This trip report comes from a dear ‘ol cyber friend of mine, who uses the name Milfmog. Nude geocaching is something that I have yet get involved in. Adventurous carnuding across the British Isles is exotic to me. I hope that you find all of this as fun as we have. I’d like to share my thanks.
A few weeks ago, my wife announced that she was going to join a few friends for a weekend of yoga and pampering. That meant that I could plan some time to do things that I would enjoy but she would not. After a little thought, I decided a naturist drive, geocache and camping trip would be fun and that with a little planning I ought to be able to complete my English and Scottish mainland counties challenge, by finding at least one cache in each county that I had not yet logged a find in. (For those unfamiliar with Geocaching it is best understood as a treasure hunt based on GPS co-ordinates. Full details can be found here: http://www.geocaching.com
There was also the UK Jasmer challenge (finding at least one cache that was originally hidden in each month since caching began (not all months are possible in the UK, there were no caches hidden before December 2000 and there is no existing UK cache from March 2001). To keep costs reasonable, I decided to camp in the car; a two ring gas cooker, a few pans, a jerry can of water and a sleeping bag is really all I needed and I already had most of that.
Day 1; Thursday:
I set out on Thursday morning, after a three hour naked walk with Hazel, our 18 month old Cockerpoo. I had decided to leave Hazel at home as there would be some long drives that are not really dog friendly.
I initially drove to Broomsfleet in East Yorkshire with a view to finding a series of caches in the only English county that was blank on my finds list. The drive was just under three hours and was, naturally, done naked. In the warm weather I doubt if I even attracted any second glances from other drivers, I certainly did not notice any. As is my usual practice when driving naked, I sat on my wrap so that I could drape it across my lap if required, in the event. I did not have to do that. On arrival, I was able to park and leave the car by the roadside without dressing and headed straight to my first target cache. I did not search hard for that, it was heavily overgrown with brambles and nettles and definitely not nude friendly. Walking on to the next one in the series demonstrated that the whole path was heavily overgrown and I found myself using a walking pole to clear the worst bits before I gave up too much flesh and blood to the vegetation. The second cache in the series was similarly defended by nature, so I decided to try one more and if necessary return to the car to identify another target I could look for to fill in the county blank. In the event, the third cache was a quick find with no need to dive into heavy undergrowth. So once the log was signed, I returned to the car to move to Garforth and the UK Jasmer challenge cache.
There was no need to dress for the drive and I was able to get to my planned parking spot properly attired. However, I had to walk a section of lane to get to the footpath and there was enough traffic to suggest that clothing was going to be required, so I dressed before leaving the car. Once off the road, I was able to strip and continue my walk, collecting 7 caches on route, including the important Jasmer series, and only having to cover up a couple of times to cross relatively busy roads (such as the M1 (on a bridge!) where I did not want to be a distraction that caused an accident). Then it was back to driving naked to get into position for the next days planned walk in the Scottish Borders. That was a further three and a quarter hours and 160 miles, again entirely completed naked apart from a short stop to get something to eat. I was getting used to driving naked and my initial hesitancy was wearing off as experience confirmed what I already knew at an intellectual level; no one was likely to notice I was naked and if they did it was unlikely they would care, let alone do anything about it.
I reached Hownam (pronounced “who num”) at about 22:00, found a place where I could park without blocking the single track road or a passing place. (It was actually the bypass to a cattle grid, however, the gate was open and I was able to park so as not to prevent anybody using the bypass.) A few minutes sorting the car for the night, still naked, and it was time to hit the sack.
Day 2; Friday:
By 05:30, when I woke, I had established that the front passenger seat is remarkably comfortable as a bed when reclined to the limit. I was refreshed and ready for a planned 12 mile walk on the border ridge, but first I needed to eat. Stove out, boil kettle and make tea. Right that was the most important thing done, then it was time to cook up some porridge (instant porridge in a tub, just add boiling water, is surprisingly edible though probably not high on any dietician’s list of good food. I am certain that the fried sausages and baked beans that followed would have stopped anyone complaining about the nutrient value of synthetic porridge.
