Saturday, November 28

Soon be Christmas

Millstone hill, Bennachie forrest, Aberdeenshire.
Just felt the need to make at least one blog entry before November was out. Its been pretty quiet, a couple of geocaching days in the jeep and mostly work.
Now its looking forward to the Christmas break, with a visit to the kids, maybe take in Durham and a stop over in Edinburgh for the new-year festivities, plenty of opportunities for photography and geocaching along the way.

In the meantime we got our fastest FTF (first to find), to cut a short story shorter the cache was secured 15 mins after the email came in, as it was around the corner in Old Aberdeen, once secured it was into St Machar bar for a celebratory wee dram.

Started running a few weeks ago, mostly too keep fit and
in a effort to loose a few pounds as I see I am borderline
for my ideal weight. Seems to be doing me some good and
I get a buzz out of it.

Sunday, October 25

700th Geocache

Grouse up a hawthorn bush.
17th to 24th of October.

The October break brought us our 700th cache find, on a week trip to Northumberland, a return to Hayfield and back to see the kids on Teesside.
First stop was Dunstan Hill with a very interesting geotrail around Berwick on Tweed, looking at the areas visited by the painter L,S, Lowry, it was only recently discovered that Lowry holidayed here on a regular basis, I wasn't a great fan of his work but the trail did change my opinion towards it for the better.

Berwick upon Tweed.

Decided to go back to the Peak district. Edale is a loverly valley with lots of walks including some onto Kinder Scout, I had planned to go up onto Kinder from Hayfield but as the campsite doesn't have electric hookups, we had quite a drain on the leisure battery so it need a bit of a run to recharge it. I took a little walk onto Nether Tor. Again plenty of reasons for a revisit at some point, but not for a while.

On the way home we called off to see the kids for a couple of days. The little ones are growing up fast and quite getting into the "treasure hunting for little toys". Found a nice little trail of caches along the River Weir, five in total starting at Sunderland Bridge. a village just south of Durham, chose this as they were all fairly close together, the little ones like to do a few but cant walk too far, but at just under 3 miles round trip, they did very well.

Geocache find 700.

Saturday, September 5

New acquisition.

Suzuki, Vitara, Fatboy.

Bought this Jeep off Ebay, a little project to cleanup and do up, something that can be used generally to take me out and about, locally so as to not rely on the motorhome.

Thursday, August 27

Gathering in the Glens.

The Craigs of Loch Brandy

22nd of August 2009.

Gathering in the Glens, is a geocaching event that been going on for a few years now in Glen Clova. We have only been going for the past two years but the event seems to be gaining in popularity and attendance. Its a wonderfull setting with lots of geocaches to be found, there is the opertunity to camp out which the kids will love, some people stay at Glen Clova hotel's bunkhouse, a quieter alternative, we stay at the campsite just ourside Kirriemure.
I tackled a fantastic little walk, about 4 hours with a snack break, around Brandy Loch, a circular walk that starts just out the back of the hotel, was six and a half mile, maximum hight 850 meters or around 2800 feet in old money. Some great views of the glen from up there as well as Mt Keen and Lochnagar 22nd of August 2009.

Sunday, August 16

My First Munro

11th August.

Lochnagar - Meikle Pap, a Munro top at 980 meters (3215 ft)
not the hardest hill walk I have had but the highest, for about an hour when I reached, Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag, 1155 metres (3789 feet). Will have to do it again as I couldn't see a thing.

Saturday, August 15

Seeing family and friends.

28th July to 6th August.

Saltburn pier and Huntciffe.

A quick trip across to the other side of England to see the family and friends, in the form of people and places we hadn't seen for a while, just in case we were feeling home sick.
On our way to Loftus we had fish and chips on Redcar seafront then on to Saltburn where by a stroke of luck we bumped into my brother. An evening in the pub was followed by a visit to Staithes, nothing had changed much.
On returning to see the grandkids we took them out for the day, a trip in the campervan with ice creams can be a big adventure, especially if a little geocaching in the offing, all that done we decided a visit to Dorman museum may be a good idea, put it into the satnav and off we went. We were a little surprised to see the satnav trying to take us into the River Tees, as we turned a corner we heard here say "And now board the ferry", it was the transporter bridge, something I hadn't ridden since I was about 5 or 6.


