Geocaching

Ah Geocaching – You may have never heard of it, or have and don’t play it or you are a GEOCACHER! You can be a Geocacher from any country and it is a global game which means you can play it at home or abroad: How awesome is that?

Now to answer the question you might be asking, Yes I am a Geocacher but I’m nowhere near prolific compared to many others. I often hunt out geocaches when I travel abroad as many are placed in areas of significance but not the norm for a tourist to visit, exploring a place of interest and/or beauty. Of course, I have found geocaches in my local area and actually own one myself after adopting it from a fellow geocacher – I walk pass the location 2-3 times a week and I do not live far that any maintenance/replacement can be done fairly quickly.

If you have watched the video at the top of the video then you have learned what geocaching is and if you haven’t – Go watch it! It is an activity for all abilities, whether you play regularly or not. I am able but I have also been out with groups of people with a range of disabilities from being blind, in a wheelchair, learning and mental – It really is an inclusive activity.

Geocache containers and their hiding places

As the video states, geocaches range in size, containers and difficulty. Thy can be small nano containers which are magentic, or large containers with treasures that a pirate would be proud of. You can be taken into the centre of a city filled with lots of people or into the hills, where there are less people. Those whom don’t know of this game are known as “Muggles” and the aim is to grab a geocache (cache for short), sign the logbook and return it as exactly as you found it without being discovered – Trickier than you think! However, whilst many find enjoyment of being a ninja, if you get the odd look, lack subtlety or just want to celebrate your acheivement, it is okay! (Seriously, it is.) Just remember, other geocachers maybe near by and you want them to have the same journey or discovery as you did, as it’s all part of the fun. Some of the hiding places are very ingenious, so if you think something might be a little crazy, check it!

On the hunt for geocaches…

What do you need? The answer is is the video, either a phone with GPS or a GPS device and many people find that the latter are often more accurate but both devices will encounter similiar problems and that is mainly sateillite coverage. If you go to find a cache in the woodlands and their is a lot of folliage, expect the ‘distance’ to be off and when you get within 30ft of the cache location, start looking. I have got 2ft within a cache location before according to the GPS and the cache itself was actually about another 10ft away. These things like many aspects of the game will come to you in time, also learning new little things that build up your experience, skills and knowledge of the game.

There are many tips out there and a large community to support and share stories. Each geocache will have a little information on them about the cache itself, maybe a handy hint (if you are struggling) but it is also handy to read previous logged comments by other geocachers too.

Come on… join us!

 

My Travel Map – Update

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I have finally taken my travel map off the wall and updated the European section, the map last updated in January 2015. As a scratch-a-map,  you have to scratch off the countries you have visited but this means that sometimes, you accidentally scratch out tiny countries you haven’t been to, through no fault of your own.

The countries I scratched off this time, are:

  1. Germany (2015 & 2016)
  2. Austria (2015)
  3. Hungary (2015/16)
  4. The Netherlands (2016)
  5. Belguim (2016)

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Countries I need to visit to make my travel map completely accurate (aka Scratched off by accident):

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Monacco
  3. Andorra

 

Yorkshire: Little Dear Woods ~ A Revisit

In my previous post about Little Dear Woods an Outdoors Centre in Mirfield, West Yorkshire I did say I would be back and I have – The theme for this visit? Bushcraft!

Over Christmas 2015, parts of Yorkshire and other parts of the UK were affected by serious flooding after continous heavy rainfall with little stoppage in rain over days to allow land to dry. Rivers and lakes burst their banks causing signifcant damage to homes and businesses with still much recovery still to do at the time of writing (May 2016). Little Dear Woods was no exception, the facilities under 3ft of water on Boxing Day with staff members being able to canoe all over the property accessing the damage. At the time of our visit (March 2016 – Yes, a bit of a delay but didn’t want to interrupt the Budapest posts!), the centre was open for business and whilst parts of the centres such as the climbing wall etc were still out of bounds it was clear that the staff had put in a lot of hard work to make the business operational again.

Our bushcraft session consisted of three activities which you can learn more about below:

 

Activity 1 – Making Fire for the Kelly Kettle

Ah, making fire – An interesting topic! So many resources, ways to do it and how to do it yet even the most experienced even struggle in all conditions even the right ones. I have soent many summers building fires exploring different methods, trying new ideas, sharing other people’s ideas and experiences – This is sometimes a blessing and a curse.

