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.

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West coast

1 02 2015

Again it was time to get hold of a relocation rental car deal. I had thought about taking the bus to Queenstown and then getting a car back as that is the direction in which they are available. It was not to be this time though. When I looked at the beginning of January there were cars available every day. When I looked again in the third week in January there was nothing available until mid February! That gave me the choice of Greymouth or Nelson and as I had just been up to Nelson I chose Greymouth. When I left Christchurch it was raining, which for this years vacation was the first day I had encountered it. However, the three kilometer walk to the airport where I picked up the little Toyota Yaris soaked me through to the skin and wet all my clothes in my rucksack. Once I was about 20km to the west of Christchurch the rain stopped abruptly and the sun came out. The temperature as I approached the west coast soared to around 30C and all my stuff that was spread out on the back seat of the car quickly dried off.

On the way out of Christchurch I drove along the Old West Coast Road in order to pick up the eight monthly spelling challenge caches that I qualified for, the first one being January Spelling Challenge. I remember well the first time I found a cache along that road. It was Moneydork’s Yellow Submarine, the first submersed cache I found, and yes it was yellow. The year was 2007.

One of the attractions of the west coast from a geocaching perspective is a fairly new power trail with the title (first cache in the series) Know When to Hold ‘Em ( – 2 of Hearts). It was a series of 52 traditionals and four mysteries, one for each suite of cards. I had worked out that the caches would be on the left side of the road in the direction of travel which meant that I would have to go round the car each time. I decided to start from the far end which meant that the caches were on the drivers side albeit across the road. It worked out fine although six of the caches had gone AWOL so I didn’t bother doing the mysteries as they were dependent on picking up clues amongst the tradional caches. The 32 km trail took med 5 Âœ hours which was plenty enough for me.

Know When to Hold 'Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast

Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast

My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold 'Em power trail

My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail

A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. :-(

A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. 😩

Seen on the Know When to Hold 'Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician

Seen on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician

I followed the Grey River down to the Brunner mine where I stopped to do the earthache Brunner’s Black Gold. It was fascinating to think that the coal mine was so large in it’s heyday. Very little remains 120 years on but it’s worth remembering what it had done for the area.

Brunner mine bridge

Brunner mine bridge

Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey

Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey

Even Greymouth itself is presumably a shadow of it’s former self. The stop banks are witness to the flooding of recent years but no more large ships find their way to the quays and coal is taken by train to Lyttelton. I looked at the remains of the old railway bridge and wondered how it had managed to stay in place for so long. It didn’t look at all safe.

Remains from the coal loading from early last century

Remains from the coal loading from early last century

Greymouth harbour inactivity - remains of coal cranes

Greymouth harbour inactivity – remains of coal cranes

Greymouth harbour activity

Greymouth harbour activity


The day after the power trail I felt more in need of a walk so after dropping off the Yaris at the Station/i-Site/car rental company I walked west out of Greymouth centre picking up caches on the way.

Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011

Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011

The colorful West Coast Watsonia - a kind of iris that is bountiful here

The colorful West Coast Watsonia – a kind of iris that is bountiful here

View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.

View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.

Gold mining in the 1800's

Gold mining in the 1800’s

A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour

A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour

As I was waiting for the bus the Trans Alpine Express train came into the station and I regretted not looking more into the cost for returning to Christchurch by train instead of the bus. Now afterwards I see that the train costs 199 NZD as opposed to the bus’ cost of 52 NZD so I made the right choice.

Old bridge remains over the River Grey

Old bridge remains over the River Grey

Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station

Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station





LA to Las Vegas

2 09 2013

During the time we were in USA I didn’t have time to add any new posts and since I got back home it’s been hectic with all sorts of activities going on which also has delayed me finding time to post anything here.

Our first day on the road was in a rental car and getting that sorted out was a story in itself. There was no car available when we got there and the person behind the counter had great difficulties in helping us finally sending us out to look for a non-existent parking lot. Luckily, the guys out there were in better control of the situation and found us not only a car but gave some good recommendations for a route across LA towards Barstow which was our first planned stop. We were able to travel in the lane reserved for cars with two or more people in, which eased our journey across the metropolis considerably. 99% of the cars we saw just had one person in them.

Our first stop was at Walmart, Barstow where we bought a petrol can, many liters of water and foodstuffs etc for the journey. At the checkout counter an American lady addressed us in Swedish and wondered how we had found the god forsaken hole of Barstow. It seems that she had lived in Eskilstuna for many years before returning to California.

