Within the boundary of Balaam's Wood is the former Rubery railway station, on the old Halesowen railway branch line. Close to the cache you will find some relics of the tracks, and further west you can find the former station, with platform embankments still remaining, and an old gatepost, a relic of the old station. Rubery station was opened in 1883 as part of a line running from Longbridge to Old Hill, through Halesowen. Passenger services stopped in 1919 but the line remained in place until the 1960s. The wood is now looked after by a local conservation group (who are aware of but do not maintain the cache) and the City Council, and is particularly beautiful in the spring when it is covered in bluebells.
Balaam was a prophet from the time of Moses, whose story is recounted in the Book of Numbers. He was sent for by Balak, the king of Midian, who wanted to save his kingdom from the same fate as the Amorites and Bashan (the name of whose king, Og, I found amusing when a chorister) who had been defeated by the Israelites. Balaam sent back a message to Balak saying that he could only follow God's commands, and that God had told him not to go. After being visited by high priests, God instructed Balaam to go, but to repeat only what He says. Balaam sets out on a donkey but this refuses to move as it is stopped by the Angel of Jehovah. Balaam starts to punish the donkey, but it is miraculously given the power to speak and complains. The Angel then shows itself to Balaam, who repents for his behaviour. Balak and Balaam go to the high places of Baal to offer sacrifices on seven altars, which lead to Balaam receiving a prophecy which blesses the Israelites. Balak then takes Balaam to Pisgah where they offer sacrifices on another seven altars and get the same prophecy. So Balak takes Balaam to Peor where they offer another seven sacrifices, but Balaam again blesses the Israelites.
Baal and Elijah
Baal, who is a deity where Balak and Balaam made their sacrifices, is one of the subjects of the story of the prophet Elijah, who spends a lot of his time challenging the Israelites' belief in Baal. There are many narratives of these stories, but the one I want to pick up on is used by Felix Mendelssohn in his Oratorio "Elijah", where they are summoned by the priests in rousing choruses. In 2008 I had the pleasure of singing in a reconstruction of the premiere of Elijah in the Birmingham Town Hall (in the day when Birmingham's Music Festival was one of the most prominent), and so, in a very round about way, this cache is dedicated to Mendelssohn.
To work out the co-ordinates of this cache, you need to decipher an audio track which contains brief excerpts of music, most of which should be popular Mendelssohn tunes. It is not a difficult cipher but the difficulty will be identifying the pieces. In the order given you should get the letters ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO.
Alert: You are about to visit an external site containing an embedded audio file in order to obtain further details needed to find this geocache. As the cache owner, I represent that both the site and file are safe to download although the files needed to complete this geocache have not been checked by Groundspeak or by the Geocache Reviewer for possible malicious content. As a result, you are listening to this file at your own risk: http://www.reevery.net/geocaching/balaams-wood/
The cache can be found at N52 NI.BHK, W002 GG.DCL. Your answer can be checked at geochecker.com which, due to tree coverage limiting GPSr accuracy, is set to give you a correct answer if you are within 0.005 minutes/25ft/8m. The final co-ordinates are the average of a few long exposures at ground zero.