A Capital 24 Hours

The London 24hr record

Planning Stage

Initially our trip to London was planned as a 3 day laid back caching trip combined with seeing a few of the sights in the capital city. I had two weeks booked off work and the plan was to do a bit of caching around North East England, then travel down to London for a bit of variety in caching. We booked our flights a few weeks in advance (£19 single from Teesside to Heathrow). We knew that the London 24 hour record was 52, but had heard rumours that there would be more attempts before we were due to be there, and so we assumed that the bar would be too high for us by the time we got there.

As the weeks wore on there were no other attempts, and so we decided to start looking at the cache details to see if it was possible. We then decided to make a ‘what if?’ plan, just in case we wanted to make a serious attempt on the record, which would of course depend on what the record was when we got there. I started to read up on caching in London, and found out that it can be hard to get a fix on satellites in certain areas. We then acquired both electronic and paper versions of the London A-Z, for these occasions. These items would prove to be our best friends on the day itself!

With a couple of weeks to go, I decided to plan the route. The first stage was to download a list of every Greater London cache from GCUK. I loaded these into excel and started to add various extra information on each one, such as the nearest tube station, walking distance etc. At this point I must thank Chris and Maria for their excellent Geocaching Tube map, as it was invaluable. I then started to reject some caches from the record attempt, for example if they were too far to walk on the day, or if they were multis that could potentially take up a lot of time. We decided that we could keep our options open on these for days 2 and 3 of our trip. We booked a hotel in Islington, in an area with plenty of caches, so that we could even cache in the hours of the tube being closed.

For the techies amongst you, this was our caching equipment for the trip:

  • 1 Laptop with internet connection via mobile phone (kept at hotel), loaded with GSAK and Memory Map, with A-Z map, road map and aerial maps of London.
  • 2 iPAQ 2210 PDAs loaded with GPXsonar and Memory Map navigator, with same maps as above.
  • 1 Garmin GPSmap 60c GPSr (loaded with Roads and Recreation map)
  • 1 Garmin etrex Vista GPSr (loaded with Roads and Recreation map)
  • 1 paper ring bound London A-Z with all caches marked (in case all the technology let us down!)

 

Arrival

We arrived at the hotel early evening the night before our record attempt. I happened to look out of the window, and saw a small park just outside, called Percy Circus. I realised that this name was familiar, and it turned out there was a cache within 200ft of our hotel window! We resisted the temptation to go and bag it there and then, although truth be told, we probably would have if the window had opened wide enough to climb out.

Percy Circus

Percy Circus

We retired to our beds to get some sleep before the big day ahead, but with nervous excitement, we probably only slept for 3 or 4 hours at most!

 

The Morning Session

We decided to start our caching in the parks, even though this was a fair trek from the hotel. Our reason for this was that we had heard some of the park caches were notoriously difficult to access in the middle of the day due to muggles. We therefore planned all park caching to be early morning and evening.

We bagged our first cache, Pet Cemetery, at 6am (or 5.59 and 50 seconds if you want to be exact). It wasn’t long before we had 5 caches under our belt, and we were starting to believe that the record may be easily achievable. We soon learnt out lesson, however. We approached the location of Hyde Park 5, making a beeline for the object at the co-ords but we just couldn’t find it! We checked the previous logs, and there were no recent DNFs. We frantically checked the two objects either side, but no joy there either. No more time to waste – on to the next cache!

Up to now we had had no contact with muggles, but as we approached Hyde Park 4, we saw that there was someone standing at just the object we needed to search. As we approached the object, he turned around and looked the other way. Just as we were wondering how long we would have to wait for him to leave, he turned around and we spotted the logo on his cap – A fellow cacher! The cacher in question was Mike the Fiddler from Seattle, and after some very brief introductions, the three of us frisked the area. The previous couple of logs on this one had reported DNFs, so we were not surprised we couldn’t find it. We shrugged our shoulders and moved on to Hyde Park 8.

We bumped into Mike again, and the 3 of us commenced searching. We searched every railing, and stuck our hands into every possible hiding place, but again no cache was to be found. This was our third DNF in a row, and by now we were feeling rather dejected to say the least. We said our goodbyes and good lucks to Mike, and moved on. We had better luck in Kensington Gardens, the rest of Hyde Park and Green Park, and by late morning we had 16 finds under our belt. We stopped for some well deserved breakfast and moved on to some street caching.

Hyde Park Fountain

The fountain in ‘Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde Park

The Afternoon Session

We bagged another few caches without a hitch, and also found our first regular sized cache of the day, Last Delivery. Regular sized caches are a rarity in Central London, so we took the TB from it and dropped off 2 of the small TBs that we were carrying. By now it was starting to get very warm and busy. We had problems with getting satellite signals, and so had to resort to AtoZ maps to get around. Travelling on the tube was very hot and sticky, so we wanted to avoid this wherever possible, preferring to walk the shorter distances. We had decided to do the Golden Gallery cache, which involved walking to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral. We were already aware that there was an entrance fee for this one, but when we arrived, there was quite a queue to get in, as well as an entrance fee of £7 each to get up there. It became clear that this cache was going to take quite some time and money, and so we decided to move on.

