May 24 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Stonegate Station to the Kent border

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Part way through our week’s holiday in Hastings, we took a day away from sightseeing to tackle the penultimate leg of our unofficial, self-made long-distance path from Sandhurst (just in Berkshire) to Sandhurst (just in Kent). Today’s route was from Stonegate station to just a few yards from the Kent border near Hawkhurst Fish Farm.

Stonegate station

Stonegate station


Leaving the station car park (where do all the passengers come from? It’s in the middle of the countryside), we set off roughly parallel to the railway, along a farm track, stopping to talk to the farmer, and then on along a grassy path at the edge of a field to find our first cache of the day, part of the ‘Burwash Bash’ series. And it was a pretty good cache, hidden away inside the innards of a plastic creature (think ‘rivet’, ‘rivet’, ‘rivet’). Just as we replaced the cache two people came along, armed with maps and clipboards. They were researching a long-distance route of their own. We explained about our own mission, and about what we were doing, lest they thought us suspicious/mad, pointing vaguely in the direction of the cache.
What are these for?

What are these for?


We followed the two walkers, who got ahead when we stopped to find the next cache, in woodland, hidden in a fallen tree among a selection of numbered insect traps/nests? we didn’t know what they were for. Further on, we briefly crossed the railway tracks to find a cache in a gate, then returned to walk through woods, where we found … a dump of abandoned model houses … very odd.
... And why are these here?

… And why are these here?


A little further on in the woods, we came across a couple putting pieces of red tape round some of the trees. They left when we appeared. There are some strange people and things in this bit of Sussex! Two more caches were found, the first overlooked by a passing runner, and the second watched from above by a gang of railway workers. We had seen about twenty people so far; this wasn’t the quiet path in the country we had expected!
Watch out for trains!

Watch out for trains!


We turned uphill away from the railway and things went slightly wrong. There was a footpath diversion, but it was only signposted from the other direction, and, unknowing, we emerged onto a road in a place we weren’t expecting. Then we couldn’t find where the diverted path continued, and accidentally walked down a farm drive before re-finding the path. We were only certain we were back on the right path when we found the next cache. We carried on uphill, finding caches as we went and dealing with more bits of uncertain path signage. At least the series of caches was keeping us on the right route!
Signpost to ... where?

Signpost to … where?

Where's that path?

Where’s that path?

Eventually we emerged onto a road, and paused for a drink of water. We now had a long, cacheless, hot walk along roads to Hurst Green. It was time to step away from the ‘Burwash Bash’series, so time for a quick tribute to this series; we’d found thirteen caches from the series and it’s in beautiful countryside, with a variety of containers and methods of hiding; all were well maintained, with clean, dry logs in an inner pot in the cache container. Here are a selection of caches from this excellent series, in no particular order:


What a varied series!

OK – advert over – we stepped onto the tarmac, on a hot day with the early afternoon sun reflecting from the road, and walked along the road and up the hill into Hurst Green. Two and a quarter miles later, we sat on a seat in the village for another drink of water.

Somewhere in Hurst Green ...

Somewhere in Hurst Green …


Refreshed, we walked up to the A21, and found our first cache for a while just up the road. That done, we crossed the busy road, set of down a track, and were almost immediately away from the busy village and in open country once more. It was just a couple of miles more back to the car at the end of the walk, and there was one more cache to find, about midway. Called ‘Pond Bay’, it was to be our 1900th cache, so we spent quite a while looking for it; it hadn’t been found for 9 months, since August 2016, and it wasn’t quite where the GPS should have been … but find it we did.
Long lost cache, needing some TLC

Long lost cache, needing some TLC


Then it was just a mile back to the geocar as the afternoon cooled. Fifteen caches found, and just one more walk to go until the end of our quest.

May 23 : Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd

Our previous day’s caching had been quite long with lots of sightseeing and a double caching trip. We therefore decided to have a more restful day… in the car.

Rye

Rye – Mermaid Street

We would drive to Winchelsea, wander around, grab a couple of caches. Drive to Rye, do likewise. Similarly in Lydd. If time permitted we would even visit Dungeness. And, unusually for us, we more or less, stuck to this plan!

So first stop.. Winchelsea.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Church

Winchelsea lays claim, or so its says on Wikipedia, to being Britain’s smallest town and with only 600 inhabitants, it must be jolly close. The town is now about 4 miles from the sea, but up the 13th century was on the coast. Sadly two very large storm waves destroyed the (old) town, and the new town was rebuilt on a grid system from 1281.
We had three caching targets in the town, the first being a Church Micro. We knew from the description and the hint, it would be on a seat just outside the churchyard. But as we arrived, on both sides of the road there were two long bus-queues of people. Muggle central! We took evasive action by visiting the Church. Unusually more ‘square’ than an oblong cross, but full of beautiful windows and tapestries.