Next day we left for Oswestry, where!, no I'd never heard of it and it was a bit of a "dart in the map" destination. Seemed kind of central for exploring a few places and handy for Derbyshire which was to be our next stop.Oswestry was an interesting little town to walk around and the following day we went off to Portmeirion, North Wales.
The Peak district, Light and Dark, visited Cassington Water, an extremely popular place for a family day out. Dovedale seemed to be popular as well but you could get away from the crowds a little. A walk from Castleton to Hope, that was a very interesting area with its crags and caverns so I must visit again.

Over Hayfield.

Finally Hayfield to see a friend I hadn't seen for a good long while, didn't get a great opportunity to do any big hill walking but I must revisit Tom and do a lot more walking and photography in this area.
Have been to some great places over these hols most I would certainly go back too, the drive back was arduous but very do able.

One thing I learnt on this trip, strong coffee and driving in town doesn't mix.

Friday, August 7

Oban and The Lakes.

Deer in Glen Etive.
20 th - 27th July.

We set off for almost three weeks on the road, Oban then down to the Lake District, across to Teesside seeing family and friends then down to the Peak district. We started off with a satnav adventure where the Garmin took us down Glen Etive only to find the forrest "track" she intended taking us down was closed, the upside being we saw a Golden eagle and the scene above.
Oban is a quaint little port, fairly busy with tourists even though it rained most of the time, so much so the windscreen wipers packed up, but were sorted by a very helpful garage even when they were snowed under at the time. A few geocaches in town and a visit to a waterfall, An Rhuadh Darach which was only discovered recently.

Off then to the Lake District and Keswick, We have both visited the "Lakes" a few times in the past and did try to go at Easter but left it to late, being all booked up. It is a very busy place and the poor weather (still raining) didn't seem to put the crowds off. Thats the problem with the lakes, too crowded and I think the landscape of Scotland has really spoilt me for this area, pretty as it is.

Castlerigg stone circle.

We visited Castlerigg stone circle, The Bowder stone in Borrowdale and Ambleside tried to find Kurt Schwitters grave in which I had found 8 years ago but couldn't re-find but that was very much a spur of the moment thing.
We did go out for a few ales in Keswick on the Friday night, it was very nice being in a town with none of the usual Friday night ruckus, however we made it an earlyish evening but it did all seem very civilized.

At the time I wasn't that enamored by our visit to the lakes, it could have been the weather or perhaps that whenever we have visited its always this particular area, next time I will go further south.

Talking about a few ales, as we left to take the short drive across to Teesside, we felt there was plenty of time to take in a walk somewhere along the way, so as it had been in the news recently we wondered if we could find Sleddale hall which had been, Withnail's uncle Monty's country cottage in the cult classic "Withnail & I". We found it and found it worthy of a cache placement.

One thing I learnt this trip, you don't get your money back if it rains whilst camping in the Lakes.

Wednesday, July 15

Wester Ross & Skye

Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Enjoyed a few days solo over on the West coast, at Wester Ross and the Isle of Skye. First stop was Laide, a place I was at a few years ago before moving on to Poolewe. Love this part of Scotland and if your lucky enough to get good weather it can be almost tropical. I did what I found to be quite a challenging walk up through the Coire Dudh Mo to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair in the Torridon area, not the highest I’d been but so hard on the legs.

Then off to the Isle of Skye, first staying at the Glen Brittle campsite, a bit basic but in one of the most fantastic settings I have ever been in, I shall return. Then too the C&CC site at Loch Greshornish a place we stayed at last year and great for exploring the North of the Island.

The Cuillin Ridge.

I have now done all the geocaches in the Northern half of Skye, which involved several short walks the best just a little way into the Cuillins, next time I will try to go further as they took me to some of the most pretty little places.

Managed to get a bit of sea fishing in as well, not to any degree of success.

One thing I learnt this week, walking poles just seem to transfere blisters from the feet to the hands

Monday, July 6

Bridges, lichens and some dreams realised.

The Forth Rail Bridge.

Ever since moving up to Aberdeen we have always wanted to stop off at Pettycur Bay campsite to take a closer look at the coastline, but with lots of potential places to visit in the van this little area of Fife (sorry Kingdom of Fife) got pushed down the list till this weekend. It had always looked great, located on the edge of the cliffs overlooking Firth of Forth with views across to Edinburgh. Another place often seen from afar as we crossed either of the Forth bridges and always wanting a visit was North Queensferry,

June 3rd the start of 6 weeks away from work, started a little ominously with a “server outrage” at Geocaching, com not a big drawback as I had most of the area covered by GSAK but I had left some out.

