Firstly, we don’t often do large caching expeditions on Sundays.
As as the weather forecast was less favourable on the Saturday we ventured out on a Sunday. When our double car journey (of driving the end with two cars, parking one, driving to the start with the other) should have been quicker.
Somehow we found the slowest ‘A’ road in Surrey, a bus (on a Sunday, really?!) we couldn’t overtake, then a learner we couldn’t overtake … and so we parked the first car a little later than anticipated.
Then we discovered Storm Doris has blown a tree down within half a mile of where we wanted to park our second car. A 5 mile diversion later and we were then much, much later starting than we had planned.
Our first cache was one we had failed to attempt from our previous visit to Winterfold Heath. Hidden under a pile of logs, we were grateful for a quick find to eventually start our day.
Our next cache was slightly troublesome, but the cache owner had helpfully provided two sets of coordinates and we found the second most useful. However accessing the cache was slightly harder, as a stream of mountain bikers whizzed past. (‘Whizzed’ is a slightly misnomer as the track was exceedingly muddy and the cyclists were going uphill). Being a Sunday, the footpaths and bridleways were much in use. For much of the day we were accompanied by ramblers, runners, cyclists and dog walkers. Not the usual quiet footpaths we are used to on Saturdays.
We were following the Greensand Way which zigzagged its away across the ridge line. The waymarking could be best described as ‘haphazard’, and frequently we found ourselves on a similar, but wrong, path. Fortunately it did take us past Ewhurst Mill.
Almost in the shadow of the white mill was our next target cache, under a fallen white trunk of a silver birch. An easy find, but quite a hard approach through ankle high brambles.
Our fourth cache of the day was in a tree hole. The tree was on a slight slope so access was tricky, the hole was deep and Mrs HG137 was up to her elbows retrieving the small plastic container. We walked away from the cache and paused for coffee.
Then we heard the father of a young family exclaim “There’s Treasure nearby… shall we go and find it ?”
The two children shouted “yes” unanimously and off they ran.
We just had time to tell the father that we had just found the cache, and it roughly where it was.
We finished our coffee, but it was obvious that the family had NOT found the cache. It couldn’t have gone missing in the short time we had been away so Mr Hg137 ran up to them and nudged them towards the dark forbidding hole in the tree. At first the young son didn’t want to put his hands in the hole, but he did, but sadly his small arms weren’t big enough to fully retrieve the cache. The father though, was able to, and the family eventually found the cache!
That was to be our last cache for some while, as the Greensand Way undulated for 2 miles with no caches for us to attempt. (There were a couple of unsolved puzzle caches and some very long multis, but no ‘easy’ traditionals). The path yielded fine views across the Weald to the South Downs as well as dropping steeply through the grounds of the Duke of Kent School only for us to climb steeply up the far side of the valley.
Eventually we arrived at a cache to find. The GPS and the hint item seemed at first out by 100 feet, so we walked on, but after much futile searching arrived back at the hint item, where the GPS now said 6 feet! A large yew, and a small film canister. What a shame a larger container couldn’t have been hidden.
We were now on flattish, but gently rising terrain. We claimed a quick find for our next cache, and even added some new paper as the log book was full. A few short strides later and we arrived at the top of Leith Hill and Leith Tower in particular. Leith Hill is the highest point in Southern England and 14 counties should have been visible. By now low cloud was forming over the South Downs some 15-20 miles away, so not the best day for county-counting.
We had 2 caches to find near the top of the hill.. but Mr Hg137 made a schoolboy error in the order we attempted them …
First we attempted to find a puzzle cache, one we had solved a few days earlier and involved solving several “Christmas Cracker Riddles” :
“What do you call a Polar Bear in a Desert ?
Answer : Lost.
To find the cache we had to walk a fair way down one of the Leith Hill slopes. It was then we discovered that a traditional cache was back at the top! So we re-climbed the slope, and found that cache too. We admired the view for the second time, only to discover the low cloud had enveloped much of the Weald and there was no view at all from the top of the hill!
We still had two miles to walk, in ever worsening gloom. We descended the hill for the second time and walked across roads, very muddy fields, crossing a railway line – pausing only to go over stiles (one of which was being impressively guarded by a horse).
Eventually gloom gave way to the lights of Beare Green, and we knew our 10 mile walk would soon be concluded. We had one more cache to find, underneath a small footbridge. An easy find, and a pleasant end to the walk. There are a few more caches to find in Beare Green, but we will leave those for another time when hopefully Sunday traffic and gloomy weather won’t conspire against us.