Heritage Power Trail – Isle of Man

20 04 2017

Isle of Man flag


The last time I visited the Isle of Man was in 1964 and the railways were still in operation. Fast forward to 2016 and I had the notion that I would like to revisit the island and add another geocaching country to my list. I mentioned this to my brother who is half of team “zelger” and he said that this would be a great opportunity for a “lads reunion”. Anyway, time passed and nothing materialised due to everyone having commitments. Finally, in March 2017 I raised the idea again and booked my tickets for Easter 2017. Half of zelger decided that this was not an opportunity to be missed and booked tickets too.

The aim of the trip was twofold. Walk the Heritage Power Trail in a day and spend a day of nostalgia on the electric trams and steam trains on a second day. While we were at it I threw in a geocaching event so we could meet some of the local geocachers. A friendly bunch they were too. The event was Meet a Swede, which isn’t quite a lie as I have dual nationality. Teamkiisseli from Finland were relieved that they were able to speak English not Swedish and didn’t need to discuss ice-hockey.

The Heritage Power Trail crosses the Isle of Man from Douglas in the east to Peel in the west. There are other trails as well but this one seemed to be the definite trail and also gave us the chance to brag that we had walked across the island. After a hearty but early breakfast at our hotel we made our way through Douglas to the start of the trail. Well actually, the end of the trail. Number 1 is in Peel and the last one, number 79 is in Douglas. I had been watching the weather forecast for a few days and it seemed as though we may be in for a wet day. Apart from some light rain early on we had no problems. The sky remained cloudy most of the day but cleared up for a while in the afternoon. There were several information boards along the trail. This was close to Douglas.

Steam Heritage Trail – Douglas to Peel

Our walk together with lunch and a couple of other diversions took all day but was worth it as it gave a nice string of smilies right across the island.

Heritage Power Trail – done in a day!

The majority of the caches were micros, either film canisters placed in nifty little wire baskets on trees and fence post or PET preforms. A few of the caches were larger, notably the TB hotel, the letterbox and the bonus cache.

Bonus cache

Of course, as the trail follows a disused railway line there are no really tough gradients. I think that the highest point we reached was 49 m asl. There were various remains from the days of the active railway, amongst them a couple of rusty bridges like this one.

A rail bridge across a river

The old station at Union Mills has gone along with all the track but there are details available on line for those interested.

Maps of the trail at Union Mills

Historical railway crane at Union Mill

After the third run of micros it was great to find the TB hotel. There was a TB in the box that we picked up and took with us along the trail.

zelger extracting a TB from the trail’s TB hotel

Even though it was overcast and only about 8 degrees C spring was still well on it’s way and there were flowers of all kinds along the trail. These were just some of them.

Plenty of flowers along the trail

Needless to say we were pleased to get to HPT #24 at Tynwald Hill so that we could get lunch. We got there a couple of hours later than expected but a couple of pints of beer to replenish our fluids and a hearty Manx cheese sandwich put us back in good spirits. I had originally planned to find a handful of caches at Tynwald Hill but decided to skip them as we were running late. Tynwald is also the name of the legislature for the island of Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man).

Tynwald Hill – of historic significance for Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man)

As we neared Peel the track followed the River Neb and the scenery changed somewhat. There was plenty of bird life including this heron.

Heron and mill wheel

Heron

After the intial difficulty we had finding HPT #76 the rest of the caches were easily found, until we got to Peel that is. HPT #2 was located at a sign but we couldn’t see anything. As we were searching we heard a voice. “Are you looking for the geocache? It’s in the …” It was a local guy getting something out of a nearby parked car. He saved our day. He had probably given the same hint to others before us too.

Peel Harbour

As we arrived at Peel Harbour we just had HPT #1 to find and that was a nano under a bench. Of course there were four people sitting there but we HAD to find that cache so we told them what we were doing and suddenly there were six people on their hands and knees searching for the cache. We found it after a rather long search much to our relief. All that remained was to get the bus back to Douglas. We had to wait an hour as it was Easter Monday and the busses were not running the regular weekday service. Once on the bus we were back in Douglas ready for dinner in just over half an hour.





Pi-day

16 03 2015

Pi-day is my brother’s birthday so I never forget it. However, I nearly forgot that I could collect two souvenirs on the same day. That there was a Pi-day event was easy to spot but it wasn’t until I got there that I learnt about the Pi-day souvenir for finding a myst on the same day.

