Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Completing The Grid

This blog is about one of the challenges a geocacher might undertake, that of completing the D/T grid. Each cache is given a specific rating for both difficulty and terrain, incrementally in halves from one to five. This means there are 81 different possible combinations and within the statistics section of our profile pages we have a grid that shows how many of each we have found. One challenge is to find a cache of every different combination, thereby "completing the grid" and that is the challenge that three of my caching friends and I took on a few weeks ago.

Some of the combinations are pretty rare and we covered a lot of miles to find a few but we all got into a position where we needed the same 2 combinations. The sensible thing was for us all to go and get them together as they just happened to be at the top of 2 of Yorkshire's 3 peaks, Pen-Y-Ghent and Ingleborough. 

We scrutinised diaries and calendars and finally came up with a date that we could all make, Sunday 19th August.

I have completed the three peaks challenge (to get round the 3 peaks in 12 hours, climbing over 5000ft and walking around 25 miles) twice and walked the hills individually several times but never as a cacher. The plan was to climb Pen-Y-Ghent and then to move the cars to Clapham to assault Ingleborough, returning triumphantly into Clapham later to host an event in their local pub and celebrate our achievement.

The day arrived and we got to our starting point of Horton in Ribblesdale at 10am. The forecast looked promising, perhaps a shower over lunch time. The view of our first mission was imposing but bright and clear.

Pen-Y-Ghent from Horton In Ribblesdale

Pen Y Ghent is a reasonably short walk but very steep and we were wheezing our way up, the scramble towards the top looming and threatening as we approached.

Pen-Y-Ghent summit

We did get there and made short work of finding the couple of caches that are up at the top, although explaining to DesertFoxUk which one of them was, was a task that took the whole day! He got terribly confused with acronyms and a WhereIgo...

Me at the top of Pen-Y-Ghent

As we stood at the trig point we could see rain heading our way and it didn't take long before it started spitting and we were soon in cagoules. We walked back in to Horton along the famous Pennine Way and moved our cars round towards Ingleborough. By now we had made a couple of decisions. Firstly PrinterFixerMan was feeling pain in his ankle and was to sit out the next ascent (fortunately, he had completed the grid a couple of weeks earlier, his job taking him to more exotic places than we get to. Scunthorpe mostly, it would seem) and secondly, we had spent too long on the first peak and to meet our objective of being in the pub for 4 we needed to take a more direct but much steeper route up Ingleborough. It was not a decision I took lightly, it is a very physically demanding climb up and not much preparation for this sort of walk had been done by any of us. Bravado kicked in and I felt confident we could do it.

Pausing for a drink and lunch by the Ribblehead viaduct we got parked near to the Hill Inn, a famous pub on the route of the three peak walk, between Great Whernside and Ingleborough. The spitting had got a little heavier now. The approach to the climb up Ingleborough takes you through some amazing limestone features and by a massive pot hole, "Braithwaite Wife Hole"
Souther Scales Pavement
Then you get to the steep climb, zig-zagging up the side of the hill. I won't lie to you dear reader, I hate this climb. Even when I was young(er) and more sprightly I found it difficult. I think the look on my face in this picture shows my pain!
Despite the persistent drizzle, we had taken our coats off, we were so warm through our exertions. However, as we reached the point where the steps end and the peak starts to level out a little, the weather really took a turn for the worse and cagoules were quickly back on. We could see the low cloud from the bottom and we were right in it. Our visibility was very poor and the cache where our friends Mel&Freddie17 had just a couple of days earlier logged as "giving amazing views" yielded us nothing but a thick mass of fog!


From here we still had about 250 yards to our final cache and it really was follow the arrow time. The trig point and a weather shelter jumped out at us when we were pretty much on top of them. As we approached ground zero I thought crikey, that looks like it's off the edge of a cliff. It wasn't quite that steep but it was at the base of an outcrop that was pretty tricky to get around, particularly in the weather. We found it , our task was done, our grids completed, our challenge concluded but we still had to get back to the cars.

The three of us at the summit of Ingleborough

Coming back down, it is clear how flash floods can occur. The stream that was crystal clear was now a deep brown colour. Our paths were now mini rivers. Pools had appeared where there were none 45 minutes previously. The power of the rain and the sides of the hill give the rain water an opportunity to really gather momentum and cause mayhem.

We got back to the cars and moved them to the New Inn in Clapham. RebekahMarie73 seemed to be wearing something of everyone's to get her dry! I was delighted to find out it was a Copper Dragon pub, one of my favourites. We chatted about what had gone on, what we had achieved and what the next challenge might be and enjoyed a couple of excellent pints.

I was really happy at the end of a fairly prolific (for me) weekend to be logging the last gap in my DT grid as my 1500th find another great milestone on an awesome day.

Thanks to my father in law, Gerry Symes for the photographs I have used.

Also see my blog about The World Wide Flash Mob for more caching goodness!