It's A Long Way to Tipperary (and East Clare!) ... to go geocaching!

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary (and East Clare)… To Go Geocaching!

Geocamping, hosted by Eclectic Penguin, has become an annual event in the Irish geocaching calendar. As the name suggests, the idea is that attendees camp at the chosen campsite and then attend various side events across the weekend. Now in its fourth year, this was the second time I attended.

This year, the location was Tipperary, more specifically the picturesque Glen of Aherlow, nestled between the Galtee Mountains and Slievenamuck, south of Tipperary town.

Geocaching weekend in Tipperary, taking in the Glen of Aherlow and Cashel

Inis Cealtra

Our first stop on Saturday was Mountshannon in East Clare, for a boat trip on Lough Derg. A satellite event on an island is fast becoming a tradition on geocamping weekend and this year was no different as we headed for Holy Island. It was wet and windy on our drive to East Clare but after the weather conditions we had for the trip to Saltee Islands in July, I was quietly confident that the boat would still go.

Geocaching on Holy Island/ Inis Cealtra, East Clare, Ireland

Sure enough, the boatman confirmed we were going, but from an alternative pier a few kilometres around the lake. Cars were quickly relocated and before we knew it, we were on the island after just a few minutes in the small boat.

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

We were met by a herd of young bullocks when we arrived and after a few minutes of confusion about where the path was, or if there was one, we soon realised we had to walk through the bemused cattle to get to the ruins.

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Holy Island, or Inis Cealtra in Gaelic, is situated on the western shores of Lough Derg, the third largest lake on the island of Ireland. Now uninhabited, Saint Colum founded a monastery on the island in the 6th Century. There is a round tower and the ruins of several churches, as well as a so-called ‘bargaining stone’, which was:

…used in the 18th and 19th Centuries to seal various deals, including marriage contracts, by the interested parties placing their respective hands through the channel and shaking.

The Irish Times, 2nd June 2001

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Saint Caimin’s church is the only building with its roof still intact and sits beside the island’s round tower. Inis Cealtra was a very popular pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages, when it came to be known as ‘Holy Island’. Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote about it in his ballad, The Pilgrim.

Round Lough Derg’s holy island I went upon the stones,

I prayed at all the Stations upon my marrow bones,

And there I found an old man, and though, I prayed all day

And that old man beside me, nothing would he say

But fol de rol de rolly O.

~ The Pilgrim, W. B. Yeats

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

We headed straight for the only traditional cache, Inis Cealtra (GC6KAM2), which is located behind St. Caimin’s Church, near the water’s edge. A quick find ensued just before the rain set in. The event (GC6NXPKwas scheduled for 1pm so we decided to find and sign the challenge cache Ireland’s Top 10 Challenge (GC2RQB4) first.

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

The challenge involves finding the top 10 caches in Ireland by favourite points and I still need two more to qualify. It took a good while to make the find, but after some PAF help, The_Mother came up with the goods. Since we were standing under a huge tree and it was still raining, the CO brought the event logbook to us, so I took the chance to take a group photo, after succumbing to peer pressure and climbing up on the wall!

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Geocamping Event

Full disclaimer: we didn’t camp. We had very definite plans to right up until a few days before the event, but the thought of pitching a tent and then packing it all away again the very next day really seemed like more hassle than it was worth, so I booked a B&B in Tipperary town at the last minute. Fortunately, the geocamping event (GC69WNG) was open to campers and non-campers, so we were able to attend.

After a lovely meal in Ballinacourty House with cep99 and andreabelfast, I had noticed a new cache pop up on the map with nothing logged online yet. It was placed just outside the campsite so I assumed some of the campers would have nabbed FTF already, but The_Mother and I stopped for a look on our way in. After we were joined by buachaill and polkatart, we were surprised to see a blank log book after making the find! I think everyone inside was enjoying the geochat too much to notice a new cache. That, and the terrible data connection in the area!

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, IrelandGeocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

We finally made it inside the event, where the campsite had kindly allowed the use of the games room for our group, as the gazebo that had been erected looked like it could take flight at any moment! Geocaching Shop Ireland were displaying their wares and I managed to restrain myself enough and limit my purchasing to another album for my coins (though I was very tempted by a gorgeous wooden box to keep them all in!). Also on display was Slatey, the MEGA Slate Eclectic Penguin (TB442Y0), which won Best Trackable at the recent Geocaching Awards for UK and Ireland.

