July 18 : River Thames : Remenham and Hambleden Lock

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Temple Island

Temple Island


In 2015 we walked, and cached, the Thames Path from source to sea, but had rarely visited since. After a few days short of five years we returned to Remenham, to walk the big loop of river north of Henley, then returning across the fields. The seventeen cache ‘Round The Bend’ cache series covers this area, and there are also a few other caches along the way.

There’s a small car park opposite Remenham church, within a car’s length of our first cache, one from the ‘Victoria’s Post Box’ series. An inspection of the plate on the postbox gave us some numbers. Next, a Church Micro cache based on Remenham church; we went into the neat, tidy churchyard to collect another set of numbers from noticeboards and gravestones. We turned both those sets of numbers into coordinates. And we had yet a third set of coordinates, from the puzzle cache ‘Frog Logic’ which we had solved a few days earlier (gosh, we looked at a load of frogs to solve that). So that gave us three locations, all in different directions … we worked out a ‘best’ route and went off to find all three. (Editor’s note: one of those three cache containers did make us smile, but we can’t give away which one!)

Eventually, we reached the riverbank, and turned north, following the line of the Henley rowing course back to its start by Temple Island. There’s a plaque there, to mark the start, and it was new to us as it has been placed since 2015 when we last came this way https://www.henleystandard.co.uk/news/henley-on-thames/131856/marble-plaque-marks-royal-regatta-start-line.html A lovely wooden boat was moored right by the plaque, among a few similar ones flying lots of flags and pennants; the owner asked us several times if we wanted to take his picture, we didn’t know why. We found out a little while later what they were all doing …

We walked by more of these smart boats and found another cache. A passing muggle remarked …”so good to see them here” … and we looked again. The clue was in the ADLS written on the stern of one of the boats, plus the plaques on the sides – these were a group of Dunkirk Little Ships, out for an informal get-together. Lovely to see them all. (Editor’s note: some of them do look awfully small to be ferrying people around in the English Channel…)

Dunkirk Little Ships

Dunkirk Little Ships


We looked up the names of some of the little ships; the one furthest downstream was L’Orage; quite a famous boat, it seems, which used to belong to Raymond Baxter, presenter of Tomorrow’s World and founder of the Little Ships association https://www.adls.org.uk/adls
L'Orage

L’Orage


We approached our next cache, the third in the ‘Round The Bend’ series. It’s not often a muggle tells you where to find a cache – but GZ was within feet of where a boat was moored and the owner told us ‘someone was here about an hour ago’ before giving exact directions to the location of the cache. Signing the log, we realised we were following ‘babystarling’ around the circuit, they must have been the previous visitors. We never (knowingly) caught up with them, but their logs showed they enjoyed this series too.

Mooove along!

Mooove along!


The river bent slowly round to the east, and the towpath became a long, thin field. We worked our way along the towpath/field, visiting a well-used cattle trough (to find a cache, not for a drink!), and then dodging ever fresher cowpats as we continued. A herd of placid black cows, presumably the source of the plops, moooved slowly past us, heading for Henley.

As the bend in the river continued and turned south, we reached Hambleden Lock. We found a seat away from the path to eat our picnic lunch while watching the world go by. We saw a lock-full of boats going upstream (including a Dunkirk Little Ship going to meet its friends), then watched the lock fill again with boats galore going downstream, including a canoe. A footpath crosses the lock, and the walkers, runners and cyclists using the path must wait while the lock gates open. It was like a cross between Cowes Week and the Tour de France all at once, bikes, boats and people everywhere. (Editor’s note: we realised how unused we’ve become to seeing lots of people all together at once.)


Leaving the lock behind us, we had three more caches to find alongside the Thames before the return leg ‘inland’. Everyone and everything was messing about on/in/by/above the river; we noted geese (about 50, making a racket), muggles picnicking and playing on the shore – while in the water, boats, paddleboards, swimmers, ducks, cows – and even rooks and kites overhead. It meant we could find those caches while everyone was distracted, looking elsewhere.

At Ferry Lane we turned away from the river and walked up the narrow lane towards the Flower Pot pub https://www.squaremeal.co.uk/restaurants/the-flower-pot_685 There were cars everywhere, rushing down to the pub, the river, or both,plus someone bringing a boat on a trailer down to the slipway to launch. I’m so glad I didn’t choose this spot to park! We found our second cache from the ‘Victoria’s Post Box’ series (wonder why there are so many Victorian post boxes round here?), then climbed on up the hill. No doubt this is normally a quiet little lane – not so today – and it was a relief to reach the footpath across the fields that would take us back to Remenham.

Away from the road, it was a lot more peaceful. Just a short, hot puff up the hill in the blazing summer sunshine, and we were walking along a path between fields. Lots of muggles were out walking, but not nearly so many as by the river, and we could easily find quiet moments to locate caches. Up here, this bit of the cache route has a completely different character to the section by the river – more open, airy, and quieter, with expansive views – you wouldn’t guess that the bustling Thames is just a few fields away.


After only four caches, we were back on the lane leading to Remenham Church, it’s not nearly as far returning as it is walking along the riverbank! And the almost empty car park by the church? Also packed and overflowing, cars all around the church and along the lane to the river. Mr Hg137 had been right (as always) when he said we should get there early!

Remenham Church

Remenham Church


We had found twenty-two caches in all – 17 traditional, 1 puzzle, 2 letterbox, 1 multi and 1 mystery – we’d found them all, which is incredibly rare for us. Many, many thanks to FamousEccles for providing such a great circuit, both for the walk, and for the well-kept caches. And the sun shone on us too!

Here are just some of the caches we found:

July 11 : East Worldham, West Worldham and Hartley Mauditt

Our caching trip started from the village of East Worldham perched high on a hill a few miles South West of Farnham. There is always a danger starting a walk from the top of a hill, and we only remembered it some hours later.

East Worldham Church

Initially though we walked even higher from our parked car, to East Worldham’s church (St Mary’s). We collected information from the Church noticeboard, which doubled up as a village history and geography lesson and from a nearby War Memorial. We calculated the co-ordinates for the hiding place of the Church Micro cache…and discovered an error in our maths. Back we went to the noticeboard, retrieved the correct date and went looking. An ideal host, matching the hint, stood proudly at GZ. Sadly for us, so did a large amount of vegetation which shielded every hidey-hole so well that we couldn’t find the cache. Not the best of starts, poor maths.. and a DNF !

We started our main circuit of the day, ‘View the Land’, a series of 15 caches first placed back in 2011. Some of the caches would contain a number, which would help us find a 16th, bonus, cache.

The first cache find was relatively straightforward, though the hint of ‘hanging’ had obviously changed over the cache’s nine years. We were heading towards cache 2, when we remembered the bonus number. We hadn’t checked the first cache for it ! Should we go back or risk missing one number ? We went on with crossed fingers.

