May 25 : Hastings

Hastings was our venue for the week, but our hotel was about 4 miles from the sea and historic parts of town. Today would be the day for exploring !

Warrior Gardens, Hastings

Warrior Gardens, Hastings

We had unsuccessfully attempted to visit Hastings Pier earlier in our stay, so this time we were determined to find the caches hidden in or near it!

But first…where to park the car? Fortunately a bit of online research pointed us to a not-too-expensive car park yards from the sea. We paid for 5 hours, thinking (stupidly), we’d be finished in 3 hours, and we could drive elsewhere to finish the day.

Our main targets were on the seafront, so we started to walk there and almost immediately noticed a church micro. An easy find, but an unplanned one.

Hastings

Somewhere in the picture is the church and the cache!


Next – to Hastings’ beautiful Warrior Gardens. Here a multi had to be solved, based on the dates of a statue. The final destination took us through both parts of the tiered gardens (a road bisects them) and so we had a fine view. What was slightly frustrating was the cache. A film container, not brilliantly hidden behind a bush and less salubriously, a dog poo bin. There ought to have been better hiding places!

We walked back through the Gardens to arrive at the seafront, and a real gem of a cache.

My Heart Belongs to Hastings

My Heart Belongs to Hastings

Hastings

Padlocks


My Heart Belongs to Hastings is a sculpture officially unveiled in 2012. Then the sculpture was a piece of driftwood with a few padlocks attached. The idea, as with other ‘love padlock sculptures’ is that people show their love to each other/Hastings/pets.. by placing a padlock on the sculpture. Over its 4 years, many hundreds of padlocks have been added…including a padlock cache! Yes, we had to search hundreds of caches to find a cache! After a few minutes searching, Mrs Hg137 had a good idea and almost immediately found the target. We awarded this cache a favourite as it was so different from what we were expecting.
Hastings Pier

Hastings Pier

...and the view back to shore

…and the view back to shore

The pier was open, and we had time to explore. Noticeboards were placed at strategic intervals telling us of the Hastings Pier Fire, how the pier was rebuilt, major bands that played on the pier etc.. all interesting information. All of which helped us to derived the coordinates for 2 different caches. One was apparently hidden on the pier itself, but we never found it. GZ seemed devoid of hiding places, and the hint bore little or no resemblance to items nearby. (We thought the cache was going to be under a telescope, but there were none at the co-ordinates). The second cache we did find, a small nano hidden just at the pier entrance.

Our Eureka moment, signing the log, was marred by an elderly Hastings resident asking us if we were lost or needed help…we didn’t but shortly chased after him to ask whether there were any bus services between the pier and the ‘Old Town’. There weren’t.

We had taken nearly 2 hours to attempt 5 caches, and we were still yards from the car! We decided to walk along the promenade to the Old Town. Very pleasant, but we did pass several caches we had attempted two nights previously.

The Old Town/Fishing Quarter had several caches. As we had been relatively slow up to that point, we jettisoned the host of multi-caches which seemed to pepper this part of town. Instead we looked for another cache on artwork.

Winkle

Winkle

This time we were looking for a nano on a Winkle! This area of town was known as Winkle Island, in honour of the Winkle Club which ran various charity events. Very modern, very metallic and very tactile. Visitors can clamber over it, and we did ! Sadly no cache came to hand! (We discovered after our visit that the cache owner had been checking the cache out not 15 minutes before we arrived!)

We walked on to the edge of the Fishing Quarter, to try to find an even harder cache. No hint. Just a miscellany of slightly worse-for-wear street furniture and pot-holed pavements. We looked long and hard and failed. Two DNFs in a row – not good, and our third of the day!

DNFs are great time stealers, and by now we were grateful we had paid for those 5 car park hours. As the day was hot, and we also decided to casually wander back to the car and finish our exploits mid-afternoon.