There was just time for a few more geocaches before it got too dark and we headed back to our B&B in Tipperary town.

Galtee Mountain Trail CITO

On Sunday morning, we were on the road towards the Glen of Aherlow once again to attend the Galtee mountain trail CITO (GC6NV61). On the way, we drove down quite a few boreens and it struck me that these little roads are the definition of rural Ireland. A boreen is a narrow country road with room for only one car, either completely unpaved or if paved, with a strip of grass running down the middle. The word boreen comes from the gaelic bóithrín, essentially meaning ‘little road’. Though they may be narrow, the speed limit is usually at least 80km/h, so it may be best to avoid these if you’re a nervous driver!

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

But I digress. After being sent awry by my Garmin nüvi and taking the wrong turn, we quickly righted ourselves and arrived at GZ only 7 minutes late. Small groups were formed and we all picked a trail to go in search for litter. However, there wasn’t really any. It’s a testament to the locals and the hillwalkers who use the trails that they generally bring their litter home with them and leave the routes looking so clean.

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Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

We enjoyed the walk regardless, despite the day being quite dull – the wild mountain heather along the trail brightened up our way. The obligatory group photos were taken back at GZ, with just a few people missing and I decided a CITO selfie was in order too (this may become a tradition!)

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Geocaching on Holy Island/Inis Cealtra on Lough Derg, East County Clare, Ireland

Cashel

On the way home, we stopped in the town of Cashel to pick up a few smileys and see the famous Rock of Cashel. Our first find was Hore Abbey (GC4NFPF) and a place I wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for geocaching. The Rock of Cashel tends to eclipse all other notable features in the town, but Hore Abbey is a magnificent ruined monastery, worthy of a visit on its own and decidedly less teeming with tourists.

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC4NFPF_hore-abbey

The Abbey was originally Benedictine but given to the Cistercian monks by Archbishop David MacCearbhaill in the 13th Century.

There are two caches in the town relating to the iconic Rock of Cashel: one close to the walls and another further away that gives you a good view of the entire site. We found This Is Near, But The One Out The Road Is Far Away (GC52GET) first, located just outside the walls of the site.

The Rock of Cashel is also known as St. Patrick’s Rock, most likely because it’s the reputed site of the conversion to Christianity of Aenghus, the King of Munster, by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD. The site has a number of buildings mostly dating from the 12th and 13th Centuries.

Geocaching in County Tipperary, Ireland

Geocaching in County Tipperary, Ireland

The last cache on our way out was Rock of Cache (GC1Y6QR), with a nice view to the Rock and a great way to end the weekend’s caching, aside from the massive rip I got in my favourite geocaching trousers, which meant they had to go in the bin when I got home😦 The things we do to get a cache!

Geocaching in County Tipperary, Ireland at the Rock of Cashel

Have you found any amazing historical ruins while out caching? Let me know in the comments!

Happy caching!

Sarah

© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

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Controversial Cache Stealing Website Back Online

I tend to steer clear of negative aspects of geocaching on my blog, as I figure there is enough negativity on your social media feeds without me highlighting any negativity that might exist in our hobby. However, upon much reflection, I’ve decided to talk about the reappearance of what is basically an anti-geocaching site.

The website promotes the muggling of caches to “cleanup [sic] our land, our parks, our cemeteries, historical landmarks from these caches” and requests a $29.99 fee for the privilege of doing so.

The front page of Muggled.net states:

THE GATES HAVE OPENED ON 08.16.2016! WE ARE BACK AFTER 4 YEARS AND ARE READY FOR THE MUGGLE COMMUNITY TO PROSPER! WE ARE THE FIRST AND ORIGINAL WEBSITE COMMUNITY TO HOST MUGGLING OF GEOCACHES! BE A PART OF GEOCACHING HISTORY AND JOIN THE THRILL OF OUR SOCIETY…

The only prerequisite for membership is to have an account with a geocache listing site, ‘that does not muggle caches’. That, and thirty US dollars.

The site is owned by Gerald Roman, who joined various geocaching Facebook groups worldwide over the past few days to promote the reopening of his page.

muggled net FB

Interestingly, the site was closed down by founder Roman in 2013, when he contacted New Zealand based blog It’s Not About The Numbers to apologise after realising the site was a stupid idea. Speaking to the blog, the Alabama resident stated that it would be shut down ‘for good’ and admitted that they had no members anyway.