On route, some redeveloped oast houses


Our second cache, in one of the more imaginative hides on the route was quite hard to spot. Our searching was not helped by people busying themselves at the neighbouring equestrian centre. Indeed one of the horses did its best to help us sign the log. Again we walked away from the cache, failing to remember to collect any bonus information. This time though, we had only walked a few yards, so retreated to collect our first bonus number – yay !

“You forgot the bonus number!”

The path moved away from the horses and around a farmer’s field. Here we found a couple of caches hidden in very large tree hollows. The hollows were so big, at least 10 ammo boxes could fit in them with space to spare! After allowing a couple of horse-riders go by, we deviated from the ‘View the Land’ circuit to attempt our second Church Micro of the day, at West Worldham.
As we approached the village we went by a largish garden where several Dads were having a socially-distant chat while their teenage boys were kicking a football with great vigour.

West Worldham Church

The church at West Worldham (St Nicholas), presented us with a problem. Notices on the gate prohibited access as building work was going on at the Church. Being Saturday though, there were no workmen, so we ignored the sign and collected the numbers we needed for the Church Micro. We even went inside the church and found this thought-provoking plaque.

The Church Micro cache was hidden by the roadside, which a few minutes earlier has been quiet. But as we approached GZ, and before we could wrestle with ivy protection, car after car went by. It was the fathers and sons from the football garden earlier, now returning home.

During a break in the traffic we found the cache and then returned, via a sunken lane to our main caching series. The sunken lane had dropped quite steeply and we were in a ‘bowl’ with tree cover all around. The GPS danced around, pointing this way and that and with only ‘multi-trunk tree’ as our guide we spent some locating the cache.

Of course we then had to climb out of the ‘bowl’ and a series of about 60 steep, wooden earth steps took us to a barley field. In one corner of the field, presumably as set-aside, was a beautiful wildflower border. We recognized many of the flowers including Phacelia and Poppies, other names eluded us. None of the flowers eluded the multitude of insects enjoying the nectar.

The couple of caches around the field were straightforward finds, including one hidden in a former sunken lane. Here Mr Hg137 retrieved the cache, threw it to Mrs Hg137 to sign, who threw it back for Mr Hg137 to replace. Did we check the bonus number ? Of course not, so the cache was re-opened to ascertain any bonus information. It was as we left this cache site we saw movement ahead of us, clearly not a rabbit or squirrel … our best guess was a stoat.

Mr Hg137, a sunken lane about to find the cache


We arrived at the now-deserted village of Hartley Mauditt to find three caches close to the Church (including our third Church Micro of the day).

Hartley Mauditt Church

Hartley Mauditt, was once a village with a manor church dating back to the Norman Conquest. The manor survived several centuries until the owner, who preferred living in London, pulled down the manor so his wife (who preferred living in the manor) would stay with him in London. The church remains, and is open a few months each year – though during our visit it was closed for renovation. We collected the numbers for the final hiding place of the Church Micro and walked to GZ. A roadside verge deep with 5 feet nettles. Somewhere in the nettlebed was a stump hiding the cache. We gave the nettles a few minutes, and a few swishes of our geopole. Another DNF. (That’s 3 Church Micros attempted, 2 DNFs and 1 we shouldn’t have found as the graveyard had prohibited access!)

The other caches around the Church were easier to find and before we left Hartley Mauditt we paused by the large pond (again dating back to 1066) for some refreshment. We were spotted by a duck (possibly an Indian Runner duck) who wanted to help us eat our sandwiches. It didn’t succeed.

Our break gave us time to check out the details for the next cache. We were grateful we did as the next two caches were only accessible from a footpath and not the roadside. We soon discovered why… the road was a twisty, narrow gorge but the footpath took a more relaxed route. Both caches were hanging ‘above the road’ so we didn’t dare drop them!

“Gorge Road”


After the road gorge had finished we had a short walk along the road before we entered woodland. This was unexpected as the earlier part of the walk had been around farmland. We were on the Hangars Way, a long distance footpath from Alton to Queen Elizabeth Park.

Our route took us on good tracks through woodland until unexpectedly it took a diversion to a much narrower path. This path went round a delightful pond. We saw waterlilies, a coot, several carp anxiously waiting for the many dragonflies to come too close to the water. A beautiful, tranquil spot in a forest.

In wasn’t though. As distant barking could be heard. As we walked on, we discovered why. A young shepherding couple were worming sheep, and their dog, which was tethered to a landrover, wanted to help!

We watched from afar after finding another cache, before continuing through the forest to an easy find behind an oak. There were a junction of footpaths at the tree, and it was here we took our last diversion of the day. Our caching trail was in one of the Northernmost sections of the South Downs National Park, and throughout the Park 30 caches have been placed by the South Downs Authority. We had found a few on our South Downs Way walk last year, and took the opportunity to add another SDA cache to the list. It was though a half mile walk to the cache (and a half mile back). Fortunately an easy find!

Back at the oak tree, we remembered the trouble with starting a walk at the top of a hill. There’s normally an ascent at the end of the day ! We climbed slowly at first through fields (passing another pond), then steeply through woodland, pausing only for breath and to find our last few caches. Somehow we found all the ‘View the Land’ series and all the bonus numbers too!

Then the ascent got very steep. We expected the bonus to be near to our parked car but it wasn’t. It was higher still. And the cache owner somehow had found the steepest route there ! (Telling you how would give the game away).

The Bonus Cache!


So after 9 miles walking (the route should have just over 5, but we did a couple of extra diversions), we beat the final ascent, and found the bonus cache!

A fine series with some great views. The only caches we didn’t find were Church Micros where the undergrowth and nettles beat us. Definitely a good day out!

Here are a few of the caches we found :

January 4 : Staines-upon-Thames

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

I had requested a route with “not too much mud” for our first caching trip of 2020. I was going off mud after our last few caching trips … Mr Hg137 came up with Staines, about a 30-minute drive away on the western edge of London. (Editor’s note: Staines changed its name from “Staines” to “Staines-upon-Thames” in May 2012, as the local council hoped it would boost the local economy by promoting its riverside location. Staines-upon-Thames day is celebrated each year on the last Sunday in June)

We’d walked through here before, in September 2015 when we were walking/caching the Thames Path, but new caches had sprung up since then, so we had a selection of new things to look for.

Staines Methodist Church

Staines Methodist Church


We parked close to the river and the bridge, amongst the caches we planned to find. Our first target was a Church Micro based on Staines Methodist Church, a modern church visible from where we had parked. We collected some numbers from a foundation stone (I’d say from an earlier incarnation of the church) and used them to work out the coordinates for the final cache. That led us away from the park and the river, not far but into a more urban area, and we located the cache tucked behind one of the many metal items in the area.