Winchelsea

Spike Milligan’s Grave and (back right) the John Wesley tree

Outside in the churchyard we had two more attractions. The first, the grave of Spike Milligan, which we only found by asking a churchwarden. (Interestingly the famous quote on his grave… “I told you I was ill”, is almost an urban myth. Yes, it does include the text, but it is written Gaelic, as the Church wouldn’t allow it in English!.) The other attraction was a tree planted to commemorate John Wesley’s last outdoor sermon in 1790. Sadly the tree was uprooted in the 1920s but another now stands in its place.

The queues had gone, so we headed out of the churchyard, passing a large group of German hikers as we left.

We wandered to GZ, a seat, and as we were about to search we were aware that three of the German party were ‘looking for something’ the other side of the churchyard wall.

Was it Spike Milligan’s grave? No.
Was it John Wesley’s tree ? No.

They were cachers. Or at least one of the was. We quickly signed the log, and re-hid the cache for her to ‘re-find’ it, before rejoining her party. Nice meeting you Schatzhasi!

So a cache that should have taken 5 minutes, somehow had stretched to 30 minutes…

We decided to omit our second Winchelsea target cache, as the pavement away from the town disappeared and we didn’t fancy the road walk. So instead we drove to Winchelsea station (some way from the town), and did a quick cache and dash! Or should have been! Two workmen were busy nearby, so some stealth and diversionary activity was called for. Log signed, we drove to Rye.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Station

Winchelsea had been busy, in a ‘quiet busy’ sort of way. Many people, but everyone going about their business.

Rye, though, was completely different. It was heaving. Rye residents shopping, tourists walking around (we counted at least 8 50 seater coaches), and a plethora of car parks for tourists like us. Rye is only a small town (population 5000), but somehow manages to squeeze 8 caches within its town centre. All the caches were film canisters, but most led us to places of interest. (The one exception being a car park in the centre of town). The remaining caches had been placed near the fishing quarter, a town gate, a church, a tower, a watchbell, a quay, the railway station and a windmill. Rye’s most scenic road, the cobbled Mermaid Street, was devoid of caches but as we were walking down the cobbles, we saw the same group of German walkers we had seen in Winchelsea walking up! Without the caches to guide us around the town, we are fairly certain we would have missed seeing some of Rye’s rich history. All were easy finds apart from one, under a seat, where we had to wait patiently until several people had finished eating their fish and chips on the very seat we wanted to search under!

Rye

Rye – Fishing Quarter

Rye

Rye – Ypres Tower

Rye

Rye – Watchbell

Rye

Rye – Windmill

Rye

Rye – Landgate

All our caches so far had been in Sussex, but our final destination, Lydd, was in Kent.

We drove there, passing Camber Sands Holiday Park, and then some very imposing Army Ranges.

These Ranges straddled the Sussex-Kent county boundary, where a cache had been placed. Sadly nowhere to park a car satisfactorily. So Mrs Hg137 got out to search for the ‘County Boundary’ cache. Mr Hg137 sat parked in the roadside thinking every car was passing just a bit too close, and with only the concrete blocks and barbed wire surrounds of the range to admire – it was definitely not ideal. What wasn’t ideal either was the length of time Mrs HG137 was away…. she searched, and she searched and she searched.. all to no avail. So a wasted 20 minutes all round.

We had two target caches to find in Lydd. One a Church Micro, hidden in a street sign.

Lydd

Lydd Church

The other was at the far end of the village green. Lydd Village Green is huge, well over half a mile long. And we were the wrong side of the half mile!
This was our hardest find of the day, as there no hints, and at GZ was a prominent tree. We searched it at length, before we noticed some nearby park furniture. Success!

Lydd

Lydd- Village Green (part of)

So we had found caches in Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd. We looked at the watch and decided Dungeness was just a bit too far. So instead we drove back to our hotel via (Old) Winchelsea (ie the settlement now actually by the sea). We stopped for our fourth Church Micro of the day (again, far too long a search), before spending a relaxing 15 minutes overlooking the sea.

We were bemused by a line of fishermen standing at the distant shore edge. What were they doing ? Fortunately as we sat another fisherman went by… he was off to collect lugworms.

We had been collecting film canister caches near churches, windmills, and stations all day and the fishermen were collecting lugworms to be sold as bait for other fishermen. Isn’t life strange!