As we turned to walk back towards the car, we undertook an Earthcache. Unusually this Earthcache did not test our knowledge of geological rock formations, but of groynes. We had to describe what various groynes were made from and well as their advantages and disadvantages. As we were constructing our answers a fishing boat returned to shore.

Hastings does not have a natural harbour. In days gone by, boats were MANUALLY hauled up and down the shingle beach every time the fishermen sailed in and out. Nowadays a small mechanical digger takes the place of the manual labour.

The Old Town was the location for our last seafront cache. Here the roads were narrow, and twisted and turned up ever steep gradients. The flatter roads contained an unusual array of tourist shops and eateries, but our target was some 100 feet above them. On private property. In a window box! We were looking for a cache inches from someone’s front window! We found it, but so, so unnerving.

Hastings Tourist Town!

Hastings Tourist Town!


So a mixed day on the seafront, a few too many DNFS, but some very varied cache locations.

Hastings

Window Box Cache

As we arrived back at the hotel we remembered there was a cache in the road opposite. We parked up, and found it immediately (it hadn’t been hidden well)… but it was full of water! We decided to remove the cache, take it to our hotel room and dry it out. It wasn’t on the tourist trail, so we gambled a few hours away drying out would enhance it no end. It did! We were soon able to sign the dried up paper, and we replaced the cache with no other finder being inconvenienced. Our good deed for the day!

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 : 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 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.

April 22: Fifield

**** PLEASE NOTE : UNLIKE MANY OF OUR BLOGS, THIS ONE CONTAINS A LOT OF SERIOUS SPOILERS ****

April 22/23 has a lot of meaning to us, and we like to undertake some sort of celebration.

Where will today take us?

Our celebration this year … was to go geocaching ! We decided though, not to continue caching on our Sandhurst to Sandhurst trail, but to stay local(-ish) and find some caches set by our favourite Cache Owner, JJEF.

We have often remarked on this blog about the inventiveness of JJEF caches, sometimes a work of art, other times a fiendish puzzle – nearly always made of wood. This would be a great way to celebrate!

We travelled to the small village of Fifield just south of the M4 near Maidenhead. We parked up and headed to our first cache location. This was to be the sole non-JJEF cache of the day…and we made a meal of it! Originally ‘Once a Fine Pair’ had been part of the ‘Fine Pair’ series where both a red telephone box and red letter box are adjacent to each other. Sadly, the telephone box has been removed, but the cache lives on with a slight renaming. Anyway, it was a multi-cache, so we scribbled down some numbers and performed some arithmetic a child of five would be proud of. We strode purposefully towards GZ. We went by a item that matched the hint, but since we were still 200 feet away, we didn’t stop. Sadly that was as close as we got, as we had no means of getting closer than 150 feet, as private property blocked our path. Mmm. Perhaps there is another way to GZ.

We left pondering this (passing the hint item again), tried various side roads looking for non-existent tiny alleyways that would get us to the cache. All to no avail.

Disheartened we embarked on the JJEF series.

6 caches and as JJEF wrote in the description : This series contains all manner of cache types, if you know my MO then you will manage with these hides which are meant to be fun but achievable by everyone.

The first cache hadn’t been found for a while so we were expecting a second DNF of the day. We had about half a mile to walk to start the series; as we walked we watched groundsmen manicuring two polo pitches, riders giving light exercise to their (polo) horses. Red Kites performed balletic movements above us. There was no-one else on the footpath.

Anyone for polo ?

Anyone for polo ?

Until we approached the first cache.

Where had that young couple and two dogs appeared from? Why did they spend several minutes on the footbridge we wanted to stop at ? Why did they furtively look behind as we stopped at the footbridge too ?

Yep, they were geocachers. We chatted to Team VP. They had not found the cache. Our hearts sank, as this meant we were unlikely to either.