Next was Staines Bridge, not strictly the next nearest cache, but it was on our way to do a minor bit of shopping in the adjacent superstore. We crossed the bridge and were soon standing within a few feet of the cache. Where was it? Our first search yielded nothing. We read logs from other cachers. Aha! Bridges have more than one level – road level – river level – steps – under the bridge – and we hadn’t tried all of them. We tried several different heights, all within a few feet of the target according to the GPS, and struck lucky at about the third attempt.
The London Stone

The London Stone



Cache found, minor shopping done, we re-crossed the bridge and returned to the riverside and our next multicache, the London Stone https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Stone_(riparian)#Staines It’s one of several stones that mark the boundary of water rights between London and elsewhere, and also where the River Colne reaches the River Thames. The information we wanted was about the history of the stone. The lettering on the stone was very faded and we despaired. But nearby was a noticeboard – aha! – and we had the answers we wanted to generate the coordinates. We walked down the riverside, passing the geocar and dropping off our minor shopping, to find the cache a little way further on along the towpath.
Coal Post #87

Coal Post #87


Next up was a Coal Post, yet another post marking a point where taxes could be levied https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Stone_(riparian)#Staines The coal post was spotted quite easily – it’s not small! – and we were just surveying it when a passing muggle stopped to give us a potted history of the immediate area, including where the coal boats moored, the original name of the Mercure Hotel over the road (once The Packhorse, where loads were transferred and taxed) and all sorts of other interesting stuff. We thanked her – it’s good that people do care about their surroundings and do take the time to pass on the information to others. (Editor’s note: for those who are nerdy about these things, this post, No 87, is a Type 4 post, which is a stone or cast-iron obelisk, about 4.5 metres high, found beside railways.). The post was nestled between the railway line and an empty building looked after by property guardians. These are people who live in empty (often commercial) buildings for low rents in return for keeping an eye on the property https://liveinguardians.com/blog/170/the-ins-and-outs-of-being-a-property-guardian

We returned to the river and followed the Thames Path downstream. Seats were dotted here and there along the path for those who wanted to sit and watch river life. There was a biting wind, so it was too cold for that, but another cache, Staines by the River, was set close to one of these seats, so we sat on the seat, felt around, and tried to look as if we were relaxing, not freezing. After a bit we still hadn’t found the cache, so turned our attention to the area around the seat, and, after a few more minutes, spotted a tiny little bit of wire that just looked “wrong”. Sure enough, there was a cache on the other end of the piece of wire.
St Peter, Staines-upon-Thames

St Peter, Staines-upon-Thames


We were cold after all that sitting around, so we decided to do one more cache, then head home. Our final target was another Church Micro, based around the imposing brick church of St Peter which overlooks the river. The numbers we needed were easily found, one on a stone set into the church, and the other on a memorial plaque in the ground. We exited through the lychgate onto the towpath and were soon at GZ. And we couldn’t find the cache. We read the hint, applied cacher’s logic (“where would I hide it?”) and still came up with nothing. Mr Hg137 sped back to the church to check the numbers – they were correct – from stones with various dates on them, while I paced hopefully up and down, seeking inspiration but not finding a cache. Mr Hg137 returned and we renewed our search; we re-read the hint; magnetic, it said. We had assumed that it would mean the cache was stuck to some metal object, but a fingertip search revealed a protruding nail … and a cache. Mightily relieved, we signed the log and then had the harder job of replacing the cache so it wouldn’t fall off the nail, and would also be invisible to muggles.

That done, we returned to the nice cosy geocar. We had never been more than half a mile from it at any time, yet we had visited a wide variety of locations around the riverside in Staines, and had seen a good selection of life passing by on the towpath and on the river.

Here are some of the caches we found:

December 28 : Tilford

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Frensham Little Pond

Frensham Little Pond


Tilford is just south of Farnham in Surrey, where the two main branches of the River Wey meet. The Tilford Traipse cache series had been on our to-do list for a little while, but parts of it had been inaccessible (aka flooded) after heavy rain earlier in the month. After a quite dry week we decided it was a good day to go and cache.
Wey Bridge East - somewhere under the scaffolding

Wey Bridge East – somewhere under the scaffolding


Wey Bridge West

Wey Bridge West


The ‘road closed’ signs on all routes to the village were slightly worrying, but the reason was that Wey Bridge East is closed for some months for major maintenance https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks-and-maintenance/our-major-maintenance-projects/repair-of-tilford-east-bridge-on-tilford-street and in the meantime that branch of the river can only be crossed on a temporary footbridge – and that had just reopened after the floods.
Tilford Village Hall

Tilford Village Hall


Before starting the cache series, we walked down to the village green/cricket pitch (the boundaries are VERY short!). A man was out for a run, crossing the green. Was he Sebastian Coe? (we think he lives in Tilford). But no – definitely not him. We wanted to find a Church Micro, another multicache based on the church, and a third multi centred on the large, impressive, Lutyens-designed Village Hall. http://www.tilfordinstitute.co.uk/?page_id=56 After some hiccups with counting the number of chimneys on the Village Hall, we worked out three locations for the final caches and visited the “other” bridge over the Wey, a location on the edge of the village, and a track leading to Hankley Common, used in 2012 as a location for the Bond film Skyfall https://markoconnell.co.uk/a-day-on-the-set-of-skyfalls-titular-lodge-at-hankley-common-surrey-march-2012/

Eventually we set out on the Tilford Traipse. Our route was all to the west of the village, so we weren’t bothered by bridge closures. We set off on a track, soft and damp and sandy, through pine woods and farmland, heading south and west towards Frensham Little Pond. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/frensham-little-pond We were watched by curious cows, somnolent sheep, and perky pigs, and had to jump smartly off the track several times while groups of four or five off-road motorcyclists rushed by (you can hear them coming, it’s not a problem, you just have to be far enough from the track not to get splashed). We crossed a ford, and stopped to watch bikes (pedalled and motorised) and 4x4s negotiate it; all got across safely (well, no-one fell in while we were watching).


We arrived at the car park for Frensham Little Pond and collected the numbers we needed for the single multicache in the series. It wasn’t strictly part of our route, but we walked down to the edge of the lake and ate our festive ham / turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches (yum) on a bench overlooking the water. It’s a pleasant spot and very popular with walkers and especially popular with dogs, who all like to get in the water; they clearly haven’t read the extensive list of “don’ts” on a nearby sign: no camping, swimming, barbecuing, paddling, boating …

Lunch over, we set out on our return leg, looping to the north of our outward route. One of our first tasks was to cross the River Wey at another ford (there’s a bridge) and it was here that we hoped to find the multicache container. Alas, we failed, undone by bottomless, slippy mud; we have since found out that the cache coordinates are approx. 55 feet out, and we normally search a radius of about 40 feet, so we don’t feel so bad about that. Annoyingly, the cache is probably hidden by one of the fence posts visible in the photo below!

