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! 😉
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!
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.
My GPS would never make me nearly fall into a ditch at the wrong post. 😉
Luckily with our time constraints and the distance we hope to cover, the caches are all incredibly easy finds like the one below.
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! 😉 )
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 cliché, the quick easy finds. Hurrah!
Some even raising a smile;
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.
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.