Team VP (and doggy helpers)

Team VP (and doggy helpers)

We said we would give the location a good look, and maybe see them later. (JJEF caches really do need to be savoured, and this gave them a 10 minute head start for all future caches, meaning both of us could enjoy JJEF’s inventiveness)

We explored the footbridge in fine detail. Every screw, every plank, and every little ledge. There was however one part of the bridge that was harder to access and (here’s the big hint), let’s just say we were glad it hadn’t rained much! We found the cache…or rather we found a 4 foot long tube. The cache was inside, and to release it we had to solve a mini-maze. JJEF had constructed a mini-maze which had to be solved by means of twisting and turning the outer tube which surrounded a central pole. As we twisted and turned the outer casing more and more of the maze (and its dead ends) were visible. Until, eventually a film canister was revealed containing the log. We’d found the cache… and got to the log! Yay!

Undoing the Mini-Maze

Undoing the Mini-Maze

Of course such a contraption has to be put back together again, fortunately this was easier as the maze was visible prior to being twisted back into its tube.

We didn’t see Team VP at cache 2 of the Fifield series. This required a pencil to spring open a bird-box. Unfortunately the spring didn’t work, so we set about dismantling the bird-box with a Swiss Army knife. Another log signed.

Birdbox 1

Birdbox 1

We did see Team VP at cache 3. They hadn’t found it. They left us to search GZ. Three or four fallen huge tree trunks. Lots of bramble and prickly bushes. We scoured the area, but failed to find the cache. Most other cache owners would have hidden a cache in one of the many trunk holes, we searched those too, even though JJEF caches tend to be ‘out in the open’.

We moved on. The next cache was the easiest find of the day, in a sawn off log.

Easy -  as falling off a log!

Easy – as falling off a log!

We caught up again with Team VP at cache 5. We had to find a padlocked box, and nearby a number to unlock it. Before we tried to search Team VP realised that they had hidden the ‘number’ in an incorrect way. They told us this and what the correction should be. All very well, but this assumed we would find the box and the nearby number. Fortunately we did!

Here's the cache..now where's the code number ?

Here’s the cache..now where’s the code number ?

The last cache in the series was another bird box, and again opened in a way only a JJEF cache can!

Birdbox 2

Birdbox 2

So we walked back to the car, and then remembered the multi-cache from earlier. We re-checked our calculation! Whoops! So much for a simple sum a five year old could do.. we failed miserably! The corrected sum took us back to where we had been before…and who was ahead of us … Team VP ! We both signed the logs, and parted. Farewell Team VP .. happy caching in the future.

Stumped by our arithmetic!

Stumped by our arithmetic!

Arguably that was the last cache, but we knew of one more JJEF cache a short drive (sort of) on the way home. As we drove, we tried to remember the last time we had seen geocachers ‘on the cache’ (excluding meets) and decided it was October 2015. We wondered whether it would be another 18 months before we saw another cacher.

The cache we were driving to was called ‘Mini Elevator’ set on the junction of a footpath and a small one-car layby. As we approached the layby we saw a car already parked in it. Plan B. Park in the nearby cricket club. How can we bluff our way past the over-officious groundsman to park our car ? Since we had travelled in Mrs HG137’s car, that would be her problem. Meanwhile…back at the layby, what are those two ladies doing ? Are they looking for something?

Yes, they were.

They were looking for the cache we had come to seek. Foxscout and Doggwalker had come all the way from Essex to cache for the day, and attend a cacher’s meet in Windsor the day after. They had 30 or 40 caches ahead of them for the day, and we joined them in the search. Doggywalker found JJEF’s (non-wooden) construction and we both signed the log.

Having gone 18 months between seeing geocachers out and about, we had barely gone 18 minutes! Amazing!

So a really fun morning, we met 4 geocachers (and two dogs), found 6 JJEF caches, and got sent to the bottom of the class for some really poor arithmetic!

Bluebells to finish!

Bluebells to finish!

April 15 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Berks) : Crawley Down to Forest Row

PROLOGUE :

“That was nice to see”.

We were travelling on a bus, from Forest Row to Crawley Down to start our days walk. Two lads, both less than 10, had got on the bus, unaccompanied, paid their fare, placed their pedestrian scooters in the luggage rack and climbed to the top deck with no fuss at all.

