Geocaching around a haunted abbey…
Rufford Country Park is home to the beautiful ruins of a 12th Century Cistercian Abbey and a converted country house. I’m lucky to have grown up close enough to visit this magical place at least a few times a year in my youth and I still like to visit when I’m back home. 🙂
Recently Rufford has been in the news for a ghostly sighting of ‘The White Lady’. I wouldn’t normally believe this kind of story but years ago my Mum and Dad both said they had felt a strange presence when walking around the ruins of the Abbey and when they felt a sudden temperature drop in the room they were in they got spooked and quickly bolted for the nearest exit! In fact I’m not even sure my Mum has been back in there since!!
It’s 150 acre grounds now also contain a couple of Geocaches – which we thought it’d be rude not to check out 😉 Unfortunately with it being their quiet time of the year there were a few renovations going on to the sculpture park where one of the caches, Picture Quiz, was located but I know I’ll definitely be back at some point in the not too distant future so I didn’t mind. There’s also another one, called Rufford Explorer Leader Cache, which we’ve got saved for better weather as it was quite a long multi-cache which we didn’t fancy doing as it was a freezing cold day!
Instead we settled on doing the Camera Obscura cache, and even though the actual hut for the Camera Obscura was locked we could still get all the information we needed to find the cache, which we then saved for the end of the walk as it was near to where we’d parked the car.
We then continued around the park, and the huge lake, to the Rufford Water Splash…a hit with the locals and one of mine and my brother’s favourite places when we were kids. The ‘Water Splash’ is essentially a dyke which cars drive through…some at great speed which awards them extra points with the bystanders! We’d spend hours as kids here marking the cars out of 10 for their efforts!! I’ve managed to find a video on YouTube so you can get the idea…and to give you a clue as to the usual height of the water level….
However, when we arrived at Rufford the UK had been experiencing torrential downpours (and we still are!) so the water splash had signs on both sides with the word FLOOD marked very clearly on them to prevent cars from driving through, which should put the average person off, right? There’s always one daredevil though and we found him with a flooded engine, sat in his van, with a fairly grim expression on his face! There was nothing we could do to help without waders and a tow truck so we merely gave him a wave and a nod and moved on knowing how embarrassed he must’ve been feeling!
We picked up another nicely hidden cache, appropriately named Splish Splash: Rufford Mill, and headed towards the Camera Obscura coordinates. There was another en route called the Rufford Explorers Cache placed very close to one of Rufford’s old ice houses, and a little off the typical tourist trail through Rufford which was nice.
It was also near to the coordinates for the Camera Obscura which took us quite a while to unearth but it was worth it as the contents were quite unusual and it made the hint on the cache page make sense!! You’ll have to go out and find it for yourself to see what I mean 🙂
That concluded our Rufford caches for the day but we’d woken early enough to head over to another series around *Birkhil wood* in Wellow. The series, named ‘Wellow Woods Nature Trail’, is full of interesting hides with a good number of caches it makes for a lovely walk. It suggests on the cache page to take the walk during Spring as there is an abundance of flora, fauna and funky animals that creep out of the woodwork at that time. I’d also suggest not to go in winter without wellies as the mud is quite ridiculous on some stretches which meant we had to do a tiny bit of bushwhacking unfortunately.
*Just as a random aside, did you know that the word ‘Birk’ actually derives from the Viking word for birch?* Well I didn’t, but I could certainly see why the area was named that after walking through all the birch trees in there that day.
As you can see from our smileys we never made it round the whole circuit, starting here at ‘Big Breakfast‘, as by the time we’d reached the far Eastern point the sun had started setting and none of us were keen to be walking through the woods in the dark!
We did collect quite a lot of the information for the bonus cache as I’m sure it’s a circuit that we’ll come back to – hopefully in the spring though as the CO has suggested. 🙂
On the far Eastern side of the map you’ll see the Holocaust Centre marked. I went on a school trip there when I was younger and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s truly a very moving experience and I’d highly recommend taking the time to visit it if you’re in the area.