Geocaching in the Lake District

Red Screes

Red Screes

Where we went Geocaching in the Lake District…

Our D/T grid was starting to take shape after a year of Geocaching in which we’d managed to achieve finding 1,000 Geocaches, and we were ready for taking on some new challenges. After scouring the web for interesting places to go caching in the UK, the Lake District popped up on GeoCass’s blog, which I can highly recommend checking out if you get the chance 🙂 and so a plan began formulating…

I had the pleasure of working in the Lake District for a few months a couple of years ago at the beautiful Langdale Estate and so I was familiar with the terrain, the beautiful rolling valleys, the distinct and slightly intimidating peaks rising to the cloud lines and the wonderful lakes themselves. What could be a better place to pick up some caches for the D/T grid?!

My mother caught wind of the plan and thought it would be an excellent trip for us all to go on, having walked the Coast to Coast walk and the Cotswold Way my Mum is a very keen walker and so she was very excited about heading back up to the Lakes too. We both trawled endless websites for cottages, holiday parks and hotels hoping for something cheap but central and settled on White Cross Bay holiday park next to Windermere, staying in a Superior Caravan which between four of us, myself, MrBizkitz, my mother and brother, was perfect. We booked from Monday 23rd September until Friday 27th. Excited I trundled off to pick up some books from the library to do a little extra studying on where we were going.

White Cross Bay Holiday Park views over Windermere

White Cross Bay Holiday Park views over Windermere

As is the way with Geocaching there is always an ulterior motive for the routes you take to places, and so, after endless hours of plotting on the map myself and MrBizkitz had etched up a route to include quite a few of the UK counties that we were also trying to chalk up.

Our UK counties map to date.

Our UK counties map to date

After staying the night in Mansfield with my Mum we carried on up the A1 picking up caches in South, West and North Yorkshire and also Durham before heading over to the Lakes. My mother already had a holiday booked up in Scarborough and would be joining us on the Monday evening at our caravan. We took the A66, which we named Route 66 due to the amount of driving we’d done to that point and drove until we reached Ullswater.

Having read GeoCass’s blog, I was keen to give the Treasure Island cache a go. It was one on our D/T grid and definitely looked like a challenge! I hadn’t really done any open water swimming since an impromptu jump into a lake in Austria over a year before, neither had I been swimming recently or was really in any state of fitness to be doing it. However, this was a mzadventure I couldn’t refuse.

We managed to find parking in a nearby campsite, after being granted kind permission by the owners, we parked up and I changed into my wetsuit which was a bit like trying to get a walrus into pyjamas…although I did just about manage in the end. The weather was glorious, which was horrendous as I then had a 2K walk in the wetsuit across to the bay where I could leave from! I arrived sweaty, flustered and a little apprehensive. Could I really get to that island? It didn’t look too far, but this wasn’t a normal swimming pool where you could see to the bottom.

Knowing however that I didn’t really have a choice, and being keen to get in the water after the long hot walk down there I dipped my toes into the water. It was freezing! I stepped back onto the shoreline and made sure I had everything I needed for the mission. We’d bought a small, green, Sea to Summit dry sack so that I could take a pen to sign the log and rescue the TB that was in the cache, it attached nicely to my arm and I was ready to go for my first open water swim in Ullswater.

Testing the water

Testing the water

After wading out over the slippery rocks I began my swim across, as I reached the halfway point I started to enjoy it, the undercurrent was against me but I knew on the way back it would help me along. I was pretty tired when I got to the island, I’ll admit. I got my breath back and heaved myself onto a very handy rock which was just at the waters surface, scrabbling up I began to search the vicinity. I found the cache easily thankfully as I’d had visions of struggling to find it once I’d reached the island! I signed the log, picked up the apt little Finding Nemo Travel Bug and headed back across to the shore which was a lot easier than the way out had been!

A Geocaching video for you all to laugh at…

Overall I think MrBizkitz was quite impressed with my swimming capabilities and who knows there are plenty more islands in need of a walrus’s attention.

The walrus has landed...

The walrus has landed…

After my little swimming adventure there was another, ‘PUTTING YOU IN THE PICTURE – SILVER POINT‘, a little further round the lake and we thought we’d better go and pick it up which was great as it gave us a wonderful view of the lake with Treasure Island in the foreground.

