May 11 : South Downs Way : Cocking to Duncton

Today’s South Downs Way section, although relatively short at 4.5 miles, was packed with caches.

Views looking East across the Weald

Several caching trails criss-crossed our path, and we would pick up caches from them all.

But, before we reached our first cache, and still within sight of a geo-car (just, with a bit of squinting) we arrived at a water-tap.

This water-tap was dedicated to Peter Wren, aged 14. We had seen his name before. Last summer, when the temperatures were at their hottest, we found another water-tap dedicated to Peter Wren, on the Ridgeway (

So who was Peter Wren ? Apparently he was a 14 year old boy, who loved the countryside. He was also a choirboy at his local church. One Christmas Eve, he was cycling to midnight mass, and sadly was involved in a fatal accident. His family, notably his mother, set up the water taps, and also created a quiet garden in his memory.
We had not heard of quiet gardens, but they are gardens set up as places of tranquillity that anyone may visit. We may well visit Peter’s Peace Garden as we have passed two of his water-tap memorials. There are many quiet gardens not only in UK, but the World too – here is a link to their website.

The water-tap was opposite a shepherds hut/caravan which looked as it was a makeshift café. Sadly at 930, it wasn’t open! The custard-coloured window frames reminded us that the houses are tied to the Cowdray Estate.

We walked on, and just we rounded a bend in the track, some movement caught our eyes. About 150 yards ahead two fox cubs were playing on the track. We stopped and watched. They chased each other. They practised pouncing. They ran up and down the track, oblivious to the two humans watching from afar. We edged nearer, still they frolicked. It was only after we had edged closer a third time did they retreat at speed. We must have watched these juvenile cubs for 10, maybe 15 minutes. A true delight.


Unlike our first cache attempt of the day.

This was cache 1 of the 13-cache ‘Jaceys Charlton’ series which would lead from the Cocking car park, onto the South Downs Way and then south towards the village of Charlton before returning to Cocking. Apparently hidden between a tree and an old post – we couldn’t find it amongst the nettles, brambles and logs positioned at Ground Zero.

Where’s the cache ?

We moved on with greater success at our second cache, number 2 in the same series. This was placed a few yards away from the South Downs Way and again led us a merry dance. However after a few minutes searching we had it in our hands.

Our success was short-lived as our third cache of the day was another DNF. This cache was part of the 70-cache ‘Sussex Amble’ series, and about a quarter had been placed on the South Downs Way. Each of the 70 caches would contain one of 10 bonus numbers which would help in finding cache 71. This cache was hidden in a tree, which had few hiding places, none of which yielded a cache! Sadly no bonus number for us!

‘Jacey’s Charlton 13’ was our next target. An easy find, but on a blind bend on the South Downs and hidden under an ants nest! Ouch!

The South Downs Way was unusually enclosed by hedges and trees, so when we had the opportunity to walk partway through a field to the trig point at Heyshott Down we did so and found a great place to admire the view and have coffee.

Heyshott Down Trig Point

The coffee certainly helped as we found the next few caches relatively quickly. These included the last ‘Jacey’s Charlton’ cache, some successful ‘Sussex Amble’ caches (sadly only yielding the same bonus number at each).

The hardest cache was part of another series ‘Graffham Down’, and all of which were very well hidden. There was also a common pattern, that the coordinates for each were just a little out, making our search more time-consuming.

Lunchtime approached, and some tumuli provided an excellent location in the sunshine for lunch.

Lovely lunch spot !

The sunshine didn’t last long, and the clouds rolled in quickly as we approached ‘Graffham Down 3’. We had considered not attempting this cache due to its distance from the South Downs Way, but we got cache greedy and went for it.

Big mistake!

The path to the cache twisted and turned, the clouds became angrier and angrier, and as we arrived at a potential Ground Zero, the heavens opened. At first, heavy rain, then heavy hail! We took cover in the trees and waited quite a few minutes for the hailstorm to pass. We abandoned our search of ‘Graffham Down 3’ shortly afterwards as we were wet and cold and wanted to walk to warm ourselves up.

As it turned out, this was our last DNF of the day, as we found 12 more caches (and a second ‘Sussex Amble’ bonus number) before reaching Littleton Farm, just outside Duncton.

The majority of these finds were small film canisters in the ‘Sussex Amble’ series, hidden under flint or by gate posts. The largest cache though was ‘BBC 12 Woody Walkabout 12’, the last remaining cache of a 12 cache series ‘BroyleBoxers Circuit’. One cache was hidden underneath one of the largest man-made bird-nests we have every seen. Some very large birds must live here!

Who lives here ?

The hailstorm had made the chalk paths slippery and somewhere Mrs Hg137 slipped and pulled a leg muscle which impeded our progress. But the sun shone in the afternoon and with lots of caches to find, she could focus on the next cache, rather than the 2 miles to walk to the car!

In the end we found 18 caches with 3 DNFs, not bad for a 4.5 mile section of the South Downs Way!

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