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Moss Trooper

Is This A First For Uk Geoching Or

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28th December 2004

 

Well it was quite a nice day to start with. Bright and crisp, just the way I like them. I had decided to go caching just before the Christmas break, and as my eldest boy was home on leave, it would be a good to get some quality time with him.

 

The plan was to get a cache in on the way to the Cheviots, Harbottle Castle, then on to Alwinton. We found the cache at Harbottle with little trouble, so back into the car and onward. Reaching Alwinton we had several choices, Alwinton up Clennel Street to Wholehope, then on to Step to It and back to Alwinton. But as the intention was to plant a cache at a once whisky still and as the weather looked good we would wait until we reached Wholehope to make the final decision.

 

So off we set northward up Clennel Street, this is a pleasant walk as those who have tackled Wholehope and Step to it will vouch. It was cold and very windy but none the less a pleasant walk up to Wholehope and a well deserved brew and sarnies.

 

As the weather looked promising it was decided to plant the new cache. This location being about 800 meters west of Wholehope. Set the GPS and off we go, this being off road so to speak, the only wet bit being about 150 meters from Wholehope. I was really enjoying this, discussing the merits of the Magellan Sportrak Pro with the UK topo’s with Gaz, very accurate they are too. Hmmmm was that a wisp of snow in the air!

 

We were now looking at quite a steep decent to wholehope burn and the still. The still consisted of the remains of 3 buildings well overgrown by moss, lichen an ferns. Once the cache was planted and the co-ordinates taken we just had to find a way out!! Up onto the sheep track and follow the burn.

 

We had been walking and chatting for about 15 minutes when the first flurries of snow hit us at 40 mph, not the best place to get caught in this kind of weather. We decided to head straight over a saddle to miss the top of the hill, picked up a track and headed for the car in a direct a line as possible. By this time visibility was getting worse, but we were not very worried. I have been walking these hills for 20 years, I played soldiers in them 12 years earlier, what is the worst that could happen!

 

Slip! “Oops” says Gaz landing on his butt, “Yer daft prat” says dad showing great concern, Not! One step later “Oops” says Moss “CRACK!” says ankle, “Oh bugger!” says Moss. Gareth even heard the crack., loud doesn’t even cover it. So here we are, on the exposed side of a hill, in a howling blizzard, at least an hours walk from civilisation. Thinking back now from my present location, my hospital bed 5 days after the event, panic wasn’t even part of the equation. Ever since I have been walking these hills I have never underestimated them, so I usually carry me brew kit, cooker, mars bars, waterproofs and a waterproof picnic blanket etc., I think you get the picture.

 

First off.. well.. on actually, was the waterproof, then the blanket for more protection, once I was comfy, sort of, how to get me out. Only thing for it, Northumbria Mountain Rescue. “Yee Gods!” a signal on my mobile, press mark on GPS and there yer go a location down to 10 metres and a means of letting them know. 999 and a quick chat now all we can do is wait. “Best let yer mum know, son” “OK pops” “Hi Mum, we have a slight problem, we are stuck up a hill and dad has broken his leg, CALM DOWN WILL YA”, Gareth was never one for diplomacy.

 

After about three-quarter of an hour I was drifting quite well, during that time there was bits of banter, usually of the stupid sick military kind. This I now believe helped stop the likely hood of shock setting in as we were sniggering and laughing too much. Then things started to look up, the weather started to clear but the wind was still incessant, time for a brew! Well it was a bit chilly, it was probably a good chunk below zero due to the chill factor. Now have you ever tried to light a cooker on the side of a hill in a howling gale, interesting to say the least, after several attempts we got it going and got the water on the go and by this time the snow had stopped.

 

Then in the distance, there she was, a yellow canary from 202 Sqn, RAF Boulmer. She dipped out of sight and then re-appeared, by this time Gareth was up the hill waving like mad. Isn’t it typical though, you just get your brew on the go and some one turns up, but on this occasion a more than welcome sight. I still drank the water though, wet and warm, and started to pack the kit up as best I could, OK so I bunged it in the rucksack with total irreverence.

 

Up turns the winch man with his kit as they had landed the Seaking on top of the hill about 100 yards away. Undoes the boot (Left one) and has a quick shuftie, and asks “what makes you think yer got a bust ankle” “Well it made a hell of a crack when I slipped” “Ah!” a quick decision was made, quick splint, strap feet together and get off this hill.

 

Gareth declined the offer of a lift as he was going to get the car, so passing on the map compass and rucksack off he trots down the hill after finding out where they were taking me. I’m all strapped up then stropped up and then winched up! I always fancied but never from this angle, I felt as safe as houses in their hands or may be it was the physiological effect of anything was better than lying in a couple inch of snow on a hill side. We weren’t a moment too soon as the weather closed in again as I made my accent. 20 minutes later I was in the casualty department of Wansbeck hospital.