Treasure Island, Ullswater

Treasure Island, Ullswater

By the time we returned to the car I’d dried off and was ready to drive us around to the next cache, ‘Goosey Tysons Cave‘, on the list…I’d added this one on having read the local story which went along with it and I thought it might be a good place to stop off on our way round to Wasdale Head campsite where we were planning to stop for the night.

Although the cave with which the story is attached cannot be entered I really liked the idea that someone used to live there and had made it into a nice little home for themselves…if you’re interested in the legend type ‘Goosey Tyson’s Cave’ into Google!

Geocaching on Scafell Pike…

As it was getting a bit late in the day we decided not to do any of the caches that linked up with this one (as it was part of a nice trail) but instead we carried on to the campsite. We paid and pitched our tent before heading into the local, Wasdale Head Inn, which was full of rosy cheeked walkers fresh from their climbs of Scafell Pike. Their excited chatter filled the warm, cosy inn as we ordered our meals and supped our pints of ale…we were tab hanging (listening) attentively to glean any hints and tips about what we were letting ourselves in for the following day. Phrases like ‘my knees are killing’ and ‘it was worse on the way down’ were frequently spoken, but otherwise it sounded like an achievable climb.

The meals arrived and we wolfed them down before heading over to the tents for a reasonably early night with our plan being to set out at first light for Scafell Pike.

Dawn chorus in Wasdale begins with a single bleat which even the birds must get confused by. With the sun rising the sheep soon realise that they can carry on eating and so they start bleating incessantly to alert everyone else to their exciting news. We didn’t mind though as it beat the usual alarm clock noise, but I’m sure there were a few sore heads from the night before who might not have been too happy!

It was a chilly but clear morning and we were aiming to be at the summit for around midday so that we could enjoy the view (if there was one to be had), we’d checked the weather forecast the previous day which had confirmed that the best weather was to be had in the morning with it becoming cloudier in the afternoon and so at 7.45am we were ready to begin our ascent.

We had printed maps with us but it soon became clear that the most invaluable tool we were carrying was one that we’d added to our phones (which we use for our GPS system) an app called ViewRanger. The app allowed you to use a free trial version where you could store two squares of an OS map onto your phone which could then track your location onto the map so you could see where you were in real time. It was incredibly accurate which was brilliant as there are plenty of ways to get lost on the ascent. If getting lost is the right way of putting it, our plan had been to take the easiest way up which would take us across Lingmell Gill.

After a stretch with a little bit of confusion we managed to find the right path and started to pass many cairns which assured us that we were taking the correct route.

We reached the summit at around 10.30am and were pleased to find that we’d climbed through the cloud to beautiful views of the nearby peaks.

Scafell Pike summit

Scafell Pike summit

Of course the reason we were up here was to pick up some Geocaches and so to start with MrBizkitz took a picture of me for the Scafell Pike virtual cache. We became a bit dismayed at the top as one of the puzzles that we’d solved, which was somewhere on the peak, hadn’t stored to our phones and without reception we couldn’t load the information and so it had to go unclaimed. Luckily we already had that one on our D/T grid otherwise I might have been quite distraught! Haha!

Scafell Pike virtual cache

Scafell Pike virtual cache

On our way down we decided to pick up the Lingmell cache which meant another ascent before we were finished with climbing for the day, it was a great spot but the weather had begun to turn and so we decided that it wouldn’t be worth walking round for the view into Wasdale Head.

Pushing on we reached the bottom at around 14.45pm, packed up the tent, had a shower at £1 for 6 minutes, which was one of those ones where it’s impossible to get the temperature right and by the time you do the time has run out, and left Wasdale for Windermere via Hardknott Pass. Which in hindsight was terrible for the car…driving a battered VW Golf up the steepest road in England is not recommended…however it was kind of fun if you could push the groans of the car and the thoughts of the Italian Job from your mind…!

The four of us arrived at White Cross Bay Holiday Park within half an hour of each other which was pretty good timing and we headed out for food at the onsite restaurant which arrived promptly and was a good portion size (as is usually the case with anywhere in the Lakes).

Geocaching around Coniston…

For our first day out as a group we left the holiday park at a leisurely hour, as we were all pretty beat from the long drive the day before, and headed to Coniston. The first cache we wanted to pick up was the Coniston Webcam cache, which was our first ever one of this type! It took us a while to try and get a photo and looking back at it now it’s very difficult to tell that it’s actually us in the picture but my Mum stands out the most in her pink jacket!

