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!

April 29 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Withyham to Frant : deer and snakes

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The next stage of our unofficial, self-made long distance path from Sandhurst (just in Berkshire) to Sandhurst (just in Kent) would take us across the Weald from Withyham to Frant.

We’d checked our route for geocaches – and there weren’t that many – so we couldn’t simply walk from cache to cache, following the GPS. And, for much of the way, we weren’t following an official waymarked route, so a bit more navigation was going to be needed. Plenty of scope for getting lost here!

We set off from the disused Withyham station. There was a cache here – or rather, there was the first part of a multi-cache here, with the final cache location a short walk away, unfortunately not in the direction we planned to go. We backtracked and found the cache after much furtling around in tree roots. While doing this we were passed by a young couple, out walking … then we passed them again, while searching … then again. Eventually we explained what we were doing, as they were probably wondering what we were doing. Close by was another cache; we found that too.

Good, so that was two caches found, and we hadn’t even started the walk properly yet. Now what? Lunch! We’d had a not-very-good journey to the start of the walk – I’d got lost THREE times on the way, mostly in Tunbridge Wells (why are there no useful road signs there, none at all?) so we were rather late setting off, about, ummm, an hour later than we intended. There were no more caches to be found for three miles, so we had a chance to catch up with a cacheless walk. Why are there so few caches in this area? No idea.

Springtime in the Weald

Springtime in the Weald


Leaving the railway line, we headed uphill, over a road and across country to Motts Mill, then joined the High Weald Landscape Trail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Weald_Landscape_Trail We headed towards Eridge station, which is a curious mixture – one line is a British Rail station, the other is a heritage steam railway. We heard a train arrive then depart, and saw two people walking towards us. One was carrying … it was enormous … what? A mattress? We had no idea, so we stopped to ask, and the ‘mattress’ was duly unzipped and displayed to us. It was a very large foam mat. The people were climbers, heading for Harrison’s Rocks, a well known (not to us!) climbing site http://www.cumc.org.uk/crags/harrisons.html The mat was to provide a softish landing in case the climbing went wrong.

We, too paused at Eridge station, which is an interesting place – as with the trains, one platform is all modern signage, metal seats, automated announcements, today’s world, and the other platform, just the other side of the tracks, has a slightly different colour scheme, wooden seats, signs on chalk boards, and exudes a completely different time and character.

Eridge station

Eridge station


We went under the busy A26, then crossed again (twice) at road level, to find a cache at Eridge rocks, which are tucked away in woods by the road. A good little rocky outcrop, with shapes in the rocks and trees that resemble animals and faces. You really would not know that there was anything unusual there, so well is it hidden. And that was the third and last cache of the day.


But we still had some way to go to Frant, the end of the walk. As soon as we left the A21, the traffic noise died away and it was a bright warm spring afternoon. Loverly! We left the tarmac and walked through woods. Somewhere here Mr Hg137 disturbed a shrew/vole, and let out one of his ‘all purpose distress squeaks’ while the shrew/vole ran away, fast.
Eridge Park

Eridge Park


We went through a gate in a high fence into more open ground. There were isolated trees, bracken, and fenced-off copses of trees, and I was just remarking that this looked quite a lot like a deer park when … some deer ran across our path. Mr Hg137 let out a more muted ‘all purpose distress squeak’, then we went still and quiet and watched the deer for some while before they melted into the trees. A bit of research later on showed that we were in Eridge deer park, which has oodles of history and once belonged to Odo,the brother of William the Conqueror, http://eridgepark.co.uk/the-estate/history
Deer - look carefully, they are there!

Deer – look carefully, they are there!


On we went, climbing steadily towards Frant. Suddenly another, much louder ‘all purpose distress squeak’ rang out, followed by “SNAKE!” A yellow and black snake, about the length of my arm and a little thicker than my thumb, was sunning itself on the dusty path. We watched the adder from a pace or so away, and it slithered away into the grass without urgency. A steep climb out of the deer park brought us to journey’s end, Frant village, where the geocar was parked by the cricket pitch.
Snake !!!

Snake !!!


Not many caches on this walk, but a good, scenic route, with loads of wildlife, varied terrain, and some cracking views, especially from Frant.

Here are a couple of the caches we found: