It Should Have Been A Nice Afternoon Stroll, But We Learnt Never To Attempt An "As The Crow Fly's" Approach To Countryside Navigation...
After finding our first Geocache and planting our own Geocache the family and I became a little more adventurous for our next goal - a cache further afield from our home town, but still classed as easy to find and easy terrain, but in the real countryside!
According to the description this search should have been an easy afternoon stroll but it turned into quite a little adventure that taught us all a few things that we should do differently the next time...
It all started off on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The weather was good, so we decided to go and do a quick cache before tea. I got the coordinates for the parking and cache location, printed out the hints, and entered the location into our little Garmin Nuvi 200 Sat Nav.
It took us about twenty minutes to get to the parking way point, and this is where I made my first mistake. Because the road we turned up was unpaved and we only have a small family hatchback, we parked in the wrong place, although I didn't think this was important at the time. We also didn't have any real maps with us, so how our position and goal related to the public footpaths we should have been using meant that we were relying on the Sat Nav, which of course being a Car Device, could only give us a straight bearing "as the crow fly's" because it didn't have any footpaths on its map.
What this meant was that we missed the turning to the footpath that would have taken us straight to the cache, and ended up at the far end of a farmers field, with just a large ditch and dark wooded area in front of us, with no trail. The Garmin was pointing straight ahead, so rather than turn back we (that is me, my wife and our nine year old son), pushed on through dense undergrowth and nettles, blindly following the sat nav on a straight line.
We were obviously on private property, probably a grouse farm, because there were lots of pens and shooting hides, so I made the decision to stop looking for a trail and just go straight for the bearing. This was very exciting - we were just following the bearing on the Nuvi through the Woods, like Jungle Explorers! (OK, maybe not, but it was still great fun!) After clambering over a fence we ended up on the edge of another field, so we walked around the edge and saw the "lone tree" given in the Geocache's clue. Our spirits lifted we closed in on the site and started looking for the Geocache.
After half-an hour I was ready to give up. The Sat Nav said we should be right on top of the location, but we couldn't find the small ammo box, so my wife suggested to have one last look at the clue. The cryptic clue just said "in the hedgerow opposite the lone tree". I thought we'd looked through there already, but our son had another go, and he found it!
Once we'd opened the cache, swapped a couple of bits, taken a photo with their disposable camera and signed the log-book it was time to head home. This time we followed the signs for the foot-paths, and although it had taken us an hour to get there, it only took us half an hour to get back.
Overall it was a great few hours out with the family, we found the cache, and can't wait to have another go. What we learnt was:
1) If it isn't on your Sat Nav, take on Ordinance Survey Map so you can see where the Public Footpaths are, and plan your route before you start! You may think its quicker to go straight to the cache, but when you're in the woods with no trail, the terrain really slows you down, not to mention the fact you're on private property...
2) Take a stick to hunt for the Geocache to poke around in hedge-rows and bushes, it saves a lot of cuts and stings from thorns and stinging nettles!
3) Buy some proper hiking shoes and clothes. Trainers aren't good enough!
4) Plan your starting point in advance to make sure it's not too far from your destination for little legs!
There's some pictures below from our little adventure, and we can't wait for the next time!
|It was a beautiful afternoon to be out in the Hampshire countryside.|
This was when we knew we were going to get to the geocache site - the "lone tree" from the clues.
|Approaching the Geocache site. The cache itself was hidden in the Hedge-Row to the right of the tree.|
|The Garmin Nuvi 200 gets another Geocache under it's belt!|
So if you want to find this cache, go to geocaching.com and look for "Wickham Wander"
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