June 23 : Chichester Marina

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Chichester canal - the last lock

Chichester canal – the last lock


A warm Friday seemed like a good day for lazing around on a beach – and why not wonderful West Wittering? Just short of our destination we paused for some caching, a walk round Chichester Marina and views of Chichester harbour.

There are two caching trails that lead out from Chichester, forming a circuit. The first is the Lipchis Canal Wander,along the partially restored – partially derelict Chichester Ship Canal, which is also part of the Lipchis Way from Liphook to Chichester http://www.newlipchisway.co.uk The return section is appropriately called The Return, along Salterns Way http://www.westsussex.info/salterns-way.shtml to the city, which is an off-road cycle route back to the city. We planned to do the parts of both routes that lay closest to the marina.

We parked, and set off along the canal, derelict at this point, heading back towards Chichester. The canal still holds water, but this section is only used by ducks and moorhens, not boats at present. Guarding the first cache and ignoring us, two swans were a-sleeping on the road; they must do this often, judging by the number of loose feathers lying around and the protective ring of cones around them. We walked on along the canal finding three more caches, and a trackable, as we went. Crossing the busy A286, we had a glance at the next section of the canal, which is still to be restored, then retraced our steps towards the marina. We found another four easy caches as we walked through the marina. There are millions and millions of pounds worth of boats moored here, ranging from tiny motorboats to enormous floating ‘gin palaces’.

LOTS of boats here!

LOTS of boats here!


Nearer the estuary, the canal is used by houseboats as well as ducks, and then there is just a disused lock leading out into the harbour, set off by an interesting sculpture, which just looks like a boulder from one side, but something else from the other direction. Here, too, is the start point for a multicache which ended our first caching series for the day.


We’d now completed our caching along the canal so headed across the marina to look for caches elsewhere, from ‘The Return’ series. First, we had to cross the lock that keeps the marina full of water when the tide is out, and it was at that point in the tide where boats were busily entering and (mostly) leaving. We waited for the semicircular gate to close, walked across the top, and out onto the edge of the harbour.

We paused to eat our picnic lunch overlooking the harbour and the people messing about in boats. Later, walking along Salterns Way, we left the marina and were soon away from the coast amid farmland, hedges, and ripening crops. We found another two caches here, the last in a quiet spot away from the bustle of the marina with expansive views back to Chichester, the South Downs, and Goodwood racecourse.

By now, the beach was calling us, so we retraced our steps, circling the other side of the marina to reach the geocar and to head off to West Wittering for our first swim in the sea for the year. And, no, the water wasn’t cold!

Here are some of the caches we found:

May 26 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Kent border to Sandhurst

PROLOGUE

Our last caching trip on our Sandhurst (Berks) to Sandhurst (Kent) finished yards from the Kent border, and when we drove away we had thoughts of striding purposefully into Kent and onto Sandhurst… however since our last visit we were asked to undertake a small diversion while still in Sussex.

Kent, Sussex

Kent is ahead of us..but we’re not going there, yet!


The last cache we found on our previous trip contained a sheet of paper with the ‘Northings’ for the Great Wigsell Multi. Another cache, unfortunately now archived, contained the ‘Eastings’. This meant the Great Wigsell Multi was unreachable. The cache owner of these three caches contacted us with the missing information and asked, if we had time, to visit the Multi as it contained a trackable which needed to be moved on.

And so instead of heading East into Kent, we headed further South through light woodland for a 1/3 of a mile. We were pleasantly surprised on our arrival. Not only was the cache there after an eight month gap…but it was an ammo can!

We released the trackable and headed back to our car, wondering how many other cache owners we would be helping on the this holiday (see previous blog for more details).

And so to Kent.

THE SANDHURST WALK

Before finding the Great Wigsell Multi our day had not begun well. There had been a major accident and our route to the Kent border had been blocked. A plethora of side roads were also blocked with roadworks so we had had an interesting drive to our start point.

