May 25 : Duck Racing in Sussex

Every year, since 2008, the UK has held an Mega event. These event are attended with hundreds of cachers attending. The events are held in different parts of the UK. Last year the Mega was held in Yorkshire, this year it will be held in Aberdeenshire and next year, 2020, it will be held in Sussex. (The Sussex Mega has its own website https://www.mega2020.org.uk/ )

Velosaurus Welcomes Us to the Duck Racing!

These are not just one day events. The focus, and best attended, is the Saturday event but throughout the preceding week, many activities – caching and non-caching related – take place. All of these events cost money, and the Mega team have to acquire the money in the run-up their event.

The 2020 Sussex Mega team are no different. They have been selling merchandise, running raffles, and holding events for many months. The event on May 25th caught our eye. Duck racing!

Attendees of the event could buy (for £2) a numbered duck that would race with 99 other ducks down a river. The winning ducks, and last place (!) would win a small prize. The rest of the money would help the Mega fund!

We said we would attend a few days before the event…but all the ducks had been pre-sold. We decided to attend anyway, and hoped there would be a second race.

Before we arrived at the event, we stopped at the nearest town, Forest Row. We had cached here before on our Sandhurst to Sandhurst walk (April 2017) so knew the road layout and free parking. We had time to undertake a couple of caches which had been placed since 2017.

Forest Row Village Hall…


…. and its cache


The first cache was part of the Village Hall series, a short walk from the car. The Village Hall was surrounded by seats and it was one of those that hosted the cache. Being a Saturday, there was a constant procession of people going in and out of the Hall – we managed to pick a quiet couple of seconds to grab the cache.

Forest Row Church

Our next, was a Church Micro, and in typical style, we had locate a date or two from a plaque and calculate the final coordinates. We knew from the cache description it would be a little walk away, and a very pleasant one it was too.
We were expecting to find a film canister tucked under a pile of logs or stones, so we quite amused to find this.. a great diversion.

Onto the duck race!

We were greeted by a large inflatable duck aka cacher, Velosaurus who did much of the orchestrating throughout the day!

Mrs Hg137 signs the unusual log book

The final log book

There were about 50 other people present, and lots to do beside the duck racing. A tombola, ‘guess the number of ducks in a box’, cakes, home made caches etc.. All good fun! And an unusual shaped log-book to sign!

How many ducks were in the box ? Really ?

A couple of cachers had brought their dogs along, and two cachers had even brought their cats along on a lead too! Good job it wasn’t real ducks being raced!

One of the two very well behaved cats!

There were two races and we got two ducks in the second race. Sadly we didn’t win, probably because we didn’t roar and cheer our ducks as vociferously as other duck owners. Or maybe our ducks were caught up in some minor river debris and lost pace with the leaders! Either way.. great fun !

The Sussex Mega 2020 Team may well run this event again… so look out for it! It was a great way to raise money!

Here are photos from the races ! Well done to the winners!

They’re off!

The Finishing Line

Well done to the Winners!

Advertisements

May 20: Souris

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Souris

Souris


Almost all the geocaches on our walk along the South Downs Way between between Botolphs and Devil’s Dyke were small letterbox caches, just big enough to hold the cache log and a stamp for the letterbox. But one was larger – a clip lock box hidden under a water trough, and inside was a trackable, neatly tucked inside a small plastic bag. We had found Souris.

At the time we found Souris, we were unsure what species we had found: a hamster or a mouse? A girl, or a boy? (Editor’s note: we now know that Souris is a mouse but we are still unsure of the sex.)

Back home, we have had chance to research more about the trackable. Souris started off from Namur, in Belgium, in the first few days of 2019, and has travelled 1100 miles since then. From Belgium, there was a brief foray into France, and another visit to Germany, all in the company of Airhic1, the owner. Finally, in mid-April, Souris was placed where we found him/her, with the touching farewell log:

Please take care of my TB.
Farewell little mouse.