In fact, the homepage for the site was changed with a statement that they ‘deeply apologize to any geocachers or followers, that we might have offended with our site.’ The premise of the site three years ago was to encourage members to steal caches, and list them on muggled.net for a $10 listing fee. Cache owners who were victims of this theft could then pay $10 to have the cache returned to them, in what essentially amounts to extortion.

According to a news article from Apalachicola Times in September 2013, Groundspeak had moved to sue to have the website taken down:

(Roman)… maintained that geocaches, once placed, were abandoned and belonged to nobody. Groundspeak disagreed and had set litigation in motion. But, in June, Roman voluntarily took down the website and the YouTube posting after he said he received threats to himself and his family.

Obviously, Mr Roman knows that geocachers love stats, so he has this eye-catching number on his front page:

mugglednet

That’s right, a whopping ZERO caches muggled to date. He obviously has high hopes though, as he’s set up a nine digit counter.

Needless to say, the reaction of the caching community has been a mix of shock and anger, with a note already set up on Facebook by Dane Morgan (caching name Team AMZO), instructing concerned geocachers on how to report the site to PayPal, where he is collecting ‘membership’ fees, Go Daddy, where the domain is registered and In Motion, where the site is hosted. Morgan writes:

Engaging in discussions with these people and arguing the merits of the situation is fruitless and futile. They choose to violate the law and justify their actions with banal and juvenile fallacies.

The post has been shared 138 times so far and is still gaining traction.

It is hard to believe that someone who calls themselves a geocacher can have so much hate for the game. It is NEVER ok to steal someone’s cache that they have spent time, money and effort creating. If you don’t like the cache, that’s fine but just because you’re not fond of finding tupperware boxes does not mean it’s ok to take away the enjoyment from others.

Time will tell how long the site will stay live for on this occasion. One thing is for sure, the global caching community has a loud voice when we shout in unison and the complete rejection of this site is coming across loud and clear.

Sarah

© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

 

 

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On Screen: 12 Movie & TV Series Locations You Can Find Geocaches at in Ireland

In case you needed another excuse to go geocaching in Ireland, fans of the screen – both small and silver – will love combining geocaching with TV and film, at some of these famous filming locations.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – Cliffs of Moher (GC1W06N) 

When hunting for a horcrux, Harry and Dumbledore apparate on a rock just offshore from magnificent sea cliffs. The rock is Lemon Rock off the coast of County Kerry, but the cliffs are the unmistakable Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

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The site forms part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland.

2. P.S. I Love You (2007) – P.S. I love you (GC412GX)

The cache is located where protanists Gerry and Holly (portrayed by Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank) first meet and fall in love, in the film based on Irish writer Cecelia Ahern’s novel of the same name.

Combine your Irish geocaching adventure with some awesome film locations with these great cache recommendations

Holly could really have done with a GPSr herself as she was well and truly lost, considering she was on foot and this spot is far from civilisation. If she was really planning on walking back to Dun Laoghaire, she would be walking for about 7 hours!

3. Game of Thrones – Come watch the Seagulls feed (GC1DXY4) and The Dark Hedges (GC38KY0)

There are various locations where the famous HBO series is filmed around Northern Ireland and I’m just highlighting two – I couldn’t choose between them! Ballintoy Harbour is used as a port in the Iron Islands and the cache, Come watch the Seagulls feed, gives you a great view down to the small dock.

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The Dark Hedges, an avenue of beech trees near Armoy, is unmistakable as the King’s Road from the series.

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4. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Saving Ryan’s Privates (GCJT5C)

The D-Day scenes from Steven Spielberg’s epic World War II film were shot on Ballinesker Beach in just east of Curracloe in County Wexford.

Combine your Irish geocaching adventure with some awesome film locations with these great cache recommendations
Photo credit: UPICM.com

Hundreds of Irish extras from the army reserves of the FCA were used to shoot the scenes, having been recommended by Mel Gibson following filming of Braveheart.

5. Braveheart (1995) – Trim (GCZKJM)

Several scenes from Mel Gibson’s biopic of William Wallace were shot in Ireland, including some battle scenes filmed at Kippure Estate in the Wicklow Mountains. Trim Castle in County Meath was used to depict the city of York in the movie.