Coniston Webcam cache

Coniston Webcam cache

Our second cache of the day lead us to an interesting piece of machinery outside the Ruskin Museum in Coniston, we didn’t stop to look around but it did look great from the outside so maybe that’s something we can do next time we go. With the cache, ‘Geo Oil‘, signed and a TB dropped we picked up Close to Church, Coniston Railway Hotel, and Beware the Troll! before heading on a little walk around Coniston lake where we picked up On a high, Torver Back Common (Cromm Cruac) and CAMPBELL’S REST.

Our smiley faces at Coniston!

Our smiley faces at Coniston!

The last one we picked up that day was placed in memory of world and land speed record holder Donald Campbell, we stopped by his grave to pay our respects. He had a really fascinating life and it’s definitely worth doing a bit of research about him if you ever come to Coniston. We stopped at the Black Bull Inn for dinner before heading back to our caravan for the night.

Geocaching in Ambleside…

Our second day out together took us just a few miles up the road from the holiday park to Ambleside, a small but very busy town in the centre of the Lake District and a place I was very familiar with from my days working in the nearby valley of Langdale. This meant I became the tour guide for the first half of the morning as I guided my Mum in to one of the main car parks where we started our days hunt from.

Number one on the list was a pesky little nano, we tried in all the obvious places and eventually MrBizkitz found it, although I suspect without the four of us looking it might have taken us a lot longer and it was quite worthy of it’s 4 difficulty rating on the D/T grid.

Our second quest of the day was to have a look at the churchyards in Ambleside to look for some of my relatives graves. Before my Dad passed away he had been working on putting together our family tree and had discovered that quite a few of our relations had resided in Ambleside (no wonder I had always felt so at home there!) and so we all wanted to see if we could find any.

We actually found quite a few potential graves but we need to go back through the paperwork to see if we can match them up as the surname ‘Bell’ was very popular in Ambleside.

One of the graves we found

One of the graves we found

Carrying on with the day my Mum had selected a walk she wanted to take and so we made our way to the starting point, which happily coincided with POST HASTE – AMBLESIDE which we picked up before we began our ascent of Loughrigg. It was a pleasant walk with a steady climb and the views back into Ambleside were excellent.

On our route we picked up Alfie and Molly’s Todd Crag cache, Sadmuppits Treasure chest No. 1 at Margarets Tree, DIANA’S LOOKING GLASS – The Wordsworth Way, Elterwater View and SKELWITH FORCE before being extremely naughty and catching the bus back into Ambleside so that we could pick up some food to cook in the caravan for the evening before all the shops closed!

Ambleside to Loughrigg Tarn geocaches

Ambleside to Loughrigg Tarn geocaches

Geocaching at Red Screes…

On Thursday MrBizkitz received a call informing him that there was a days work to be had on the Friday if he wanted it and so Thursday became our last day of the holiday. Still attempting to tick off some of our D/T grid we decided to split up from my Mum and Bro for the day and head over to Red Screes with a 4.5 terrain rating we knew it would be fairly tricky.

The ascent was steep but easy at the start with steps providing a clear path until a few rough patches which required some scrabbling and a tiny bit of climbing. The views were perfect which made up for the lack of views at Scafell Pike a few days earlier. Overall it wasn’t too long a walk, taking around 45 minutes which for an ascent of 1050 feet isn’t too bad.

We popped into Kirkstone Pass Inn next to the car park after the walk for a cuppa which was a soothing and idyllic spot to rest before heading back towards White Cross Bay.

There were still a few more caches that we wanted to find, but wary of the long drive home that evening we decided to take the afternoon off and have another look around the shops in Ambleside before heading back to the caravan to await my Mum and Bro who were joining us for dinner.

We said our goodbyes at around 7pm and on the route home we bumped off a few more caches to boost our counties map. It was getting a bit late to do the others that we’d hoped to but we did manage to grab Motorway Mayhem – M6 J34 Lancaster TB Hotel (Lancaster), Zing to the Galaxy! Have No Fear! (Merseyside) and Motorway Mayhem – M6 J18 (TB Hotel) (Cheshire) before we returned home safely and triumphantly after our successful weeks caching in the Lake District!

Many thanks to all the Geocachers who have spent the time placing the caches that we found, and for renewing my love of the Lake District. Hopefully we’ll be back up there soon for some more MzAdventures!

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