2017 Five Rivers Challenge

Once again we have organised an extra activity to coincide with our 2017 New Year Cream Tea Event which is being held on 1st January, 2017 at The East Dart Hotel, Postbridge. We seem to have run out of local tors to place caches so this year we are visiting rivers.  But no swimming is necessary!

At about 8:30am on 1st January 10 new caches will be published on Dartmoor.  This year we have abandoned using offset caches and instead there will be 9 simple traditional caches and one very simple bonus cache. Unusually for me, all of the caches should be simple to find and each will have a good hint to help you.  The challenge is to plan your way around the caches rather than to spend hours finding them.

Almost every cache will have different approaches to it.  Maybe a short route with a river crossing or a longer route without one.

Three of the caches include a 2017 Dartmoor Geocoin as FTF Prizes

Yes, similar to last year, 3 of the 10 caches will have an unactivated geocoin as a FTF prize.  I would ask that any caching group takes no more than 1 of these coins.  Please do leave a second FTF geocoin to another group.

New Information Here

  • All 10 caches have been placed within a radius of less than 4 miles from The Cherrybrook
  • The total STRAIGHT LINE distance from nearest parking to every cache, and back, is less than 6 miles.  But you will need to plan your routes!
  • Two caches are near the Swincombe.  If you approach from Hexworthy or Holne you MUST NOT DRIVE PAST THE CATTLE GRID TO SHERBERTON, there is NO PARKING past that point.
  • All caches will be published at or before 8.30am on New Year’s Day.  You may come to The Cherrybrook AFTER 7.45am if you wish to use our wifi.
  • As in previous years some caches will be published on www.opencache.uk.  You will need to register in order to see the cache coordinates.  Please DO log your finds on opencache.
  • The Bonus Cache has already been published: https://opencache.uk/viewcache.php?cacheid=946

As in previous years, some of the caches will be listed on geocaching.com and some on opencache.uk.

There is not a long list of rules, but please use ONLY ONE CAR for each group and do not swap bonus numbers with other groups.

So, how many are up for our Five Rivers Challenge?  Please reply to this post to let us know if you will be taking part or to ask any questions.

Please note that you can participate in this activity without attending our New Year Cream Tea event and can attend the event without participating in this activity.

The 2017 Limited Edition Dartmoor Geocoins – Now Available

2017-coinAs already announced on facebook I have now received the 2017 Limited Edition Dartmoor Geocoins and should be able to start sending some out on Monday or Tuesday.  Several people have already said that they would like one, but as yet I’ve taken no firm orders.  They should make lovely Christmas pressies Pleasure

Unfortunately, as I also mentioned, there has been a dramatic increase in cost this year as the production costs have gone up by 13% and this together with the huge difference in exchange rate has meant that the total cost has gone up by over 30%!  However, the good news is that I will only increase the cost by £1, but if you buy two or more the price will be the same or less than last year.

The costs for all coins (whichever year you want) will be £14 for the first coin but only £12 each for ALL additional coins.  The cost for 1st class p&p will be £2 for 1 or 2 coins and £3 for 3 or more coins.  3 or more coins will be sent 1st class signed for.

As in previous years, if you wish to purchase a second coin to be entered in the 2017 race I will offer a £4 discount, so it will cost £10, a total of £24 for both coins, plus £2 p&p.  However, as promised, if you entered a coin in the 2016 race AND activated it AND released it, the race coin will be half price, so only £7, a total of £21 for both coins, plus £2 p&p. Smile 

If you wish to purchase any of the coins, please let me know using either of the facebook groups or reply to this post at the bottom of the page.  I shall be working my way through the orders in the order I receive them and sending out PayPal requests.  I will require an email address, so if you know I don’t have yours please send it to me using an email to davidgmartin@me.com or using a private facebook message.  If you have bought one previously or have signed up to this web site, I will have it already.

If you have any questions please leave a reply below or reply on the Dartmoor Geocaching facebook page: Dartmoor Geocaching

Many, many thanks to all who will be purchasing the Dartmoor Geocoins this year. THANK-YOU 

Caching with Cachly on Dartmoor with an iPhone!

This isn’t a formal review of Cachly, but an example of a day’s caching on a remote part of Dartmoor with an iPhone but no phone signal.  Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Cachly 01I’ve been beta testing Cachly for some months now and have been amazed at the functionality available and the frequency of releases from the developer.  My main interest though is to see how it performs when there is no phone signal, so all my testing has been done offline.  To start you need to create an offline list of the caches you are interested in and this is a very easy process.  The caches are either based around your current location or another location and they download in batches of 50 caches, with a large selection of search criteria.  You obviously need wifi or a phone signal to download them!  Once downloaded they can then be saved for offline use and you can save photos and/or maps with them and you get a warning of how much space this will take.