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Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

6. The Tudors (2007 – 2010) – Jailhouse Rock (GC23CWD)

Another series produced from Ardmore Studios in County Wicklow, the historical fictional series was filmed in a number of locations in Ireland.

Combine geocaching with the small or silver screen at these awesome filming locations in Ireland

The bloody scene depicting Anne Boleyn’s final moments was filmed at dawn in the courtyard of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

7. The Commitments (1991) – #4 – A History of Bray: The Bray Head Inn (GC507RH)

The film adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel was set in North Dublin and filmed in various locations around the city. The band play at a wedding, which is filmed at the Bray Head Hotel in Bray, County Wicklow.

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Other notable movies with scenes filmed at the hotel are Watermelon (2003), Breakfast on Pluto (2005) and Byzantium (2012).

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – Skellig Michael (GC4K77T)

What kind of a list would this be without arguably the most talked about movie to ever be filmed in Ireland?

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I won’t give away any spoilers if you haven’t seen it (but why haven’t you?!), suffice to say that there is a pretty pivotal scene filmed on the breathtaking rock off the coast of County Kerry.

9. Penny Dreadful (2014-2016) – Dublin in the Rare Ould Times (GC5P8MW)

Though the fantasy-horror drama was set entirely in Victorian era London, it was filmed almost completely in Ireland both at Ardmore Studios in Bray, County Wicklow and on location around Dublin.

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Scenes from the third series were filmed around Dublin Castle in December 2015.

10. Michael Collins (1996) – Dun Laoghaire – East Pier (GC10VRM)

Another biopic, this time of Irish patriot and revolutionary Michael Collins.

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There are countless locations in Dublin where scenes were filmed but my favourite is when Julia Roberts, Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn are walking along a seaside promenade, with a band playing on the bandstand. The scene was filmed on Dun Laoghaire East Pier in South County Dublin.

11. Father Ted (1995 – 1998) – Father Ted’s Tribute Cache (GCGD82) and Rest in Peace M.V. Plassy (GC3T046)

One of Channel 4’s most popular comedy series ever, Father Ted was set on the fictional Craggy Island, off Ireland’s west coast. The building chosen as the parochial house is the home of the McCormack family who offer afternoon tea inside if you book in advance.

father ted filming location county clare-0885

A boat trip to Inis Oirr is also a must-see for fans of the show to see the wreck of the M.V. Plassy, which features in the opening credits for the series. You can also do the Craggy Island Ecumenical Tour while you’re on the island, sitting on the back of a trailer, or just rent bikes to explore, like we did!

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12. The Vikings (2013 – present) – VIKINGS (longships in the mist) (GC5H1HY)

The Vikings is almost entirely filmed in County Wicklow with Lough Tay the setting for some of the longship scenes in the film. From GZ of the cache mentioned, you can look down on the lake and see the set which is now permanently on the beach of the lake.

Combine your Irish geocaching adventure with some awesome film locations with these great cache recommendations

Have you found a cache at a cool movie or TV location? Let me know in the comments!

Happy caching!

Sarah

© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

 

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Are we Human or are we Cachers? Geocaching at the North Wales Mega

I’m not about to launch in to an argument that cachers are so amazing we couldn’t possibly be human (a future blog post, perhaps?). No, the title refers to what I now consider the theme to my week of mega fun in England and Wales. You know that song Human by The Killers? If you exchange the word ‘dancer’ with ‘cachers’, and ‘answers’ with ‘caches’, you get what might just be the best improvised geocaching song ever (move over U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For!)

Are we human or are we cachers?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the caches
Are we human or are we cachers?

Picture the scene: Friday night of mega week, Adam from UK Cache Mag wandering around the campsite with a questionable box of rum cider perched on his shoulder, sharing it with anyone who had an empty glass. I happened to have two empty glasses, since I was holding someone else’s when he appeared. Two glasses later, I heard the song being belted out from the main tent at the campsite and I joined in. This was the best geocaching song ever.

I’ve jumped ahead in the story though so I’ll rewind here.

Day One 

The muggle and I arrived to the mega campsite at Carrog, 8 miles west of Llangollen, where the mega event was being held on Wednesday afternoon. After checking in at the office, we headed to our pitch with hopes of getting the tent up. Though we were glad it wasn’t raining, we hadn’t been betting on the gale that was blowing through the campsite. We decided to wait for the rest of the clan to arrive, as we didn’t think we’d be able to put up the tent while ensuring it didn’t blow away.

We took the time to explore and happened upon 8 of the 10 mega lab caches, so we kept ourselves busy doing them. They were great fun for all ages and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

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The rest of the family soon arrived and we started to set up home for the next four nights. Amidst the tent-pitching, the photographer sent by the Sunday Times arrived so he ended up helping us put up the tent! I then spent almost two hours with him posing for lots of photos all around the campsite. He was bemused by the whole geocaching thing but didn’t think he’d be trying it for himself any time soon!

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By the time the photo shoot was over with and I was finished my phone interview with Dara from the Sunday Times, there was just time for one measly cache for the whole day, the chirp cache, A Small Travel Bug Hotel (GC6P1HW), which in reality was not very small at all!

Day Two

Thursday was the Summit Up Snowdon (GC6ATF1) event so we drove the 80 minutes to Llanberis to attend. Though it was a fair enough distance, we got to see some amazing countryside passing through fabulous Snowdonia. Before heading for the event GZ and signing the logbook (one of the week’s many wooden daffodils!), we headed straight for the webcam cache Mole says “Stick ’em up” 2 (GCQ7C0) to stand around and look silly with our hands in the air. It was a lot less embarrassing to “stick ’em up’ in a large crowd like this, compared to THE_Chris and I standing around outside a car dealership in Kent early on a Sunday morning after the mega in Essex to nab the webcam Mole says “Stick ’em up” (GCMXZ4) with bemused dogwalkers walking by…

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Afte the webcam and a brief visit to the event, the group split in to those attempting Snowdon (I was not in that group – maybe next time!) and the rest of us who did a tour of some must-do caches I had on my list. Hide and Keep (GCQXYT) had been recommended to me so we headed there first. The location really made this one – a beautiful old ruined castle set amidst a blanket of green grass and purple heather. We could even walk up to the very top of the ruin, though my legs felt a bit like jelly when we got up there!

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Before leaving Llanberis, we looked for what is probably most picturesque SideTracked cache I’ve found to date: SideTracked – Llanberis (GC2DYFR). To add to the scene, we were treated to the colourful steam train choo-chooing past after we had replaced the cache.

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It was soon time to move on from Llanberis and head further west to Anglesey and the large village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. With 58 characters, the place name is the longest in the UK and one of the longest in the world. In English, the name translates as St. Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilion of the red cave. You can hear how it’s pronounced on the Wiki page here.

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We picked up the cache Llanfair.P.G. Village Vexation (GC1519D) right on the platform at the railway station. The cache name utilises the shortened version of the place name, Llanfair.P.G., maybe because geocaching.com has a character limit for cache names!

Next, we headed straight for Bala with just one cache in our sights: Kate’s BINARY challenge No6 & MISSION IMPOSSIBLE! (GC64BH0). Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this one and we let my niece do the honours with the remote control as she didn’t know how it worked. You can watch the reaction in the video below!

An enjoyable drive back through Snowdonia with a few stop offs for obligatory photos and we were soon back to the campsite in Carrog.

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The day’s caching was far from over. ‘Mega’ geoart had been published weeks before the event and a group of Irish cachers banded together to solve the puzzles. Thursday afternoon was the perfect opportunity to sign the logbooks! We met quite a few cachers on the way around and were lucky to get around all forty five caches, though it did take longer than I had predicted.

mega puzzles

After a cache-packed day, we spent the evening enjoying the festivities at camp for the Sombreros After Snowdon event (GC6ATF4).

Day Three 

On Friday, we decided it would be a good idea to attend the GPS Maze (GC66HYC) to avoid the crowds on Saturday.

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The maze was localised in places to include lots of interesting information about geocaching in the UK and Ireland. There were also ten lab caches to be found as we made our way around.

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My favourite component was the night caching section, which was all in the dark and had various puzzles you needed a torch to figure out. We made it through the maze and signed the logbook at the end, which was, of course, trackable!

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After a quick pit-stop for coffee, we started along the canal to grab some of the LCT series of caches. The weather was perfect for it and the walk is well worth doing. The passing barges made me want to go on one for a holiday sometime!