Pi Day Event Souvenir

Pi Day Event Souvenir

Pi Day Mystery Souvenir

Pi Day Mystery Souvenir

The local event  Pi som i pizzalunch was held at a food court in the centre of Gävle and was the initiative of a relatively new geocacher, Udenius. Great initiative. About 25 people turned up so it was quite a task to find a group of tables to sit at. I didn’t get the opportunity to say hi to everyone but I think we all managed to get a place and good food during the couple of hours that most of us were there. I ate a tuna salad so not a lot of “pi” in that. So here are the souvenirs. Rather stylistic and simple.

I had recently had a failed search for Madchicken’s Bearlake mystery caches that I cursed and swore about at the time – see my post Bear-lake and was now over the moon as I was able to go back today and find a couple more of the caches in order to earn my souvenir. I was still not able to solve all of the mysteries but that wasn’t a problem for today as the finds picture was a pie!

Bear Lake Pie

Bear Lake Pie

I tried hard to fish for tips on the remaining two unsolved mysteries one of which was  Bear Lake #6 – P13 – a pi-mystery of course. It was like getting blood from a stone as the CO was as tight as a mussel, just to use a couple of often used euphemisms.

Finally to round off pi-day I had a look at the new geocache GC31415 but my video skills are too poor to even think about sending in an entry. Actually, Pi-day spilled over into the Ides of March as I found a newly released cache Pi-dagen 2015 the morning after the official pi-day unlike a team who shall be nameless who logged it a year ago. 🙂





Dust off your gear

17 03 2014

Snow on Saturday and snow today on Monday. Not usually uncommon in Sweden at this time of year but this winter has been different and we haven’t seen snow for the last month. Luckily the snow that came on Saturday was just a little and most melted away quickly. Sunday was a glorious day, despite the wind. A few degrees above zero and a clear blue sky. Perfect for a T5 event!

With Yari as passenger I drove over to Hedemora, a trip of about 90 minutes, for the event Damma av utrustningen. I missed the event last year so really wanted to be there this year. What was the location of the event, you may ask? At the top of the silo – 169 steps to the top and a rope to come back down. 🙂

The event started at the top of the silo

The event started at the top of the silo

As we arrived early we decided to find a couple of local caches with a good collection of favourite points. The random choices were Gamla silon and Motorstatnen #4 Matsbokurvan. Once we had found them we returned to the silo for the event. After climbing the 169 steps to the top of the silo we were welcomed by Knatos, the event organiser.

Most of the participants at the event.

Most of the participants at the event. (Photo: Svedjan)

After talking to those there, both known and unknown cachers we decided to start the downward journey. I have never abseilled down a pipe before so it was a novel experience. Popping out of the bottom end and finding oneself hanging freely in the air about 15 m above terra firma is quite an experience.

Daylight at the end of the tunnel, er, pipe.

Daylight at the end of the tunnel, er, pipe.

After the indoor abseil it was time for the outdoor run. Luckily it was the lee side we were abseilling down as it was quite windy. Getting over the edge wasn’t too difficult as there was a great ladder to grab onto. Then it was a 35 m walk down the side of the silo. Great fun. The procedure was repeated a couple of times, the main limiting factor being the climb up those steps!

Now I'm halfway down the silo.

Now I’m halfway down the silo.

Mr. Adventurer starting his descent. Note the passenger in his rucksack.

Mr. Adventurer starting his descent. Note the passenger in his rucksack. (Photo: Svedjan)


A couple more groups of cachers came from Gävle to the event, the young guys who love anything called T5 – you know who you are! Then there was the other group who were curious about abseilling and candidates for a premier trip. None of them actually tried, but they now know what it entails

After a few runs we decided to have a coffee break and then practice ascending. I still haven’t got my gear completely sorted so MR ZZ loaned me his and gave a few tips on technique. By then we were ready to grab a couple more favourited caches and as we saw PKA, Ironhawk67, Olleoljud and Kråkan1 about 200m looking for a cache we decided to catch up with them and see if they wanted to join us. When we got to them they were just about ready to DNF the cache. I looked at the hint and glanced around. Bingo! There was the cache! As I pulled it up I heard cheers but not from our friends looking for the cache but half a dozen cachers standing on the top of the silon watching the proceedings. I have never found a cache with such an enthusiastic public before.

We continued on to Hälla Vandrarhem, Svedjan and Slagruta as they also had high favourite points and weren’t disappointed. According to the cache description a visit to Slagrutan the day of a full moon is directly dangerous but we had just come from a T5 cache and felt we were strong today. We survived and I’m pretty sure this cache will get an FP from all six of us that defied the warning.