And we were the next people to collect Souris, and intend to honour that request, and also the mission of the trackable, which is …”to walk and rest”…

May 20 : South Downs Way : Botolphs to Devil’s Dyke

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On the fourth and last day of our 4-day walking mini-break, we had a short (well, shortish) walk planned, from Botolphs, by the River Adur, up to the Devil’s Dyke, just north of Brighton.

Crossing the A283, we set off up the hill towards masts close to Truleigh Hill Youth Hostel. It was a steady climb out of the valley and the views became bigger and more distant as we went up. Turning round, we could see almost all of the previous day’s route outlined behind us in the hazy sunshine, as far back as Chanctonbury Ring and beyond.

There were geocaches to find as we climbed, all letterbox caches (containing an ink stamp) from the SWALK series. (Editor’s note: these give a handy reason for a ‘short rest’ every so often while climbing the hill). We emerged onto a lane, still climbing, more gently now, with views out over the Weald to the north, and continued on and up, with more short pauses to find caches, now from the accurately named Truleigh Beautiful series hidden (mostly) under little piles of flints by fence posts, or (once) magnetically attached to a metal gate amongst sprays of brambles and thickets of nettles. (Editor’s note: I think you can guess that it was me who was chosen to find the last cache described!)

Part way up the lane, we came to a section where the road had been lifted and re-laid. The reason became obvious when we saw the sign saying that the 150Kv cable from the Rampion windfarm passes through here; it’s out at sea to the south. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampion_Wind_Farm

Just before the top of the hill was Truleigh Hill Youth Hostel, hidden amongst trees. https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-truleigh-hill We sat on a bench for a rest, had a quick look inside one of the two yurts outside, and checked the water tap (as of May 2019 it’s working, not so with all taps on the South Downs Way). Memories play tricks – both of us had thought the hostel was to be nearer the start of the walk, neither of us recalled the walk up the lane, but we both remembered the water tap.

We continued along the lane, which became a chalky track, very reflective and bright in the sunshine. Spotting a handy bench, we decided on an early lunch and sitting, basking in the hot sunshine and looking out at the view and watching the ponies in the field over the track. We’re still not sure if that bench was in someone’s front garden!
Lunch completed, it was time to start our third geocache series of the day, the Tottington Totter. These, too, came at regular intervals, were generally easy to find, and punctuated the walk nicely.

Geocaching is interesting to cows, too!

Geocaching is interesting to cows, too!


One particular cache was slightly different, hidden under a concrete block at the path’s edge: on problem was that there were quite a few such blocks, hidden on both sides of the track, and the GPS wasn’t being exact enough to decide which one: a second problem was the farmer whizzing back and forth along the track on a very large tractor: and a third problem was the large, male cow in an adjacent field which took an increasing interest in Mr Hg137’s searches from just the other side of the fence: but the cache was found and all was well in the end.
Yet more cows!

Yet more cows!


(Editor’s note: the Tottington Totter series was archived a few days after our visit and has now been replaced with a new cache series, so we were the very last people to record finds for these caches.)
Trouble ahead!

Trouble ahead!


We could just see the end of our route, about two miles away, high on the top of the ridge at Devil’s Dyke, but something about the view ahead was beginning to concern us. Black, black clouds were massing ahead. The sunshine became weaker, then vanished altogether and it was immediately much cooler. As we stopped to sign a cache log, a few spots of rain began to fall. The spots became larger and more frequent as we walked to the next cache, where we put on our waterproofs as we signed the log. Hoods went up, zips were closed and the last cache of the day was a very quick find indeed, followed by a very wet and dispiriting walk across the grass to the Devil’s Dyke car park in heavy rain and increasing wind.

Ah well, a downbeat note to end with, but a four-day break of walking in great countryside, (mixed weather), interesting people and places, and a chance to be out on the beautiful South Downs at one of the best times of the year.

Here, as usual, are some of the caches we found (there are quite a number of them!):

May 19 : South Downs Way : Washington to Botolphs

The Washington to Botolphs section of the South Downs Way, is about 7 miles, of which the first mile or two is up quite a steep slope to Chanctonbury Ring, and then the remaining five miles is all down hill!
We were still staying just a few miles away with HF Holidays, which meant we were parking our destination car shortly after 9. The relatively spacious layby at Botolphs on the A283 was practically full at this time! Fortunately though we squeezed a car into the layby, and drove our other car back to the start at Washington.

