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This is the thirty-eighth of a series, the “Caerphilly Collection”, that will explore the whole Borough Council area. Four virtual caches lead from Caerphilly’s other castle, through woodland, to Rudry Common and a final cache, in a turtle pot in a camo bag. Expect a 4 mile walk with 400 feet of ascent. Most of the ascent is fairly gentle and spread out and the route is mainly off road. Even in the best conditions, paths may be wet and muddy.
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.
The stages of this cache and the suggested return route are intended to make an enjoyable circular walk which is mainly on woodland paths and tracks. The woodland is mixed and there are surprises hidden (sometimes well hidden!). It would be possible to limit the walking to about a mile, if use of a car is maximised – but some wet/muddy sections are still likely. In 2007, many of the forest tracks were improved to facilitate horse access and most of the wet and muddy sections disappeared. This prompted a small reduction in the terrain rating. Although the woodland has been generally freely open in the past, recent legislative changes have now clarified its status as “access land”, so you are not restricted to designated rights of way only. There are picnic tables near the final cache location.
In the following, VC stands for Virtual Cache and RC for Regular Cache. There is roadside parking near to VC1.
VC1 is at the coordinates given for the cache listing and you will find yourself outside a complex of quite impressive medieval buildings. These are the remains of the lodge, keep and mansion of Van Castle, which dates from 1415, although some of the dressed stonework has been re-cycled from a 12C Norman castle. It came into the Lewis family, descendents of a Welsh Prince, in the 16C and became part of the Earl of Plymouth’s estates in the 18C. Perhaps because it is private, with no public access, even many locals are unaware of the splendour in their midst. Behind the buildings is a medieval dovecote, reputed to have had 1000 nesting boxes: it is possible to get a glimpse of this (see image) from the kissing gate on the public right of way which skirts the east side of the complex. The annual income of the Lewis estates was £5000 in the year abcd.
VC2 is at N51 3c.af8 W003 1e.de0, where:
e = b – c and f = c - a
The route from VC1 to VC2 passes a new business park, which replaced the Harold Wilson Industrial Estate, itself occupying the buildings of the former GWR maintenance depot. The last of the original engine sheds can be seen as you leave the estate. The most direct route to VC2 is a footpath which crosses the railway. The crossing is uncontrolled and on a bend that restricts visibility. If you are deaf, not reasonably nimble or have children, it is recommended that you use the slightly longer road route. At VC2, you will find the words “… illicit tipping, littering, - -, - -, and general public safety.” The numbers of letters in the four words missing in the middle are g, h, j and k respectively.
VC3 is at N51 3g.kh3 W003 1a.bh9.
Rather than walk in the narrow road, there is a convenient track/path just to the west, in the woods. The first part of this follows the course of the railway which linked the former brickworks near VC2 (you may have noticed a big brick chimney) to the source clay pit to the south. Despite its size, the structure at VC3 is one of the things which we described as well hidden! You won’t see one, but you may hear a train here. The shaft number is m and the number before CAR is n.pq (the distance in miles from Cardiff Bay station).
VC4 is at N51 3c.mp6 W003 1p.jm9.
Depending on the route you choose between VC3 and VC4, you may pass some old limekilns and a pond that is often used for dipping. While planning this cache, we found plenty of dragonflies around the pond (see images). But the mystery is: why go to the bother of making a large commemorative stone, if you are going to erect it in a relatively obscure corner of a wood and allow it to get overgrown? The stone was unveiled on rs November 2002.
RC5 is at N51 3t.rs1 W003 1u.vr2, where:
t = n – g
u = t – c
v = r + s
Because Mynydd Rudry is very popular, we avoided placing the cache near the summit – but don’t let this deter you from paying it a visit. The Common was extensively worked for shallow coal and there are clear bands of bell pits running at an angle around the south slopes of this little “mountain”. There is a fairly direct route back to Van Castle, if you use Waypoints WP6 and WP7.
Unatvat nebhaq - whfg haubbx. Cyrnfr ercynpr nf sbhaq.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum