Technically, a geocache can’t be buried—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be underground. The Below Above series, hidden by geocacher BareClawz, takes daring geocachers on a subterranean adventure through abandoned quarries in southwest England, United Kingdom. This week’s Geocache of the Week is Below Above – The Fallen Monarch (GC2GAMT). This difficulty 5, terrain 5 geocache isn’t for the faint of heart—or the claustrophobic.
The adventure begins with your smartphone or computer—geocachers must figure out clues to find the correct entrance and the correct path to the geocache. From there, it’s time to build up your courage, don your hardhat, check the batteries in your headlamp, pack your geocaching toolkit, and venture into the abandoned (by all except cavers and geocachers, that is) quarries.
As much time and dedication as it takes from geocachers to find these geocaches, creating them is even more difficult. “I have been exploring the quarries for many years and have got to know them quite well, surveys (maps) are also available and using my knowledge combined with the maps I work out a route that I think novice explorers could follow without getting lost, injured or hurting themselves. I then check the route by walking it myself, altering and editing it and then walking it again. When I am finally happy with the route I get a friend, usually a geocacher, to walk the route just following the route I’ve written out. I accompany them and if necessary rewrite parts as needed. Finally it gets fully written up and submitted for publication. This process can take up to two months per cache! I have to consider that people of various levels of underground skills follow these routes to find the caches at the end,” said BareClawz, the geocache creator.
During the underground journey, geocachers come across all sorts of artifacts from when the quarries were active. One look at the geocache’s photo logs and you can see everything from boots to old tools to comments written on the walls from the miners that once worked in the caves. And sometimes you come across things you wouldn’t expect, when asked about his best stories while exploring the quarries, BareClawz recalls, “One classic is being in a quarry one evening and finding two lost cavers and guiding them out and to safety. In another quarry I thought I’d found the body of a caver, it turned out to be an old boiler suit on a dummy left years ago by previous cavers as a joke.”
Geocaching takes us on adventures to places we never knew existed. In this case, it’s abandoned quarries. What’s the greatest adventure that geocaching has ever taken you on?
This geocache was submitted by geocacher *geocass*. If you’d like to read more about the whole Below Above series (and see more photos), check out her blog. Also, the Below Above series is extremely popular and highly regarded by the geocachers that have found it. So much so that it has its own Facebook Group.
If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations on making it down this far! Your prize is a few more Q&As with BareClawz, the creator of the Below Above series:
What inspired you to place these geocaches?
I created the way to set the Below Aboves as a way of combining my two favourite hobbies,geocaching and exploring the old quarries locally with fellow geocachers who some had no idea that these places existed or that there was a way of seeing them. There were a couple of early attempts that led the way to the standard that the current have reached. These were aimed at local cachers and I had no idea that their fame would spread so far and to so many people.
How did you navigate the quarries for the first time?
Initially I got some caving friends to show me the quarries but that was before the first of the Below Aboves and several years ago. I always follow the safety guidelines and tell somebody where I am and how long I intend to be. Then set off with my experience and a map. Initially I did get lost a few times but I can soon work out where I am and don’t panic.
Most of the geocaches in the Below Above series are D5/T5, do you typically like to find similarly difficult geocaches?
I enjoy riddles, puzzles etc and have solved quite a few to find caches but so far no 5/5 caches but I do plan to remedy that soon and find some as soon as I get the chance.
What’s the most interesting artifact you’ve come across while down in the quarries?
There are so many artefacts underground that it’s hard to pick one. Each quarry is different and unique. BA – Mind The Trains I like the railway tracks, but also the water troughs, these appear in Fallen Monarch too, Multi 2 Cathedral is such an awesome sight but the things I like most and spot new ones of in almost every trip are the graffiti comments left by the old workers, some of these date back to the early 19th century. Names of the workers, comic drawings, comments and that sort.
Do you have any crazy stories from when you were placing the caches?
Yes, lots. One classic is being in a quarry one evening and finding two lost cavers and guiding them out and to safety. In another quarry I thought I’d found the body of a caver, it turned out to be an old boiler suit on a dummy left years ago by previous cavers as a joke.
The best memories though are guiding a team of geocachers one year on the day of my birthday and one of the team was a cacher called Ambrel and just after he signed the logbook he presented me with two coins and explained these were what is recognised as Ambrel Top Cache Awards. I now hold 5 of these, one for each of the Below Aboves. Soon I hope that will be 6 as a new Below Above has just been submitted and more are planned over the next few months.
My greatest reward though is the thanks I get mailed by geocachers and reading the logs finders write of their adventures. They say a lot more that TFTC TNLN lol.