Before Mrs Hg137 could reply, an elderly lady in front us replied “Did you see the Flying Scotsman then?”

We looked at her strangely, and marked her down as one of those weird, old, women of Sussex.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

The bus dropped us at the centre of Crawley Down. Next to a small war memorial. Crawley Down appears to have two war memorials, one is a traditional six foot cross about half a mile away, but this smaller memorial has been used for the last 3 years to mark the centenary of each individual Crawley Down soldier’s death during WWI. Indeed a service had taken place, just the day before. A sobering thought that a 100 years previously there was much sadness in the village, and we, a hundred years later, were out in a bright Spring morning enjoying ourselves.

Crawley Down War Memorial

Crawley Down War Memorial

We initially climbed out of the village on a tarmacked private road. Lots of big houses, and occasional views of advancing new housing estates on the edge of village. We found a couple of caches on the road (double wrapped film pots) and then suddenly we were in open country. A wide vista of fields and downland opened up and we felt we had the countryside to ourselves. We retrieved the next cache (and unearthed a small one inch frog too) and no sooner than we were replacing the cache then we saw an approaching family.

We rushed the to the next cache (another double film pot, easily found) but let the family pass shortly after. They were on a mission.. to feed the ducks and swans at a nearby fishing lake. We overtook them as slice upon slice of bread was being inexpertly tossed into the water by the two young sons. Out of view of the family we approached our next cache. One that had been reported missing a few days earlier. We failed to find it either – our first fail of the day.

Bluebells

Bluebells

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Orchid

Orchid

Our route then took us through woodland (with bluebells and wild garlic in abundance) and farmland, where we were able to find two more caches. One of these caches was part of the Sussex ABC Series – we found ‘K’ (Kingscote). As we approached this cache we became aware of lots of ‘Police No Parking’ signs. Most seemed centred on Kingscote Station (one of the stations on the vintage railway, the Bluebell Line.)

We took a slight route deviation to the Station Car Park to find out what was going on.. (we suspected a wedding, or charity cycle event), but we were told THE FLYING SCOTSMAN is coming through today!

Kingscote Station

Kingscote Station

So the weird, old woman of Sussex was not so weird after all. It all made sense. She knew about the train, and assumed the statement “That was nice to see” related to the train and not the two lads.

We enquired when the Flying Scotsman would be next passing. We had an hour to wait. Fortunately our route would take us parallel to the tracks for the next half-mile or so, and we would be in prime spotting position. This gave us time to find another cache (an ammo box, placed in March 2007), have our picnic lunch and wait. We waited, with 50 or so train fiends, each armed with various notebooks, cameras and air of expectation. We were not disappointed. At 1315 it came past. We took photos, we waved, we snapped some more! An unexpected bonus on our geocaching trip.

We had lots more caches to undertake, so we decided NOT to wait until the Flying Scotsman’s return journey at 1400. As we proceeded we passed various people waiting by the line, others rushing to the line to see the 1400 steam-by. As you can imagine the paths were unusually busy, and for once we were grateful we had a mile without caches, as it meant we didn’t have to play ‘dodge the muggle’.

The terrain suddenly changed from open countryside with clay soil to sandstone. Now Sussex is not renowned for sandstone, but suddenly sandstone abounded. Huge stacks were being assaulted by climbers, and our next cache was near the top of one such stack. We hadn’t bought our climbing boots with us, but we found a grassy pathway to the top avoiding a precarious climb. Here, a small cache had been wedged into a tree-trunk, and with a bright orange cap should have been easy to find. It wasn’t, and after about 10 minutes perched over a sandstone ‘cliff’ we saw the flash of orange, and the log was signed.

Somewhere up there... is a cache!

Somewhere up there… is a cache!