Suitably fed and after chatting with a couple of local dog walkers, I set off up the lane (dressed as I knew it was fairly well used and that there were a couple of farms to pass). Once past the second farm, I was able to put my clothing into my rucksack with my essential safety bits and provisions and then continue my walk in a more comfortable state.
The walk took me past the (now disused) Heatherhope Reservoir, where I collected the first cache of the day.
Shortly after that the route started to ascend the flank of Phillip Hope. This was a fairly steep path and I was very grateful that I was not clothed as I worked up a good sweat that would have saturated clothing and made it even more uncomfortable than usual. The view of the reservoir from the cache halfway up the slope gives an idea of the terrain.
The track I had walked can clearly be seen along the left hand side of the reservoir. I had left that track for a much smaller path just at the bottom of the hill, slightly out of sight in this picture.
The path continued to a cairn on top of Phillip Hope and then descended slightly towards the border with England, which is marked by a three foot high wire fence, designed to keep sheep on the Scottish side of the border and out of the Ministry of Defence land used by soldiers for war games (and catching the occasional straying lump of mutton…)
I made use of one of the fence posts to support my camera for a quick selfie.
The track along here is technically a road, known locally as “The Street” and had a few surprising reminders of its’ legal status.
A few more minutes brought me to one of the caches that I was really after on this walk; “The Stone”. It is actually a virtual cache, which is to say that there is no physical cache to find, simply a question to be answered to prove that you’ve been here. I wonder how many other cachers have visited while properly dressed…
From here, I headed north again, back into Scotland, towards the top of Mozzie Law and another cache, as you can see, this section of the path has been reinforced with flagstones to reduce wear and tear from all the foot traffic.
This is actually part of the Pennine Way, a long distance path that runs north south along the top of the Pennine Hills. According to the guide books, this is a fairly busy stretch of the path (hence the paving to protect the environment from wear) though I saw no one in this area.
Once I’d located the cache at Mozzie Law, I reversed my track, heading back past The Stone and up the street a little before turning off, onto the boarder ridge proper, to walk to the top of Windy Gyle and Russels Cairn, where the second of my target caches is hidden, (one dating back to 2001). This one contains the original logbook and I spent a happy half hour sitting down, munching a snack, drinking a bottle of water and reading the old logs in the book. I love finding these old logs and connecting with cachers who have gone before me as well as spotting a few names of people I have met.
On this section of path I met the only other walkers of the day, a father and son (approx. 25 and 50?) who probably saw me naked but, as a courtesy, I put my wrap around me before we passed. We exchanged cheerful greetings and remarked on the good weather before they were past and I was able to return the wrap to my backpack.
On the edge of the large cairn is a trig point and I could not resist the obligatory picture on top of the triangulation point.
Once again, I backtracked a little before setting off on another path to make the return to my car along the top of the ridge on the opposite side of the valley from the path I had ascended. This route included a visit to an old Hill Fort but unfortunately there was no good angle to get a picture of it from. A mile from the end, I had a great view over the top of the village of Hownam. If you look to the left of the picture, you can just make out my car at the end of the line of trees. The lighter specks in the fields are sheep which may help to give you an idea of scale.
I got back to the car at about 17:00 after a walk of just over 16 miles with 5000 feet of ascent (I’m still not sure where the extra four miles came from). I was feeling the mileage, but decided that, rather than camp in Hownam again as I had planned, I’d move on to the Dunfirmline area, where I was planning my first walk of the next day.
Once again the drive was accomplished naked without issue and I found a good parking spot by a small, though fairly well used lane. By reversing in, I was able to create a small area that was screened from the road, which allowed me to cook and eat dinner naked before drafting my caching logs and uploading them via a combination of tablet and 4G phone connection. A quick phone call to the boss to convince her I was safe and had not been eaten by a carnivorous sheep, a swarm of sabre-toothed midges nor fallen foul of a hoard of hairy, skirted men with screaming octopuses over their shoulders. Then time for sleep; deep, comfortable, well-earned sleep.