One climb we did decide to make was the climb to the top of The Monument, which was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London. The climb to the top was ok, but the way down was slow, after getting stuck behind a gang of children who insisted on counting every step. I wouldn’t mind but they got the answer wrong anyway!

We managed to slowly bag some more caches, but it was getting even warmer, which resulted in more muggles, more smell, and more exhaustion on our part. Things came to a head at the Alderman’s Walk cache. We arrived at the location to find lots of litter and poisoned rat traps in the places we needed to search. After a brief search, we decided this was not a place we wanted to be, so we moved on without finding the cache.

London view

After another couple of finds, and a DNF at St Alphage Gardens, we decided to take a break and avoid the rush hour. We had 32 finds under our belts, so we went back to the hotel for showers, rests and a change of clothes. We also decided to re-jig a few of our plans, as we had not really enjoyed the street caching due to the heat. We decided to keep these to a minimum, and concentrate on the other parks.

The Evening Session

We headed off to the British Library cache. Unfortunately, the gates were locked by the time we got there. This was our own fault, as the opening times were in the cache notes, and although I had read them previously, I had forgotten this vital fact! We did a couple more caches then moved on to St James’ Park and then Regents Park. The weather was a bit cooler by now, and although there were people around in the parks, our activities went un-noticed. In Regents Park, we arrived at the location of the Criss Cross Bridge Cache. It was very busy, and we just couldn’t find the cache. We assumed it was missing, but someone else found it that same day. Whether this was before or after we looked we will never know. As it was starting to get dark, we found Cara’s College cache, which was the second regular sized cache of the day. Again, some bug swapping was in order. As the park was supposed to close at dusk, we didn’t really know how many more we could get done in here. As we approached Jehangir Fountain, it was pitch black, so we had to use our trusty torch to locate the micro.

We moved on to two of the Regents canal caches. Regents 8 was no problem as there were signs of life around, but the walk along the towpath to Regents 9 was a little daunting. There was no light around, and we had to use the torch to stop ourselves falling in the canal. There were also a few dodgy characters about, so we were glad to be back out on the street again.

We then went for the Blow up Bridge cache. Another micro with magnets, which we thought would be easy. When we arrived, it turned out there was a little more ironwork to search than we anticipated. We felt around and used the torch, but with no luck. Another DNF. We had decided that we were getting tired, and that as we had 45 caches, we could afford to have another rest. We headed back to the hotel. After soaking our blistered feet in cold water, we decided we may be more productive after a couple of hours sleep. So we decided to have a nap and get up very early the next day to complete the 24 hours. The rest of the planned caches were all near the hotel, so we didn’t have to rely on the tube.

The Morning Session 2

We decided to kick off with the 4 mini parks nearest the hotel. The only trouble with this is that they were only open during daylight hours, so a bit of fence hopping was required. We made up a story about a lost necklace, just in case we got caught searching in the areas where we shouldn’t really have been, although we didn’t have to use it. We had finally got round to doing the Percy Circus cache, and as we peered under one of the park benches, a pair of mad, wild eyes stared back at us. We thought we were about to be attacked by the urban wildlife, when the wild animal in question began to purr, and a small fluffy kitten emerged. We gave it a quick stroke before it ran off into the night, and we got on with finding the cache!

We found the other 3 ok, and moved on to Regents Canal 1 and 2. We found the first ok, but had no luck with the second one. This was no surprise as there had already been some DNFs with this one. We moved on to Islington Green then St. Mary’s Church Gardens. We now had 52 caches, and had equalled the record! One more to go. We arrived at Gibson Square, and had noted that there had been a few DNFs on this one, but it was confirmed as still being there. We searched for a few minutes, but could not afford to stay any longer as we only had around an hour left. We headed off to Regents Canal 3, and had better luck there!

 We had done it – A new London 24 hour record!

We carried on to Regents canal 4 and 5, just in case we had miscounted or any of our virtual answers were wrong. With 55 finds, we retired back to the hotel, to shower, soak our feet, and get a well deserved sleep!

Some Advice

A few pearls of wisdom for anyone wishing to break this record

–         Pick a day that isn’t going to be baking hot

–         Take an AtoZ with you, as it isn’t easy to get a fix in some places

–         Never discuss the best place to get a fix. You may be talking about satellites, but you may get some strange looks of odd people, and you may be offered more than you bargained for.

–         Take plenty of plasters, batteries and water

–         Dress as scruffily as you can. That way no-one will try to beg from you, and no-one will guess that you have a bagful of expensive electronic equipment

–         Don’t stay at the Travelodge Islington. ‘Do Not Disturb’ here means ‘please knock on my door at regular intervals and wake me up!’