A further visit to Hedemora hunting for caches this summer is definitely on the cards, as there is such a wide variety of creative caches to hunt for.





NZ 2013: Fourth week

4 03 2013

W4 30/1-6/2 A quick statistical summary
64 finds, 62 trad, 2 myst

I have mentioned Little G Magic in my previous post and started off my last week in New Zealand with another one Little G Says – It’s Oh! K. This is a simple D2.5/T5 but with a muggle factor. It’s located at the entrance to the housing development where I was living and I passed it every day. The easy way is just to wade through the stomach deep water to the cache which technically makes it a T4.5. However, after much thought and the purchase of a 3 dollar tape measure I discovered that the ladder where I was staying was just adequate for the job and I could grab the cache without getting wet. As I used equipment that made it a T5 again. Nice . 😉 I have no idea what the neighbours across the road thought of my movements though.

During a couple of the days that followed I spent some time to the northeast of Christchurch picking up some easy caches located along the route that the old railway from Kaiapoi to Oxford followed. The railways in New Zealand never really made it as they came too late and there was just not enough people or goods to make them profitable. Along the route I followed were signs to show where the stations had been. In some way it reminded me of my own Upptåg series of caches, although in that case the line is still in operation and in good health.

One of the station signs on the Oxford line

One of the station signs on the Oxford line

One of the station signs on the Oxford line

Another of the station signs on the Oxford line

What really tickled my imagination were a couple of caches that I found at historic sites. One of them was at the site of the New Zealand motorcycle GP from 1936 and the other at the site where two motorcycle world speed records were broken in 1955. It’s amazing what you can find in the middle of nowhere.

New Zealand GP 1936

World motorcycle speed record 1955

World motorcycle speed record 1955

New Zealand GP 1936

In Kaiapoi, which suffered heavily in the earthquakes, some historic buildings that are to be preserved still lean. An example of this is the railway station. The building itself has been moved to a safer place but the platform canopy still shows how much movement there was.

A new sculpture has been raised in Kaiapoi and a cleverly placed cache is located there. Spoiler warning.

Kaiapoi sculpture

Kaiapoi sculpture

Kaikoura sculpture (Spoiler)

Kaikoura sculpture (Spoiler)

The week ended with another couple of Little G Magic Caches. I didn’t start the hunt until it was nearly too late. Basically, in Little G’s Book of Secrets there are clues to three mystery caches.

Little G's Book of Secrets

Little G’s Book of Secrets

Finding the clues is just the start of the fun. Solving the puzzles takes things to a higher level and actually finding the caches puts the icing on the cake. I solved two of the mysteries, and found one of them. I know how to do the third one but I am just too far away to do it. Another nail biting year will have to pass before I may be able to return.

I spent more time than usual finding mystery cache on this trip. My mystery to traditional cache find ratio at the end of 2012 was 162/2825 = 5,73%. After my NZ holiday it was 188/3157 = 5,96%.

I’m not sure what I will aim for but at the event I talked with a few cachers where mysteries play an important part of their hunting life and they try to keep a 10% ratio. To me that sounds difficult, but on the other hand, when the snow is deep and the days are short solving mysteries can be a good way to go so that when the physical hunt is on again there is a nice pile of solved mystery caches to find.





NZ 2013: Third week

25 02 2013

W3 23/1-29/1 A quick statistical summary
151 finds, 138 trad, 1 multi, 1 letterbox, 6 myst, 1 event, 1 CITO, 3 earth

My third week started off with a short round trip to the south of Christchurch through Prebbleton and Lincoln, then across to Little River (on the way to Akaroa) and finishing off on the saddle of the hills leading to Port Levi where I picked up a letterbox hybrid cache that formed part of the CANZ series of caches. Most fun were the “x/12” caches placed by MacPacFamily. They were all camouflaged in various different ways and had me laughing on more than one occasion.

An x/12 cache - Blackbird

An x/12 cache – Blackbird

An x/12 cache - worker

An x/12 cache – worker

An x/12 cache - Tick Tock

An x/12 cache – Tick Tock

View of Port Levy beyond the Port Hills

View of Port Levy beyond the Port Hills

The day after was spent in Christchurch where I found a few LittleG Magic caches. So, you may say, what is special about that? Usually, finding just one is quite a challenge so I felt really pleased with myself for finding four in the same day. I can’t show any photos as that would be a real giveaway.