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Our first walk in to Llangollen followed, allowing us to pick up some more caches, including a fun wherigo Over the Bridge (GC6MCCR), which presents the ‘classic caching conundrum’: find the cache, keep hold of your beer and don’t get eaten by the tiger! 

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Friday night was one the week’s highlights: the entire family went canoeing on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. The aqueduct – a World Heritage Site – was completed in 1805 and carries the Llangollen canal over a valley of the River Dee. There were three of us to a canoe and I sat at the back, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the best place to sit as I was nervous and it wasn’t the most stable position.

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There is no fence along one side of the aqueduct and the drop is 126 feet to the ground below and our health & safety adviser from TNR Coaching recommended that we not make bad life choices. Sound advice. While I was anxious, I was very glad I had done it once all was said and done. It was an experience I won’t forget for a while.

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Back at camp, we had great fun at the Camping Carnival event (GC6ATEW), where I met up with the Geocaching Ireland group who had arrived that day. This is where the story began – drinking luke warm cider and discovering The Killers are closet geocachers😉

Day Four

UK Mega day! The Llangollen Pavilion was due to open at 10am but I needed to get there early to be in with a chance of obtaining a Dragon Egg geocoin! I have amassed quite a collection of geocoins but CW88’s Dragon Egg was one that kept alluding me. I bid on several eBay auctions to no avail. When I saw this special, limited Welsh Ddraig edition would be on sale on mega day, I decided I’d have to be there early to be in with a shot of buying one.

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We were in the queue by 9:15am and were 5th in line. When we were allowed in, and I arrived at the Geocacheland stall, I was shocked to hear that I got the last one (apart from the display, which I assume was sold to the person after me). But I got one and I was so relieved, and feeling incredibly lucky too, as there were only forty of this edition made. It now has pride of place in my collection!

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We spent a little time milling around the pavilion, checking out the wares (yes, I bought more coins), signing the logbook and going through some of the many, many trackables. There was a fantastic bouncy area for kids outside and the weather was glorious.

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At 12:23pm, we were treated to a fly past by the RAF Red Arrows. A mega committee that can organise a fly past by the famous Red Arrows is definitely one to be applauded! I spent a few minutes chatting to lackey Sean just as we were both leaving the pavilion, too.

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After that, we decided to move on and leave the throngs in Llangollen. We headed for the tiny village of Glyn Ceiriog to do some Church Micros and the Bears Walk caches.

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On our last night, there was just time to put our feet up and reflect on an amazing few days! We enjoyed the entertainment put on in the main tent at the campsite and got to bed early before packing up the next day and heading to Holyhead!

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A massive thanks to the North Wales mega committee and also huge congratulations for over 1,250 attended logs as I write this and many more people besides in attendance on the day. We all thoroughly enjoyed the week, thank you so much for volunteering your time to showcase your lovely part of the world!

Were you at the North Wales mega? What was your favourite part?

Happy caching!

Sarah

© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

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Super Sunday at Geolympix!

My initial mega plans for August did not include Geolympix, but three megas in one week was just too good to pass up, so on Sunday morning, the muggle and I made the two and a half hour trip from Wem in Shropshire to Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire for the second mega of the week.

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The estate is vast, set over 5,000 acres, and is managed by the National Trust. It’s also brimming with history, from Iron Age farms all the way up to the use of Ashridge House to train and billet troops during both World Wars.

We were up against a 2pm deadline to attend the #UKGeocachingHour meetup, a chance to put faces to Twitter handles! UK Geocaching Hour takes place every Tuesday at 8pm British Time and is hosted by Arthur of Griff Grof. 

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There are set questions each week during the hour that anybody can suggest and it usually doesn’t take much to help the geochat flow. It’s been running for over a year and was shortlisted in the Social Mediaist category at the Geocaching Awards (more of that shortly). I try my best to ‘attend’ every week but am notorious for forgetting it’s on. It was great to finally meet fellow geocaching tweeters in person!

The group soon dispersed and it was down to the serious business of caching! The muggle and I joined THE_Chris, lulybelle and bingothebountyhunter to hunt for a few of the many, many caches dotted around the estate. The muggle soon decided to depart and leave us to it after cache number two and I couldn’t blame him really. He had to come along with me at Piratemania but now he could leave me in the safe hands of other cachers for a while!