Day 3; Saturday:
Once again, I woke reasonably early and a combination of yesterday’s careful parking, the location and the time of day made a naked breakfast possible. I have to confess to another batch of sausages and beans and can hear the nutritionists shaking their heads and muttering about heart attacks. At least the porridge was a reasonably healthy multigrain product with no added sugar.
Saturday’s first walk was up a steep sided hill with a flat (ish) top, known locally as “The sleeping giant”, but marked on maps as Benarty Hill. I left the car with my clothing in my bag (no need for a full rucksack as I was only planning a couple or maybe three hours and could return to the car fairly quickly if the weather should turn against me).
The walk up the first slopes was steep enough to work up another good sweat and towards the top I decided to turn off the track and bushwack through the dense pine trees to get a more direct route to the cache I was aiming for. That worked, but left me on top of the hill in dense heather having to wade through it to find a track. It was almost half a mile to the cache and I did not find a path until I was just a few yards away. The cache was hidden under a large flat topped rock, which I sat on to enjoy the view while I was signing the log. There was a farmer rounding up cattle using a pick-up truck in a field below me, but I do not believe he saw me and if he did it is unlikely he could see how I was dressed.
The walk to the next cache was on the fairly flat top of the hill, although the cache itself was hidden at the top of a cliff. A slip there could have been rather unfortunate…
The water below is Loch Leven, which lies to the north of the hill. The pylon below me gives an idea of the height of the hill sides; there is a reason why this cache had a terrain rating of 4 out of 5.
In all, I spent about three hours caching on top of the hill, meeting only one other walker who I saw well before he saw me. I did consider staying naked, but Scotland has different laws to England and Wales and I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and covered up before he noticed me. I left the area, driving north to collect a few caches near Perth in the interests of filling a hole on my finds map (I had to be dressed for those, they were right next to a main road) but before I left the area I grabbed one more picture of Benarty Hill.
After Perth, I continued to Archiestown, near Elgin. There I parked up and left the car to walk up onto the hill (still naked, as I had been since the last of the Perth caches). Half a dozen caches and another trig point were bagged before I returned to the car after two and a half hours with just one quick cover up for a young girl (about 10) on a pony.
I could have camped where I was parked, but decided instead that I would continue to the start of the next day’s planned walk at Abriachan, just north of Drumnadrochit on the north side of Loch Ness. On route, I stopped in Inverness for some shopping (dressed!). The Abriachan Forest trail car park provided a great camping spot. There were toilets, barbecue stands and picnic tables and I was able to park by one of those to use for cooking and eating, which was easier on my ageing body than working at floor height. No one else in the car park made it possible to be naked, however the midges were hungry and so a long sleeved shirt and a sarong became the clothing of choice. No phone signal, so I could not log the days caches but drafted up the logs and saved them on my tablet for another time. Once again, I slept as though I had a clear conscience (it is really a sign of a poor memory. It was only as I drifted off that I remembered that I had intended to be on the Naturist Ramblers walk at Hoo that day. Oh well…
Day 4; Sunday:
The midges were still around, so the sarong and long sleeves were still appropriate while making breakfast, eating it and washing up. I packed everything away, grabbed my walking bag and left the car park before anyone turned up. I walked away naked, midges do not seem able to follow a moving person, they only really bug me when I am still for a few minutes.
Set up to prepare Sunday’s breakfast at the Abriachan Forest trails car park.
My first planned cache of the day was near the hill top, an earth cache called “Nessies Egg” which required me to visit a glacial erratic and collect some information. The cache owner had also suggested a picture of the nearby wooden structure to prove that the cacher had visited. I did not want to dress, so shot a picture of the structure with my GPS in plain view for the Geocaching log as well as a few for my personal collection, including this one.