Our target… Chanctonbury Ring

A steep ascent up to Chanctonbury Ring awaited us, but partway up we had a cache to find. It was a multi, which we thought we had resolved before setting off. Part of the ‘Sussex Trig Point’ series, it involved working out the co-ordinates based on the metal numbered ‘base plate’ fixed to the trig point. These base plate numbers can be found using Google, and it was a good that we used that tool before we set off, as we wouldn’t have liked the long walk back downhill if we had attempted the cache without the aid of the internet.

Sadly for us, we didn’t find the cache. It was supposed to be an ammo can, hidden under sticks. There were lots of piles of sticks, logs and leaf litter for us to rummage around, but after 15 minutes we gave up. During that time we’d been asked by three separate SDW walkers what we were doing, and disturbed a tiny wren.

Near to the top of Chanctonbury Ring, and yards from the trig point is a Dew pond. This was also our first find of the day and part of the ‘Ponds, Dew Ponds and Lakes of Sussex’ series of caches. We paused for coffee – fully merited by the steep ascent – and attempted to dry out the wet log sheet on a nearby hawthorn bush.
As we stood drinking, various dog walkers passed by and each of the canines charged to the lip of the pond expecting to run into, and drink from, a pond full of water. Sadly the pond was dry, and we could see each of the dog’s faces droop when their anticipated water reward was not forthcoming.

A cache.. and a dry dew pond!


The reason the Dew Pond was dry, was, we discovered from one of the dog walkers, that the South Downs Authority have established a few of the dew-ponds as ‘wildlife havens’ by planting bushes around the outside. A great idea, but the roots of the bushes extract what little water the Dew Pond holds. Meaning that there is little water to see at the surface.

Chanctonbury Ring Trig Point


Our highpoint, Chanctonbury Ring, was clearly visible. Although it is a few yards away from the SDW we walked inside the prominent tree feature. Planted as a series of concentric rings back in 1760, by the then land-owner Charles Goring, the rings are very dark and allegedly haunted.

Inside Chanctonbury Ring

Various legends abound about the ring … if you walk anti-clockwise around the ring 7 times on a moonless night, the Devil will appear and serve you porridge. Alternatively if you count all the trees Julius Caesar will appear or thirdly, if you run clockwise around the trees three times a lady on a white horse will appear and you can ride down! I know which I’d prefer!

Sadly the trees today are not the original trees. The Great Storm of October 1987 blew down every tree at the summit and for a few years the top was tree-less. Since then the Goring family have replanted, and the trees visible are the result of the planting 30 years ago.

Farewell Chanctonbury Ring

A little further down the hill from Chanctonbury ring was another cache. This one tucked into a small, less-imposing copse which we took an age to find. The GPS wobbled, there were several hint items, but eventually we found the cache.

Our long downhill awaited, punctuated by many caches in very quick succession. These were all marked as ‘letter box’ caches and each contained a stamp and some ink as well as a log book. Most were relatively small in size, but all were part of a ‘Sealed with a Loving Kiss’ series. Each of the caches was named after a stamp from around the world. We found caches named after an 1852 25 centime Blue, Louis Napoleon from France, an 1871 Telegraph stamp from Brazil, a 1913 Albanian stamp and many more. It would fun to Google these stamps and see the differences across the world (but with over 150 caches in the full series, this could take some time!). We found 15 ‘stamp caches’ during the day so there are many more for us to find. (It should have been 16 but one of the stiles, used as a hiding place for one of the caches, was being used for a rambler’s lunch, so we didn’t even try finding the cache!)

