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This is the twenty-second of a series, the “Caerphilly Collection”, that will explore the whole Borough Council area. Three virtual caches lead to the final regular cache (in a medium sized plastic storage box), following part of the Machen Forge Trail. Anticipate a walk of about 1½ miles. Apart from a few steps, the route is fairly level, but can be wet and muddy in places.
The Caerphilly Collection is distinguished with a unique CC number and is made up of 50 caches. The caches vary in difficulty and type and usually have other “C” word connections – castle, cheese, coal, canal, etc. There may even be Cryptic Clues for Clever Clogs! The current Caerphilly unitary authority grew out of the former Rhymney Valley and Islwyn Councils and stretches from the outskirts of Cardiff and Newport in the south to the Brecon Beacons, north of Rhymney. Despite a past dominated by coal and heavy industry, it has a diverse history and varied and dramatic scenery. We hope you will enjoy exploring it with us.
Towards the end of the Collection is CC48 The Accumulator, the location of which is given in coded form. The translation details of the code are distributed around the whole Collection, but only about a third of the caches will contain a piece of the code, which is on the back of the Log Book. To do the Accumulator, you will need to keep a note of each piece of code that you find. Unless you are very lucky, you will need to find the majority of the Collection in order to do the Accumulator. The Accumulator cache is hidden in an area of difficult terrain and demanding navigation, with a 5,4½ rating.
Forging of iron (i.e. the conversion of raw iron into implements) took place in and around Machen from the 17th century (or earlier) through to the 19th century. The Morgan family, who we met at Ruperra (CC3), was involved in the business. It required transport, so brought tramroads and railways, and generated supporting trades such as charcoal burning in the adjoining woods. There were also collieries in the area. The Machen Forge Trail explores the industrial heritage of the area, with information posts that are family friendly and provide an insight into the lives of people who made up the community. The trail is waymarked (but not consistently, due to vandalism) – see the uploaded image for an example of the distinctive markers. A good descriptive leaflet is available from local visitor information centres or the library by the suggested car park, at N 51o 35.703 W 003o 08.546.
In the following, VC stands for Virtual Cache and RC for Regular Cache.
VC1 is at the coordinates given for the cache listing. Walking from the village, you will have just passed Green Row. Originally called The Barracks, this was built as a dormitory for ‘sinkers’, the men who dug shafts (in between drinking and brawling) in preparation for mining. The Barracks would have had a single passage connecting all rooms and a live in housekeeper. The stone and brick wall continuing from this point is all that remains of Machen Old Pit. A wet mine at the best of times, it finally closed due to flooding in the 1920’s. While here, you need to note the type of oil that created the aromatic hat. Convert the answer into a set of numbers using the keypad of your mobile phone.
VC2 is at N51 3a.ab4 W003 0b.cd5, where:
a = the first number in the set derived at VC1
b = the first number plus the seventh number
c = the third number plus the sixth number
d = the fourth number minus the first number
Between VC1 and VC2, Riverside Terrace (originally Colliers Row) can be seen across the river. It once housed Old Pit miners and had a footbridge crossing the river until it was washed away in the early 1900’s. So CC could stand for collapsed crossing. On the left, just before VC2, are the remains of two small pickle ponds, thought to have been used to clean iron before plating with tin. Although the forge closed in 1886, businesses continued here until the 1920’s, at least. Young Arthur may have regarded this area as a playground, but what type of trucks was his father repairing here? As before, convert the answer into a set of numbers using the keypad of your mobile phone.
VC3 is at N51 3e.ef9 W003 0g.he4, where:
e = the fourth number in the set derived at VC2
f = the first number
g = the fifth number
h = the sixth number
Between VC2 and VC3, you will need to cross under the viaduct twice. Just before the viaduct, on the left (in a boggy area infested with the pretty, but invasive, Himalayan Balsam), are the virtually unrecognisable remains of one of the forge waterwheels, that drove the hammers that beat the iron into shape. At its height, the forge employed more than 250 men, women and children. Just before you return under the viaduct are the remains of the stables. Initially, coal and iron were carried by packhorse. By 1831, a tramroad had been built with wagons pulled by horses and this was converted to a railway, known as “the branch” and going through to Caerphilly, by 1864. At VC3, you need to find out the surname of the workman who held up a piece of coal as a train approached. Again, convert the answer into a set of numbers using the keypad of your mobile phone.
RC4 is at N51 3j.km2 W003 0n.kp1, where:
j = the third number in the set derived at VC3
k = the seventh number minus the sixth number
m = the first number plus the second number
n = the fourth number plus the fifth number
p = the second number minus the third number
You can extend the cache into a circular walk by following the rest of the waymarked trail. This doubles the distance and adds about 300’ of ascent. If you have enjoyed the style of the information posts, there are three more to find on the rest of the trail. You need to rejoin the old railway track bed to continue on the trail.
Nybat svryq obhaqnel, oruvaq n gerr naq fperrarq ol pheenagf!
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum