13. Jan, 2021

Writtle Reunion

I decided to drive the twenty minutes up to Writtle to tackle two AdLab series. One was A Stroll Around Writtle and the other was in Hylands Park - Hylands House and Estate. I knew that I could park up near the ground of Writtle F.C. and then walk into the park via the underpass of the A414, the Ongar Road.

I parked up in the free car park opposite the picturesque Writtle Green and set off on my walk. I started at the head of the car park at the council offices and quickly found the info for the first task. Next up was the church and after scrutinising the stone work had the right answer.

I had a long walk up to the Writtle Agricultural College, dearly wishing that the Wilkin & Son Tea Rooms on the campus was open. ☹️ I came unstuck at the next stage but luckily got a further hint after texting the COs, The Avenue Two or TA2 on logbooks. These two got me into geocaching but more of that later.πŸ€”

I passed this stage but then had a detour through the Ag College out to the quickly found Heifer trad. Back on the series, I was sent through the former orchards of the college and out to the site of the former Writtle Airfield. 

This was occasionally used by Royal Flying Corps aircraft as a landing ground during fighter patrols in the first half of World War One. Aircraft activity did not completely end following its closure as the Marconi Company kept the airfield active in a minor capacity to operate single examples of an Airco DH6 and then Avro 548 as pioneering flying radio test beds until the firm left in 1924. Now I understand why there’s a mystery cache nearby called Destinations : Air To Ground.

The last stage (no pun intended) was at Melba Court, named after Dame Nellie Melba, perhaps the most popular opera singer of her day. On 15 June 1920, Nellie was heard in a pioneering radio broadcast from Marconi’s New Street Works factory in Chelmsford singing two arias and her famous trill. She was the first artist of international renown to participate in direct radio broadcasts. Radio enthusiasts across the country heard her, and the broadcast was reportedly heard from as far away as New York. 

However, near the information board in Melba Court, in an old ex-Army hut next to the Marconi laboratories, is the site of the first British radio station to make regular entertainment broadcasts, and the world's first regular wireless broadcast for entertainment. Transmissions began from here on 14 February 1922.

So that was the end of this fascinating walk but I had another cache to find before setting off to Hylands Park. I had mentioned GC5CBVN, the 4/2 Destinations : Air to Ground mystery earlier. I had solved the puzzle some time and as I was nearby, I had to give it a try. My, was that track out to the search area wet! It was so muddy, slippy and slidy. However I put my hand straight on the cache, eventually.πŸ€” There was an added bonus as I had resuscitated this oneπŸ‘πŸ‘

I made it back to the car and set off to Writtle FC. I then walked down into the park to trek out the AdLabs series. I had been on many trips to this splendid park so none of the stages were new to me. I successfully found all the answers to complete the series. I had a result on the way to the  final stage when the Hall coffee shop opened as I was walking past on the stroke of ten. No food but a very welcome takeaway Americano.πŸ˜€

You may remember my promise to ignore any cache without at least a 2 in the D/T. However as caches will be thin on the ground during this Lock-down period, that promise is on hold. There was a regular trad Middle of the Park on the estate and I waded out there over the waterlogged field to get this one. 

Now it’s time to mention the reunion.πŸ€” Before I got into Geocaching, I was a very keen birdwatcher and on occasions, a twitcher. For example, five unsuccessful seventy mile round trips up to Fingringhoe looking for a Glossy Ibis and when I did find one, it was three miles away on Vange Marsh.πŸ₯΄

On day trips out with Swallow Birding, a local birding tour operator, I used to pick up a young birder who couldn’t drive, in Springfield on route. Some days, he was dropped by both parents and Andrew said that his parents were making an early start to go Geocaching. Always curious, I asked what it was. It sounded interesting and I said I would give it a go when I had a smart phone.

That day coincided with a birding trip to Rutland Water with Swallow Birding. During lunch after watching the Ospreys, I walked down to the local church and found a film pot hidden in a log. I was hooked and it was fitting that my first cache was a CM in a rare county. Birdwatching soon became something I used to do regularly.

Now Andrew is part of the management team at the Writtle Co-op and I needed some shopping. I spotted him with his head in a freezer, asking his back where the eggs were. He didn’t recognise me under my mask but as soon as I pulled it down (at a safe distance, of course) we were away.

He said that I’d sort of dropped off the birding scene and I told him that it was all his fault. He’d told me about about Geocaching and once I tried it, I was hooked, birding came a very distant second among my hobbies. I told him that I had completed his parents AdLab series that morning. Unfortunately he was called to the phone and the brief reunion was over.

It was time for home but I had one more cache to find on the way home. Polyglot 1 (BNB-19) one of cazmockett’s Brains Not Brawn series, a 2/1.5 mystery, had been solved a couple of years but as I was driving past it was time to find it. I had a quick find of a well hidden cache.πŸ˜€

2 Mystery 2 Traditional 10 AdLab