A Rocket Stamp

We paused ourselves for lunch next to a cache. As we ate, a group of Duke of Edinburgh teenagers stopped. Paused for a drink and walked on. We chatted with them, they were aiming for Cissbury Ring (an ancient Iron Age hill-fort a few miles away). We wished them well…little did we know our paths would touch again later…

Duke of Edinburgh Group heading to Cissbury Ring
(we have deliberately blanked a face).

One of the few other non-stamp caches we found was another ‘Trig Series’ multi. Here, the Trig Point was no longer accessible to read the ‘base plate’ so the cache owner provided the final co-ordinates without us having to do any arithmetical calculations. The final cache was adjacent to a farmer’s field, where the farming team were busy penning, and sorting, sheep. It was a little distance from the South Downs Way and as we turned away a small animal – we guess a stoat – ran across our path. We were grateful of the diversion, as another stamp cache awaited us at a busy memorial ‘bench’ which we passed by, but minutes later as we returned, was free for us to pause for a welcome drink.

Memorial to Walter and Mollie Langmead

The next mile or so of our walk skirted around Steyning Bowl, a dry chalk bowl presumably gouged by the last Ice Age.

Looking across Steyning Bowl…

… and the top of the bowl in the other direction

Part way along, we had an Earthcache to answer. Unusually the questions were not geared around the geology of the area, but of the agriculture (or lack of!), and industry. Besides the agriculture of crop growing, we were yards away from a large, noisy pig farm. Sty upon sty, sow upon sow, piglet upon piglet. Some running around, most lying down, resting. Never have we seen so many pigs!


We descended further until the track gave way to a tarmac road, and here we spotted several sheets of paper lying by the roadside. We picked them up, as they looked important. They were. Described over a number of sheets of paper was a Duke of Edinburgh expedition from Botolphs to Cissbury Ring. It belonged to the DoE party we saw earlier!

There was a contact number on the sheets, which we phoned. The organisers said that the group had just finished and admitted to their crime (!) and asked us to shred the sheets, which we did.

Peaceful River Adur


Our final mile was walking along the River Adur, and here we found our last ‘stamp’ cache, and a tiny nano hidden around the Adur footbridge.

A great 7 mile walk – with loads of caches, lots of myths, legends and… pigs! Oink ! Oink ! Oink !

May 18: 7 Deadly Ducks Tag – LUST

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

7 Deadly Ducks Tag - LUST

7 Deadly Ducks Tag – LUST


Back in the summer of 2016, Geocaching HQ in Seattle ran a trackable race called the HQ Duck Dash. For this, duck shaped trackables (and others) needed to travel as far as possible within a month, between July 20th and August 20th 2016. This one took part, then carried on afterwards.

This one, Lust, took part in the race, with the official goal:
Official goal: to be found and moved to another location.

But it has continued since, with another goal:
Unofficial sub-goal: to be photographed with other ducks.

Starting in Nebraska, it journeyed around the USA for a while, but had reached Iceland a year later. Then it moved to Germany, where it spent some while, had a brief holiday in Egypt, returned to Germany, and was dropped off in Krakow, Poland, in late 2018. It was collected from there and taken to England in early 2019. Since then, it has journeyed around the southern and eastern part of England, never (yet) going north of Birmingham or west of Southampton. We found it high on the ridge of the South Downs in Sussex, just east of Amberley.

We’ll take the duck further on its travels, and we have something duck-themed in mind that will suit it perfectly! More of that in a future post …

May 18 : South Downs Way : Amberley to Washington

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On the second day of our 4-day walking mini-break, we planned to walk from Amberley, the halfway point of the South Downs Way, eastwards to Washington. We were staying just a few miles away at HF Holidays in Abingworth, so we set off from Amberley nice and early, complete with ready-prepared picnic lunch.

Amberley museum http://www.amberleymuseum.co.uk/ was not yet open for the day, but a World War II weekend was about to start and the extras were arriving, in costume – among others, we saw a charlady, a man with a gasmask, and a suspicious-looking cove wearing a fez.