May 22 part 2: Hastings in the evening

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was the second evening of a week’s holiday in and around Hastings. We had spent the day doing ‘tourist stuff’ (and a bit of caching!) in the sunshine around Battle Abbey, the site of the Battle of Hastings (I reckon King Harold made several tactical errors, which led to him losing both the battle and his life). But it was a beautiful warm evening, and it seemed a shame to spend it doing nothing. So off we went to the seafront at Hastings, close to the pier. Arriving in the evening sunshine at just before 8pm, we parked on the seafront. There are two good caches on Hastings pier, and they were our first target. Oops, no. Despite having read that the pier closed at 10 pm, it actually closed at … 6pm.

Early closing?

Early closing?


Never mind. We walked on, and found ‘Lest we Forget’, a 35mm film pot close to the war memorial. At time of writing, it had just been archived, so that’s not giving anything away.

On along the promenade, we located another cache close to a statue of a lion.
Seaside lion

Seaside lion


And a bit further on was Castle Hill car park, with the castle – one of William the Conqueror’s – looming above us atop a cliff reinforced with brick walls. There was a cache here too … but the hint said it was hidden behind a brick … and there were thousands of the things! We poked randomly at a few sample bricks before applying some logic, and using the GPS to get the right location, and it all went rather better after that, and we found the cache after another two minutes. All the while we were wandering around, inspecting brickwork, a muggle was sat patiently in his car, waiting for something or someone. Whatever he was waiting for didn’t arrive/happen while we were there, and we don’t think he saw us replace the cache.
Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle


By now it was dusk, with a beautiful sunset sky developing, and we returned to the promenade to walk back to the car. Lots of folk were still out walking/cycling/roller-skating, and the lights of ships could be seen out at sea. Well, we couldn’t spend a week at the seaside without visiting the sea at least once, could we?

May 22 : Battle (of Hastings)

Hi,
As we mentioned on our previous blog, we were on a week’s holiday in Hastings.

Battle

Battle Abbey


There is one attraction high on every Hastings visitor’s list, and that is to see where the Battle of Hastings was fought. Interestingly it was not fought in Hastings. It was fought in, what is now a small town, called Battle – a few miles North of Hastings.

We arrived to visit Battle Castle, Battle Abbey, and the battleground itself. We arrived early, and in front of us, were over 100 French school children. The French invasion continues! (We think there is a French invasion every so often just to make sure we still say ‘William won’ and don’t conveniently announce ‘fake news’ that ‘Harold won’).

While we waited for the doors to open, we able to find our first cache of the day, in a red phone box. A quick easy find.

First cache of the day!


We mingled in the town square, as we had time to collect numbers for a multi-cache. The numbers were on plaques on the ground but the French students were constantly walking over them! We made a calculation, decided the direction and concluded…’save that cache for later’.

The doors were open, and the French students had disappeared.

Battle

Sussex Landscape from the top of the Castle

Battle

View of Battle from the Castle top!

Now it must be said here, we do castles thoroughly. Every room, much be checked. Every turret climbed. Every window looked out of. So after an hour or so, we ticked the Castle battlements of the list. We then saw a video explaining why there was a battle, and how William won.

Time for coffee, in a very well constructed play area. All the apparatus were mediaeval themed, it was a shame we were just a bit to big!

The walk circumnavigating the battlefield was just as interesting. Wooden sculptures kept interest high, as did the commentary and its conjecture that Harold could have won (don’t tell those French schoolchildren!).

Battle

The Battlefield, Harold at the top of the hill, William at the bottom

Finally we looked at the Abbey ruins. Erected as a ‘penance’ by William after the Battle, but destroyed by Henry VIII during the reformation. The abbey was surprisingly large, and one got a real feel for how monastic life took place.

By now we were shattered, and we still had caches to find in Battle.

The first a Church Micro a few yards away from the Abbey. We walked right passed the cache to start with, and then discovered our nemesis covering, ivy, was involved. It came therefore as a small shock that we found it relatively quickly.

Battle Church

Battle Church


We had two final caches to find. One was the multi we had calculated earlier, the other a puzzle cache which was a simple solve (it required knowledge of the EXACT date of the Battle – everyone knows its 1066, but what was the day and month ?). We discovered both caches were near each other, on the same path…so we headed in that direction hoping for two quick, easy finds….

Alas no!

The first we came to was the puzzle cache. We soon realised we could get no closer than 100 feet from the cache without going through dense undergrowth and fording a stream. Hmm – best review again after we’ve found the other cache.