River Wey (South Branch)

River Wey (South Branch)


Up a slight slope from the river, we walked through Pierrepont Farm https://www.countrysiderestorationtrust.com/properties/pierrepont-farm/pierrepont-project/ It already has a brewery (yum) https://www.craftbrews.uk/gallery, it will soon have a cheese factory (yum, yum) https://www.cheeseonthewey.co.uk/ and it has information boards everywhere, about all sorts of random things. One of the most interesting was about two horse chestnut trees, grown from seeds collected from the battlefield at Verdun https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdun_tree

Climbing away from the farm, we emerged onto a track across sandy heathland at Tankersford Common. We weren’t expecting this, such a contrast to the woods we had walked through earlier. We heard voices and jingling metal behind us, and stepped off the track yet again as a group (herd?) of about ten horses and riders went by, slowing as they passed, then cantering away into the distance.

We emerged from the heathland onto a narrow, but quite busy road; maybe the traffic flows are all different because a bridge is closed? Stopping in a gateway, we realised that we had found all but two of the Tilford Traipse series, and had amassed enough clues from the series to be able to find the bonus cache. Luckily for us, as the grey day was turning steadily darker, it was very near where we had parked the geocar, so we returned to base and found the cache at the same time.

And, as we removed our muddy boots, some of those off-road motorcyclists were packing up. We asked where they had been, and were told that about 150 of them had converged on Haslemere, from all directions, to have their own Christmas meet of mince pies and coffee. They, and us, had spent an enjoyable post-Christmas day out in the country!

Postscript: after logging the caches, we realised that our all-time total was 2996. The 3000-cache milestone was close. Maybe we could get there by the end of the year?

And here are some of the caches we found:

November 3 : Lightwater

The 2019 Autumn is fast becoming a damp squib, every day seems to have rain forecast, or if not sullen grey skies. Planning a geocaching trip is like playing poker with the weather – and frequently being on the losing side.

Today though we were lucky. We were in Lightwater, a small town in Northern Surrey. It is surrounded by the M3 on one side, a busy dual-carriageway on a second side and a cut-through fast single carriage-way on a third. The fourth side is the edge of MOD Army Ranges. With all these outside influences, we were very surprised how quiet the village is.

We planned on attempting 9 caches, and we parked near the first – a Travel Bug Hotel. We were lucky with our parking, as there were spaces for just 6 cars – we were the fifth – and before we had even left the car two more cars arrived which overfilled the car park.

Most of our route was on pavements but the first half mile or so, was in a bridleway (get the mud out of the way at the beginning). Not unsurprisingly, given the cars in the car park, this bridleway was busy. Dog walkers and toddler walkers all out for a welcome walk in the sunshine. Three dog walkers stood and chatted near to the first cache. We swiftly picked the container from behind a tree and walked on to a side path.

Where have all the dog walkers gone ?


It was a travelbug hotel, but the geocaching website, said there were no trackables inside. This was borne out by an empty large plastic container, marked ‘TBs’ inside the cache. But there was something else in the cache that caught our eye – in fairness we couldn’t miss it. A giant morass of keys! Was this a ‘key cache’ where finders were expected to ‘add a key to the ring’ ? We mused on this for a minute or two, until we noticed that the giant key ring was a trackable!

Cache with keys!


We decided to remove it from the cache and take it on our travels. Unusually we didn’t have a haversack with us, so rather than carry the 1lb key ring on our 3 mile walk, Mr Hg137 returned to the car and left it there.

We continued on the bridlepath, the November sun picking out the Autumn leaf colours. At the far end of the path, there was another cache – part of the National Postcode series. This was cache 89, for the GU18 post area. A quick find, once we saw the hint object, and negotiated a holly tree sapling!

The rest of walk followed a clockwise pavement walk around Lightwater. Our next cache has been marked with a DNF by the previous cacher. We were therefore pleasantly surprised to see the cache in silhouette behind some street furniture yards before arriving at GZ. (We later discovered that the previous cacher had found just 1 cache, so presumably was expecting something more exciting that the magnetic nano).

One of the many copses in Lightwater


Up to now the caches had been easy, but the fourth cache led us a merry dance. Called ‘The Truth is a Lemon Meringue’ it was hidden in one of the many end-of-road corner copses we saw on our walk. The GPS wouldn’t settle and we assumed it would be in the middle of this copse. Fighting our way through branches and rubbish, we couldn’t see the hint item at all (‘Tri-Tree’). Mrs Hg137 left the copse and tried to get an accurate distance and bearing with Mr Hg137 battling his way trying to match Mrs Hg137’s outstretched hand. Still nothing. Then Mr Hg137 saw the tree, on the outside of the copse yards from where Mrs Hg137 was standing ! She managed to retrieve the cache before Mr Hg137 had left the copse! So much for believing it would be hidden deep in the woods!

We were deep in Lightwater’s housing estates now, and the bright Sunday morning had brought several people out busying themselves in their gardens. A surprising number were cutting and trimming trees and hedges.

Our next cache was in a tree – or so we thought. ‘Ivy covered tree’ as the hint, and two trees to search (one each). We groaned. Ivy hides are hard. Mr Hg137 got lucky as the cache was hidden not in the ivy, but close to his tree. Inside … our second trackable of the day – a Lego Man! Considerably smaller than the trackable keys, so we were able to place in a pocket.

Lightwater is criss-crossed by streams


We had a long-ish walk to the centre of the town. Or should that be village ? Because Lightwater has a beautiful village sign (number 1493 in the National Series). Nearby were two seats, and our next cache was under one of them. This should have taken no time at all, but somehow it took two circuits of the seats to find the cache!

All Saints Church, Lightwater


Our only failure of the day was at the nearby All Saints Church. Unusually for a cache in the Church Micro series, it was a standard cache, rather than a multi based on service times or gravestone dates. Yet, we couldn’t find the cache. We read that this cache does have a chequered history as it seems to got missing more often than it is available to be found. It has been replaced twice in the last 2 months ! Reluctantly we moved on to our final caches of the day.

As we did so, we noted that the brilliant sunshine of earlier had been replaced by ever-darkening clouds. Fortunately we were headed towards our car. Our penultimate cache was in another roadside copse. Lots of trees, and a familiar story, of taking far too long to find the tell-tale ‘stickoflage’. It was so well hidden Mr Hg137 stood within a yard of the cache and didn’t notice it!

Cache containing 3 Trackables


A pleasant surprise awaited us … there were three trackables inside. We had found 7 caches, and 5 trackables. What a haul!

The imminent threat of rain had eased slightly but even so we hurried to our last find of the morning – this time hidden behind a road sign. In fact it was so well wedged in the roadsign, Mrs Hg137 used her trusty penknife to release it, and remove the log from the tiny container.

A short walk back the car, laden with trackables, and we drove off. Not a moment too soon as raindrops appeared on the windscreen as we reached the centre of Lightwater. We looked at Village Sign one last time, and noticed by the roadside, waiting to cross the road, in broad daylight was a fox. Great to see …and so unusual to see in the middle of the day. A fantastic end to a morning’s caching in Lightwater.

Some of the caches we found :

October 19: Sonning

Sonning is a small picturesque town by the River Thames.

