October 27 – Winter Geolympix in Ashridge Estate

A Geocaching Mega Event

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

I have been looking forward to attending a Geolympix since we missed the last one held in the same place in 2016. It was on the same weekend as Piratemania so we went to that instead. Anyway, I have been slowly planning to attend even trying to find a housesit that was not too far away. Rayleigh is 1 hour and 20 mins away and nearly all the way is on dual carriageways or motorways except for the end where we turned off and had to go through Berkhamstead. Just as we turned off the M25 we came to a detour sign. The detour took us through the suburbs and single lane roads with parking on one side. We could not figure out what the hold up was until we got there. All the traffic was being diverted up and down this road but was only wide enough for one way traffic so cars going downhill (the way we were going) had to pull into spaces between parked cars. At the bottom of the road we had to turn left onto the main road of Berkhamstead and it is market day. So after making good time we lost heaps of time going through here. We will not come back this way tonight. Ashridge Estate is a very popular place at the best of times with lots of dog walkers and families but today, of course, there will be hundreds of extra geocachers. Luckily there is also lots of parking places and we got there an hour early so were about to park reasonably close to the visitor’s centre where the Mega tents were put up.

We signed in and wandered around for a bit. I had worked out some of the puzzles and for one the coordinates were at the visitor centre but seemed to be inside so I gave up. We started meeting people who we knew including John who is at the sign-in desk of most Mega-events and Piratemanias that we have been to. We also met GizmoKyla who are UK reviewers and avid geocachers. Also, another couple who they geocache a lot with. During  the day we also met Simply Paul, the organiser of this event, Velosaurus from Eastbourne who is part of the team organising the Sussex UK Mega in 2020, TrolleyGranny and Angieumango, StuartHowe11 with his two small but enthusiastic children, Zoe94 and Sam539 who helped organise the Yorkshire UK Mega, South Oxon Stone who we met at our exhibition in St Albans, and GCHarribo from Hastings. We were on the lookout for Harri as we were given a great big ammo can at the Yorkshire Mega which we cannot take home to New Zealand so we wanted him to have it so that he can use it as a cache around Hastings or maybe Ulcombe church which really needs a church micro. Harri was there with his brother Owain with their amazing 3D printed geocaching container but we never saw Owain.

At 12 the stalls opened and the lab caches began. We had a quick look around the stalls and purchased a set of 2016 Aand coins which you use for some kings of puzzle caches. We visited the Sussex 2020 stall and learned that their event to announce the place for the 2020 Mega will be held at Whiteways between 11 am and 3 pm on 18th November. Unfortunately, I think we will be in Wales by then so we will not be able to attend.

It was bitterly cold out in the open but once we headed into the forest it was a lot nicer. We did 7 of the lab caches first as they were interesting. One lab cache was run by the Gnome Games, from the Wirral, which involved putting on a pair of wooden skis and walking towards a frame where you had to fire a water pistol at five disks which spun to reveal five different letters.  The other organised by the Sussex mega was a hole in one game played with a ramp and golf balls and when you achieved the hole in one, a word was exposed briefly at the back. Lots of fun!! Some of the lab caches were across the field and three were much further away and we did not get to those at all but we did get 7 out of the 10. At 6 pm there were 10 more night lab caches released but we did not stay for that as by 4 pm it was starting to rain and we had already walked 5 km. I had solved a few of the puzzles which had been released for the GeoOlympix and we also signed a few logs which we found by coming across people already signing logs – the cheats way – but hard to avoid when there are so many geocachers in one place. LOL. We found 11 caches, 7 lab caches and one travel bug for the day which brings our total to 6695. I wonder if we can find 305 more before we go home to NZ and to reach 7000.

We had a brilliant day walking through the park sometimes on our own and other times with other people and found some great containers and solved some interesting puzzles. There are still plenty more to solve so maybe we will have to go back for a fourth visit. The cache at the visitor’s centre did turn out to be inside in the library and when we returned there was a small group of people already looking. They found it and I managed to take a travel bug to move on to a new place elsewhere in the country. Mike took a photo of a guy holding the hollowed out book and when we asked his name he gave us a wooden coin with his name on it which was really nice of him. We have quite a collection of wooden coins now.

As I wanted to avoid returning via Berkhamstead I texted Susan and Peter in St Albans and asked if they wanted visitors for half an hour. We have not seen them or Paddy since they returned from their holiday. We took the back roads to St Alban’s and spent a happy hour catching up with them. It was only an hour’s drive back to Rayleigh after that and we stopped at South Minns for the slowest fast food on record at the KFC there.

A fantastic day full of geocaching, walking and socialising! What could be better!