Cachly 02Cachly 03The caches I downloaded were my nearest 300 unfound caches.  Interesting to see that my DNFs are shown with a blue sad face.  I then drove to the point shown towards the south-east of the map from where I started my walk.  The planned length of my walk was about 9 miles and I knew it would take the majority of the day.  The first cache was InView Brown Heath and the single green spot next to Logs means that only the publish log exists – so maybe a FTF  Delighted  Tapping Navigate to Cache displays the map of the cache and the distance to it, in this case nearly 5km.  The offline maps displayed are excellent and even at this scale show the main tracks, rivers and lakes etc.

Cachly 06It was a great day for walking but I was well aware that I had at least 6 hours walking and the iPhone battery would never last that long.  So I carry an Anker charger but knew that it wouldn’t be needed until I stopped for lunch.  I’m not certain if I am right, but I am of the opinion that the battery will last longer if the phone is in airplane mode, especially if the phone signal is very intermittent, so I always select that.  This is Dartmoor so it was not surprising to see some Dartmoor ponies, but I didn’t immediately spot the little foal hidden behind its mother.

Cachly 04 Cachly 05As I got nearer my goal I zoomed the map in and it showed a greater level of detail including footpaths that hadn’t been visible on the smaller scale.  This certainly gives the level of detail required for caching in open and remote countryside such as Dartmoor.  I also switched to the very well designed compass which seemed to work easily and took me straight to the cache.  One criticism is that the map showing the cache you are navigating to, gives neither the name nor code of the cache.

Cachly 07On arrival at the cache I was very pleased, and relieved, to see that I was indeed FTF.  Had I had a phone signal I could have logged a find then and there, but without one I could either write a log to be sent later or write a cache note, which I can then refer to later.  This is a lovely spot on Dartmoor’s south moor, although many would find it rather featureless without any stunning views.

Cachly 09After my first to find at this cache I placed a couple of caches during which time I stopped for lunch.  My iPhone battery had dropped to 49% charged but having connected it to the Anker it soon recovered to 68%.  It is noticeable, however, that the battery seems to loose its charge quicker as the charge diminishes, so it goes much quicker from 50% to 20% than it does from 100% to 70%.  I needed to charge the iPhone a couple of times more at future stops, but not whilst I was actually walking, so it wasn’t a huge problem.  Not exactly native Dartmoor cattle, but the Belted Galloways are my favourite  Pleasure

Cachly 11By the time I had finished my walk I had completed 10.2 miles taking just over 6 hours.  I had one further FTF, another find and I placed two new caches.  Apart from placing the caches, I only used the iPhone throughout the whole day.  I carried a Garmin GPS which was only switched on to check the iPhone coordinates when placing the caches, map and compass, which I never looked at, and a satellite tracker in case I had a problem.  My iPhone was also running Memory-Map to keep a record of my track.  It is very clear to me that the combination of iPhone, Cachly and an Anker charger, is all you need for the most remote and difficult walks, although map and compass backup is essential.

 

Dartmoor 2016 Geocoin Race

Welcome to the third Dartmoor Geocoin Race  Happy

2016-Coin-WebOnce again I am pleased to say that there is demand for another Dartmoor Geocoin Race and you all seem keen to start it earlier this year.  Many of you have already got your coins so as Easter is fast approaching I suggest we kick it off this weekend!

As in previous years, I don’t want a complicated set of rules and I am sure that everybody will play fair:

  • The same as last year, I am only going to count the number of miles travelled.
  • Please do not give coins to friends to take somewhere.  All coins must be released into a cache to be picked up by anybody, not somebody known to you.
  • Only original Dartmoor 2016 coins can be used – no nasty proxies please!
  • Coins must start the race with zero mileage – if any mileage has already been recorded please delete those logs.
  • If you buy a second coin from me at a cheaper rate it MUST be entered in the race.  A couple last year never got started which is not fair on others who paid the normal price for their coins.

Once again I will award 2017 Dartmoor Geocoins for the coins with the top 3 mileages.

