Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Egg Hunt

Alone on Easter, I decided to set off on my own Easter Egg hunt, Geocache style. 
For those that don’t know, geocaching is a game (sport? hobby?) where people hide containers, usually in undeveloped areas, take the coordinates using a handheld GPS and then post those coordinates online.  Then anyone who wants can try and find the cache using their own GPS.  Caches usually contain a ‘log book’, so people can log their finds, and often a bunch of little toys or tokens. The idea is that people can take one token from the cache and leave another in its place.  I’m relatively new to geocaching, with only 8 caches to my credit, but I’ve already learned to love it.  It presents you with a classic treasure hunt, while giving you a great excuse to get out and explore the back paths.
So, armed with the coordinates of three caches, I packed up my bike and set off at 8:30 AM.  The Easter morning air was cool and damp; the roads were empty.  Quickly escaping the confines of Oxford, I travelled down the small roads to the quiet hamlet of Horspath. There I pushed my bike up the steep incline of Castle Hill, chained it to a fence, and set off across a field to discover my first cache.  I had brought a collection of small buttons (badges) to leave in the caches (Spider-Man, Animal from the Muppets, and a Dalek).  Often I don’t take anything from the caches, but I have a soft spot for coins. (I’m assembling my own pirate treasure you see!).  I found a Eurocent and left Spider-Man.
Setting off again, I cycled along a high ridge with astounding views across the rolling countryside, until one sight stopped me dead on my bike, the Wheatley Windmill. I’d never seen it before today, didn’t know it existed.  However, a quick internet check at home revealed that it was built in the eighteenth century and has been restored in the last decade.  It really is a gorgeous structure. I see on the Wheatley Windmill website that they hold open days. A fun day for the future.
Down beyond Wheatley I discovered my second cache in a rusting old wagon.  This one contained a full Euro (rich treasure for a cache). I traded it for my Dalek button.  The third cache, I never found.  I spent twenty minutes fighting my way through brambles and sliding down a steep hill, but all for naught.  Two out of three is a pretty good score, all told, so I decided to call it a day.
I arrived home four hours after I’d left, having cycled 18 miles, seen several beautiful sights, and carrying a couple of shiny coins as treasure. All-and-all, not a bad Easter Morning.

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