glad of the excuse to head home and save his blushes. I wasn't planning coming out today, but the weather was surprisingly good. I had a great circuit in the countryside around Mitcheldean and found Beep's Little Patch (a nice rambling cache) along the way. Multicaches don't appeal to many people. I have to admit that as someone who walks a planned route I find they can be quite awkward, often taking you back to where you've just come from. They work well for people who don't walk much and just want to do the cache and get back in their car, but that certainly is not how we cache. These days most cachers won't do them because they take too much effort. Sad, but true. On writing, this cache had been found 5 times in it's 4 month existence.

A clue to Will's accident
Fungus in the carpark at the Cyril Hart Arboretum

21st August 2010 Forest of Dean

A walk we know well started at the Cyril Hart Arboretum near Speech House. The arboretum is 100 years old, though I've heard nothing about a centenary. The cache is subtitled a place to relax, though is strangely next to the main road through the forest. A flattish walk down to Whitecroft brought us to the almost disappeared remains of the Princess Royal pit baths. These are the places of local history that have all but disappeared. It was interesting to see the old railway building across the road. We did one more cache which which was near a graveyard in the forest, though it really didn't do it for us.

We'd had several non-geocaching trips out recently, as I had a lot of time off work during the summer. We managed to do several maintenance trips on our more challenging caches.


5th August 2010 Brinore Tramroad

A great climb up to Cefn y Ystrad to find the first cache (SWMCC 16) and bag the trigpoint, then back through the quarry for the real highlight. A walk along the disused tramroad down towards Talybont. I'd been meaning to come here for a while and it didn't disappoint. There were a huge number of wild raspberries along the route and even a lime kiln or two high above the valley floor. We passed a couple of caches that we had found on previous visits and then on to a new cache, Taff Tail Seven Mile Bank. I kicked myself as we walked past the tunnel portal for Off the Rails on a Crazy Train as it never registered with me until we got back to the car. This is the far portal, so quite a way from where the multicache starts. I had been here before, but it is not evident from the path, which is the converted trackbed. I will find this cache one day, though it's been a couple of years already.

View from Cefn yr Ystrad
Undergrowth at Wolvesnewton

2nd August 2010 Devauden

I've made no secret of the fact that I don't like Geocaching trails. As I am quite capable of devising my own route I prefer a cache to take me to a point of interest. In my limited experience these type of caches never do that. Nothing changed today. I can't find much to say about the day except that we had a huge 28 finds and 2 DNFs. The walk was generally pleasant, but unremarkable. One stage took us on paths that have no indication of being PRoWs and another section had us cut to ribbons trying to find a route through brambles, nettles and general undergrowth. We had to do these caches as they are near the top of my unfound page and obliterate everything else because there are such a huge number of them. Back to sensible caching now hopefully.
The trails are at Devauden and Wolvesnewton.


25th July 2010 General chat

I listened to an interesting show on BBC Radio 4 last week called Cache in Pocket. It was the first well presented insight to Geocaching I have come across. I do prefer not to talk to non-cachers about Geocaching as you can't help but sound like a dweeb. I hate the childish terms like "muggles". I'm a grown-up. I do like to find interesting locations. I don't like to hang around parks looking for tiny containers. One fascinating thing I learned was that the UK cacher with the highest find count (around 15,000) is the founder of Dr. Solomon's Antivirus Toolkit. I found myself asking, "would I be Geocaching if I was that rich"? I wouldn't be sticking around for another miserable summer, that's for sure.

There was also an interview with Dave Ulmer, the guy who placed the first Geocache 10 years ago, though he called it the rather less catchy GPS Stash Hunt.

My favourite part was when the presenter was out finding a cache with a guy calling himself Geocaching Womble.
GW: I'm Geocaching Womble. The Wombles are a completely different people.
BBC: Yes. <pauses while considering this statement> They are, they are...

For those that don't know, there are long established cachers called The Wombles, but the interviewer wouldn't have known that. It made me laugh anyway.

Bob down in the river

25th July 2010 Llanbedr, Crickhowell

Down by the River involves four micros and a cache along a stunning 6 mile walk (we may have gone further than necessary). There is a fair bit more up and down than the name would imply, but the views are just breathtaking on a pleasant summer's day. We had planned to link it to another long multi, but it was very warm and I was back to work the following day after having a week off. Never mind, only five more days and I'm off again.

After a good while spent playing in the Grwyne Fawr with Will and Bob we went into Abergavenny as it very quiet at 4pm on a Sunday. We weren't in the mood for the multicache there, so I bought Will an ice cream and we went home.


