25 November 2012 (Sunday) - The Alternates

We were up with the lark this morning. Realistically today's planned walk would have been more suited to being a summertime one when the days are longer. But in my world idiot enthusiasm usually triumphs over common sense, and today saw another such victory. We were brekkied, dressed and out of the house by 8am. There was a minor delay when we had to drive back to Lisa's house to collect her phone, but we were at the starting point by 9am.

"The Alternates" is a series of over fifty geocaches in the Sevenoaks area. The series features some of every kind of geocache, open ones, premium member ones, multis, puzzles, even letterbox hybrids - and you rarely see those. It also includes the longest and shortest multis I've ever seen. It was a cold day, and windy at times. But it started brightly enough, and five of us soon solved the first puzzle and off we went.
We found the first half-dozen caches really easily; and then I had a minor worry. The seventh cache was a puzzle cache. The co-ordinates were given along the lines of Paris multiplied by Rome minus Munich. We'd seen this earlier in the week; I'd put out a message on Facebook asking for help. I'd been given some suggestions and I'd tried them and came up with a solution which was in the general vicinity of where it should have been. And (would you believe it) my solution was correct. The cache was where I thought it would be. Oh, I was so smug about that.

And on we went. Fudge made himself ill by eating horse poo. We got shouted at by some old harridan for being on a public footpath used by her horse. We had a snigger at "Pennis Lane" and "Pennis House". It was at Pennis House that we took a bit of a detour. The entire series of caches are arranged in a circle. If you run short of time you can cut out part of the circle by following five "link" caches. We thought that we'd just do the five link ones as well as all of the others. And we did. It was a lovely walk through some beautiful scenery. At a couple of points the route went through a golf course where golfers had to smack the ball over a lake to the holes. I would be stuffed there.

Cache 42 of the series was my eight hundredth geocache. Eight hundred since the first one on the last day of July. That's not bad going. Cache 42 was also where the weather turned. The rain started. Gentle at first, but more and more persistent. But walking in a circular route meant we had no choice but to push on. And we did. Despite the rain getting heavier and heavier, and the light failing, we carried on. The last hour was done in darkness in the torrential rain with me carrying a small dog who, after the twelfth mile, had refused to walk any further. But we did what we had set out to do; and more. Over the course of eight hours and thirteen miles we found sixty three geocaches:
  • Fifty three in the series
  • Five "link" caches
  • The Final and the Bonus
  • Three random ones that we were walking past anyway
So far this is my most prolific day's caching. Much gratitude is due to those who set the trail. As always there are photos of the event on-line.
Meanwhile my mo grows. There's no denying that I hate the thing, but it is raising some money for a good cause. please feel free to sponsor it; in five days it is coming off.

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