Some things to consider which have been learnt from previous years:

  • You can get a really good start by placing your geocoin in a travel bug hotel.  However, these could be more at risk than a normal cache.  You also may want to avoid a cache & dash or place it in a PM only cache.  However, after it has been retrieved you will have no control.
  • Take time to explain on the trackable page all about the race that it is in.  Also include a photo of the geocoin (you can use my one if you wish).  Also attach something to the coin itself explaining exactly what is expected of the finder.  We have so many new cachers and many will not know what they should do when they find it.
  • Constantly track your coin and ensure that it is immediately logged when it is retrieved.  Send emails to chase this up if it doesn’t happen quickly.  Don’t let cachers forget they have it!

The geocoin will remain your property and you can set whatever goals you would like on the geocoin page.  I would ask you NOT to remove the geocoin’s name but to add to it, e.g. it comes named as Dartmoor National Park 2016 Geocoin, so you could add Sue’s ….. to the front of it.  That way everybody can still search for it and I can produce some race details.

If you haven’t already got a coin for the race please contact me by email at davidgmartin@me.com or add a comment below.  If you have already bought one 2016 Dartmoor Geocoin I can supply a second one for only £9, but it must be entered in the race.

2016 New Year Cream Tea Event

NYCTE 2016 1This little chap turned up at our event on New Year’s Day and Judy is convinced it reminds her of someone!

NYCTE 2016 2But what a day!  For the third consecutive year we must have upset the weather gods for yet again it rained almost continually for the whole day.  The photo right was taken by Graham as once again he negotiated flooded roads to get to us.  Amazingly almost every single person who said they would attend did so.  Happy

NYCTE 2016 3As would be expected in such conditions the rain caused our Dartmoor rivers to be in spate and this photo by Mike Norton shows the East Dart at the famous Clapper Bridge, a couple of hundred yards from the hotel where we were holding the event.

 

NYCTE 2016 5From the 42 Will Attend logs we thought we may get about 80 people, but it would appear that we probably had over 90 (including our helpers)! What an amazing turnout.  So, many, many thanks to everybody who braved the Dartmoor weather to get to Postbridge.  Last year we struggled to serve 60 cream teas, but fortunately we had extra help this year and did manage to serve about 80 cream teas.  Delighted

However, the most amazing aspect of the day was the unbelievable generosity of all those who attended.  As you know I had set targets of raising £350 for the Devon Air Ambulance and £100 for the 2017 Devon Mega Event.  Well, we blew them out of the water!  Last year we raised a total of £337 – this year it was £553!!

Jason's Cornish Cream Tea
Jason’s Cornish Cream Tea

The cream teas raised £233 and thanks once again to Caroline for selling the tickets, to all those who brought such a wonderful display of prizes and to everybody for buying the tickets – the raffle raised £225!

However, we were not finished.  We then moved into Auction mode and after three preliminary auctions which raised £25, the highlight of the afternoon was a Blind Auction for an unknown box of caching goodies donated by our very kind and popular reviewer, Heather.  We had agreed a reserve which I thought we may struggle to reach, but after starting it at £10 I was amazed to see it go up in £5 bids.  I thought it had been sold at £50, but no, Andy had bid £55, but he was beaten by Bob who was clearly determined to win it for his wife Corinna. Love-Gift

I had already announced that all proceeds from the raffle would go to the DAAT together with two thirds of the cream tea money.  The auctions were split according to the wishes of those donating the prizes and there was another donation of £10.  The result is that the Devon Air Ambulance will receive £430 and the 2017 Devon Mega £123.  Happy

My last task is once again to thank everybody.  Thanks for coming, thanks for being so generous in bringing raffle prizes, buying tickets and bidding in the auctions, thanks to my partner Judy, my sister Pat and her friend Ruth, to Sue (behind the bar) and her husband Mike (who did all the washing up) and to the Paul and Rosie landlords of the East Dart Hotel for allowing us to use the hotel whilst they were away on holiday – totally free of charge.  In fact, once again there were no deductions and every penny taken (except over the bar) is included in those total amounts to be donated.  THANK-YOU

2016 Seven Tors Challenge

Once again we have organised an extra activity to coincide with our 2016 New Year Cream Tea Event which is being held on 1st January, 2016 at The East Dart Hotel, Postbridge. One more tor, but three less caches than last year, but a very similar format.

At about 8am on 1st January 8 new caches will be published on Dartmoor.  These consist of two or three caches in each of 3 areas, plus the bonus cache.  Of the 7 feeder caches, 6 are simple offset caches and the other one a very simple puzzle cache.  Each of the 7 caches will contain bonus information for the bonus cache.

Three of the caches include a 2016 Dartmoor Geocoin as FTF Prizes

Yes, no fewer than 3 of the 8 caches have an unactivated geocoin as a FTF prize.  I would ask that any caching group takes no more than 1 of these coins.  Please do leave a second FTF geocoin to another group.