A simple hint ‘fourth post after the pointer’. We counted, we searched. Nothing. We searched different posts. Nothing, We returned to the original and somehow dislodged the well hidden cache. Phew!

Back to the puzzle cache. Our first problem was fording the river. We saw a bridge, sadly it led us away from the cache…we decided the give up, and return to the car. But as were doing do, we saw a simpler way to ford the stream. It did involve walking back another 250 yards, and eureka there was the cache. Perched precariously in tree roots, in a slippery slope.

Last cache of the day !


Mr Hg137 retrieved the cache, but as he leant over to replace it, batteries fell out of his haversack. Somehow the top pocket was open and out spilled the contents! Grr! More slipping and sliding, batteries retrieved, safely stowed and all 4 caches found ! Success!

May 21 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Tidebrook to Stonegate Station

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

May 21st … the start of a week’s holiday in Hastings. We planned to look round the area, do some of the ‘tourist stuff’ was planned, and also to finish off our unofficial, self-made long distance path from Sandhurst (just in Berkshire) to Sandhurst (just in Kent).

Our journey to Hastings allowed us to complete another short section of the walk, just over five miles from Tidebrook to Stonegate Station. Setting off along a lane south from Tidebrook, we were looking for the footpath that would set us on our way. The hedge seemed impenetrable. Where was it? We asked a passing runner. She pointed to a tiny opening in the hedge. There was just room for a stile, and then we were off the road and walking through a field of sheep and lambs. Mr Hg137 tried to chat with them. They were underwhelmed. (Sometimes I worry about him …)

Lunch spot

Lunch spot

All our caches for today, except the last, were to come from the ‘Tidebrook Trail’ series. We found the first, then stopped for lunch in a pretty patch of woodland near a stream – yes, I know we had just set off, but it had been a long morning, lots of packing to do – and then set off again through fields and woods in the sunshine. My, it was getting quite hot now!

Enchanted forest

Enchanted forest

The path led on through a plantation of trees, planted in rows, upright in growth, with silvery leaves. We didn’t know what they were, but a passing muggle said they were poplars, and that she could remember them growing up over the last 30 years, and that it was like an enchanted forest.

The second cache was easy to find, though surrounded by angry stinging nettles, and then it was on to the third, in a tree overlooking a (dry) ditch. I excelled myself here (twice), first because I failed to spot the cache even when I was a hand’s distance away from it, and then because I dropped the log into the ditch. Mr Hg137 nobly retrieved the log, then spent much of the rest of the walk remarking on my ineptitude and his altruism. Pah!

We went on in the sunshine (it was quite hot now), through a mixture of fields and woods, finding more caches from the series as we went. The path went through Wadhurst deer park – the giveaway is the very high fences – I wonder why there are so may deer parks around here (there is one less than 10 miles away, near Frant). Another cache was found at the far edge of the deer park, then another at the edge of the woods. Here we turned left the Tidebrook Trail to head for the station. This cache series is excellent, one to try if you are in the area. It passes though beautiful countryside, has a variety of caches, both in hiding place and type of container, and is also well maintained by the owner, with clean/dry/not full logs.

Nice geocache!

Nice geocache!


More excellent geocaches

More excellent geocaches

From here it was just a walk downhill along a track and a mixture of quiet country lanes and tracks, more woods and fields, before we emerged onto a busier road close to Stonegate station. “Busier” meant that there was traffic, but not much, and most of it travelling to or from the station. The station itself is in the middle of the countryside, at least a mile from Stonegate village. It has quite a large car park, so I guess it is mostly used by commuters in the week. Being a station, it had its own geocache, one of the ‘Sidetracked’ series placed near current/disused stations. We took quite a while to find this cache, as we didn’t understand the hint, couldn’t work out exactly where it was, and generally behaved like two tired, hot people. Eventually we found it, behind some nettles. Ouch! And those nettles must have done a lot of growing in the week since the cache was last found, as they didn’t even get a mention then!

So that was our walk/caching done for the day, and only about 15 miles to drive to the hotel where we were staying, on the northern edge of Hastings.

May 13 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Frant to Tidebrook

As with most of our trip, we had the luxury of two cars, and as usual we drove to our destination, Tidebrook first. Before joining forces and returning to Frant, in one car, we had work to do.