The sandstone was to provide us with another ‘cache’ too, an Earthcache. We had to visit 4 separate sandstone outcrops compare the colours, strata layers and in one case guess what animal the sandstone shape made! All very interesting, but as we went from outcrop to outcrop we were passing two other caches, and somehow we had to keep track of what we were actually doing (and in fairness, we didn’t do it that well, as we failed to take a single picture of a sandstone outcrop… whoops!)

The caches we attempted during the Earthcache were part of a ‘Trick or Treat’ series. Each one was themed on a ‘Halloween’ theme… we had flying witches, scary door knockers etc as well as a spider. The spider was scary in its own right, as it was in a grassy corridor between two fields. As we were replacing the cache, a herd of cows, including calves and a bull, decided they wanted to use the corridor and move from one field to the next. Some of the cows went by peacefully, others gave us the ‘hard look of doom’ and with nowhere for us to run to, it was all just a little unsettling. We are quite sure that cache owner didn’t mean that sort of scary when the caches were placed.

We were now walking along the banks of a reservoir, but with dense undergrowth between us and the water we barely got to see it. Our eyes though were watching the GPS very, very carefully. Somewhere soon we would cross the Greenwich Meridian and into the Eastern Hemisphere. We walked ever slower, waiting, watching and the finally all the Westerly (or was it Easterly) co-ordinates read zero!

Crossing the Meridian

Crossing the Meridian

We still had a couple of miles to reach Forest Row and another few caches to undertake. The first, an old ice cream container was hidden under a log in shortish undergrowth. In a few weeks this cache will be tricky to reach, so we were glad we arrived before the main Spring/Summer hedgerow growth.

We undertook a multi based on the ruins of Brambletye House (a Grade II* very ruined mansion built during the reign of James I) and finished the day with a series of double-wrapped film pots in exactly the same way as the day had started.

Brambletye House

Brambletye House


We walked about 10 miles, crossed into the Eastern Hemisphere, found 18 caches, including an Earthcache, a flying witch, a 10 year old Ammo can and of course… saw The Flying Scotsman! Phew!

Don’t see many of these!

March 11 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Beare Green to Horley/Gatwick Airport

Newdigate Church

Newdigate Church

This year we have been fairly lucky with our caching. We have found nearly every cache we have attempted.

Today…well today..

…was DNF DAY !

It started badly and never really recovered.

The village of Beare Green, as we noted in our last Sandhurst to Sandhurst post, has several caches hidden in its boundaries. We attempted three and failed on each one !

A muddy path.. but will it lead to a cache ?


The first was a Sidetracked Multi. We had collected the information on our prior visit, and set off down a muddy footpath, and arrived at two likely hosts (and since the hint was ‘multi-trunked-tree’) we split up and searched both.

And searched.

And searched.

To no avail. This cache hadn’t been attempted since last October, so maybe the Autumn and Winter had been unkind to it. Sadly the cache would have contained the co-ordinates to another cache..so a double-DNF-whammy!

We moved our car to where we had parked previously on our walk and set off. Our last cache of that walk was ‘Mad Hatter’ and our next three caches were to be part of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ series. Sadly our attempt to find ‘Caterpillar’ or the ‘Queen of Hearts’ resulted in DNFs. (Both have since been archived as they had both been DNFed by many cachers for the last 8 months!)

It was therefore with some trepidation that we arrived at Ground Zero for ‘White Rabbit’.

Hidden in a camo bag, in a pile of mud was indeed … A WHITE RABBIT. We pulled the rabbit out of the hat, sorry bag, and gratefully signed the log.

White Rabbit

White Rabbit

Our route then took us away from the ‘Alice’ series, and after walking through some very muddy woodland, jumping over a deep drainage ditch onto a lane, walking across a field and then realising the footpath we wanted wasn’t signposted, we somehow found ourselves on a farmyard track. (As well as failing to find caches, we were failing to find footpaths too!).

After a somewhat poor start, we decide to stop for coffee. Compose ourselves, and say..’caching can only get better’.

And it did.