2016 Seven Tors Challenge Update
As promised these are the tors that need to be visited:
Rippon Tor – 1.4 miles (mainly paths – rest fairly easy)
Laughter Tor/Bellever Tor – 3.2 miles (mainly paths – rest fairly easy)
Rundlestone Tor/Hollow Tor/Foggintor – 2.9 miles (two thirds on paths, rest more difficult)
Bonus cache – 0.4 miles(easy path) 
All distances round trips from and back to recommended parking.
So a total of less than 8 miles with the majority on paths with many hints.

As last year, some of the caches will be listed on geocaching.com and some on opencaching.org.uk.

There is not a long list of rules, but please use ONLY ONE CAR for each group and do not swap bonus numbers with other groups.

So, how many are up for our Seven Tors Challenge?  Please reply to this post to let us know if you will be taking part or to ask any questions.

Please note that you can participate in this activity without attending our New Year Cream Tea event and can attend the event without participating in this activity.

 

The 2016 Limited Edition Dartmoor Geocoins Have Arrived

2016-Coin-WebI am very pleased to announce that the 2016 Dartmoor Geocoins have arrived and as in previous years, they are stunning!  I shall now be starting to ask for payment – details below.

As always the coins are very difficult to photograph – use normal room lighting and you get shadows from the camera, use a flash and the light reflects.  This is my best effort so far, but I shall try again with natural light tomorrow.

I shall be working my way through the orders in the order I received them and sending out PayPal requests.  I will require an email address, so if you know I don’t have yours please send it to me using an email to davidgmartin@me.com.  If you have bought one previously or have signed up to this web site, I will have it already.

If you have only ordered one coin but would like an additional coin to enter the 2016 Dartmoor Geocoin Race, I can provide one for only an additional £9 – but it MUST be entered in the race, when that is announced.

If you haven’t already ordered a coin, they cost £15 for one, £28 for two or £24 for two if one of them is going to enter the race.  These prices include £2 p&p.

As promised £100 will be donated to the Devon Mega Fund, plus an additional £10 for 3 orders placed with the Black Friday offer  Pleasure

If you have any questions please leave a reply below or reply on the Dartmoor Geocaching facebook page: Dartmoor Geocaching

Many, many thanks to all who have supported the Dartmoor Geocoins this year.

Around the East Dart in Winter

Have you joined the Dartmoor Geocaching Facebook group?
Please click here to join: Dartmoor Geocaching

Please note that you can click on any of the photos to see them enlarged.

William Donaghy StoneThe Dart’moor’s Double Dozen series is placed around the East Dart from Postbridge to the East Dart waterfall and back.  Although almost all the caches are intact there were questions marks over several others around the route – so time for some more maintenance!  But the first objective was the recent Finder-Man cache near the William Donaghy Memorial stone – not too difficult despite the gorse  Wink

Starch FactoryFor me, the most impressive structure on Dartmoor is shown on the map as The Sheepfold, although clearly it’s high walls indicate that that was not it’s original purpose.  Evidently it was built as a Starch Factory by John and Thomas Hullett at the start of the 19th century but seems to have been another ill-conceived Dartmoor business which soon failed.  I was brought back to this area to check on The Starch Factory cache which had indeed gone missing and is now replaced.

Beehive HutNot far from the Sheepfold is the Beehive Hut, another very impressive Dartmoor structure.  Beehive huts such as this one were used by tinners and stone cutters to store their tools and also as a small shelter from the elements.  My adopted cache, Beehive Hut, has caused many problems and once again it had appeared to go missing when a found log was recorded.  For some reason the cache had disappeared from its proper hiding place and had been found on the open moor a few yards away.  Fortunately I quickly spotted this and returned it once more to its rightful place.

East Dart IslandMy main concern for the day was the state of the streams and rivers.  The normally innocuous little stream that runs near the Beehive Hut and feeds the East Dart looked far too difficult to cross at that point so I followed it down to the stepping stones and managed to cross there.  However, the next cache to be checked was the one on the East Dart Island and there I decided that the East Dart was far too dangerous to be crossed at that point, so unfortunately I was not able to check this cache out.  This cache has never gone missing and I very much doubt if it has gone missing now  Pondering

East DartThree more caches were checked on my way to the East Dart Waterfall, and despite several DNFs on two of them, all three were exactly where they should have been.  Having seen the state of the East Dart I was getting extremely worried as to whether I would be able to cross it safely at the waterfall.  If I couldn’t not only would it mean a longer walk back, but I wouldn’t be unable to check the caches on the other side of the river.  This was the river near the Dart’moor’s Double Dozen 12 cache!