The River Thames, near Sonning

A delightful church, olde-worlde cottages, shops and narrow streets. But it has one serious drawback. Its bridge. There is a bridge at Sonning over the River Thames, a narrow, single-carriageway, traffic-light-controlled bridge. As a result this beautiful village is choked with traffic trying to cross the river.

Picturesque Cottages


Unusual Street Furniture

Sonning also has a collection of caches and our intention was to find as many as we could. Many though were multis with several stages. The multis criss-crossed the town, so we would have to be exceedingly careful to record information as we went. (We remembered a bad day in Chester about 18 months ago, when we circumnavigated the City twice as we got thoroughly confused by the City Centre caches). We would be better prepared today. Each multi was printed out on its own separate sheet of paper; we had reviewed the ‘broad’ route the waypoints took so we knew when to stop one multi and start another.

Sonning does have some standard caches too (a series called ‘Swanning around Sonning’). Within minutes of parking the car we had found Swanning around Sonning #1, a lovely little cache hidden in plain view, and easily accessible by cachers and non-cachers alike.

An easy start, before we embarked on the first of the multis – Sonning Village Trail – a 12 stage multi.
At first the questions were simple as we counted reflectors, ‘pins’ and ascertained that Green Cottage isn’t green!

St Andrew’s Church, Sonning


As we approached the rear of the churchyard, we started the multi connected with the Church Micro. Here we had to find two memorial stones, extract some dates and also find the time of one of the Church Services. Relatively straightforward to calculate the final cache destination – once we realised we had entered the churchyard by a different gate from one we had planned ! The final was some way off, so we filed the Church Micro as ‘Calculated but not Found’.

Before we could continue with the 12 part multi, we found a Victorian Post Box. This was the start of another multi (and a series we were unfamiliar with). We peered at the letter box, extracting key information and soon we added the coordinates to the ‘Calculated but not Found’ pile.

Victorian Post Box


We were heading closer to the river, and the notorious bridge crossing. The roads were becoming more and more clogged and the stages in the 12 part town trail were becoming harder to spot. Spot them we did, including a blue plaque commemorating Terence Rattigan. We were lucky here, as a high-ish wall impeded the sight line to the plaque, but as we approached the property a gentleman left through a large gate and we could see the plaque quite clearly. We chatted with the gentleman (well, we had too, as we were peering far too indiscreetly over his shoulder), and discovered the property was owned by a famous, international celebrity. Opposite we were advised the property was owned by a well known Rock Musician. Sadly we saw neither of these famous celebrities on our travels.

The next waypoint involved a third well known public figure, Theresa May (she too lives in the village). Here, we were misled by the question ‘when did she turn on the lights?’ – expecting to find a plaque stating when she turned on the Christmas lights. However the lights she turned on, were far less ephemeral !

By now we were by the river. We had found one cache early on, 9 stages of a 12 stage multi and calculated the final coordinates for two other caches. We saw a seat on the South Eastern bank and sat there and drank some welcome coffee as we collated our notes. We discovered we were at the start of yet another multi, part of the Counting Vowels series.

The waypoints in this series, take you to noticeboards, plaques, memorials, and you count each of vowels, so that as you have reach the last waypoint you have a cumulative value for A, E, I, O and U.

Lots of vowels to count here…


… and here too – but don’t look at the sign!

Feeling refreshed from our coffee we started this 5 stage multi. A peaceful walk along the riverbank taking us further and further away from the traffic choked approach to Sonning Bridge. As we progressed the path became a bit more muddy, and a bit more slippery – we were grateful for our walking boots. We were a little surprised to discovered that the final co-ordinates we yet further on, as typically having found the last waypoint, we were expecting to turn round and head back from whence we had come. Instead a quick find further away from Sonning.

As we were walking back, we got a good bearing on where the solved Church Micro and Victorian Post Box were. We headed off in that direction but on our way we got very lucky.

A rare boat braves the Thames


Back in 2015 we walked the Thames Path and passed through Sonning during the July of that year. One of the caches we failed to find was hidden behind a noticeboard near the river. We were about to pass that same noticeboard on route to the two multi-finals. We hadn’t loaded this ‘unfound’ cache into our GPS, but we both thought we ought to give the noticeboard host a quick scan… and there was the cache! A brand new log too! Was this a brand new cache we had accidentally become the first-to-find ? Sadly no. We discovered on our return home, that the cache was disabled, as the previous cache had gone missing. A recent cacher (undertaking much the same route as we were taking), had noticed the cache was missing, and knowing who he thought the cache owner was, replaced a cache for him. Sadly the cache owner had changed so a relative stranger now has a new cache placed for them! And of course we got an unexpected find!

A new log, but sadly only a replacement cache


In our excitement of finding a cache we hadn’t even loaded into our GPS, we almost forgot about the two multis we had come to find. Both took a bit a bit of finding, as they we well hidden with differing types of camouflage!

We headed back to Sonning Bridge, the air was full of the Saturday lunch being cooked at The Mill Theatre (Roast Beef, Roast Chicken and some kind of fish).

The Mill at Sonning, Theatre and Restaurant Venue


As the day was going so well we decided to undertake another multi, another Victorian Post Box – this time in a very small village of Sonning Eye. Of all the multis we undertook, this was the quickest. A quick review of the postbox (counting vowels to generate the co-ordinates for the second time today) and a quick walk to GZ. We were grateful for two pairs of eyes for the vowel counting as it took some time for us to both agree the total for E and I !

Back over the river to complete the 12 stage multi, our only remaining unsolved multi of the day. We had to collect more dates – one connected with the adjacent Blue Coat school, the others at Sonning Lock.

Sonning Lock


Here we were lucky enough to see two boats passing through. We sat and performed the calculation for the final coordinates. Unsurprisingly it was back along the river, closer to the Bridge. We filed the coordinates, as we had two, simple, caches to find. Swanning Around Sonning #3 and #4.

We didn’t find #3. Apparently it was a ‘stick cache’ hidden at ground level behind some railings. We searched for some time, and noticed that the previous three cachers hadn’t found it either. Our search was hampered as GZ was a ‘turnround spot’ for a running race. We discovered afterwards, it was wasn’t a distance race, but an endurance race organised by Saturn Running. Runners were undertaking a 7 Hour event, running presumably from Reading to Sonning numerous times in a 7 hour period. No wonder they looked exhausted.

Swanning around Sonning #4 was a lengthy find (coordinates were slightly off) and then back to the lock and to find the final for the Sonning Village Trail. We had several large trees to search, and eventually found the cache in the third one! Phew ! All 5 multis undertaken, and all found successfully !

We had one last cache to find, Swanning around Sonning #2 – close to our car. A tricky find, but a great finish to quite a complicated day !

Caches we found :




August 26 : Peak District : Dovedale and Tissington

Thorpe Cloud

We were having a week’s walking holiday staying with HF Holidays at their hotel near the River Dove. Every day we were on led walks, ranging from 6-13 miles. We have discovered, over the years, it is very difficult to find caches on these walks, as by the time we have searched for a cache, opened it, extracted the log, and replaced it, the group has walked some distance ahead.

