Checking out Dorset’s Geocaching hot spots…sun, snowboarding and red squirrels!
About a month ago we joined forces with my Mum and Bro for a week in Dorset to visit some friends and check out some of Dorset’s Geocaching hot spots. Staying at the Warmwell holiday park in Weymouth we were well placed in the centre of Dorset to discover some of its hidden treasures, and it didn’t disappoint!
We arrived in Dorset the evening after a mammoth days geocaching which involved finding 100 geocaches on the CC circuit…read more about that here → ‘How to find 100 geocaches in a day!‘ We were knackered and hungry but overall pretty chuffed that we’d been successful in our mission. We dumped our bags at the lodge and headed out into Dorchester, with my Mum and bro, to find somewhere to eat.
Parking up opposite the main throng of restaurants we decided on Brewery Square, which was a quirky little restaurant/cocktail bar with a microbrewery. As the evening went on it certainly proved to be a very popular place for the locals and a great place for live entertainment. Unfortunately we were all too shattered to stay for the evening of power ballads that lay ahead, which was a shame, because as we were leaving two gentlemen arrived dressed in something rather akin to Freddie Mercury in the ‘I Want to Break Free‘ video…my Mum was impressed and wanted to stay but we eventually managed to drag her away from the drag queens and back to the comforts of the lodge back in Warmwell.
Our first day out led us straight into an ironman triathlon. This was bad planning on our part as we’d all seen the signs which had said certain roads would be closed on our way into Dorset the day before but none of us had really noticed what it was in relation to and before we knew it we were stuck in a huge traffic jam with hundreds of cyclists whizzing past us.
Originally we’d planned to drive down to Portland to have a look around and pick up a few caches there but as the time wore on we soon realised that just getting into Weymouth might be our best bet.
Parking was limited when we eventually made it to the coast and we resorted to parking near the Fantasy Island Fun Park, in a way it was nice because it meant that we got to have a lovely walk along the beach down into the centre of Weymouth.
The ironman challenge was in full swing by the time we arrived and there was a really good atmosphere with people cheering and music playing to keep the athletes upbeat. Our day doing the 15 mile walk the day before seemed like nothing in comparison to what the competitors were going through. They’d started at 5am with a 3.8k swim, followed by a 180k bike ride before finishing up with a 42.2k run…mental!
By the time we’d parked up most had finished the bike part of the race and were running laps along the sea front. They were lucky to have a really nice day with the weather, although as I was walking along I heard that they’d had to cut the swim part back a bit as the sea had been too rough in the morning but aside from that it was sunny with a nice breeze.
Ducking between the racers we managed to find Lodmoor to Bowleaze Walkabout with no problems but unfortunately the other caches along the seafront were too tricky to get to with the race in full swing so instead we carried on to the centre of Weymouth cheering the athletes on as we went.
We spent an age at Shipwrecked – Mayday working out the coordinates only to find that we couldn’t get to where the cache was because it was overrun with muggles! Thankfully our next, and sadly last caches of the day, Weymouth Town bridge and The Crabchurch Conspiracy were found quite easily.
If you’re into your history, particularly around the era of the cavaliers and the Roundheads then here is where you can find out a little more about The Crabchurch Conspiracy. It’s always nice to find a cache where it has some significance to the local history and this particular cache is a good example of that – even if the container is in a bit of an odd location! 🙂
After a long wait at the bus stop, having had to navigate the diversions from the ironman, the bus turned up and we were taken the scenic route back to the car. In all fairness it wasn’t that far but the thought of another hill after walking 15 miles the day before wasn’t all that appealing!
Snowboarding, Broadchurch and a Banksy…
As if our legs weren’t battered enough on the Monday we decided that we’d make use of the snowboarding facilities at Warmwell. Boasting one of largest snowflex courses in the UK, MrBizkitz and I were keen to have a go. Neither of us had tried it before and it would’ve been rude not to!
I don’t actually have much to compare it to except snow, I’ve never tried dendix – it looks way too scary, and when I was first learning in 2005 I was lucky to live within driving distance-ish of Tamworth and Milton Keynes which are both real snow slopes. Either way I’m still pretty average at snowboarding, MrBizkitz however is a bit of a pro (although he won’t admit it) and so he enjoyed the snowflex more than I did.
By the end of the hour session that we’d booked I started to feel like I was getting my snow legs and, had I been able to get the hang of the drag lift I might have booked up for another hour, but as it was I was pretty shattered by it all! There were only two other people on the course, one regular who was pretty good, and then another guy who was struggling like me with the lift and gave up after about 20 minutes! To be fair when you’ve got your gear on and you can’t master the lift it soon gets to be pretty hot work!