Day 1 was Aberdour and Burntisland, pronounced Burnt Island or Burnis Land depending if you’r posh or not, its definitely not posh, only good if you like all the fun of the fair. Aberdour had the most too offer, lovely part of this coast and a quaint little village. Found 3, DNF 3, bit of a poor show but as someone once said “It’s not about the numbers”.

I have always been taken by the abundance of lichens found in Scotland, not least the bright orange ones found by the sea. Whilst at a beach cache here I came across a small group of professors organising a field trip for 30 lichenologists from the OU. I over heard them discussing the two main types of lichen found, apparently they can be distinguished thus, one is an orangey yellow and the other is yellowy orange.

The following day North Queensferry and Dalgety Bay, too look in awe at the giant marvels of engineering, we had a great time walking around picking up various caches promoting the best viewpoints, also great for watching the world whiz by and chill out, on a hot day. Dalgety Bay functions largely as a dormitory suburb of Edinburgh and seemed a little souless.

Something I learnt this week. The collective noun for a group of professors is a pomposity.

Sunday, June 14

Monifieth and Dundee

Standing stones artworks in Montieth.

Trouble with the van so we had to cut the weekend short. Took in a great bunch of urban caches around Dundee, as well as a bit of shopping. Stayed at Tayview campsite at Monifieth and for once used public transport to get into town, which proved sensible.
Had trouble starting the van the previous day but felt I had solved it but when we got to the campsite it failed to restart, a nice guy helped us out. The next episode was on the way home, stopped off at Crombie country park, stalled it and again it failed to restart, again a nice couple offered us a jump lead start.
Still working on geotagging and finally got GpicSync to work properly, I like it due too its simplicity. Will continue to work with this program and Geosetter.
The main thing is that its now under three weeks to the hollidays and six weeks off traveling.

Tuesday, May 26

Round and about Loch Muick.

Loch Muick

Loch Muick is situated just outside Ballater in the Cairngorms, a loverly place for a walk around but also as a starting point for an ascent of Lochnagar or Meikle Pap. Ever since we moved up here people have been telling me how we must visit the area, this weekend we had the chance.
The walk was a wet one, lots of rain, we had waterproofs but never put them on as it always looked as if it was about to stop, but never did. These was of course a geocache on route but I did want to see the lay of the land for a possible Munro visit sometime, soon.
Sunday was a better day, working our way back to Aberdeen we visited Burn 'O' Vat, Sloss of Dess and Crathes Castle, five caches on the way.

Been looking at free software that will geotagg my photos, saving time with Flickr as I do like to show where I shot the image and seeing as I am always using the technologies anyway. GPiSync looks good but on testing didn't show the correct positions on Google Earth, couldn't figure out why. Copics Photomapper is very simple to use, has a big image preview but no map, I couldn't get it to show the tags on Google E, will work with it a little more. Microsoft Pro Photo Tools works with virtual earth and seems to have a lot to offer. My favorite so far seems to be Geosetter lots of features detailed Google maps, will continue to try them all.

Springwatch started this week, a sign the holidays are not too far away.

Monday, May 4

A long Mayday weekend

Originally uploaded by FoC Friends of Carlotta

It was great to get away for a nice long weekend. Took ourselves off to Cullen situated on the Moray coast, northeast Scotland. Its a quaint little place, offering such culinary delights as fish & chips, Cullen skink and the local ice cream.
The biggish hill overlooking the area is called Bin Hill or Bin of Cullen (1053ft), once climbed for a geocache as well as the exercise, we continued along the coast to Findochty and then Buckie,  not staying in ether place too long, both rather unremarkable. We were heading for Spey Bay with its wildlife centre and were privileged to spot an Osprey circling above, giving us a wonderful flying display.
On the way back to Cullen we decided to do just one last cache of the day. As we went through Fochabers ( love that name ) we stopped of at the Whiteash Winding Walks, a maze of paths which wind through magnificent firs and spruces in a steep-sided gully. The original paths and bridges were built in the 19th century by the Duke of Gordon, cache no 6 of the day.