Instead, on the day off from walking – the very hot Bank Holiday Monday – we went out to find a few caches.

Our first cache was the Earthcache at the top of Thorpe Cloud. Thorpe Cloud is 942ft high, but fortunately for us we didn’t have to climb all the way, as the HF Holidays Hotel had a back gate which led to a path halfway up the hill.

Mr Hg137 at the top of Thorpe Cloud

So immediately after breakfast we set off and climbed it fairly quickly. At the top we had to collect various pieces of information and take photos as proof we were there. Normally this is a straightforward exercise, but today, was ‘flying ant day’. The top was swarming with insects. Our white hats quickly turned black as insect upon insect decided we were a good place to land. Somehow we took the measurements, but the optional tasks of fossil hunting was far, far too arduous with the heat and the insects.

We descended the Cloud, taking a longer, and possibly less steep, route down arriving at a tourist hot-spot – the Dovedale Stepping Stones. The River Dove marks the boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Most people park in Staffordshire, walk a short distance to the stones, cross the river, and picnic in Derbyshire.

Stepping Stones over the River Dove


We waited ages for a gap to cross against the tourist flow. On the Staffordshire side, a cache called ‘Ye Olde Bung Hole’ awaited. It was hidden 60 feet up a steep grassy bank, in the roots of a hawthorn. Sadly we couldn’t find it. So our waiting at the Stepping Stones was in vain…and we had to do it all over again to get back into Derbyshire.

Somehow the morning had disappeared, and we retreated to the cool of our hotel for an early lunch. Suitably refreshed, we drove a couple of miles to another tourist hotspot, Tissington.

Tissington Hall and Gardens


Tissington is a small village, with a church, pond and grand Hall. The village is ‘owned’ by the hall, and all the inhabitants of the tied cottages are interviewed by the Hall owners who check for them suitability before they move in. Tissington has 4 caches within its boundary, but our initial focus was the Hall and its Garden.

Normally these are not open to the public, but today they were. We decided to just see the Garden, as it meant we could admire the flowers, find some shade, admire more flowers, find more shade..etc at our own pace.

The roses, considering it was late August, were spectacular. Dahlias jostled for attention too.

After a while we ventured back out into the blazing afternoon’s heat to find some caches.

The first, part of the Church Micro series, was hidden someway from the Church. Unusually we couldn’t see the Church from the cache site. A relatively quick find, though one had to be looking at just the right angle to see the cache behind its stinging nettle guard.

Hall Well, Tissington


Tissington is famous for its Well Dressings (it has at least 7 wells, all of which are ‘dressed’ during Ascension week in May/June). Tens of thousands of people visit the village that week, far fewer were there today. This meant our exit away from the village, over a cattle grid, went unnoticed. No-one saw us pick up the stone, hiding the cache and signing the log. This would be far harder to do during Well Dressing Week.

By now the heat of the day had broken us. Although Tissington still had two hidden caches, we were exhausted. We decided to head back to the Hotel to chill. We hadn’t walked far – but the blistering heat had beaten us.


August 2 : South Downs Way : Southease to Alfriston

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Five weeks had passed since we last walked the South Downs Way, and much had happened in that time. Early summer had turned to harvest-time: the freshly-shorn sheep had regrown their fleeces; we had replaced our trusty old GPS, which fell to pieces in our hands as we finished that last walk; we visited London for some caching along the Thames and a visit to the Globe Theatre; we spent a weekend in Cardiff with lots and lots of caching; and we had fitted in a few caches elsewhere too.

Back to the South Downs Way: we parked the geocar in the road next to the Youth Hostel https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-south-downs , and set off to the footbridge which crosses the busy A26 . There’s a cache here, Itford Bridge, easy enough to find once you had walked to the closest point suggested by the GPS , in the middle of the bridge deck, and that sort of suggested that the cache was below, which it was.

After that, there’s 150 metres of ascent, zigzagging up the hill, with views back along the crest of the downs towards Chanctonbury Ring, and out to sea past Newhaven towards Brighton. Very near the top of the hill we arrived at our next cache, ERB. We could see paragliders ahead, and, closer by, a young lady wandering about on the grass taking selfies with various expansive backgrounds, but quite close to where we wanted to search. Luckily, she was concentrating so hard on her photos that she didn’t notice us … Mrs Hg137 delved into the hint item, removed some camouflage, and came out, slightly scratched, with the cache. Once signed, it was replaced by Mr Hg137 – and we still hadn’t been spotted! And why the name for the cache, “ERB”?

"ERB"

“ERB”


Here’s an extract from the cache description:
“ERB”
Ernest Ronald Beale was born 2nd December 1939 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. He passed away on 27th October 2014. … He loved the Downs, especially Firle Beacon, and this is one of his final resting places, what a view!

We skirted round a flock of sheep ...

We skirted round a flock of sheep …


Reaching the ridge, we passed the telecommunications masts on Beddingham Hill, and skirted the sheep who like the smallest amounts of shade cast by the towers and fences. There is very little shade and shelter up here, so those sheep must have been so, so hot during the recent heatwave! This section of the South Downs Way is one of the most open (bleak? bare?) of the whole 100-mile route, with no trees at all along the ridge between Southease and Alfriston, only a few hawthorn bushes.

We arrived at the ridge-top car park near Firle Beacon, where paragliders were taking off and landing, radio-controlled gliders were being flown, and real gliders soared overhead. There’s another cache near here, also the final locations of another two puzzle caches. We were successful with two of those, but the third was overwhelmed by nettles and brambles while the farmer was harvesting grain in a field not very far away. We felt exposed and a bit uncomfortable (having read logs about the farmer turning others away) so we gave up after a while and went on our way.
A Marvellous Place To Sit - for lunch!

A Marvellous Place To Sit – for lunch!


We circumnavigated a herd of cows crowded together on the path, giving them plenty of room (much more room than the sheep!), and gradually climbed up the ridge to the trig point at 217m at the summit of Firle Beacon. (Editor’s note: Firle Beacon is a Marilyn – “a hill of any height with a drop of 150 metres (nearly 500 ft) or more on all sides”, so it is relatively high compared to its surroundings)
... and we skirted round a herd of cows ...