Any how… Today’s aim was create a fire within the base of a kelly kettle to boil the hot water within to make hot drinks for later in the afternoon. Kelly kettles are a great piece of kit in my opinion that I have used in the past and yet again, I digress…

With a fire steel and some cotton wool our group was shown how to use this former listed item as well as the best way to use the cotton wool by teasing it out slowly so their is a higher surface area for fire sparks to catch it. After successful attempts at this in pairs, we moved on to try adding vasoline to the cotton wool (remember to wash your hands of the vasoline before you try to light), as well as trying silver birch bark and bullrush with and without cotton wool. Silver birch bark is great almost better than paper to start a fire due to the oils in the bark, whilst bullrush is an extremely poor in lighting if at all BUT only when used on its own. When bullrush is placed on top of the teased out cotton wool and both materials alight, the materials burn a lot longer than they would normally individually which is great when you need to start building that fire slowly bigger and bigger.

Using a combination of cotton wool, silver birch bark and small sticks to use in the base of the kelly kettle once we got a small fire going we placed the top of the kelly kettle over the base and started to add sticks gradually increasing in lengths through the hole in the top of the kettle whilst adding needed air through the base by blowing. It took both groups a while to get going but their was a great sense relief when the fire truly takes hold and within 5 minutes the water begins to boil.

Activity Two – Atlatl (Spear-Thrower)

Letting the kelly kettles to breathe, we moved onto our next activity which required us to look around the grounds for long sticks, one per person to make an Atlatl (a spear-thrower) which using a sharp blade would wittle an edge pointed enough to fit into the end of a cane to throw over distances. After a health and safety demonstration about how to use the knife, we got to work and I have to say I was very proud of mine as working with woods and knives is something I have had very little experience with.

Once we had all finished it was spear-throwing time!! Going to a clear area set aside at Little Dear Woods for such an activity, we all took turns attempting to use our Atlatl’s to throw a bamboo cane over a field using the tradition method and it isn’t easy to throw it at a great distance, but as we practised more and more we made slow increases in our throws.

Activity 3 – Marshmellows

To finish our activity session off it naturally had to end with hot drinks and roasting marshmellows over an open fire. Using the hot water from the kelly kettles we had used earlier in the fire making activity, it was a nice end to a pleasant day – Shame about the unpredictable weather but hey ho, that is the UK for you!

 

The question is now… what adventure shall we carry out with Little Dear Woods next?

Tips, Tricks & Hacks: Keep Calm

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A travel hack that relates to life overall: Keep Calm and Carry On!

However, I would also add… refuse to give up!

Whatever situation you find yourself in, the first reaction is often to panic, a feeling of being overwhelmed with no solution. Try to become calm, breathe and take stock of the situation and as you do that, you’ll be able to process some solutions whether it is for the short-term or the long. Consider the factors whether it is time, information, supplies but also know your own capabilities – Of course, different factors arise for each circumstance so a list would be exhausive but things will happen during your travels and life, so be prepared, keep calm, carry on and refuse to give up!

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to you all!!

It’s been an interesting year, a lot of challenges and learning curves in many areas of my life that I hope I will settle into properly as the New Year progresses.

Travel has been another feature of 2015, entering the year in Portugal, visiting Germany and Austria as well as a short summer in Ireland, revisiting old haunts, catching up with friends and creating even more memories. As I teased in my earlier post, I am spending my New Year abroad in Europe, the where? Budapest, Hungary! I’m going to update that travel map ASAP!

Upon my return, I aim to start typing up my time and experiences in this European city, as well as my previous New Year exploits in Lisbon, Portugal. Keep those eyes peeled!

 

I didn’t get as much online learning done as I hoped, but it is something I am going to work on in 2016 and might even apply to University to complete some credits.
 

As for my book challenge and bucklet list, I will update on all that upon my return! I also have a few more London posts for you to keep an eye out for – Busy, busy!

London: Prime Meridian Of The World

This is a firm bucket list entry for many people – “To straddle the Prime Meridian Line, one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and the other in the West.” To do that, doing it in London is the place to be at the The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, also home to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Set in the Greenwich World Heritage Site area which also features Cutty Sark, Queen’s House, the Peter Harrison Planetarium and the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory is home to an Astronomy Centre, Flamsteed House and Meridian Courtyard with these two latter places costing you £9.50 to enter (Astronomy Centre is free), so factor that in to your bucket list experience. Due to this draw for many across the world, expect the Meridian Courtyard to be busy with people, their cameras and various combinations and ideas to mark the occassion.


I DID IT!

Crossed off the bucket list in 2014 😀


As the Royal Observatory is at the top of a very tall hill you are natually granted an impressive view over the capital and surrounding area.

London: The Transport Challenge

transport01Fancy a London transport challenge? YES!

Right, this is what you need to accomplish –

  1. Walking
  2. Bus
  3. Taxi
  4. Tube
  5. Train
  6. Cable Car
  7. River Boat

You need to travel on all of these to complete the challenge. There is no time limit, but if you have a few days in the city then this would be a great time to do it over a gradual period, or if you fancy a harder challenge, in less than 24 hours. With real planning, you can do this is less than 12 hours and still have time to explore the sights and sounds of London.

Is there a record?

Not that I know of and this isn’t anything official. This only happened to me when I was in London visiting my Uncle, showing us the sights and realising that I ticked off all of these various methods of transportation in a single day.

However, feel free to let me know how long it has taken you and we’ll see!

Is there a minimum duration for each mode of transport?

One journey needs to be fully completed for each, even if it is just one tube stop, bus stop along etc.

Can I add other modes of transport?

Sure! Car, Bike (pedal, motorcycle), Segway, Aeroplane (from a London Airport to wherever, you could be saying ‘Hello!’ to London or a ‘Goodbye’) and I am sure, many others! The challenge is yours to own but try to meet the ones listed above as a minimum.

Anything else?

Let me know how you do! Photos would be a bonus 😀 Surprise me!!

Oh and research, especially if you are trying to set a great time or use a wide variety of transportation.

The Wolds Way: Filey to Hessle

The Wolds Way is a national walking trail in Yorkshire, England, 79 miles of a chalk landscape in the Yorkshire Wolds. You can start from Hessle to arrive at the seaside town of Filey with sandy beaches and a view out to the North Sea, or start out from this wonderful location, finishing in the town of Hessle, situated on the North Bank of the Humber Estuary with a clear view of the Humber Bridge in your sights. You can do it all at once, a recommended duration of 5-7 days, or where possible, you can do it in small sections over a period of time to suit your needs.

I fall into this latter category.


My Experience

The British weather is notorious for having 4 seasons of weather in a single day – One extreme to the other. However, the heavens were kind to us on our many visits to the Wolds Way trail as it was sunny, calm weather throughout. The rain threatened us but it never came.

Whilst we did the Wolds Way in sections, our journey to fulfil the 79 miles were bookended by two weekends dedicated to knocking big chucks of the trail off. Our first weekend we were based on the outskirts of York, driving about 30 minutes out to sections over the two days.

We started our walk at a church in Wintringham, which gave us the option to go in either direction of the trail, choosing to go straight ahead of our location. For this first section of the Wolds Way, we mainly passed through various farmers fields and the odd wood here and there.

Towards the end of our walk on our first day, the trail passes through Warram Percy, a deserted medieval village in the Yorkshire Wolds. Settlers first arriving in prehistoric times, the village flourished over the 12th and 14th centuries before becoming abandoned around 1500. We had a well deserved break here, taking in the history, taking our time and having a snack near the pond before we jumped up and made the short way to our pick-up.

Another day, another destination to head too but starting in the same place but instead of going straight ahead, we went right! Along the road for a period, we headed into the woods and came across a sign post that indicated a very steep gradient. This section of the trail had a lot of steep parts in it for a trail that is relatively flat and easy-going, but if you do your research this is to be expected and is doing-able for all abilities of walkers. Do not let it put you off!

The steep gradient we encountered did have a reward though, as we discovered after few minutes of flat ground walking at the top…

The art project, WANDER – Art on the Yorkshire Wolds Way, is a UK first and a pioneering project that has created an evocative attraction comprising of 10 landmark art installations along the Yorkshire Wolds Way. Leading artists have created artworks varying in type and scale for beautiful and unusual settings along the 79-mile National Trail – beginning on the banks of the River Humber and finishing on the dramatic Filey Brigg headland.

Enclosure Rites, West Farm, Knapton Brow

The artist Jony Easterby took his inspiration for the commission from the rich landscape heritage of the area. The installation includes a group of ‘guardians’ sculpted from wood and lime washed, these are modelled on small chalk figures found within local barrows (burial mounds). The installation includes a modern interpretation of a barrow to form a view point, a dew pond to act as a reflecting mirror and between the two is a wild flower seeded area and two rows of red posts made from riven oak.

Excerpt from ‘Visit Hull and East Yorkshire.