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We did a selection of cache types, meeting fellow geocachers at almost every GZ. The Quality Sweets series caches we found were particularly amusing. Described as a ‘family-ideal’ series in the cache descriptions, the caches all had unusual, fun containers.

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We dipped in and out of a few series, failing to complete any of them but having enough fun not to care! The Wherigo cache, Where Will You Go? (Geolympix Legacy) [GC5WWYGGwas the most memorable of the day. A so-called ‘reverse wherigo’ inspired by the original ‘Reverse Geocache Puzzle Box’ by German cacher -Waldmeister-the idea is that you always know how far you are from the cache, but never in which direction you have to walk. To begin with, we were quite a distance away but we managed to find a few caches en route to the final.

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As we approached the final 100 metres or so, it became apparent that a barbed wire fence stood between us and the glory of the logbook. There was probably a less barbed, longer way to get in, but time was, as always when geocaching, of the essence. Of course, to a muggle barbed wire means ‘do not enter’, but a geocacher just thinks, ‘do I go over or under?!’ (A roll underneath was my decision in the end).

It was soon time to hoof it back to the main mega area for the first ever National Geocaching Awards for Britain and Ireland. We bid a fond farewell to bingothebountyhunter and made our way back towards the Bridgewater Monument. Having arrived earlier than predicted, we had time to investigate the rather eye-catching ‘geocache’ letters, reminiscent of the Hollywood sign, sitting in the middle of the field. Obligatory photographs were posed for, of course.

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The awards were soon underway and the Irish caching community took home no less than five gongs, including Best Cache for Europe’s First [GC43]. It was fun hearing organiser Simply Paul trying to pronounce Irish names like Coillte (Irish Forestry Managers) and Croaghan (one of our reviewers) (sorry Paul!). I was unsurprised not to top the Social Mediaist category where I lost out to worthy winners, the Podcache Show. Yes, it’s cliché, but it really was an honour to be shortlisted amongst such fantastic competition and to represent Ireland in the last five, especially since mine was the only blog in the category.

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I proudly sponsored one of the awards, The Geocaching Junkie Award for Special Geocaching Achievement, with four very worthy finalists: Dorsetgal and Geodog, Sadexploration, Stanthews and Washknight. Sadexploration, the founder of the ever popular Church Micro series, scooped the trophy and was sadly not in attendance, as I would have loved to meet him in person after writing about him and his wonderful series on my blog a few months ago.

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When the awards were all wrapped up, we heard a few words from a representative from the Ashridge Estate NT, who was delighted to see so many people attend and explore the forest. It’s always good to hear positive feedback from muggles, especially land managers!

I then got to meet some lovely geocaching folk I have only ever met virtually in the past – Angie and Alan of Manx Geocaching and Paul of Washknight: Geocaching Blind. Geocachers really are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!

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It was soon time to check in to our hotel in Hemel Hempstead and put our feet up after a busy weekend of caching. The mega week had just begun: after a pit-stop for two nights in Derbyshire, we were on our way to Carrog in North Wales. Read all about my adventures at the UK Mega 2016 in my next blog post!

Many thanks to the organisers of Geolympix and the NGAs for all the very hard work put in to make the day memorable and hiding some cracking caches.

Have you ever attended Geolympix?

Happy caching!

Sarah

© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

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A Pirate’s Life For Me! Geocaching at Piratemania in Shrewsbury

At the start of this year, I found out that Piratemania 9 and the UK Mega were being held not too far about within a week of each other. After much deliberating, a treaty was agreed with the muggle, that we would spend over a week of our holiday time in England and Wales, mainly geocaching, with a little bit of visiting his family time in between too.

Piratemania, the first of the week’s mega events, organically grew from an annual camping event to achieve mega status in 2011. Now in its ninth year, the event is touted as the mega  that “gathers together Pirates from all over the globe for one weekend of fun.

Friday

Will Turner: We’re going to steal a ship? That ship?

Jack Sparrow: Commandeer. We’re going to commandeer that ship. Nautical term.

Well, we didn’t exactly steal or even commandeer a ship, we just booked our tickets and took the geomobile on the ferry over the Irish Sea. At least we went by ship rather than plane, to add to the pirate theme of the coming weekend!