… and we skirted round a herd of cows …


Like the car park, the trig point is a popular place, with folk queueing up to stand on the trig point, touch the trig point, admire the view from the trig point … we, too, touched the trig point (you have to, don’t you?) We sat down on the grass, had a cup of coffee, and waited for all those people to go away, because there was a cache concealed *in* the trig point and we needed to be unobserved while we found it. And find it we did; it was a cache from the SDGT (South Downs Geo Tour) series, placed by the National Park rangers. We’ve done a few of these caches in our walk and all of them have been inventively and unusually hidden and well worth finding. See more about the Tour here https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/enjoy/geocaching/
... and finally we skirted round some ponies

… and finally we skirted round some ponies


From here it was an airy walk along the treeless, open ridge, gradually turning south, with views towards the Seven Sisters, the final leg of the South Downs Way. We skirted a herd of ponies, grazing on the path – there seemed to be herds of all sorts of farm creatures in our way today! After a couple of miles, we reached the edge of the village of Alfriston. We took a diversion from the South Downs Way to find a cache, Alfriston Wander, which is down a chalky track into the village. But for us, there was a problem: there were two parallel chalky tracks: which one to choose? Reader, we inevitably chose the wrong one, and had an undignified scramble between chalky tracks, when Mr Hg137 pulled me up by my rucksack and I fell flat on my face, followed by a rootle around various fence posts before we found the correct place for the hidden cache.
Clergy House. Alfriston

Clergy House. Alfriston


We went back up the (other) chalky track, then followed the South Downs Way down a surfaced track into the village. We were quickly away from the bare downs and amongst houses, and then in the old centre of the village, filled with people. We crossed the main street, walked down an alley, and arrived at a green edged by the Clergy House, the first property ever bought by the National Trust https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/alfriston-clergy-house/features/history-of-alfriston-clergy-house
St Andrew's church, Alfriston

St Andrew’s church, Alfriston


The church is here, too, and we had come here to find the Church Micro based there. We examined a noticeboard, a gravestone in the churchyard, and had our coordinates. We stepped round the shingles being used to retile (re-shingle?) the spire – FYI, they work up from the bottom. It was not far to the final cache location, still in sight of the church; once there, there were several possibilities. Mr Hg137 went for feeling inside each location, while Mrs Hg137 opted for peering into each place, which worked because the cache was tucked back just over a finger-length from the opening. From there, it was a short walk back to the car park to retrieve the other geocar and make our way home.

Here are some of the caches we found:

June 28 : South Downs Way : A27 to Southease

In which we cross into the Eastern Hemisphere and say goodbye to a dear friend…

Where East Meets West

Today’s section of the South Downs Way would take us from the A27, heading predominantly south-eastwards to the small village/hamlet at Southease. As the crow flies, a journey of just over 4 miles, but unusually for the South Downs Way, today’s route wasn’t straight. Instead it meandered sinuously, so that our journey length would be closer to 7 miles.

A smattering of caches awaited us, a long walk to the first, then a few together, another one or two caches with long gaps before another cluster at Southease.

Our walk started by heading West (!), adjacent to the busy A27, over a noisy footbridge before walking East alongside the A27 by the opposite carriageway. After 20 minutes we were level with the geocar, separated by only a fast dual carriageway. We continued on, and then under the Lewes-Brighton railway line where we then turned South-Westwards, crossing an imaginary (North-South) line emanating from our car for a second time.

Watch out for Trains!

Here the going got harder as we were slowly climbing through a tree-covered track, which shielded us from the mid-morning heat. We enjoyed the comfort of the shade, as we knew for the rest of the day we would be on the bare, shadeless tops of the South Downs.

Having left our wooded track, we emerged onto the grassy chalk slope we had come to expect, and climbed, steeper now, towards the first cache. The views across the valley were wonderful with green/brown farming crops being interspersed with colourful mid-summer wildflowers.


Our first cache, about halfway up the hill was secreted in the lower bole of a hawthorn bush. It wasn’t that well hidden but,because of the nature of the bush, it was only visible from a certain angle. As we retrieved the 12-year old cache, the contents spilled to the ground – the clip-lock container only had one working clip! Good job no-one walked by as we retrieved the cache contents from the ground.

The second cache was in a small patch of woodland, called Newmarket Plantation. Approaching uphill (as we were), the plantation was fully fenced off, so we assumed the cache would be on the plantation perimeter, and easily accessible. No! No! No! We searched the fence line, tree-by-tree, for likely places, all to no avail. The GPS signal consistently stating that we were 20 feet away.

Only after a few more minutes of fruitless searching did we notice a gate much further on, and entered the woodland. An easy find, once we were in the wood, just ages to get in!

Who lives here ?

Two other objects were spotted in the wood, a huge bird box (presumably intended for some bird of prey), and a memorial to a loved one. It had been recently visited judging from the state of the flowers left behind. It is not an easy walk to visit this woodland, so this plantation must have meant something special.

We had passed no-one on the walk to date, but before we reached the next cache, the path was busy with two groups of walkers, and a cyclist. We looked back at the plantation, to see if a cacher were amongst them, but no-one re-entered the plantation after us.

Distant View of the Amex Stadium

As the path made yet another large meander we went by a ‘wind pump’. The noisy wind turbine, placed by Southern Gas, is used to power some of their nearby pipework. Close by, well-protected by a thistle guard of honour was our third cache. As we left GZ, we were still only a mile South of the car, but we had been walking for 90 minutes, meandering to and fro ever upwards.

Wind Turbine


Our next attempted find, was a multi – based on one of three dewponds we were to pass. The multi required us to count wooden posts (surrounding the pond) and uprights at a gate entrance. Being a multi, we did not know where the final was, and we didn’t want to walk too far off route (or back on ourselves) to locate the final. We had seen pictures that the cache was in hawthorn bushes. Rather than walk to the multi, and count posts and uprights, we looked, quite intensely, at every hawthorn bush and thicket we went by. Sadly no cache was visible.

When we did arrive at the dewpond with the posts to count, we failed miserably in our counting! The dewpond was surrounded by well over 50 posts, many so overgrown with vegetation that we had to speculate on whether there was a post present. The gate uprights were damaged, and it was impossible to tell what was a gate, and what was an upright. We guessed at a few numbers, which luckily enough took us close to another large hawthorn thicket. We gave it a quick search, but as much of the calculation had been undertaken with guesswork, we decided not to linger too long.

Ahead a large party of walkers gathered. Where had they come from ? We checked the map, and realised a number of paths crossed the South Downs Way, all within an easy walk from Lewes. We speculated on their route as the party disappeared almost as quickly as they appeared minutes before.

Kingston near Lewes (foreground), Lewes (background)


Then a group of charity walkers went by – they had walked from Eastbourne (about 20+ miles away, and still had 10 to get to Brighton). The heat of the day combined with their 6:30 am start meant they were very tired indeed!

The path was stony, and flinty underfoot, which impeded Mrs Hg137’s still slightly injured leg. So, the next cache, just off the South Downs Way, Mr Hg137 undertook alone. Apparently the cache was near another dewpond, but the dense vegetation, including 3 foot high stinging nettles at Ground Zero, meant the pond was invisible.

The path was downhill for the rest of the day, much of it down a long, gently sloping concrete farmer’s track. The going was easy, but the Sun’s heat reflected back from the concrete make it unpleasant to walk along. Our spirits were lifted by the sight of the Seven Sisters in the distance, the end of the South Downs Way.

A long way down…but in the far distance our final destination, the Seven Sisters!


We were aiming for a key point on the walk.