 

Mean while 30 odd miles away Gareth was in ‘I’m a squaddie get me outa here mode’! He decided to make a beeline for the road, about ¾ hour to an hours walk. Then it struck him! Where the hell is Wansbeck hospital, I’ll sort that out when I get to car says he. Arriving at problem No 2, the river Coquet, and the road just beyond, looks like wet feet time! Prodding the riverbed with his dads trusty walking pole he starts to cross, “ooooh that’s cold” ‘yep’ ‘great’ only ankle deep, prod, prod, two steps and he’s up to his waist in water yeeeach! Another four and back on dry land and onto the road. A few minutes later and he hitches a lift to Alwinton.

 

Getting into the car, back to problem No 1, where is Wansbeck hospital? That’s it, dads TomTom thingy, how do yer clip it into it’s holder? Simple when yer know how, once figured out and switched on things were looking up. Now from what the couple in the car said the hospital is in Ashington, somewhere, so lets see, hmmmm, Navigate to, ‘wot’s this’, POI, Hospitals, YESSSS, Wansbeck Hospital, goto, and off he went. Was just about spot on, right hospital but back gate. Hell that’s close enough.

So after about 4 ½ hours we were reunited with each other.

 

My thanks to 202 sqn RAF Boumer and to all those un sung heros of the emergency services and the docs an nurses.

 

I've been out of hosptal 3 hours now and an over de moon :laughing:

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Hi Moss Trooper-the return. Had noticed the odd posting by you. Bad luck with the ankle but I think you were just tired and fancied a ride in a helicopter and a chance to meet some nice nurses :laughing::) Hopefully it does not happen too often to geocachers, but trust you .Hope to seeyou again in the near future :wub:

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Nice to see the technology did its job.

 

A while ago I started a thread about which co-ords to use when calling the rescue services. Deg Min.decmins or OS 6 or 8 fig.

 

I almost hate to ask, which ones did you use? Whichever they certainly worked.

A good lesson to learn about being well equipped, with a happy ending.

 

All the best for the recovery.

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I used OSGB as this is the standard used by HM forces in UK.. :o

That was the conclusion of the thread.... but you didn't have to go and test it for real.

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HiYa Moss,

 

Self and terribletwos well pleased you are safe and sound (well as sound as you always were :o )

 

All the best to the missus ;):):D

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get well soon Moss, glad to hear it worked out okay, and your lad sounds as though he was not short in the good sense department too.

 

stay safe

Bill

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Glad the technology worked for you. Having witnessed a bad accident here in the depths of Lincolnshire I offered Grid ref or Lat Lon to the police 999 operator ornly to be told "sorry that won't help us" ;) Then proceeded with the

"What village did you go through last ?"

"don't know it was dark"

conversation until we fimnally identified where I was. :o

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Really Moss, you've been home a good few hours now, had plenty of time on your hands and 'still' haven't logged Harbottle!! :o

 

Seriously though, I hope you're well on the road to recovery. We're so lucky to have such an efficient rescue service up here...and I'm glad that it, at least, will remain after Boulmer closes.

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Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery. Having recently done Step to it know the terrain you are talking about but fortunately picked a better day to go there.

Just for your info the Keelman pub for the North East get together does have disabled access. Hope you can make it and retell the story.

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Good to hear from you again Moss - even in these circumstances - and glad you both knew what to do. At about that time Slytherin was finding his 1000th cache and celebrating with us at Formby, now if you had decided to join us none of this would have happened! Get well soon!

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Glad to hear you both made it out safe and sound. Also, as a keen mountain walker myself, it is reassuring to know that the technology can help the emergency services get to you without the need for a time-consuming search ... although as I am sure you can confirm, I hope I never have to call on their expertise !

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Moss,

Wishing you a speedy recovery - and glad you weren't on your own and that a phone signal was available! Thanks for the excellent account of an experience that must have been quite worrying at times.

HH

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Thanks for an interesting read. A good tale well written.

 

I don't tend to go too far from the car, but I feel I won't be able to use the kids as an excuse for this as they start to get into their teens! I shall take your good sense on board and start carrying some proper gear.

 

Cheers

 

Slog

 

Edit:- oops, forgot. Get well soon.

Edited by Capt Slog

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Get well soon Moss!!!

If you make it to the North East Bash I can sign your plaster :DB):D

 

By the way Doris (of Dick and Doris) had to be airlifted from Ben Nevis after spraining her ankle doing my cache!!! B)

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