Overall, I’d recommend it, it was a fun experience. I only fell over once and it didn’t hurt too much, although that was probably because I couldn’t get enough speed up to do any real damage! If you’re a pro like MrBizkitz though you’d soon get bored just doing runs and so the night sessions with jumps and the like would probably be more up your street.
After a quick shower we headed to West Bay, the home of Broadchurch.
Being a fan of the TV series I enjoyed the walk that took us from Bridport, along the Jurassic coast of Chesil Beach and back, before continuing into the centre of Bridport. I recognised quite a few of the locations and those cliffs are a lot higher when you’re watching it on TV!
We parked up close to Pub Names #D and I added a favourite to it for the location which is unusual and very photogenic before we sprinkled over to Pepperless which we were lucky to find in between muggles! We found KISSING GATE, MID WAY, GRAFFITI BRIDGE, Brewery Walk, BREWERY BRIDGE, ROAD BRIDGE and OLD BRIDGE with relative ease and we were soon back at the car, after we had a bounce on the ground trampoline of course (I can’t resist them!).
Having always wanted to go to Lyme Regis, and being so close to it, we took the short drive over and had a quick look around. I felt like I was in Lilliput Lane figurine, all of the houses were pretty and it was clean and friendly, just what I’d been hoping for. 🙂
I was really surprised when we managed to find a cache that had been placed to highlight a Banksy. What surprised me even more about it was that there wasn’t anything else around to point it out, so had it not been for Geocaching we wouldn’t have seen it which would have been a real shame! The cache was called ‘Tales of the River Banksy‘ and it’s a very easy multi-cache which you should definitely swing by if you’re in the area.
Scouting for Geocaches on Brownsea Island…
On Tuesday we jumped in the car and headed over to Brownsea Island, catching the ferry from Poole. The weather was in our favour which added to our enjoyment of the day and after disembarking we were soon taking in all the delights that Brownsea had to offer.
Brownsea Island is quite a mythical place, with plenty of interesting history to take in as you do a lap of honour around its shores. Going midweek in September was actually a really good time to visit as I can imagine it being very busy during the summer but we were lucky to be walking around, for the most part, on our own.
Obviously we wanted to pick up all of the Geocaches which had been placed on the island, thanks to the National Trust, and so that really dictated our route around. We started at Church Micro #2060 St Mary’s Brownsea Island which took us a little longer than was really needed because we missed the gravestone that we were supposed to be looking out for! We stopped to have a quick look inside the Church which although small was quite impressive for a Church on the middle of a very small island. We made easy work of finding the first cache but realised that we should have been collecting clues for one of the other caches and so MrBizkitz made a dash back whilst we signed the log. He rejoined us as we were being accosted by a peacock and said that he had found the necessary information and so we all carried on along the path to our next cache.
We stopped for lunch and watched some of the red squirrels dashing about the woods in the dappled sunlight. Being on the island was a cross between being in one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books and Snow White!
After lunch we made our way over to Purbeck View which provided us with a great view over to Poole harbour, I lost count of the amount of photo’s I’d taken by that point, it looked so perfect!
Time to admit that I was in the Brownie’s and Guides and so I was interested to see our next cache ‘BP’s Brownsea Island‘, the BP standing for Baden-Powell who founded the scouting movement on the island! I really enjoyed my time in Brownies and Guides, I made life long friends, went camping every few weekends, and even went to international camps. I suppose it’s where my love of outdoor adventuring really started and so it was nice to be at the birthplace of it all. 🙂
Our next cache Brownsea Badge Box was also a nod to the Scouting and Guide movement and was filled to the brim with swappable badges, a great idea for a cache.
The final cache, Brownsea Red Squirrel Hunt was the one we’d messed up at the beginning by not reading the cache page, we thankfully realised what we were doing quite early on and the rest was pretty plain sailing although the find was quite tricky, and a little precarious if you haven’t got your footing right. I’m only saying that because I nearly slipped down the cliff edge but hey, it would’ve been a nice place to meet my demise I suppose! 🙂
Getting back on the ferry we were treated to a loop around the other side of the island on the way back with the captain telling us about some of the surrounding islands loaded inhabitants. He pointed out a new eco-build hidden amongst the trees on one of the islands which looked like something from a James Bond movie…and before long we were back at Poole to have a final look round before heading back to the lodge.
Mum wanted to check out the Poole Pottery shop on the way back to the car and so we all popped in to have a look round. The shop was great and you could actually watch them making the pottery and see various pieces at different stages of their development. The pottery itself is quite majestic, and had I had any money with me I could easily have bought a few pieces, I can completely see why its become so popular and even collectible.
We were all fairly weary by the time we got back to the car but I can’t recommend Brownsea Island highly enough as a day trip, it really is a stunning place and the caches are all kept in a good condition too, all I’d say is make sure you read the cache page for the Brownsea Red Squirrel Hunt one before you set off and you shouldn’t have any problems.
MrBizkitz unfortunately got called back into work for the rest of the week and so his holiday was cut a little shorter than originally planned and he headed home in our car after dinner that night. 🙁
Broadmayne, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove…
Leaving our lodge behind on day four without lunch was a bit of an error on our part. We’d decided to have a little look at the area surrounding Warmwell and pick up a few of the nearby caches, but we slightly mis-underestimated the distance that we’d be walking and so we were all a bit hank marvin on the final stretch before we made it back.
Walking the road out of Warmwell we managed to find a footpath which took us around the outskirts of a quarry, towards Broadmayne where we found our first cache, Broadmayne “D5” – Camp C Green Hut. The walk through the quarry was actually really pleasant and we spotted a few deers munching away, lots of butterflies and various unusual plants that we’d never come across before, definitely a nice spot if you like your flora and fauna!
Our next cache Church Micro 3003…Broadmayne was in the pretty little village of, yup you guessed it, Broadmayne. It all felt very olde worlde as we were walking through, and the Church itself was built around the 13th Century and redesigned by the author Thomas Hardy in 1865. They even had a copy of the drawings framed in the vestry which was nice to see. The cache was nearly a DNF but after reading a few of the logs we widened our search area and soon managed to lay our hands on it.
The walk then led us over to the next village, West Knighton and to another pretty Church, Church Micro 3002…West Knighton which was built even earlier in the 12th Century, and definitely looked much older than the Broadmayne Church. In fact there was something a little spooky about it, perhaps it was the small door attached to the side, or the slightly overgrown lawns, I’m not sure, either way I didn’t venture in to have a look around, although looking back I wish I had now!
Broadmayne “D5” Brick Kiln Cottage was our next port of call and the cache page informed us that the “D5” series of caches were placed to mark Sites of Interest to highlight the role that the village played in the preparations for Operation OVERLORD in 1944. In 2014 the village held a 70 year remembrance event together with reenactments and activities for children, you can read more about the operation on wikipedia.
Our next cache was our favourite for the day, The Bridge At The Ford, not particularly tricky if you don’t mind getting your feet a bit wet, and luckily I don’t…especially now that I carry a towel with me in my Geocaching bag…Douglas Adams was right in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when he said, it is ‘about the most massively useful thing a interstellar hitchhiker can have!‘ 🙂
By the time I’d dried off we were all getting pretty hungry and so our minds were set on getting back to the lodge, after what seemed like the longest walk ever we finally made it back for a very late lunch!
With a few hours of daylight left we headed down to the coast and parked up near Durdle Door, which is one of my favourite places in the UK, for a little wander. 🙂
I was pleased to see that there was an Earthcache here, but before we checked that one out Mum and I nipped up the steep hill to pick up DogWalkies.com-Durdle-2 which was a nice quick find. The view from the cache was stunning so I added a favourite. 🙂
The Dorset Series Earthcache (Durdle Door) was up next, with the answers found from the top of the bank at the notice board. The questions were as follows;
1: What are the 5 TYPES of rock listed (not nicknames of specific rocks)?
2: What is the name and age of the trees mentioned?
3: What age of rocks can you see at Lulworth?
And of course, number 4 was the obligatory photo with Durdle Door in the background.
Eventually managed to find Under the Hump, despite the nearby footpath leading to the cache being closed. Since the storms earlier in the year battered the UK, the South coast particularly between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door has been suffering from landslides and so quite a few of the pathways are now closed off to prevent any further losses. I’m just thankful that Durdle Door managed to stay strong against the weather as it’d be such a shame to lose such a nice view.
We added another favourite point at the last one of the day, Do you know…? which had a really funny container, it’s definitely worth a quick cache and dash if you’re ever in the area.
Bournemouth and Swanage…
My bro had arranged to catch up with an old workmate in Bournemouth for the afternoon and so Mum and I decided to do a bit of shopping. We left my bro to catch up with his mate at the Bournemouth Balloon before heading over to pick up Bournemouth History: Winter Gardens which we soon found after rummaging at the wrong lamp-post for a while – luckily there was no one around and so we avoided any odd looks which would definitely have been directed our way!