Crossing the East-West Meridian!

When we walked the South Downs Way back in 2011, we didn’t have a GPS and ‘mutually agreed’ when we travelled from Western Hemisphere to the Eastern. Today, armed with a GPS we realised we were about half a mile out all those years ago. There is a cache placed exactly on the meridian line, which is more than can be said for a large cairn and plaque 60 feet away from the line!

Meridian Cache

The Eastern Hemisphere was not kind to our caching trip. Firstly a final zigzag of the day, circumnavigating a farmer’s field, and a herd of cows just close enough to a gate to cause us concern …

Poppies on the way to Southease

… and then the GPS wobbled and died.

Southease had three caches, and our technology failed us at the key moment.

For some, inexplicable reason, the GPS turned itself off when we attempted the Southease Church Micro multi. We did have the questions written down, so we could derive the final co-ordinates and the GPS behaved enough to guide us to a plausible GZ. But whenever we looked at the hint, or cache logs, the GPS turned itself off. Sadly we couldn’t find the cache without these aids. We each searched twice, while the other sat on a nearby seat, swallowing water from a handy water tap. As we searched a car drew up, and two ladies entered the church. We followed after some minutes and discovered that they were visiting every ‘old’ (pre-Victorian) church in East Sussex. Southease Church must be one of the oldest as it can be dated back to the 12th Century.

Southease Church


Wall Paintings inside the Church

We walked away from the Church, annoyed at our DNF, and then, in trying to set the GPS for our final caches, the back button broke! The plastic button came away from the GPS! We had the compass pointing at the next GZ, but we couldn’t do anything else.

Southease Swing Bridge


We arrived at GZ, and had a good look around. The cache was set by the South Downs Authority, near to a swing bridge over the River Ouse, and we were expecting a large container (as the other SDA caches have been). Sadly, the container had been lost, and replaced by something, much, much smaller, which we only found out when we re-checked the cache description at home!

We finished the walk, by ignoring the cache placed the station (we had no idea where it was !) and walking exhaustedly and dejectedly to our destination car.

Our GPS, bought back in 2012 to celebrate a key birthday of Mr Hg137, had died.
The GPS we had used to attempt over 3500 caches and waypoints had broken.
At least it failed at the end of the walk, rather than at the beginning so we got a good day’s caching on its final outing.
We had lost a great friend, one which had guided us through many travels (and all of this blog) from Edinburgh, to Blackpool, Chester, the Isle of Wight, the River Thames, Three Different Sandhursts and much, much more.

Thanks for the fun Etrex 10, you’ve been a great friend.

Here are some of the last caches you helped us find on your final day with us :

June 22 : Mattingley

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.


Today was a day off from walking the South Downs Way; it was the local gardening summer show, and we needed to stage our entries in the morning (photos, plus one token flower), then to return, late afternoon, to collect our winnings (we hoped). It was a glorious sunny summer’s day and we decided on a short, local caching trip to fill in the space in between.

There are lots of newish caches north of Hartley Wintney and Hook, which can be divided up into several circuits. We chose a set of fifteen caches starting and finishing at Mattingley church, looping out north and west to Hound Green. We parked outside the church, as it seemed to be the best (only) place to park in the whole village. Our first cache was the nearby Church Micro. The church is an interesting wooden-beamed, herringbone-bricked structure, which seems, Tardis-like, to be much bigger on the inside than on the outside. The clues to the actual cache can be answered by looking around in the churchyard and the final cache container is a short walk away under the gaze of many curious cows, both large and small.

Mattingley church

Mattingley church


Our next cache was a short walk along a lane, hidden behind a bus shelter. But not simply a bus stop, and not something we have seen elsewhere … it is also a war memorial, and some of the names mentioned in this shelter are the same as those also commemorated inside the church. https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/190775


Our walk continued with a short, noisy walk, and not much fun along the B3349, and we were very glad to leave the road and turn up a track, with another cache to mark the exit from the road. The track became a path, the path became narrower, and overgrown with brambles and head high nettles. We arrived at a broken stile and clambered over it with various amounts of elegance and grace (it was a bit high for me, so I managed neither!) And then we realised that the way to find the next cache was to balance on the top rail of the broken stile and reach far, far up. Mr Hg137 tried this – he is taller than me – but all the reaching and searching didn’t find us the cache. Our only failure of the day, as it happened ☹

Spot the stile!  In the middle of the 'path'!

Spot the stile! In the middle of the ‘path’!


We bushwhacked our way along, and the vegetation got less as we entered some woods. (Phew, it would have been very hard work if it had been like that last bit all the way round the route!) We found several more caches, swapped a trackable, and were just leaving the last of these when we espied a walker coming from the opposite direction. He asked if we were geocachers. It was pretty obvious that we were, so we fessed up. And, from the map he was carrying, it was also obvious that he was a cacher, too. Nice to meet you, Uncle E! It’s a while since we’ve bumped into any cachers except at meets. We swapped tales about the route, then went our way, leaving him to tackle the nettles and brambles.

Emerging onto a minor road at Hound Green, we admired the village noticeboard. A little way along a quiet lane, another cache marked the place where we were to turn back into the fields. We walked through head high barley, so much softer than stingers and thorns, then reached the edge of a cool, dark wood and plunged in, looking for yet another cache. Uncle E did not find this cache and we made very hard work of it, too. We left the path to search in the woods much too early, while we SHOULD have continued along the path till we were as close as possible before diving in. Every single tree looked alike, and had a pile of sticks at the base, but we got as close as the GPS would let us, then eventually found the cache under some weeny stickoflage. But we found it!

At the other end of the wood was another cache, much more easily found, then on, around field edges, towards a farm (a clue may have been the cache name – ‘farm view’ !). It was obvious where we were intended to go as there were ‘Private’ and ‘Keep Out’ signs stuck on every other possible turning; previous cache logs have said that the landowner isn’t friendly. On reaching the farm buildings, we were directed round a complex series of kissing gates, stiles, turnings, back and forth, round and round, till we reached the far side of the farm, just a few yards from where we had started. We felt we weren’t wanted here. (Editor’s note: we would have been away from that farm and out of the landowner’s way more quickly if we could simply have walked along the natural line of the path down the farm drive.)


It was now a straight walk of about a mile and a half back to Mattingley, along the edges of fields and across a little stream. The cache names describe it well – ‘Mossy’ – ‘Green Fields’ – Hawthorn Row’. Then we emerged into the lane that led to the church and arrived back at the geocar. We had left one final cache for the day, ‘Mattingley Church’, to provide a point to navigate back to if we had got lost, and it turned out that we had parked almost on top of the cache! The car provided cover while we searched, finding a tiny, tiny container unobtrusively concealed in a tree.

And what of our entries in the show? Our carefully chosen photographs won no prizes; the token flower, picked just before we set out – won its class!

And here are some of the caches and other items we found on our way:

A geocoin:

Wood geocoin

Wood geocoin

And some caches: