As we mentioned on a previous post, we were having a mini-break holiday in the South Downs National Park (Sussex). We were staying with the walking holiday group http://www.hfholidays.co.uk.
Each day there were three guided walks to choose from, each with different lengths and difficulty.
On each day we opted for the easiest walk, for three main reasons.
The first was that Mr Hg137’s healed-but-not-quite-fully-recovered-broken-arm meant he occasionally struggled with a haversack.
Secondly Mr Hg137 visits local groups talking about the South Downs Way (SDW) , and he would learn more about the SDW on the easiest walks rather than the hardest walks.
Thirdly the pace would be slower enabling a few ‘cache and dashes’ !
Caching when in a muggle-walking party is difficult, so we agreed that we would not attempt multis unless there was a lot of time available, and also if the cache wasn’t in the first place we looked, we would pass it over. (Just finding a cache takes time : for example remove hiding camouflage, open container, remove log, find end of log, sign log, re-roll log, place back into container, re-hide).
The first walk started at the village of Clayton at the Northern foot of the South Downs. There are a couple of caches in Clayton – including a Church micro multi – which we didn’t have time to attempt.
Inside the church were fabulous wall paintings – the photo doesn’t really do it justice!
Our first real attempt at a cache ‘on the move’ was after the ascent onto the South Downs Way. At the top were the famous pair of windmills, Jack and Jill. Sadly for us, BOTH were undergoing sail renovation and both buildings looked like were triangular domes. Our first cache should have been alongside the SDW next to the windmills. We arrived at a post, overturned the likely stone and …. nothing there ! No time to search the immediate neighbourhood so we moved on! Not a great start!
Fortunately for us, another cache was within a short walk. Entitled ‘Windmill View’ – we should have been able to see Jack and Jill, but because they had no sails, we couldn’t see either! Anyway this was a quick find for which we were grateful.
The South Downs ridge has splendid views and we enjoyed these for the next mile or so. Our next likely cache was at a ‘dew-pond’ and after some mild arm-twisting we were able to convince the leader to have lunch at the pond. This gave us a few extra minutes to find the cache! An easy find with a dew-pond full of wildlife.
Dew-ponds are a South Downs characteristic. The Downs are predominantly chalk, a very porous material, which means there are no natural lakes. Centuries ago, when shepherds kept sheep high on the hills, they needed water (for themselves and the sheep). Enterprising shepherds would excavate large depressions in the chalk and then fill the base of each depression with clay from the Weald below. The ponds would then hold water whenever it rained, enabling the shepherds to maintain their existence on the hill-tops. The Victorians labelled these water features as ‘dew-ponds’ as they believed they were filled by the overnight dew!
Our walk continued along the ridge, passing the trig point of Ditchling Beacon. (The third highest hill on the South Downs, and the equal highest on the South Downs Way long-distance path). Shortly we descended to the village of Ditchling to finish the walk.
We had 30-45 minutes in Ditchling before our return coach journey which gave us time to attempt a multi based on its ‘Fine Pair’ of red letter box and red post box.
We quickly worked out the final co-ordinates and discovered… it was at the coach pick-up point! Result! An easy win to end a great day’s walking.