It was too early to lunch here so we kept going and found a lovely spot on a path between 2 fields. In front of us cows with young calves and behind us, an orchard with a beautiful view over the fields below us. The rest of our journey was a slow amble down hill, very gradual that you hardly noticed until you were back at ground level, the view still amazing but no longer from a birds-eye perspective.


With the weekend over, but the trail is far from completed. To complete the trail, we also had 3 day trips out to various sections of the trail including one walk centred around the Market Weighton area, another heading to the seaside area of Filey and another section in between to connect everything together – Organised! What is not so organised is forgetting the camera for 2 of these 3 trips, so here are some photos of the Wolds Way from one of them. Pretty flat, with 2-3 steep parts in the middle of each journey.


For the last sections of the trail, we decided to make a weekend of it rather than individual day trips we had done previously and to complete the journey in style!

On the first day, we must have had too much energy as we powered through the trail, overlooking fields waiting to be harvested with the strange meeting of old and new energy, power plants in the background and wind turbines in the foreground.

Due to our incredible speed, we had to have an early lunch in the most beautiful dale with great company. We saw lots of walkers on this part of the trail, with the great weather and its connections to other places, I was not surprised. So, we had lunch in this beautiful setting…

From our lunch spot, we headed up the hill into farmers fields eventually meeting a rural road before turning off onto the path that takes us alongside a working farm, before a short walk on another road and into another set of woods. And beautiful woods they are for the time of year and I always love how light plays with the colours, passing through the canopy and creating wonderful and wildful places of beauty. If like me, you love this kind of thing too you will be glad to read that the trail for this part goes on for some way, so enjoy and enjoy the beauty.

As we exited the woods, we eventually ended up at a pub, stayed for a nice cool drink, chat and rest before completing the final mile through a small wood and farmers fields, the trail taking us right back to our accommodation.

And so, it begins to come to an end, the final day arrives and we are excited. A tiny lie-in as we are very fortunate that part of the Wolds Way passes through the grounds of where we are staying, we can start from actually where we left off yesterday. No transportation needed.

If you go down to the woods today… yes, another wood to pass through and do not worry about the trail splitting early on, as there is only one option to take as the others have very clear signs stating ‘Private Road/Land.’

Strangely, the route takes you alongside and across major roads, with pavements to walk on and crossing places and the one occasion where there was a traffic light crossing, it wasn’t in the best place and could have been put elsewhere.

This surprising part of the path eventually lead us alongside some rail tracks before entering another wood, that will lead to an amazing revelation – In more ways than one in this case!

You take the high road and I’ll take the low road… (sorry, tide!)

One thing we noticed, a little too late was this… mainly because this was the first sign we saw to indicate these two different routes and also because the OS Map we have (yes, the large physical maps that you can buy from many reputable outdoors shops), didn’t have the ‘High Water Route’ actually on it. Surprise, it was high tide and when did we learn this..?

A little bit too late. The final day of our walk to complete the trail and we had to turn back. Being extra vigilant about spotting the signs (we were 22 people, so not seeing anything is a low possibility), we eventually ended up back at the village we passed through the back of, finding someone to ask if they knew how to get to the ‘High Water Route.’ A very, VERY kind gentleman told us and AND let 22 people through his garden and through a part of his house to help us. 1 mile saved!! THANK YOU!! Cutting that off, it only took around 10 minutes to get back to the coast line to a wider section that allowed us to walk across the pebble beach and return to the official route.

The Humber Bridge getting closer and closer only meant one thing… the end was near, as the trail goes under the bridge, only a mile or so further. We had lunch in the Country Park (where the minibuses had been parked earlier to take us all back to our accommodation), before making the final trek to the end. We made it!!

79 miles!!!

I just had to get some badges to celebrate the achievement

Trail Thoughts: Good weather, or bad weather this is mostly a flat trail with gradual gradients for the most part with very steep ascents/descents in places here and there. It is suitable for all walkers or all abilities and it is a nice introduction to long-distance trail walking if that is something you want to pursue in the future.

If you want to learn more information about the Wolds Way trail, visit the official website here.


Optional Extra: The Humber Bridge

You’ve seen the Humber Bridge, you have been under the Humber Bridge on your journey on the Wolds Way and now you want to go over it?!? Sane people that we are, we did just this!