Minimalist Landscape      

Sunday was mostly spent in a small Foresty commision wood south east of Lossiemouth, which doesnt seem to have a name, the edge of which runs along the edge of a shingle beach with lots of tank traps, pillboxes and gun emplacements. The day was quite blustery but we were protected from this in the wood and it was very pleasant. A 6 mile walk on flat terrain and 2 geocaches.
Along too Lossiemouth (Lossie to its friends) for a brief look around and finished off the day with a visit to Duffus Castle, interesting enough with its well kept motte and bailey, a cache and dash as it was quite exposed, cold and windy, 4 caches today.
 That evening as I processing my images, posting them on flickr, logging caches and tweeting. A new cache came up in an area on our route home, but we weren’t about to rush at it as we had other plans.
Monday, Mayday, arose later than usual, always sleep well in the camper even when the winds trying to roll it. Off for a little walk along the coast just out the back of the campsite. Wonderful coast just here, which we thought was well worth of a cache, so off we went to place it. Chose a nice tricky place lots of elevations with good views, lets see the reactions. Back to the van a final cup of tea and a second breakfast before the off. The people who run this site are really nice, friendly and helpful, it clean and well kept.

Cullen Bay
Carlotta wanted to visit the Peregrine watch centre nr Huntly, I keep promising every time we pass, so this time, determined to make this all too short a break last as long as possible. Viewed the Peregrine on its eggs via CCTV and watched the Chaffinches and Siskins darting around. Off to find another cache in the same woods that didn’t take too long before we were off again.
Ok here we go, it’s a potential FTF (first to find) but it’s a bank holiday, so plenty of opportunity for others to be out and about and it was now 2.45 in the afternoon.  We took the longer but a less steep approach to the cache site, it was less than half a mile anyway. Found it no problem but very apprehensive on the approach and retrieval. Yeah! a ftf swapped stuff and dropped off TB’s, there you go. We returned the quicker route and on our way back saw some folks in the car park with what looked like a GPSr, as we approached then I recognised them as geocachers and proclaimed to them that they were just too late, 20 minutes was all the difference it would have needed. Had a victory cup of tea and scone at the “Country Emporium” on the way back home, a fun filled day, weekend in fact. 12 finds 0 dnf 
Something I learned this week, Bin means hill, already knew Ben was mountain.

Monday, April 20

Back to work.

Well that's the Easter over with, so sad to see the van back in the compound, but then May bank holiday is only 2 weeks away.
We found our 500th geocache at Cruden bay and it was a first to find, so that was a bonus. Never got a really good hill walk in, thats something to look towards. On the whole a good couple of weeks, weather has now decided to pick up, but isn't that always the case. With the upsurge in the popularity of holidaying in the UK , I think I need to plan further ahead, hoping to go to Cullen for the Mayday long weekend, I can taste those wonderful fish and chips already. until then its back to work.

Thursday, April 16

Search for our 500th cache.

I suppose holidays this time of year are hit or miss with the weather, especially in Scotland, at least the rain wasn't torrential and things did improve during the second half, if only the same could be said for the geocaching, you would think after accruing almost 500 find in 2 years things would get easier but they don't. 
A visit to Stirling on a drizzly day was made worse when I found the cache details hadn't loaded into the GPSr for some reason, dammed technology !, but I did have them on the PDA with Memory Map, yeah ! technology. Apart from the famous view of the castle from the approach in, I found Stirling uninspiring. 
A visit to Bracklinn Falls brought a nice surprise as we bumped into some other geocachers, something that doesn't happen as often as you may think. I had given this one up in order to take a photo but Carlotta kept going and her persistence payed off. We did want to visit nearby Callander but the place was heaving with the Easter weekend traffic so we gave that a miss. Took an after tea walk from Milarrochy bay C&CC site too Balmaha this was a round trip of just under 6 mile, to find this other cache in the shadow of Conic hill.
A visit to Mugdock County park was very productive, a good number of caches in a relatively small area but an interesting area to boot, views of Glasgow from afar, lots of archaeology old and newer, a very popular place but plenty of space. A DNF here meant we did not reach 500 today.
Off then to the Borders to meet up with the kids, a loverly area to be in but we could only stay 2 days, a visit to the Grey Mares Tail waterfall then off home, but we had to stop off to try to find our 500th cache at the Kirk of the Lowes, again a very interesting spot St Mary,s graveyard overlooking St Mary's loch lots of atmosphere but a DNF for us, when is it going to come.