Amberley museum - setting up for World War II weekend

Amberley museum – setting up for World War II weekend



Leaving the village behind us, we started up a steep lane, High Titten (good name for a street!), being overtaken by several groups of South Downs Way walkers, leaving their overnight stops in the village, but we let them go, so we could stop for the first cache of the day. This was the aptly named ‘Museum View’, where there is just a glimpse down into the museum; there would be a better view in winter, when the trees are leafless, and not much view at all in high summer.

Up and up we went, from pretty much sea level at Amberley to pretty much 200m on the top of the ridge. One especially steep section is known locally as “Cardiac Hill” ! At the top, we paused on the top of one of the many earthworks that cross the downs, turned about, and took in the expansive view that had opened behind us, stretching back to a misty view of Bignor Hill in the distance. We could just hear air raid sirens being sounded at the museum, and, soon after, a World War II aircraft flew low over the ridge, waggling its wings.
Cardiac Hill

Cardiac Hill


... and a nifty geocache hide

… and a nifty geocache hide


We found another two caches, one artfully hidden in a signpost, another well hidden in some woods. At Kithurst Hill, and took a short diversion south from the South Downs Way. We were (of course) looking for a cache, but this particular one is hidden in a most unusual place – a World War II Churchill tank https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way/attractions/wwii-churchill-mk11-tank Well, we arrived, searched everywhere, searched again, got dispirited, sat on the tank to eat our nice picnic lunch, and finally, finally, found the cache in a last, despairing search before giving up.
Kithurst Hill - Churchill tank

Kithurst Hill – Churchill tank


Back on the South Downs Way, we reached a dried up dewpond, and then the Chantry Post, which was shiny and new back in 2011, when we first walked the South Downs Way. Time and weather have not been kind to it and it’s looking rather gnarled now.
Not so dewy dewpond

Not so dewy dewpond


Chantry Post

Chantry Post


We began the long downhill to Washington and the A29 crossing. The South Downs Way splits here: there’s a shorter footpath which crosses the dual carriageway, and there’s a longer bridleway which crosses the A29 on a bridge. We’d tried the bridleway before, and it is fine, but this time we thought we would simply cross the road, as it’s about a mile shorter. Mmm, possibly not a great choice: the A29 is a dual carriageway with not much visibility in either direction. We chose a moment, and crossed: a yellow Ferrari appeared, at speed, just missed us, and continued, still accelerating.

Returning to the geocar in the nearby walker’s car park, most of the other spaces were filled by cars from an organised ramble which had just finished. The walkers were helping themselves to tea and coffee in yellow mugs, served from an urn on a portable table. Crikey, they’re very well organised round here!

St Mary's church, Washington

St Mary’s church, Washington


We set off to collect our other geocar, driving down the route of the old A29 into Washington, and stopping to look for the Church Micro based on Washington Church on our way. We parked neatly in a line with other cars at the church, only to be firmly told off by a local resident for not parking diagonally in the fairly wide lane (everyone does, you know). We didn’t know, and no-one else had parked that way. Oh well … not such a good end to the day … but not to worry, we went on to find the cache regardless.

Here are some of the caches we found:

May17 : Trackable – GTR1400 1

During our walk from Bignor to Amberley we found a trackable at the bridge cache over the River Arun.

Curiously named GTR1400 1, it comprises the geotag (the unique reference number) with the Belgian flag. The main item, connected by a small leather strap, is an ‘E’ with Mickey Mouse running through it. Indeed the copyright ‘Disney’ is in the reverse of the E.

In it is unclear why the trackable is called ‘GTR1400 1’ and how it connects to Mickey Mouse. If you know any reason do let us know!

The trackable, has a goal (written in French) – to travel and discover the world with photos.

We are not sure our little jaunt along the South Downs Way is ‘the world’ but it is scenic.

The trackable, released in November 2017 has only travelled 1500 miles. Principally in Belgium but a couple of forays into France and Holland before arriving in the UK April 2018. It has visited Rye in East Sussex and much of Southern England including Cornwall. The furthest North is has been in the UK is Birmingham.

So the objective of ‘travelling the world’ has hardly been met, yet, so maybe the next cacher will take it to a new country! Or is that a Mickey Mouse idea ?