September 30 : Popham Perambulation

It had been some weeks since our last all-day geocaching expedition, and with Autumn taking hold, the Popham Perambulation seemed an ideal route to complete before the weather and daylight succumbed to Winter.

Fantastic views around the farmland


Popham is a small village just outside of Basingstoke near to both the M3 and A30. It has an airfield though we only saw one aircraft all day and that was at lunchtime. The Perambulation circuit consists of 16 caches, a bonus cache (based on numbers collected from caches along the way), and also a Church Micro: 18 caches, 5 miles.

The route took us around farmland – we must have gone round at least half a dozen fields, many of which had boundary hedgerows (ideally hiding places!). The route also crossed through several small copses (again ideal caching locations).

While we were on route to cache 1 we were aware of several vehicles driving into the first farm.
What were they going to ?

What is that vehicle doing ?

It was only much later we saw lots of pheasants (doing a good guard job over a cache) and heard guns firing. Then, we realised our route was close to a day’s shoot. Indeed while we were attempting caches 14, 15, and 16 the shooting party were preparing to shoot within yards of where we were looking. Minutes later and we would have been in the firing line! Phew !

The numbers that we needed to find the bonus cache had been placed in various caches on route. We were grateful that the numbers were duplicated in various caches, as we failed to find 4 of the 16 caches! Two of these DNFs were in ivy and after 10-15 minutes searching we gave up at each location. Another of our DNFs had genuinely gone missing and has subsequently been replaced.

Somewhere in the ivy, is a cache. Sadly we didn’t find it!

Many of the caches we found were relatively small and it took us a few cache finds until we found a cache big enough to fit the Schlumpfi trackable inside.

Farewell Schlumpfi!

St James, Woodmancott


The Church Micro was an easy find, as it was out in the open, so we hid it better. Our only disappointment was that the Church was closed, presumably for the following day’s Harvest Festival. The Church did have an unusual way of displaying parish notices!

The Church seats were an ideal place to have lunch, and it was here a light aircraft flew overhead, towing a banner advertising Winchester shopping centre!

After cache 16 we checked the numbers we had found, and discovered more by luck than judgement, our car was parked a few yards from the final hiding place.

Although we didn’t find all the caches which was disappointing, the walk around the chalk farmland around Hampshire was great circuit with some expansive views which we thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the caches we found included :

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September 8 : Shropshire – Craven Arms – the way home

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Our holiday was over. We were going home. Rather than face the traffic jams on the M6, we chose to travel south across country, past Craven Arms and Ludlow, joining the motorway at Worcester, and stopping for caches on the way (obviously!).

Our first two targets were in, or close to, lay-bys on the A49. The first was ‘Treasy Peasy’, and was found … behind a tree. The second was ‘Bush’, and was found … erm … near a bush.

In a tree?

In a tree?


We continued south, reaching Craven Arms, a town named after a pub! Four of the caches here are placed along the main roads which radiate from the centre and are called ‘Craven Arms – Gateway to the Marches’ north / south / east / west – a very neat idea for a cache series. We opted to find ‘north’ and ‘south’ as we passed through.

Close to the southern edge of Craven Arms is the chocolate-box pretty Stokesay Castle http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stokesay-castle We parked in the English Heritage car park and walked a short way along the path into the churchyard of Stokesay Church, which leads to the castle. After a few minutes of gazing at both castle and church, and taking many, many pictures – it is soooo photogenic, we realised that we should desist and should instead look for the Church Micro cache which was close by. After a little more wandering about, we found the cache inside the churchyard, in a yew tree. That was a first for us, as all the other sixty of so Church Micro caches we’ve found elsewhere are outside the boundary of the church.
Stokesay Castle

Stokesay Castle


And that was the end of the caching, and the end of the holiday. We got back into the car and started the long drive home…

And here are two more of the caches we found:

August 6, UK Mega, Devon, Honiton

Throughout our weekend at the Mega we had stayed in a hotel in Honiton, but we hadn’t found a cache in Honiton itself!

Today we would put that right! Honiton is historically famous for knotted lace making and the eight caches we were going to attempt almost had us in knots.

Honiton

Sunday Morning in Honiton

There were three caches within walking distance of the hotel, so we attacked these before driving to the town centre. The first was a Travel Bug Hotel, set just off the A30, next to a real trucker’s stop. Not an official service station, but a couple of vans served food, and another provided a loo stop. Nearby was a pleasant copse, and it was on the edge of this copse that the cache was hidden. Our GPS went wild under the tree cover so a covert detailed search took place. Well, as covert, as we could be, as several people stood outside of their vehicles smoking and supping coffee. Eventually we found the Travel Bug Hotel and in a very well crafted wooden container seemingly part of a tree stump. we dropped off the M&S Wedding trackable that we had in our possession.

We struggled with the next cache (Mad Meany’s Wedding Cache) so much that we decided that after 15 minutes fruitless searching to abandon and go looking for cache 3. Cache 3 (Not Connected) was our easiest Honiton find of the day. It was attached to a lamp post and made to look like some electrical circuitry – excellently hidden in plain sight.

We returned to Mad Meany’s Wedding Cache, and of course found the cache almost immediately. How we missed the magnetic nano on our first pass we still don’t know. Still three caches down… five to go.

It was a Sunday, and Honiton Town Centre was relatively quiet. A few people out buying papers, going to Church, window shopping. Three of our targets in the Town Centre were multis. Regular readers of this blog will know we occasionally fail with multis so this was a big challenge.

Especially as the first multi (Historical Honiton) had 11 (ELEVEN) pieces of information to find. We had to walk up and down Honiton’s High Street and collect numbers and dates from various buildings in the Town Centre.