Good luck to the next fool or fools who attempt this!

 

List of caches

 


Traditional Cache Travel Bug Dog Tag (2 item(s))(1/1)25 JunLast Delivery (London) by Jessex (GCGBGB)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache Travel Bug Dog Tag (2 item(s))(2/1)15 NovCara’s College Cache by texasexile – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCH9HP)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)28 FebPet Cemetery by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV5B)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)22 FebHyde Park #09 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV4H)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)22 FebHyde Park #06 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV45)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)24 JunDoctor Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde Park by JBK (GC6C43)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)22 FebHyde Park #07 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV4E)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)29 FebKensington Gardens #2 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV4Q)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1.5)29 FebKensington Gardens #4 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV4W)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)29 FebKensington Gardens #3 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV4R)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)29 FebKensington Gardens #1 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV4K)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)29 FebKensington Gardens #6 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV54)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)29 FebKensington Gardens #5 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV51)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)22 FebHyde Park #03 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV3V)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)22 FebHyde Park #02 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV3K)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

All Geocaches
By Username (Found) – User: Pengy&Tigger   [New Search]

 


Traditional Cache(2/1)22 FebHyde Park #01 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHV2K)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(1.5/1)21 FebThe Green Park #2 by perthos (GCHRPA)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(1.5/1)21 FebThe Green Park #1 by perthos (GCHRP9)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Webcam Cache(1.5/1)14 Jan ’03* Eye on London * – Webcam Cache by The Artful Dodger (GCC448)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1.5/1)29 MayCatastrophe, Calamity, Cataclysm Part 4 by Daoloth and Tuna (GC5E4E)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)11 May ’02The London Rainbow Cache 1 Red by McDehack (GC56DD)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(2/1)17 Apr16th Century Pub (Central London) by The Wombles (GC4E4B)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(1/1)14 MarSt Etheldreda’s (Central London) by The Wombles (GC4201)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)29 JanTechnOLOGY (Central London) by The Wombles (GCCC6B)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)21 DecMMMonument by kennamatic (GCHC6H)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(1.5/1)10 JulThe London Stone by Jonnytuna (GCGEBD)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1.5/3)29 MayCatastrophe, Calamity, Cataclysm Part 2 by Daoloth & Tuna (GC5E4B)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(1/1)17 JunSt Dunstan’s Garden by jonnytuna (GCJQDY)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)29 MayCatastrophe, Calamity, Cataclysm Part 3 by Daoloth & Tuna (GC5E4D)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)29 MayCatastrophe, Calamity, Cataclysm Part 1 by Daoloth & Tuna (GC5E4A)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(2/1)5 NovLiverpool Treat by Chris n Maria (GCH65Q)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Multi-cache(2/1)27 OctSherlock 2 – I suppose, Watson… by Lunchbox (Maintained by Chris n Maria) (GC2823)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)16 OctA Meating place for Martyrs by McDeHack (GC22E5)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache Travel Bug Dog Tag (1 item(s))(1/1)26 SepGhandi Peace Cache by Jonnytuna, Daoloth and Craigster (GCGZ0V)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)19 FebPaddington Dare (W London) by Chris n Maria (GC3B88)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

 


Traditional Cache(2/1.5)21 FebSt. James’s Park #1 by perthos, maintained by Learned Gerbil (GCHRNY)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)21 FebSt. James’s Park #3 by perthos, maintained by Learned Gerbil (GCHRP1)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)14 MayDerby Gate by GeoNozzer (GCJED2)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Virtual Cache(1/1)12 MarThe Palace of Westminster (London) by The Wombles (GCE387)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Multi-cache(2/1)27 OctSherlock 6 – Elementary, my dear Watson! by Lunchbox (Maintained by Chris n Maria) (GC2827)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)31 JanYork Bridge by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHKPA)
United Kingdom
28 Jul
Virtual Cache(1/1.5)15 MarNot In The Zoo by Chaosbuster (GCEFE5)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(1.5/1)31 JanJehangir Fountain by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHKPX)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)24 JanRegent’s Canal #8 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHJRG)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)24 JanRegent’s Canal #9 by perthos – Maintained by Family-Wood (GCHJRP)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)1 FebPercy Circus by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHM0X)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)1 FebWilmington Square by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHM0T)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1)1 FebMyddelton Park by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHM0N)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)1 FebGrimaldi Park by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHM11)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)11 JanRegent’s Canal #1 by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHG4V)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/1.5)1 FebIslington Green by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHM8R)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)25 JanSt. Mary’s Church Gardens by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHJTQ)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)11 JanRegent’s Canal #3 by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHG4Y)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)11 JanRegent’s Canal #4 by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHG54)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

Traditional Cache(2/2)11 JanRegent’s Canal #5 by perthos- Maintained by Jonnytuna (GCHG57)
United Kingdom
28 Jul

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