The Cambs CachAthon

The Cambs cachAthon is a fairly epic trail of 166 caches that loops the countryside of south Cambridgeshire. The whole series covering the approximate distance of 29 miles.  Given the nature of how the CachAthon loops it is possible to complete the series in manageable sections. The trail designed for finding large amounts of caches as quickly as possible.

I personally cache for the experience, to discover new places, to enjoy and challenge myself and mostly to just be outdoors. Whilst it’s satisfying to watch your number of finds going up, it’s not what motivates me. 

My friend and I we curious about giving such a trail a go.  Given that we only had a little over three hours between school runs we chose the most manageable loop to start with. Where the whole series starts and finishes in the village of Eltisley.

Things however didn’t get off to the most promising start. 

This doesn’t surprise you? 

No, me neither! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Having loaded a Pocket Query of caches onto my GPS, centred on Eltisley, I arrive there to find the nearest cache my GPS is aware of is cacheAthon #9. Where numbers 1-8 have gone I have no idea?

For once though I actually have enough signal to access them on my phone so the day isn’t a non starter.

Phone ready, Let’s do this.  Onwards to number one!

Oh.

Number 1 turns out to be quite an overlooked cache. My least favourite kind. To make matters worse the local postman is doing his rounds in no particular hurry. 

We skulk around for a bit looking completely strange and oh so suspicious before deciding we should probably just start with number two. So full of optimism we declare we can grab number one on our return.

Oh the naivety! 

Let’s try again, Onwards to number two!

The hint for the cache is base of post. 

Hooray! Nice and easy, we should be ok. Spotting a large post we make a beeline for it. We make our way into the nettles (ouch) and I nearly disappear into a ditch…

Yes, it’s going to be one of those days. 

Hmm apart from nettle stings we have nothing. I step back to review the scene. Ahh, there’s a smaller post and oh look, right beside is a cache. 

From then on things start to pick up. The hiccup seemingly over.

We gather pace along the trail and make quick finds as we go. A base of post here, a base of tree there. This is more like it!

  

We are quickly off into the countryside and I can soon switch my GPS on. 

That’s better. 

My GPS would never make me nearly fall into a ditch at the wrong post. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Luckily with our time constraints and the distance we hope to cover, the caches are all incredibly easy finds like the one below.

Nothing obvious here! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Progress is good and we lose track as the numbers start to mount up. My previous most finds in a day is 27, we figure if we continue at this pace I should increase that.

A few technical issues slow us down a little, my Garmin helpfully getting the wheel of doom and freezing a few times. Argh. 

My friend being a new GPS user is still at the weaning yourself off the phone stage and just about managed to not throw hers in a ditch in frustration. (Actually I hope she does, I’m claiming it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

 

We soon reached the point of return for our journey. The rest of the trail making its way towards Cambridge, Whilst we needed to loop round and catch the tail end of the trail. 

At this point we found ourself crossing a recently ploughed field. Having done this recently and picking up an injury that lasted weeks I was rather cautious, but to be honest it was preferable to walking alongside the incredibly busy road which was the only other option. It also meant an extra cache. 

Hidden on a bridge, a ditch below with some rather well hidden, steep sides. For the second time in a day I narrowly avoid sliding to the bottom. 

Ploughing our way through yet more mud we pick up the final leg of the series. Hopeful that we are back to the easy finds. Time is getting on and we have quite a few miles to cover to get back to the car.

Hmm seems Sod’s law has other plans.

The next cache a not so easy find, some rather perilously positioned trees alongside a ditch and the cache at the base of one of them. We had a quick look but suspect something had crawled into the ditch and died. The stench was terrible. Given my very recent history with ditches. It was time to move on.

The next cache was to also defeat us. 

The walk back suddenly seemed a much more challenging affair. 

Luckily a handily positioned church micro and another cache not belonging to the series broke our run of bad luck.

 

Thankfully we were then back to that old clichรฉ, the quick easy finds. Hurrah!

Some even raising a smile;

Taking the snail cache to a whole new level

We picked up the pace and made our way back, until my GPS ran out of caches (? Again) and then battery. Really?! 

*Launches GPS into ditch*

My luck really had run out now as I lost phone signal too. My friend still had hers though so we were able to grab a few more. 

We navigate the edge of a field whilst farmers work in it. Handily they have parked near to where the caches are hidden, blocking us from view. 

Probably just as well as at one point we are balanced precariously at the edge of yet another flipping ditch. Trying to counterbalance backpacks without toppling in head first.  We go for a teamwork approach. My friend holding a rock out of the way whilst I lunge in for the cache. 