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After the uneventful crossing from Dublin to Holyhead, we did a few caches en route to the small market town of Wem where we were staying, north of Shrewsbury, the event location for the mega. We opted not to camp, as I didn’t want to shiver me timbers for a whole week! After checking in, we went straight to the mega campsite for the Piratemania BBQ Event

The sheer number and variety of flags at the campsite was very impressive, with an obvious leaning towards the skull and crossbones, as is befitting to a pirate event! We weren’t camping though and we needed some grub, so we bid farewell and went to eat some local fayre.

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A quick search on the geocaching map when we had arrived in Wem showed up a mystery cache with fake coordinates very close to where we were staying. Ghost Town (GC5KN54) tells the story of Jane Churm, who is believed to have started the Great Wem Fire of 1677, by accidentally dropping a candle. Over 500 buildings were lost in the rapidly spreading fire.

In 1995, Wem Town Hall caught fire and a local photographer took some shots of the blaze. What he discovered when he developed the film was the image of what appeared to be a young girl’s face. Was it Jane Churm, whom local legend says still haunts the Town Hall? Check out the cache page for the spooky image and decide for yourself! The puzzle was great fun and something I haven’t seen before. Even if you’re never going to have the opportunity to find the cache, have a look and see if you can find the solution – it’s great fun!

Saturday

On the day of the mega itself, it was time to don my finest pirate garb, practice my best ‘arrr’ and head for Shrewsbury!

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After registering, we had to decide if we wanted to be on the red team or the blue team. We chose read, mainly to match with my pirate outfit. Why we needed to pick a team would be revealed later on in the day.

We started doing some of the new pirate caches that had been laid out for the mega and soon found ourselves in the town centre. Shrewsbury is where naturalist Charles Darwin was born and brought up and the town is dotted with way-markers on the Darwin Town Trail, which highlights locations significant to the Father of Evolution.

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The town is full of historical buildings and has a relatively unaltered medieval street plan, with lots of cobbled lanes and alleyways, called ‘shuts’. It was great to walk around and take it all in, while grabbing a few caches too!

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We made our way back to camp to meet up with THE_Chris and the sgtzara‘s for a group shot of the Irish pirate contingent. Either Chris didn’t get the memo, or his outfit got lost in the post – you decide😉

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There were pirate outfits everywhere you looked and some people really went all out. I walked past TeamTroy and had to ask them for a picture – how amazing do they look! Ellie the dog was also a very worthy pirate model.

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It was soon time for the Tug o’ War – this is where those red and blue team bands came in! Since I was busy snapping photos, I couldn’t help Team Red out, so the muggle stepped in to help the reds to victory! The blues had their work cut out for them as the reds seemed to outnumber them by quite a bit.

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The muggle even got in the pirate swing of things and tried on my hat, though I’m not sure that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be worn!

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On our way out of Shrewsbury for the last time, we stopped at the EarthCache Lyth Hill – A 550 million year view (GC4K11H) for a stunning view and we even got to go through a 20p toll road on the way there, which was a novelty.

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There was just time for the fun Carted Away Wherigo cache (GC4X777) in Wem before it was time to hit the hay and prepare for the next morning’s drive to Hertfordshire for the Geolympix! More of that in the next blog post. Stay tuned and always remember:

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Were you at Piratemania? Have you ever donned a silly outfit for a geocaching event? Let me know in the comments!

Happy caching!

Sarah

© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved

 

Hot Off the Press! Geocaching Featured in the Sunday Times

Last week, the muggle and I spent a hectic 9 days in England and Wales, attending 3 megas and doing an insane amount of geocaching! On day two, while we were in Shrewsbury attending Piratemania, I was contacted by Dara Flynn from the Sunday Times (Ireland) and asked to do an interview about geocaching.

On Wednesday morning, I spent a couple of hours with a photographer at the Mega campsite in Carrog, doing a photo shoot of various geocaching poses! I then spent a while chatting to Dara about everything geocaching.

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We were joined by more members of the clan at the campsite, so the photographer took lots of photos of the whole family and the kids loved it!

Meanwhile in Dublin, Donnacha went geocaching with a photographer and also spoke separately to Dara. The attached article is the result, I hope you like it!

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Many thanks to the Sunday Times for kind permission to reprint here.

Happy caching!

Sarah