Thursday 20 April 2017

Geocaching diaries : The dunes of the maritime hospital

On Easter Sunday, after the kids had done the traditional egg hunt, I wanted to get out on a hunt of my own - geocaching ! It was a beautiful day (again - we've been really lucky with the weather for the whole of the holidays so far) so we jumped on the bus (which are free at the weekends - always a bonus) and headed down to the dunes near the Belgian border. We jumped off at the Hôpital Maritime in Zuydcoote, which was originally a sanatorium, before becoming a military hospital during the two world wars - there's a film, called Weekend à Zuydcoote, which focuses on the Evacuation of Dunkirk and features the hospital. It's still used a hospital now, although few of the original buildings remain.

Our first cache was literally a few metres from the bus stop so we were off to a great start ! When you've been geocaching for a while, you can spot the likely hidey-holes from a mile away so we honed straight in on it !

We stomped through the woods and found a second cache in another tree.

The caches have been here for a few years and they're quite damp so the treasures were a bit mouldy !

Juliette filled in the logbook while I admired a lone bluebell.

Our trail headed out of the woods and into the dunes next.

We were on a roll and soon uncovered caches 3 and 4.

I managed to spot some more bluebells - I wouldn't have thought they'd have grown in the dunes as I've only ever seen them in woodlands.

The dunes are covered in very short dry grass that crunches when you walk on it so it sounds like you're walking in snow.

It was a beautiful day and we could see the sea when we were on the higher ground.

Turning around and looking behind us, the water tower on the right is where we were geocaching the week before at the Fort des Dunes.

The gps sent us down a very overgrown path next, with lots of spiky bushes to pull back and squeeze through. The hint was "under bricks behind bricks" so we knew we'd be looking for a wall or a building, which seemed strange as it was in a wild area of the dunes with nothing man-made in sight. Sure enough, we stumbled across a bunker.

It goes quite some way back but has half filled with sand over time.

There was a crawl space into a separate room but I didn't venture in there - it would appear to be a popular place to hang out and drink beer though, judging by the pile of empty cans ! The path had pretty much dwindled away to nothing and, to avoid getting scratched to pieces, we gave up and doubled back to the main path. Looking through the logs afterwards, I think we were on the wrong path and were supposed to be up above the bunker, not down below at the entrance.

Juliette wanted to stop geocaching and head to the beach but I kept the gps on, to help find our way. We just happened to go right past a geocache so we grabbed that on the way past. Funnily enough, this one has been archived but it's still there so we signed the log anyway.

A short walk later, we arrived on the sandy beach and Juliette suddenly found a reserve of energy ! We had an interesting 2km walk back to the bus stop which took us past the world war II bunkers, so I'll blog about those in a separate post.


  1. Beautiful dunes. The last photo is especially poetic. And you were very lucky to catch up with your favourite outdoors hobby.

    1. I've managed to get out geocaching quite a few times over the past two weeks - the good weather helps :)


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