23rd July 2010 Big Pit, Blaenavon,

We made use of the semi-secure parking at Big Pit. There are three caches there that we hadn't done, including an Earthcache. After a quick find we walked up to Pwll-du, where we checked on a cache we had previously found only to find a lizard sunbathing on the rock that concealed the cache. As we closed in on Clydach and The Nook Near the Alder Grove we stopped for lunch. With our legs dangling over the embankment, large waterfalls to our side and fantastic views we wondered if it got any better than this. A group of 30+ mountain ponies meandered up the road to where we were sitting. These animals never bother us in any way, unlike the domestic horses we come across. We found the cache in quarried hillside and then wound our way down to the Clydach Viaduct where a large group where going through safety before they abseiled down the viaduct.

Big Pit
Lizard on "Inclined to cache?"

There are also four lovely lime kilns there too. The old station house, which is now a private residence, still has the platform in the garden. We couldn't follow the railway, so we took a steep ascent. The next cache was Gelllifelen Tunnels. One of the pair of railway tunnels has been left open for walkers and the cache is placed in the middle. Some kids were making such a noise whilst passing through without proper lights that we thought we'd hide and wait for them. I think we scared them half to death, but we all had a good laugh. We followed the railway to Brynmawr and then had a real struggle to find the paths marked in the maps. When we did hook up with them we were trapped in a field by a totally impassible stile. We arrived back at car to find a nearby cache and take the required photos for the earthcache. The Big Pit museum was closed by now, so we had to Google the answers, but that wasn't too hard.

Certainly not camera shy   Connecting tunnel at Gellifelen Tunnels

19th July 2010 Hoarwithy, Herefordshire

We were hoping to get up to Snowdonia this week, but the weather forecast was awful. We did one cache at Backney Bridge, before setting off to place a couple of caches. The first didn't work out (we will place it one day), but the second went pretty well. It's not a straight forward cache, so we'll have to see how it's received. The cache is called 28 Days Later and I'd love to say more about it, but I can't because it would give the game away. Anyway, we had an absolute blast setting it. As we expected there were a couple of DNFs and a couple of finds the first weekend. Judging by the logs and emails I have received it has gone down pretty well. We had planned to set another cache in the area, but a cache location didn't show itself. There is a brilliant building which I've wanted to use for years. It will happen one day.

View from the ex-Backney Bridge
Herefordshire on a sunny day

I was experimenting with my camera (Canon Powershot A710 IS) whilst setting the cache and managed to knock it over lens first in some sand/mud. Grit has got in the zoom mechanism and it is now useless. I spent a while considering new cameras. The Canon SX120 IS looks almost perfect for my needs, but I also like the more expensive Panasonic Lumix TZ10 and the Samsung WB650, both of which have in-built GPS receivers to geotag their images. Both also have large zooms and a wide angle lens, not to mention hi-def video recording. In the mean time I will stick with my Canon Powershot S3, which I bought last December to see if I really wanted a DSLR. I quickly found I'm not ready for one yet (they're just too big and bulky), but the S3 has everything I want, though I just want it in a smaller case. My requirements are good zoom, easily accessible, flip and twist display, fold down flash, fully manual and auto, good macro, fast continuous shooting, view finder (many new models are doing away with these), AA batteries, excellent image quality.


17th July 2010 Cleeve Hill

Will had a drum exam in Cheltenham at 16:59 (they are very precise), so we thought we would make use of the trip. I can easily see my office from the top of this hill, so it's a bit of a busman's holiday. Once you get past the golf course it is a pleasant hill. It's been extensively quarried, but as it's so flat around here you can see for a long way despite only being at 1,000 feet. I've cached here before on a long lunch break, but a few caches have appeared since then and there were a couple left to clear up. I was particularly pleased with this photo which I took of Bob jumping a stile which says on it, "Dog Leap". We hit Rock School in plenty of time and Will knock 'em dead. We'll be back for grade 5 next year.

The stile is engraved "Dog Leap"


The Malverns from Westhope Common

10th July 2010 Dinmore, Herefordshire (see route)

Herefordshire is a caching desert, so when an event was organized here we thought it was only right for us to put in an appearance. We spent the day walking poorly signed paths and through crops with almost no path left by the farmer. The Linseed was bad, but I am very allergic to Timothy grass, so wearing shorts and ankle socks meant my legs were a bit of a mess by the end of the day. This was hugely compounded by a wooded path being totally overgrown with nettles and brambles. Ouch! The barbecue event was great and we had a very enjoyable couple of hours chatting to many people, a surprising number of whom I had had email communications with previously. We made our 1,300th find at Westhope Common, a very enjoyable cache.