Cache-ing in on time-off

The Whelk and I had booked onto the Anglezarke Amble and right about now, 3pm, we would be setting off for home after we’d each done our respective 16 and 24 mile circuits.
Now, the AA is one of the highlights of the running year but the conditions promised much ice and snow and a 5:15am rising is never that welcome in February. So we wimped out.

I had a really welcome lie-in and watched the Man Utd – Liverpool match, whilst getting ready for a local run. I set off at 3pm, crossed the River Dee and headed out around the large loop of the Meadows, heading down towards Ecclestone.

Waiting for the ferry ...
Waiting for the ferry ...

I’d already decided to extend the run down to the Iron Bridge at Aldford, but had researched a couple of geocaches to act as short breaks along the way. The first, close to the A55, was quickly found and was a real delight – full of superb trackables.

Well-stocked cache near the A55
Well-stocked cache near the A55
There be cache here ...
There be cache here ...

I continued down to the Iron Bridge, the path muddier and with some interesting potholes! The bridge is one of my favourite spots – a lovely view over to the church at Aldford, a slow and majestic stretch of river and fabulous trees and bushes. There’s a cache somewhere here but no phone signal so couldn’t lock-in on it. Must pre-download next time.

Iron Bridge, Aldford
Iron Bridge, Aldford

I set off back along towards Ecclestone, and very soon was on the path that bypasses the Crook of Dee. Here I met a lady who had lost one of her dogs and looked worried when I said I hadn’t seen a dog since leaving the bridge. She explained that the dog was elderly, had a weak heart and was last seen heading into the large field that comprises the Crook. This is private land and the old access path has been heavily barred with copious barbed wire. I said I’d run round the loop, back to the lodge if I could find a way into the field. I did easily by crossing a stream and circumnavigated the whole field, swamps and all (which cleaned off he mud!) but no dog was seen. Arriving back at the lodge I couldn’t see the missing dog’s owner so I headed back towards Chester.

Path beside the Dee
Path beside the Dee
First snowdrops of the year
First snowdrops of the year

Feeling a bit cheated re the cache, I recalled there being another cache between here and Ecclestone and, having a good signal now, closed-in on it. I had to clamber up beside a large tree away from the path but starting to read the main description I really began to wonder what I was getting into. I read the description, and decided to leave it until I’d studied it more.

By now I was cold and my muscles were a bit fed-up of hanging around. I pushed on to Ecclestone, through the village and down the road towards Chester before picking up the track through the woods towards the Grosvenor Bridge. I never regained the warmth in my leg muscles and it was heavy going on this return leg. A quick dive in to a shop for some chocolate and I was home.

Queen's Bridge, Chester
Queen's Bridge, Chester

The next afternoon I took a walk around the walls and picked up caches as the bus station and the Eastgate Clock. I took Lumie with me, a Windows phone, to introduce her to the art of Geocaching. I set the SportsTracker app running to record the route of my walk.

I’d previously downloaded the Geocaching app and used this to navigate to the various locations. Compared to the iPhone app I found the GPS mapping on the Lumia 800 to be jerky – you often had to wait 15-20 seconds for the dot representing yourself to follow your physical movement.
Finally, as a thorough test of the multi-tasking abilities of the phone, I took numerous photos.

Unfortunately, as soon as I switched to the Geocaching app, SportsTracker just closed down and didn’t continue running in the background. Disappointing.

I like the panorama movement of the pages in Windows Phone 7.5 and most of the Geocaching app worked well – just the mapping function felt awkwardly integrated.

Eastgate Clock - Looking a thumb-nail, magnetic cache ...
Eastgate Clock - Looking a thumb-nail, magnetic cache ...

Of the two caches, the one at the clock was a thrill to find – a nano, thumb-nail in size, magnetic and painted black. The whole of the clock superstructure and adjoining railings are of black metal. Hmmmm. Nice one.

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