Our next 3 finds were fortunately straightforward. These three caches were part of a 10 cache series between the villages of Newdigate and Capel. There is also a 10 cache series, using different paths back from Capel to Newdigate. What a great idea!

On a late Saturday morning, the village of Newdigate was quite busy. Farm vehicles sortied slowly up and down the main street; parked cars narrowed the road to single line traffic; people were scurrying about their business.

We had two targets in Newdigate. The first a simple Church Micro multi. We ascertained the final cache was on our route out of Newdigate, so went in search of the other cache – (hint : ‘magnetic’). Here the GPS gods decided not to play ball with us. The GPS led us to a metal sign, roadside, in a bush, next to the busy and congested highway. We searched, and failed to find. What we couldn’t see from our ill-chosen and dangerous position that behind a line of trees surrounding the bush was another metal host object which is where the cache was. We only discovered this on our return home.

Churches are great places for lunch. Normally there are seats outside, and here we ate lunch before finding (yes, really!) the Church Micro cache whose co-ordinates we had calculated a few minutes previously. We were grateful for the find, as we had about a mile and half walk before our next cluster of caches.

Newdigate Church

Newdigate Church Micro.. Found!

The mile and a half was predominately tarmac walking, mainly on small lanes. We passed modern barns, a variety of ponds, and a mobile home park before arriving at a grassy field. Here we were met by horses, so we paused while we were sniffed and checked all over.

Modern Barns along the way

No mud here…no caches either

We were eventually allowed to pass by, and we arrived our first (of four) Star Trek themed caches. We had mixed results at these caches as we found two quite easily, but the other two completed eluded us. The cache owner has subsequently told us what we missed, but with the DNF day we were having, we would have missed seeing a red-double-decker bus as well as the minute nanos hidden in both bridge and stile.

Somewhere on or near this stile is a cache! But we didn’t find it!


Charlwood was our last major town/village before the mass sprawl of Gatwick. Here there were plenty of caches for us to try. The first was a Church Micro multi. However the final coordinates, were half-a-mile back in the direction we had just come ! We both decided not to walk back! (More of a Did Not Attempt, rather than Did Not Find, but it still hurt our egos)

The next cache was a pleasant find, part of the ‘Poppies on Parade’ series where the cache was (just about) visible from the war memorial. We continued through Charlwood and then found a long distance footpath that would be the backbone for much of our remaining route to Sandhurst: The Sussex Border Path.

Martlets, Sussex

Martlets, the symbol for Sussex, mark the Sussex Border Path


The path broadly follows the Sussex county boundary, weaving in and out of adjacent counties on its journey of 111 miles. Charlwood is still in Surrey, our destination car was parked in Surrey, but the path would take us today on a short half-mile section into Sussex.

But first we had a few more Charlwood caches to find. The first on a footpath..in a tree, rather too close to a dog-poo bin for comfort. (Definitely a poor day, when caches are either DNFed or next to dog-poo bins.)

We passed on another Church Micro multi as yet again it led us away from our route. However as we left Charlwood we found two caches in the pudding series (we found ‘Mums Apple Pie’ and ‘Rhubarb Crumble’ !). One of which needed careful extrication from under a water trough and through a hedge.

Gatwick

Getting close to Gatwick!


Our last mile of walking took us close to the flight path of Gatwick Airport. Although the noise level had increased, we were pleasantly surprised to find the noise level was not too imposing.

Our last cache of the day was near the car. This was quite a sneaky hide, as the hint mentioned ‘tree roots’. There was a huge fallen tree with a large hole with roots showing. But no cache visible. Next to the fallen tree was a smaller bush, with intricate roots, and hidden amongst it was our final find of the day. We released the ‘Hamburg’ trackable here, as given its proximity to Gatwick Airport, it might get back to Germany quite quickly.

We covered well over 10 miles on our route, but probably just as many miles wandering the pathways looking for a myriad of DNF caches. Roll on next time… when hopefully we will fare a little better.

Surprisingly, given it was a DNF day… we did find these caches :