On my way to the next cache I was reminded of stories of ancient rock art in some of the American deserts. It seems that the ancient residents of Scotland had invented the felt tipped pen.
After a couple more cache finds and a wonderful walk with long views of the hills and Loch Ness, I discovered this unusual bench on my way back to the car and had to grab a picture for posterity.
To get this shot I used a gorillapod to hold my camera on a nearby signpost. What a great gadget that little flexible tripod is. While setting up, I heard a jogger coming up the path from the carpark. Rather than dress, I moved to the bench and draped my bag across my lap. The jogger paused for a few seconds when she spotted me and then, having decided I was not a threat, carried on past with a cheerful “Nice morning for it”.
Back at the car I had another drink, used the facilities and then had a longer chat with the jogger who had passed me earlier, her car was parked right next to mine and she was perfectly happy to chat for a few minutes before I set off to drive to Kyle of Lochalsh and the bridge across to the Isle of Skye.
The drive down through Glen Shiel was spectacular, but far too much fun to want to stop and take pictures, sorry. I did, however, stop to grab a picture of the Skye Bridge and Loch Alsh from the Murchison Monument.
Then across the bridge to grab another cache on Skye, an island I had never visited before but which looks to be worth another trip for a proper visit one day. After my second cache on the island I was able to have a naked picnic lunch by the side of a stream. Nobody around to offend and perfect picnic weather. Wonderful.
I grabbed a couple of pictures of the area, of which this is my favourite.
Then it was time to begin the 600 mile drive home. I had decided to stop in the Lake District for the night to break the trip, but even that was six hours away. I did grab a picture or two on my way through Glen Coe, even though that meant getting dressed briefly.
Not the best picture, the low cloud meant that the most dramatic vistas were not too photogenic on the day.
The drive to the Lakes was long enough that I did not expect to arrive until well after 9PM, so a stop for food at a motorway service station was the order of the day. A shame, as I had a nice meal planned, but time was against me.
My selected spot in the Lakes was at Cockly Beck, a tiny hamlet well off the beaten track in the south west corner of the area. The road was about a car and an inch wide with several ascents and descents of 1 in 4 or greater and an interesting collection of blind crests, blind bends and blind bends on blind crests. The addition of low cloud or fog just added to the “fun”, but the selected parking spot was perfect for another quiet night.
Day 5; Monday:
I had a rude awakening at about 03:00, the wind was blowing and it was raining, all I could see was dark hills, a few scraggly trees and a skull staring in at me :O. It turned out to be a white faced, but otherwise black, sheep stood on the bank by the car, but it gave my heart a bit of a work out! (Too many Hammer House of Horror films when I was a kid).
It was still raining when I woke the next time and I decided to forgo a cooked breakfast, making do with a couple of sandwiches instead. The first cache was about 200 yards from the car so I just took a pen and my GPS and went and found it, no clothes, no shoes and probably no sense. I did go back to the car for some kit before setting off to look for the days caches on the higher ridges north of Wry Nose Pass. I got one, naked as you’d expect, but decided that since the bottom of the cloud cover was below me there was little point in continuing and far too much potential for a nasty accident. I returned to the car and drove home, still naked.
No pictures today, there was simply not enough visibility to make them worth taking.
On route I called my wife and arranged to meet her at a dog rescue centre near home that had a dog I wanted to meet. She (”Beauty”) turned out to be a wonderful, soft natured, girl and we are now going through a series of dog mixes and familiarisation meets with a view to adopting her as company for Hazel.
By the time I got home, I had driven 1440 miles (almost all of them naked) and been naked, awake and out of my home range for a total of 55 hours and 34 minutes. I was sorry to miss the Naturist Ramblers walk at Hoo, but, on balance, there is no doubt in my mind that it was worth it. The car had proved itself ideal for this kind of rough camping and I will certainly do that again and with an average fuel consumption just over 61 miles per Imperial Gallon (approx. 50.8 miles to a US gallon) it was cheap too. Time to start planning my next trip…