Hardcore Geocaching!

Thought geocaching was an easy option did you? 

Bet you did! 

You were thinking that that wimp should be out on the hills doing some manly hillwalking as opposed to poncing around woodland paths looking for wee plastic tubs.

I thought it was a cop out too…well it was supposed to be wasn’t it?  Yesterday quickly disabused me of that particular notion.  On a day of warm, hazy, sunshine The Fatdog and I ended up rampaging, yes that’s a fair description of what occurred, around Queen Elizabeth Forest Park near Aberfoyle in search of concealed Tupperware.

It was a day on which glorious weather was not matched by glorious success.  In truth it was a right bloody shambles.  Armed with a Google Earth satellite map and my less than trustworthy GPS we tried our hand at jungle trekking, tree branch abseiling, canyoning (almost), gorge edge teetering not to mention the dreaded obstacle course that is the deer fence gate.

And what did we find given all that?  Sod all…that’s what we found.  Sod…bloody all!

It started out so well.  The Fatdog tanked up for the walk to come.  On video you would be able to watch the river level drop.

First drink of the day

Here’s a glimpse of the terrain we managed to get into looking for the first cache…

This looks like where the canyoning starts

It didn’t help that my map showed the wee box’s location as being on the north side of the river when in fact, having read the directions at far too late a juncture, it was obviously on the effin’ south side.  Given I had already “abseiled” into the steep sided gorge via a series of convenient young bendy tree branches I reckoned that my good behaviour licence was in danger of being revoked should it get out that I was prepared to do some precarious bouldering to cross the rock strewn gorge.  The Fatdog perched on a boulder and looked puzzled.  By some considerable margin this was not our normal terrain.  We abandoned the search for cache one with the vague idea of picking it off on the way back via the opposite bank.

Our next task was to get from where we were to the second cache which lay at the furthermost point of our walk, some 5.5km from where we’d parked The Tank.  That distance was a fairly conservative “as the crow flies” measurement.  But typical Trossach’s terrain doesn’t allow for straight line routes.  The forestry tracks and trails wound their frustrating way around 150m high “hills” and all the time the temperature was rising as the trees blocked out any chance of a cooling breeze.  At one point a panting FD was reduced to lying in a damp ditch to cool off.   Water was unusually scarce today.

Our route did however throw up a couple of “photograph the nature” moments.

Fungus time
A bit of welcome colour

My Google satellite map took us along a less well used track, which quickly became a never used track, which in turn became a jungle.  The alternative to braving the vegetation was a very long detour. 

It looks tame from here...this was the last shot before we tackled the triffids.

We pushed on and eventually broke through to a “less well used track”…which was good.  What was less good was the locked 7’ high gate sitting across the track.   Fortunately it had previously been vandalised by another dog walker who didn’t fancy battling back through the jungle.  But of course one locked gate always leads to another at the other end of the track, so it was with some degree of doubt I led The Fatdog along the grassy trail to what would undoubtedly be the next obstacle of the day.  I hoped the dog walking vandal had done a thorough job.

The walk along this section of track was probably the best of the day.  Tree felling had created open views to the west which gave a better appreciation of the Trossach’s topography than could be gleaned from the rest of the walk so far. 

Trees and beyond
A wonderful path!

As anticipated we reached another locked gate but as I had hoped our dog walking vandal had done a further bit of gate amendment.  I think quite a number of people had had a go judging by the state of the gate.  We were now on a direct route to the second cache. 

The aqueduct

The second cache proved as elusive as the first.  Leaving the track at a bridge over a gorge we teetered along edge of a nasty 4m vertical drop down to rocky oblivion. 

It's been dry for a while...this must be awesome after a few days of rain.

This was not good territory for FD who will cheerfully amble to the edge of any drop irrespective of whether the edge is secure or not.  There’s been many a screaming match in the mountains as The Fatdog has shuffled off aimlessly onto the brink of eternity.  There I could at least keep her on a lead.  Here there was no chance of using the lead with us following an almost non existent path through a mass of trees and bushes…still with that nasty drop on our right hand side.  Then we reached the “No Unauthorised Persons Beyond This Point” sign. 

“Don’t tell me you wussed out?”  they cry.  “Pathetic!”

Well we did try…so there!  Just couldn’t see a sensible way past and with FD constantly ambling to have a look at the gorge I reckoned it wasn’t worth the hassle.  With only 100m to go we backed out.

We had now covered in excess of 6km, a fairly energetic 6km I would add.  The Fatdog was wilting and my leg muscles were beginning to stiffen.  There was still one cache left on our list, plus a return trip to the first, but it was clear the moment had gone.  It was time to go home. 

The long road home.