East Dart Waterfall 1
It doesn’t look to bad from this distance

It wasn’t immediately obvious whether it would be safe or not to cross the East Dart at the waterfall, but it was certainly going to be challenging!

From a distance the challenge didn’t look too bad, but it was a lot more worrying the closer you got  Worry

East Dart Waterfall 2
This was the challenge – close up!
East Dart Waterfall 3
Right in the middle – no turning back now!

 

I have to say that this was the most difficult crossing I’ve had at the waterfall.  The water levels were high, the river running very fast, the rocks were wet and very slippery.  I was very aware that one false step could see me swept over the edge, so I proceeded very cautiously – much of the time keeping a three point contact with whatever I could reach! Tired

Well, I made it to the other side and was very relieved to have done so.  My adopted cache, Near the Waterfall, had gone, so was replaced.  Never Say Never 6 had also gone, so another replacement.  I made my way back down to the East Dart as I knew that DDD17 had gone, so once again a replacement!

In total my maintenance walk was just under 7 miles. I found one new cache, visited 14 of my caches, of which 4 were replaced, 3 received new logs, 1 was moved and the other 6 required no action at all.  All in all another great day on Dartmoor  Pleasure

Skir Hill Trail – Maintenance, Hints & Spoilers!

Thirty five consecutive DNFs on just six Skir Hill Trail caches made me think it was time to take a look!  A spot of maintenance was clearly needed – or was it?  This is the story of today’s walk up the O Brook and on to Skir Hill.

O Brook 3As might be expected after weeks and weeks of rain, Dartmoor is saturated and the O Brook, if not in spate, is at least challenging – when is a brook no longer a brook  Pondering

The caches which have been causing problems are those along the brook which requires multiple crossings.  Many times there have been several consecutive DNFs, but almost always the caches have been there.  Would today be different?

I splashed up the path to No 2 which was clearly visible metres away despite 5 consecutive DNFs, not to mention the cachers’ path which is gradually forming!

SHT04Up stream to No 4, which may well be missing, as this is an easy find in plain view and has disappeared before.

What’s that a spoiler – I must really be getting soft  Cheers

But, it had gone so a new cache placed in a slightly more secure location – hopefully it will stay there.

No 6 is another easy find in plain view and rarely gives any problems.  It’s hanging about knee height and you are looking for this (photo left).

No 8 is always the most problematic and is on a run of 13 DNFs dating back to May 2015!  I added a hint after I last visited “No need to touch anything – just use your eyes! Cache at ground level.”  I will add another hint here – try around the tree roots.  It really is not that difficult  Devil

O Brook 4

So far only one cache missing, which was much as I expected.

Now it was time to leave the O Brook which is one of my favourite Dartmoor streams. I have carefully crossed it 4 times today – and I still have totally dry feet Pleasure

Mushrooms

Up the valley towards Skir Hill and the first stop is at No 5 with 6 consecutive DNFs.  But I couldn’t find it either.  I was certain I knew where this was but there was a beautiful clump of mushrooms growing there!  But it was there, the mushrooms had grown up and hidden it.  I’ve now moved it away from the mushrooms, but once again it is in plain view.

SHT08 Log

In case you are wondering what you are looking for, both No 8 and No 5 are the same type of cache and look like the photo right.

Further up the valley we reach No 7 (Replaced).  I have no idea what happened to the original cache, one day it was there, the next it had vanished Angry

The replacement cache was in position for over 4 months before it was found and had 9 DNFs before FTF.  Currently it has 4 DNFs, but once again I was sure that it would be there and it was!

SHT ViewNo 7 (Replaced) still has more DNFs than finds but once again I checked the coordinates and they are spot on.  It’s just a normal “small”  cache under a rock – you just need to find the right rock.

Today was a superb day for walking on Dartmoor and this was the view from the cache site  Approve

SHT19

The last cache to be checked on the Skir Hill Trail today was No 19.  This is situated in a clitter field with numerous hides and has caused a few problems since it was placed, but  as expected I soon found it. I also have to search for these caches, because if I had taken a spoiler photo I didn’t have it with me.  It is a 900ml box, so not small and it hadn’t even been well hidden and I soon spotted it poking out!  Once again I checked the coordinates and they are spot on!

I checked on a few other caches, dropped off a couple of travel bugs, but the main task of the day was complete – and only one of the caches was missing  Happy