I won’t lie.  It’s a rather intimate moment and I can’t help but remark that I felt like I was leaning in for a cheeky snog. 

Unabashed my friend replies how with such a romantic setting it surely couldn’t be helped. 

The absurdity of the moment kicks in and I lose the plot a little. 

I just really hope those vehicles are blocking us as much as we think they are. 
A further cache on the field perimeter and then we need to cross it.  

Only this time the farmer is still bloody ploughing it. 

Running out of time there is only one thing for it.  There is no alternative route and we now need to get back. 

Waiting for the farmer to turn his tractor, the only option we have is to leg it across the freshly half ploughed field. 

Ever tried running across a freshly ploughed field?

Don’t, it’s flipping hard work!

As we disappeared into furrows up to our knees we couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculous situation we once again found ourselves in. 

The aggressive revving of the tractor nearby really not helping us to stay composed.

Sorry Farmer but Right of way and we need to use it.

We may even have stopped to find one more cache before we left the field. Rude not to after all that effort to get there.

Time however as we all know flies when you are having fun, even more so when you are finding caches and despite the quick finds we have to call time on our shenanigans.

To charge onwards to the village and my parked car. Forgoing caches in the need to get back to school without being a completely incompetent parent. (Especially as it’s my daughter’s birthday!)

We find a footpath which should shorten our route back. Result. 

Only a farmer has been at work here too and completely ploughed out yet another path. 

*Deep breath*

We might have got the teensiest bit lost, we might even have had to ask a dog walker for directions, but we definitely were not late to pick up the children. Phew! 

Needless to say we didn’t make it back for cache number one, we did however notch up a fairly respectable 39 caches and despite all the nonsense, can’t wait for part two.

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19 thoughts on “The Cambs CachAthon

  1. OMD 39? Heck, we thought we were doing well getting 6, or was it 7, today.. mind you some were puzzle caches, tricky little lego boxes that mum was scared of breaking or not being able to put back together again after we’d eventually got the log out. It’s a circuit of 30 assorted type caches around where we walk most days so we’re eeking them out to make them last longer as they’re mostly all ‘different’ and not just a tupperware box behind a post so more fun.. and like you we’re in it for the walks and not the numbers.
    Ploughed fields are awful aren’t they, I hate getting mud stuck between my pads and mum hates walking with mud clogged boots the size of concrete blocks… and most of the time they don’t bother to drive along the footpath afterwards so it takes weeks of dog walkers to make a path.
    You get weaned off phone caching to a garmin? I think we did it backwards… we started off with our whizzy garmin machine and then they invented iPhones/we gave in and got one… so now the poor Garmin lies unloved in a drawer ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Perhaps we should get him out again… though I think he’s probably a bit like having a whizzy ‘Nokia’ ha ha when everyone else has iPhones when it comes to technology.
    Sorry to waffle on… but it was a rather ginormous blog post!

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    1. 39 film pots or similar, compared to six quality caches – I’d take the latter every single time. It’s fun to ‘boost’ the numbers but it’s not the enjoyment of a quality trail. I follow a few on Twitter who regularly bag 100+ in a day. Oh my! I’d reached my limit with 39, my logs were atrocious as I just couldn’t remember which was which and actually there isn’t much you can say about these types of cache.
      Only one farmer had ploughed the path back in, drives me nuts!
      That’s funny you went from Garmin to phone. I took a long while to wean myself off the phone. I still phone cache for daily grabs but for a trail I prefer the Garmin.

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  2. Love this post, had everything… laughs, drama, mud and even a clandestine romantic clinche at the side of a field, lmao. I watch with interest as you tackle the rest of the series. I am taking notes for when we take it on next year… possibly ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. So you found over a third of my ENTIRE cache collection in one outing?! Feeling slightly inadequate right now!

    As a side note, you’re no longer appearing in Reader, have you changed any settings? Luckily, I get email notifications ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Ha, but I’d take quality over quantity every single time. (It was fun though!)
      Ooh! Not changed anything, I regularly get people re-following. Occasionally WordPress just seems to boot people out. Probably due to misbehaving ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  4. Entertaining post as always. 39 wow! Not made that many in a day yet – I think our highest is 24 (should have been 25 but we had already found the last one). Strange what we get used to – I love my iPhone for caching; Cockrobbinn must have his Garmin (when I remember to add the caches to it !)

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    1. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I doubt I’ll go much over that number.
      I cache with my phone for daily grabs but for a series it’s always the Garmin. Being terribly disorganised though you can guarantee that I’ll always be loading caches on at the very last minute!

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