I then spent a couple of days driving up to Kaikoura and back but not up Highway 1 as I have done many times before. This time I turned off to Hanmer where I ate lunch and found the earthcache Geothermal Hanmer. The road north then became the imaginatively named “Inland Road” that took me through some wonderful scenery.

Brige over the River Waiau

Brige over the River Waiau

Kaikoura whale watching

Kaikoura whale watching

Kaikoura town

Kaikoura town

Kaikoura from above

Kaikoura from above

Whalebones in a Kaikoura park

Whalebones in a Kaikoura park

The last couple of days in the week were really busy. I drove back to Christchurch from Kaikoura for the event Fish n Chips in the Park collecting a few caches and the earthcache at Cathedral Gully on the way. Even on the journey back to Christchrch I tried to avoid the main road and drive on the small, mostly gravel roads closer to the coast.

Cathedral Gully earthcache

Cathedral Gully earthcache

I don’t know how many years the event has run but I think it’s my third time to visit. What I also liked was the idea of running a CITO event after the main event. We were able to clean up quite a fair amount of rubbish in what on first impressions was a well kept park. A good initiative! I was so busy talking to people that I forgot to take photographs, which was a shame.

The other highlight was doing, what may be, the South Island’s only power trail. It is called Thompsons track and consisted of eighty caches over a 40 km long road that was pretty much straight. What made it a little different from the power trails I had done before was that the caches were mostly small and had room for swapables or travel bugs. Some of them were well hidden as well. The combination of distance and needing to look for some of the caches made this a four hour adventure. One thing that was memorable was getting to cache #79 then discovering that there was no #80 on my GPS but that there was a #80 out there somewhere. I chanced that it would be at the signpost at the junction just a few hunded meters away from #79 and luckily it was. What I remember in conjunction with finding that cache was that the temperature which had been in the high twenties durin g most of the trip had gone up over 30C and my feet were sticking on the tar seal as I crossed the road.

After spending four hours on the power trail, which I have to admit I did with mixed feelings, the next few caches were a boost for my flagging energy. After a well deserved/needed cup of coffee in Methven I continued on to Rakaia Gorge to do the earthcache situated in a couple of kilometers up the gorge. The views up and down the valley are magnificent.

Rakaia Gorge - can you see my car?

Rakaia River Gorge

Rakaia River running through the gorge

Rakaia gorge – can you see my car?

This is where I parked

This is where I parked

The Rakaia River downstream

The Rakaia River downstream





One two, one two, one two

13 12 2012

12-12-12 SouvenirOn my way to work this morning I listened to a podcast where “one two, one two, one two” was used to test the functionality of a microphone. It prompted me to write this short post on what I did on 12-12-12 or if you prefer “one two, one two, one two”.

Team Paraiba had organised an appropriate event in Gävle (12-12-12 12:12 Gävle) with the meeting place being at Gävle railway station. As I work in Sandviken some 25km away I only had the possibility to attend the event for a short time before having to dash back to Sandviken for a one o’clock meeting. A few others had to rush off as well but for those with more time lunch was eaten together in a nearby “VIP-room”. What a shame I missed out on that.

Here are some of the thirty geocachers that turned up for the event on a bisterly cold winters day.

Gävle area cachers at the 12-12-12 event.

Gävle area cachers at the 12-12-12 event.

I talked to a couple of the local mystery gurus and learnt that four mysteries were to be published with the event. When I got home in the evening I started off with Forest Quest and really enjoyed the solving the puzzle. Really well made. At eight in the evening no-one had logged a find so I decided that I just had to go and look for the cache. It was only -12C and the snow was only thigh deep in most places. 🙂 Before setting off I looked at ground zero in Google Earth and though how difficult can it be?

When I got to GZ I realised that I was going to have to wade through deep snow. So off I went, over the pile of packed snow that the snow plough had left and “poof”. Flat on my face in a meter of loose snow. I must have looked like the yeti when I finally got back onto my feet. Got to GZ and there was the cache container. Without giving anything away you will realise as this was a Madchicken72 cache, which value on the “Z-axis” I had to reach to retrieve it. The two meter loop of rope that I had in my car provided the solution to the access problem.

When I got home I was quickly able to solve Kärnverksamhet? as it was in my area of expertise. A quick look at Google Earth and an earlier drive out in that direction told me that I was better off looking for the cache in daylight and on skis. Now where did I put them….?








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