The first interesting stop was actually on Route 66. Now for those of you who have seen a map of California know that the road from LA to Las Vegas is Highway 15 and that Route 66 heads off in the wrong direction. Those enlightened amongst you also know that there is a power trail on
http://coord.info/GC2J17A”>Route 66 with 800 caches in it. 🙂

The first stop was at The Little Red Caboose making it the cache to give me a California souvenir. It was a fun cache in it’s own right.

California Souvenir

California Souvenir

Red Caboose - my first find in California

Red Caboose – my first find in California

As we had more than 500km to drive to get to Las Vegas I had no intention of trying to find 800 caches on the Route 66 Power Trail. We did the first section which consisted of 33 caches. They were virtually all “PORC’s” or Pile Of Rock Caches. They were easy to locate but I had a moment at one of them when I heard what I am sure was a rattlesnake not too far away. I didn’t wait to find out if I had heard correctly.

Route 66 road marking

Route 66 road marking

Route 66 signpost

Route 66 signpost

We drove up across the Mojave Nature Reserve to rejoin highway 15 an hours drive south of Las Vegas. I was expecting a desert with just sand but it was full of bushes, and areas with many Joshua trees. We glimpsed a coyote at one placed that we stopped but it was a disappointment that we weren’t in a classic desert with just sand dunes. We couldn’t complain about the heat though. It was 40C in the shade and of course when I was doing the power trail on Route 66 there was none. Phew!

We logged a virtual cache in Kelso after waiting at the railroad crossing for a 3 km long train to pass.

Arrived just in time to wait for a 3 kilometer long train to pass.

Arrived just in time to wait for a 3 kilometer long train to pass.

We rolled into Las Vegas in the early evening after a long day in the car, and as we were staying there a couple of nights we decided to postpone the “Las Vegas Strip by night” experience to the next evening.





Power Trail

21 03 2011

I guess that a series of 50 caches along a 15 km stretch of road can be classed as a Power Trail. The road that the trail is on follows a beautiful stretch of DalĂ€lven, one of Sweden’s larger rivers. I thought a few times about whether or not I would be interested in spending a few hours to grab the film canisters that were spread along the road. Did I want to wait until spring or summer when all the snow has gone or could it be a trail to do in the winter. Yes, was the answer to that question. It was winter friendly.

DalÀlven Power Trail

I decided last week that I was more interested in ticking off a few more dates in the days of the year challenge that I had set myself rather than doing a trail of fifty caches where I would be in and out of the car every 200m or so. If there had been 50 caches on a 15km hike then I would definitely have enjoyed doing it. Perhaps that could be something for me to fix this year? I wonder if any of my local Swedish caching friends would be interested?

I had already blown quite a few dates in January and February due to the local winter conditions and was starting to get withdrawal symptoms from not having looked for a cache for a while. I don’t count the single cache I found in England last weekend even though it was luckily found on a date I needed. Anyway, on Thursday I thought that I would zoom off early from work and grab a couple of caches as a trial. Was it worth the hours drive from Sandviken where I work, to grab a handful of caches and could I resist the temptation to continue – just one more – just one more?  After five easily found caches I looked at my watch and decided that I would give up for the day and return again the day after for a few more.

Of course, when I decided on Thursday to return on Friday, I had no idea that I would be driving there and hunting for the caches in a snowstorm. However, I am kind of stubborn so I set off again after work and picked up another three caches before giving up. I only did it because I knew that they were easily accessible. However, getting in and out of the car in such weather was not that much fun. So in two days I drove 280km to grab a total of eight micros, all just a few steps from the car.

On Saturday I convinced my partner that our grandson would love to go out and find some “treasures” and that we could take some sandwiches and drinks with us. So off we set, this time from GĂ€vle and in glorious sunshine. We drove straight to Husby and started off with our picnic in the strategically located bus shelter, which was perfect for the picnic as no busses run at the weekend. The first cache was duly extracted by Melvin (with a little prompting from me as to where he should look. When he realised that it wasn’t “real” treasure his interested faded, and he called them “pretend” treasures. When he heard that there were “real” treasures to be found but only after the snow had gone he was happy watching me grab a few more caches. After the sixth one be got tired and as it was already fairly late in the afternoon we called it a day and went home.

Melvin finding his first cache

So, this afternoon, I will drive out there again after work and grab a few more in order to fill in another date of the calendar. Time permitting I will drop into the flea market “loppis” in LĂ„ngshyttan. The flea market is huge which is surprising considering how small LĂ„ngshyttan is.








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