Our route was to take us 2/3 mile along a narrow country lane, unfortunately this was being used as one of the few roads open. We edged our way along, taking care watching out for traffic.

Or at least that was the agreed plan.

Sadly Mr Hg137 decided to check maps/GPS whilst walking up the pavement-less road and failed to spot a large pot-hole.

He landed considerably worse for wear, face down, lying on the tarmac.

Grazed wrists, ripped trousers, and several layers of skin removed from a lower leg. Ouch!

He limped to a gap in the roadside, where a passing motorist provided us with a few tissues which staunched the wounded leg. We both thought that having walked so far on our Sandhurst route, we would fail with just 2.5 miles to walk!

We sat. Annoyed.

Eventually Mr Hg137 stood up. The bleeding had ceased, and he could put weight on the injured leg (hidden behind the ripped trousers).

We tentatively walked on.

Kent countryside


We were following, for the last time, the Sussex Border Path, which up to that point had been brilliantly signposted. Sadly when we needed a post to show us the way to a cache 300 feet away, it was missing. No obvious track through farmland, and with some way still to go, we abandoned our search before it really got going. We knew we were getting close to our destination though as the cache belonged to a series entitled “Sandhurst Cross Circular Walk”.

The route took us through a farm. Clearly the farmer had had trouble with hikers, as there were a plethora of “Keep to the Path”, “Close the Gate” type signs. However the farmer had failed to mark the signpost clearly as we approached his back garden, and the fingerpost was angled for us to walk straight through his garden rather than a tiny path just by the fence line.

You can’t walk through Kent without seeing some of these!


It was shortly after this we found our first Kent cache on the walk. Hidden in tree roots. It had been well over an hour since our finding of the Sussex Multi so were grateful for an easy find.

Kent

Under the tree roots…

Our route took us through woodland, and around farm fields. We crossed far too many stiles for our liking (too tall for Mrs Hg137, too wobbly for Mr Hg137’s now-healing leg).

Kent

A Kentish stile!


And then we arrived at a Roman Road – and another cache. Again hidden in tree roots. Here though we had a long search. Lots of trees, and lots of roots.

Kent

Did the Romans leave this geocache for us to find ?

We were eventually successful and strode/limped purposefully the 1/4 mile into the village of Sandhurst.

A beautiful village green and fabulous clock tower. Our journey was complete.

Sandhurst, Kent

Sandhurst, Kent


Our final cache was under the clock tower, and we waited ages, for a bus driver to vacate the seat on which the cache had been placed.

Our final cache on this walk!


A fabulous setting for the end of our walk!

EPILOGUE

Sandhurst Geocachers Trail Trackable starts its quest

Sandhurst Geocachers Trail Trackable starts its quest

And so our walk was at an end. We finished in high Summer on a boiling hot day. We had started in the height of Winter, with ice on the ground. We had caught trains and buses. We had used many a long distance path including the Blackwater Path, The North Downs Way and the Sussex Border Path. We had walked beside canals, rivers and underneath a major flight path. We’d walked over Surrey’s highest hill, and walked through the claggy clay of the Weald. We’d undertaken quite a few Church Micros and learned about such diverse people as an Astronomer Royal and the founder of Ottawa. We even saw the Flying Scotsman!

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman


We’d heard lots of birdsong and been lucky enough to see deer, a heron, an adder and a kingfisher.

Our route would have been approximately 60 miles if we had walked in a straight line but various constraints (Army land, Gatwick Airport, reservoirs) prevented this. Our convoluted route of 86 miles kept to footpaths where we could, avoided major towns and where possible picked a route with caches to find. Our route is visible here https://www.geocaching.com/track/map_gm.aspx?ID=6190539

An excellent adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Sandhurst, Kent

As we noted on January 1, there is another Sandhurst, near Gloucester, a journey which we will undertake probably next year.

Do look out for that!

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 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 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:

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!