I was taking part in a discussion about the kind of caches that we enjoy on the Geocaching Forumsand having mentioned the fact that we like town centre caching 2202 contacted us by email and asked if we had ever tried Oxford.
By all accounts Oxford appears to have most caches in the town centre, probably second only to London. My wife and I had never been to the city so we began to plan a trip. 2202 kindly put together a ‘Tour Itinerary’, we packed the caching bag and set off.
A cold but bright November Sunday morning saw The Hokesters heading south for a greatly anticipated day’s caching with some shopping dropped in for good measure.
Our instructions told us to park near The Trout Inn (N51 46.480, W001 17.580) in the pretty village of Wolvercote a couple of miles north of Oxford town centre. We took the easy option of using the car park just a bit further up the road do to the toilet facilities which were particularly clean and in good working order for public conveniences!
Here however we made our first mistake at the very outset! Rather than walking back to The Trout and taking the Port Meadow path down the western side of the Thames we walked through the meadow on the eastern side – the meadow is a flood plain so I will leave this part of the story to your imagination!
With damp feet we made our way across to the first cache ‘Somewhere under the Rainbow’ (GCG0JN) doubling back on ourselves to get to the cache location. Reading back through the logs it appears that the co-ordinates can play tricks with you here and so they did with us sending us back and forth over the bridge. Coupled with the heavy foot traffic here it made launching a full scale search nearly impossible. Fortunately Jo had aninkling where it might be and withthe benefit of a deciphered clue we discovered the cache!
Now for mistake no. 2. Walking downstream we were looking for a path off to the left to take us onto our next target, however the path was closed to the public and we were detoured. The detour signs disappeared or maybe we missed one but this took us on a 10 minute diversion which could have been avoided. Now 2202 said that Moronic Atomic 2 (GCKA22) is difficult to find however, for a change, we had fantastic GPSr accuracy. But where is the cache??? After 20 minutes or so we were discussing giving up when Jo spotted a glint of silver and there it was. Talk about sneaky!
Now heading into town for a look at some nice shops we make our way in the general direction of University Challenge #3 (GCHXGK). Spotted the cache location straight away but some selfish blighter had chained their bike to the sign that marked the spot. The street was so busy that any attempt to nab the cache looked like we were after pilfering the bike so we had to give it a miss.
We made our way through the crowds into Broad Street to bag University Challenge 7 (GCJ170) which is an easy virtual. Lunch from the Oxford Campus Buttery was well received at this part of the day. As we sat munching on minted lamb baguettes we concluded that it was now likely that we would have to finish the day off without getting anywhere near our fourteen cache target.
This conclusion was confirmed by a decision to ‘do a bit of shopping’ on our way to the next cache, University Challenge #1 (GCHXGH) just round the corner. This cache was found quite easily as it was in clear view so I decided to hide it a little better – much to the chagrin of 2202 who on a ride round the caches thought UC1 had been muggled!!!
Poor GPSr reception led us on a merry dance at University Challenge #2 (GCHXGJ) and resulted in us thinking it was in completely the wrong place and thus we put it down as our second DNF of the day. We didn’t waste additional time at this point and decided which caches we were going to cut out in order to head us back in the direction of the car.
So we struck out for Oxford Parks and our final cache Parson’s Pleasure (GCJP8G) which was easily found without any clues. A great cache container here too. We targeted this cache as we needed one large enough to take a TB we had picked up the week before.
Apparently we missed bagging Chester 18 (GCJAAJ) which was very nearby but with the daylight failing and a 2 mile walk back to the car we decided to shut the cache bag for the day and off we set up the Woodstock Road. A small detour off Woodstock found us on the Canal Towpath which took us all the way back to Godstow Road and the short jaunt back to the car park. Phew! Just over 10 miles walking and a very enjoyable day to boot!
If anyone wants the cache itinerary and fancies a chance of bagging all fourteen which I am sure is perfectly possible in a day can email me for the details. I have cache itinerary, maps, GPX, CSV and AXE files available.