The Bournemouth Winter Gardens used to be a beautiful old glass building, very similar to the Crystal Palace in London, and was home to the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra between 1895 and 1929. I remember reading about the Crystal Palace in one of Bill Bryson’s books which sadly burned down in 1936 and I wonder whether this was the reason that the Winter Gardens were changed into a brick building or whether that happened before. Either way, it’s a shame to lose such a wonderful building from the landscape. Check out the cache page for a few photo’s of what it looked like back in the day!
We didn’t manage to find anymore caches in Bournemouth which is a bit of a shame but my Mum was on a bit of a shopping mission and I didn’t want to get in between her and the knitwear! We caught up with my Bro at The Moon in the Square, a Wetherspoons which was, of course, rammed at lunchtime for a bite to eat before driving round to Swanage.
Swanage was lovely, and there was a lot going on for a Thursday afternoon. It looked as though this area had also suffered from the storms and there was a fair bit of building work going on along the sea front when we arrived. There were new beach huts and a new toilet block just off from the beach and plenty of people were milling round eating ice creams and generally enjoying the warm weather. On reading the Bournemouth Echo it looks as though the storms damaged an extensive part of the coast along here but students have been set the challenge of designing ‘future proof‘ huts to withstand any future storms so it’ll be interesting to see how well they do when the weather turns bad again!
Cerne Abbas Giant and Cattistock…
I was told by my Mum that I’d been to Cerne Abbas but I definitely can’t remember seeing it and so on the Friday we decided to have a fairly leisurely day and have a look round the small village of Cerne Abbas.
There was a walk with a few caches around the Cerne Abbas Giant but in all honesty by the time we arrived there and saw the hill I think we were all a bit shattered from a long week of walking and so we opted to just admire the giant from the bottom of the hill.
I think in all honesty I was expecting something a little more dramatic, I guess the lines just weren’t as bright as I’d expected them to be. We found out later from a lady in one of the shops that they only cut out the giant once every 25 years or so and that they just cut the grass around it fairly regularly to maintain it. Apparently they used to let sheep graze it but I don’t think there are enough sheep to do it now and so they have to do it by hand, which I imagine is very time consuming so it makes perfect sense that they don’t do it very often.
After lunch and a catch up with some of my Mum and Dad’s old friends from when they lived in Nigeria we popped over to the nearby Church, Church micro 3045-St. Peter & St. Paul, Cattistock, where one of our friends is the Vicar to try and show them how Geocaching worked, we were a little unlucky when we interpreted one of the clues wrong and ran out of time to correct it and so we ended up with a DNF which was a huge shame but you can’t win them all!
For our last day we headed over to Hengistbury Head to visit some of our old friends from Church, who I hadn’t seen in a number of years, so I was really looking forward to it. They showed us around their gorgeous house and we had some tea and cake before setting off for the peak of Hengistbury Head.
It really is a picture postcard kind of place and the walk along Christchurch Harbour was full of wildlife and people enjoying the last of the good weather, it’s a place I’d recommend if you’re into ornithology as there are plenty of unusual birds around and some good places to view them from with a pair of good binoculars.
I was pretty smitten with the beach huts at Hengistbury Head, it’s amazing what you can pack into a space so small. Some of them had their doors open so you could see inside and most of them had a second level for the bedroom meaning that the whole of the downstairs area was quite spacious as a living area.
We found Alice in Wonderland first, and our friends who hadn’t heard of Geocaching before were quite keen on our hobby as they thought it might be something that their grandchildren might be interested in. Soon after we found all the information we needed for Bird’s Eye View (a virtual) before picking up Hengistbury Head.
We all headed back to theirs for dinner and it was quite late when we left but we managed to squeeze in one final puzzle cache, Sea View, before the long drive back to Surrey. I felt as though we had try and find this one up as we’d spent a few days between us trying to work out the answers for it. The puzzle involved matching up clues with singers/bands, so for example;
B.A, B.S.c, PhD would be…The Three Degrees.
It had taken us a while to get through all 25 of the clues but we finally got the green light on the Geochecker and so I was keen to go out and find the cache!
It was dark when we arrived at GZ but thankfully it was a fairly easy find, and had it been during daylight hours I imagine it would’ve made for a nice view too but as it was we were just glad to find it!
We were all sad to be leaving Dorset, we’d had such a great time checking out some of the areas Geocaching hot spots but we know that there’s still plenty more to see so who knows, we might have to make another trip down there in the not too distant future to find some more! 🙂
Let us know if there are any that we should check out and which ones your favourite are in Dorset and we’ll add them to our ‘must see’ list!
Happy caching! 🙂