Something I learnt this week.
Before we set of I noticed the water in fuel filter indicator stayed lit all the time, I tried to remove the water from the filter and buy a new one both unsuccessfully, after a little internet detective work I came across a blog about the poor quality of Tesco fuel. I decided to try other supplies, I had in mind Shell, Esso or BP however it was Asda in the end, no sooner had I gone about half a mile, the light was out and stayed out.

Thursday, April 9

Trip to the Trossocks

Day one, of our Easter break in the southwest of Scotland. Arrived at Loch Lomond mid afternoon, once everything was sorted it was time for tea and with the rain we just settled in for the night. Watched Withnail & I to get us in the holiday mood, amazing surround sound rain effects, had a bottle of Innes & Gun ale, did I say it was raining.
Day two, rain eased off towards the afternoon, 4 caches found but 2 did not find, whilst walking parts of the West Highland Way, a disappointment in one way but loverly spots along the banks of loch lomond. Rain is coming into the toilet/shower as we seem to have lost a cowling off the roof, can’t think how. Had a bottle of Old Jock Ale, was quite nice.
There's still some snow on the top of some peaks so wont be going to high.
We've gone on holiday by mistake !

Sunday, March 22

"Blue door" riverside walk, Edzell.

River North Esk, HDR.

So we finally managed to get out to Edzell and do a little geocaching along the "Blue door" riverside walk, which runs beside the river North Esk. Bad weather had stopped the trip earlier due to the snow but today it was fine, starting out very sunny but as we left the van cloud came over, light was poor for photography. Its a great little place lots of rapids, popular with canoeists I see, as well as salmon fishing. Lots of remnants of a bygone age, old walls, bridges, a tower and of course a small cluster of geocaches to be found. 

The walk is easy going about 2 miles down to a place called the Rocks of Solitude, which is a wonderful enough name to entice anyone out here, undulating paths but nothing too taxing. I was told about this place a few years ago but the directions were all a bit sketchy. Red squirrels can be found here and we did see one crossing the road as we sat in the van. I must come out here with a film camera some time and do some serious photography.

Went into Edzell for a look around, quaint little village with a tea shop, dare say it could be quite popular in the summer.

Next trip off to the Lake district at Easter and looking forward to the break and yet more geocaching, hope to visit some high caches.

One thing I learnt this week, our motorhome appears on google earth's street level images.

Sunday, March 15

Mither Tap, hill walk.

Climbing the Mither Tap was the first bit of real exertive exercise I’v had since well before Christmas and it was quite telling, had been looking forward to this for a few weeks now but weather had not been on my side. Last summer we climbed Craigshannoch at the start of the break then Oxen Craig ( the highest on the Bennachie range ) and Craig Watch at the end
I am currently planning a couple of trips, a small geocaching trip to Edzell at the weekend then a longer one probably to the Lake district for the easter, where we look forward to more hill walking and of course more geocache finds.

Saturday, February 28

Geocaching what is it all about.

We started geocaching nearly two years ago, first it was something to do when out for a walk, now we go out for a walk to find a geocache or cache.
This sport or game is now getting us fit, you need to be sometimes to keep it up, we walk for miles and up mountains to boot, but we are addicted.
Other interests are also raised, you definitely need a love of the outdoors and all that can bring.
There are caches inside the Arctic circle down to the Antarctic, some under the sea and the tops of mountains. There is probably one just around the corner from you.
Its taken us from the most beautiful scenery in Britain to some of the grubbiest city back streets and show us places we never knew were just around the corner.
We live in Aberdeen which seems to be the microcache capital of the world.
We chose the name as it could be a team all the family can join, the kids think we are sad, but the tiny ones think its magic.


For some reason I felt that this may be a good idea, well we are up for most things.
There is nothing Carlotta and I like better than traveling around in our campervan, (ok its a motorhome but that sounds too pretentious) the cat (Felix) comes with us and we geocache as we go, It is our only vehical so I cycle everywhere else, it keeps me fit and I really enjoy it.
I have set this particular page up so I can nurture our, but particularly my, inner geek and to find ourselves within the wider world, this is us having fun. We love nature and the great outdoors and geocaching shows us some of the most interesting and exciting places.
One of our favorite films is Dead men Dont Wear Plaid, hence the geocaching name, but I love the old film noir anyway. And I dont mind a bit of art.