The Humber Bridge, near Kingston upon Hull, England, is a 2,220-metre (7,280 ft) single-span suspension bridge, which opened to traffic on 24 June 1981. It was the longest of its type in the world when opened, and is now the seventh-longest. It spans the Humber (the estuary formed by the rivers Trent and Ouse) between Barton-upon-Humber on the south bank and Hessle on the north bank, connecting the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

Excerpt from Wikipedia

So, an additional 1.38 miles then? No, of course not… 2.76 miles because we have to go back across to get back to where we are parked! Legs exhausted, we did the sensible thing of visiting a pub at the other side to have a drink, a little rest before the return leg. Worth it, but glad we didn’t stay for too long because after two days of walking, the legs were stiffening up!

We were lucky that it was a calm day with hardly any wind, as my previous experience of walking over the Humber Bridge was a blow-away experience.. well, it almost felt like I was going to be blown off my feet at any second. Perfecting the wind-swept look I suppose…


Accommodation

Living in the great county of Yorkshire (Yorkshire Lass and Proud!), we didn’t have to rely so much on accommodation to complete the trail in an ad-hoc fashion, as most walks we set off early to drive off to our starting point, walk the mileage to a set finishing point, then drive back. We used minibuses and cars as a ferrying system to make sure everyone got back to the minibus/the car once the walk was completed. However, for two weekends (Friday evening to the Sunday evening), we based ourselves at different parts of the trail to make best use of the accommodation and its location in relation to this.

Snowball Plantation, York

Website

Firstly, I should tell you that I have stayed here before and this occasion would be my third, so it tells you that it is a good place to stay. As we are often a big group, we have Snowball Lodge to ourselves, which is very spacious.

Entering the facilities, you immediately enter the large hall which we use for both dining and indoor activities. Directly behind the hall is the well-stocked though small kitchen, with doors to access the separate male and female bathroom facilities.

Off the main hall at either end is access to the dormitories, in the past we have split into male and female quarters, each taking the end that is nearest to the corresponding bathroom facilities (as these are also at opposite ends of the hall). On either side, there is a large dormitory to sleep 12, as well as smaller room to accommodate 4 people and disabled facilities (up to 3). You need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow, as these are not provided, but blankets are provided on request. In addition to this there is a drying room and a leaders room that we have used to watch films on a projector, bringing all our own equipment.

The grounds are large as they also cater to those that pitch a tent and small shelters. Various sites for controlled camp fires are available, so if one is occupied you are almost certain to find one further along the woodland trail that is free for any size group. Some are open to the elements and at least one has a covered area with seating. This latter campfire area has a log store next to it but you will still need the small stuff first, so remember to collect some on the way!

With a large grassy area to play sports included an orienteering course in a nature-filled place in a beautiful part of the countryside, you could easily spent a few days here and keep yourself occupied.

Melton Scout Campsite

Website

The second and last weekend of accommodation, we used Melton Scout Campsite. The lodge and campsite is based near Hessle with a section of the Wolds Way going through the grounds which was a great draw to this place.With an amazing view of the Humber Estuary, the camp grounds also has places for camp fires as well as various activities including an assault course.

As you walk into The Lodge, you are immediately welcomed by a boot room with lockers – Very important to take off your hiking shoes before entering the main part of the building, or else mud gets everywhere! Plenty of lockers and coat hooks for all, just remember to have indoor shoes to switch with unless you don’t mind walking around with socks/bare foot. Through the glass double doors, immediately into the dining area, with the kitchen on your right and behind. The dining comes with tables and chairs which you have to set out yourselves, as well as the lovely perk of having a wood log fire. The kitchen is well stocked with lots of room for storing your food supplies, with an oven, 2 kettles and a sink area.

A door off the dining area leads to a long corridor which at the very top has your toilets and showers, with the bedrooms taking up the remaining of the rooms down the corridor. The rooms all contain bunk beds, with either 2 or 4 to a room as well as small lockers for each individual, a window to look out onto the grounds and a radiator for your heating needs (if needed). You need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow, as these are not provided.

We have never stayed here before, loving it so much that we are planning to stay here for future weekend trips for more nature-related trips. As the weather was great into the evening time, watching a slow, powerful and colourful sunset, we decided to have our tea (dinner) outside around the campfire.


If you have any questions, thoughts et al about the Wolds Way and my experience of this national walking trail do not hesitate to ask!

P.S. This post is long, I know and I have tried not to ramble but it is a long trail!! Plus, photos… lots of them, a very valid reason never to give me a camera 😀 In future, I might just add tips and tricks for hiking, as well anything related to travel.