Frant

Frant Village Green


In Tidebrook there were, amongst a couple of other caches, 2 multis. We have been caught out before by multis when we’ve discovered that the final cache is hidden half a mile back where we’ve walked from. So this time we collected the clues to Church Micro, and a Fine Pair and discovered both GZs were within yards of our destination car. Great, save those for later.
Back to Front sorry Frant we went, to undertake our first cache of the day … another Church micro. This one was not a multi and should have been a simple find…

We had noted that the cache had been found early January 2017, and then DNFed several times since. Since our last trip we had messaged the cache owner as to whether the cache was still there, and would they like us to replace the cache if they didn’t have time. Shortly before our visit we had yet to receive a reply so we ‘nudged’ again. This time we did get a response, and authority was given to replace if not found.

So, on the day, when we arrived at St Alban’s church, we were not expecting to find the cache. We did though search lots of places (for about 15 minutes) before deciding we would hide a replacement. We took suitable photos and emailed the cache owner when we got home. That way, if WE had got it in the wrong place, they could move it!

Frant Church


We don’t always go inside every Church we visit, but this had a great history. This included the organ breaking down on Christmas Day 1966, and the subsequent discovery that organ was made by the same person who designed the organ in the Notre Dame. Also, in the Church is a memorial plaque to local resident John By, who founded a small town in Canada, renamed by Queen Victoria as Ottawa!

It was time to move on and walk the 3 miles or so to our next cache. Our route took us along the busy A267, before we turned onto a side-road which became a farm track. We thought these side roads would have no traffic, but being Saturday morning everyone was out and about!

Quiet Road (for once)


Soon though we were in open country, and we could see the valley below. We had picked up the Sussex Border Path and it led us through a field of cows (which seemed more interested in grass than us), and through a very nice wooded glen. A wooden footbridge provided an ideal spot for lunch and as we munched we admired the many insects going about their business in the dense woodland shade.

Lovely bridge, just right for lunch


We crossed the bridge and climbed to another field, again with cows. This time we skirted round the field as, standing steadfast were a mother and calf right on the official footpath. They watched anxiously as we passed by. We went through the farmyard and into another area of woodland. We were greeted with bluebells and wild garlic, which we had seen several times on our journey.

Can you smell garlic ?


The Sussex Border Path (SBP) undulated over a couple more slopes until we arrived at Beech Hill. Here we said goodbye to the SBP as we would be heading south on a minor road to our next cache.

Hidden a 4-trunked tree, this should have been easy.

The GPS took us to one. No sign of the cache. We looked at the adjacent trees.. 1 trunk, 2 trunk..3 trunk where are the 4 trunkers?

Eventually we did find it. As it turned out the ‘fourth’ trunk was behind the other three, so it was only an obvious 4-trunker on close inspection. The cache inside was wet. Sopping wet. We could just sign our name on the log, but we tipped all the water out and took a tissue and dried, as best we could, the container. Two caches down, and two sets of cache maintenance.

We were within a mile of our destination, but we had a quarter mile walk along a busy road first, before walking along a footpath (unsignposted, so we were never sure it was right) to arrive near to the Church we had visited earlier.

100 yards later we found the Church Micro – a cache which should have been 18 inches off the ground, was only 2 inches above it. (Grr, that’s three caches where the cache owner has maybe not been as vigilant as they ight have been).

Our next cache, part of the Tidebrook Trail was our easiest find of the day, under some logs. However to arrive at the cache a heavily barbed wired stile had to crossed. Sadly Mrs Hg137 failed to spot the barbed wire hazard, and her leg came slightly worse off. No major harm done (a bit of blood, a bit of grazing), but enough for us to call a halt after one more cache, the second multi whose location we had calculated earlier. Fortunately for us an easy find.

May 3 : Godstone

From time to time Mr Hg137 gives talks on such diverse subjects as “The South Downs Way” and “Hebridean Hopscotch”. Whenever we get a chance, and if traffic and time allow, these bookings allow us to find a cache before the talk is delivered.

Today, we were in Godstone, just after rush hour on the M25. We had left plenty of time, and of course arrived way too early. The early Summer’s evening should have been light, but rain was forecast and the skies at 7pm were almost dark.

Godstone has a very large village green, clearly a cricket pitch, but probably football, village fetes and much more besides also must take place there. The green is so big it can support two caches easily and probably a further two or three if one tried hard.

We had two caches to find. The first was a magnetic nano hidden in a very architectural, metal seat showing aspects of the different activities that take place on the Green. We fumbled around this seat, in ever-failing light, and in the end abandoned our search. Odd spats of rain were falling and we wanted to find the other cache and return to the sanctity (and dryness) of the car before we got really wet.

Fortunately the second cache (hidden behind a street sign) was a quick find. So quick we were able to have another ‘search around the seat’ before the rain started to fall.

We found one cache, avoided the rain and gave a great talk ! Job done!