High Street, Honiton

High Street, Honiton

We learnt that not only is Honiton is famous for lace, but pottery too. There was a Great Fire and William III stayed in the town on his travels. The co-ordinates for multis can sometimes be entered directly into a GPS, but with 11 numbers we resorted to pen and paper. (High tech finding in Honiton!)

Part way through collecting the 11 numbers we needed, we arrived at the start of our second multi (Church Micro 6449 Honiton St Pauls). Here we had to find words on Honiton’s War Memorial, translate the word lengths to numbers and hence to co-ordinates. We discovered that the final was further down the High Street (another sheet of paper) so we continued to collect the Historical Honiton numbers on our way.

Honiton

Multi-cache number 3 starts here!

We were reaching the end of our collection when we reached the start point for our third multi (A Fine Pair #470 Honiton). Here the numbers were calculated from the phone box and to our surprise the final destination was yards from where we were standing. So our first multi found, was the last one we started. (No paper needed! – Hurrah!)

We continued collecting more of the Historical Honiton numbers until we arrived at the final destination for Church Micro. We put away one piece of paper, retrieved another, read our notes for the Church Micro and made an easy find.

Of course we still hadn’t quite got all the co-ordinates for the Historical Honiton and after a few more minutes, we had them all. The final hiding place was 2 miles out of town! So, the now-slightly-ragged piece of paper with our notes was filed away (again).

We had two standard caches to find in Honiton – one near the station (Side Tracked Honiton). Our retrieval of this was made harder as we tried following the compass direction and not the main roads! Eventually we arrived and found the magnetic container.

Then a standard cache with an adventure! Splash & Cache involved us walking into a park, Mr Hg137 lowering himself down a slightly slippery bank into a stream and walking ankle deep along it. Ducking under trees until a small weir was reached.

In the stream, under the trees

Water, water, everywhere…now where’s the cache?

Descending the weir the water was now knee deep, cool but not too fast moving. But where was the cache ? The compass pointed to a upward sloping drainage channel … really up there ?

The drainage channel was slippery but soon the cache was located, head height. Held in with clips, it was difficult to extract and even harder to put back! (The cache had a difficulty rating of 3, and a terrain rating of 3.5)
It probably took 10 minutes to locate the cache, but Mrs Hg137 was getting a wee bit anxious while she waited in the park. A fun adventure for Mr Hg137!

Our drive home from Honiton, was via our last uncollected multi-cache (Historical Honiton). We parked up in a layby, walked 60 yards and grovelled in a hedge for a few minutes. A straightforward find, after a less-than-straightforward morning which had our caching brains tied up in knots!

A final look at Honiton

June 24 : Farley Hill

We have often remarked on this blog that we play Scrabble and that Mr Hg137 gives talks to various clubs and societies. One of these is Sandhurst Horticultural Society of which we are members. Twice a year, as with many such clubs, they hold a flower show. We normally enter something, but rarely trouble the judges.

Show day though is a big time stealer, as by the time one has taken one’s items for show, displayed them, and gone away during the judging hours, and then return later, rarely do we do anything satisfactorily.

Today would be different. We were only entering some photos (our sweet peas, roses, herbs, new potatoes really weren’t that good) so we arrived early, mounted our photos and left to go… geocaching.

Farley hill

The quiet countryside around Farley Hill


We had chosen a series in Farley Hill about 5 miles away. Farley Hill is an odd place – mentioned on maps, has a church and a cricket pitch but very few houses. The rural roads were wide enough for two cars, but there was barely any traffic. A play area with a large grass area was devoid of children. A classic ‘ghost town’.
Farley Hill

Empty Roads


We parked near the play area, and walked to the Church. We had cached in Farley Hill before and as we walked we looked at some nearby woodland remarking that we couldn’t find a cache there … we hoped that we would be more successful this time around.

The now-disused Church (“The Chapel of St John the Evangelist”) was a very simple multi and we discovered we had walked past the cache to get to the Church. Very cunningly hidden in a ….. (sorry you’ve got to find it yourself!). A great start to the day.

The cache series (‘Cache-as-cache-can’) appeared to have been placed in a random order. It wasn’t quite a true circuit, and there were several ‘cul-de-sac’ caches. We completed the caches in the order 8,4.12,5,11,3,7,9,2,6,10 which begs the question where was cache 1 ? (Re-reading the cache description, cache 1 was the Church Micro!)

All the caches were of a high quality. In general the container holding the paper log WAS a film canister, or smaller. However what the cache owner, twinkandco, had done was to attach the film pot to a ‘semi-natural’ object.

We found caches in plastic bricks, in large antler-like branches, attached to half-logs as well as attached to street furniture and gates. One such cache was IN the gate mechanism. A super hide!

The roads were quiet, except of course when we were at a Ground Zero (how does this happen?) On one occasion a horse and three cars went by during a longer-than-average search. We were plagued for about a third of our route by a nearby tannoy system. There was a show-jumping event about 2 miles away, and the loudspeaker system was set to quite LOUD VOLUME!

Farley Hill

Quiet footpath and road


Having completed the cache-as-cache-can series we had three more caches to find. These had been set by cache owner, AmayaTom, who specialises in tree climbs. We were grateful his three caches were all at ground level as our tree climbing skills are almost non-existent!

As we finished the walk cricketers were arriving to start an afternoon’s match, and we settled down to eat our lunch in the still-deserted play area.

We arrived back home in time to log the caches and then discover what prizes we had won in the show. Suffice to say, we maintained our usual standards. Nevertheless a good day’s caching was had!

May 27 : Great Dixter

Our last full day in Hastings dawned… with a thunderstorm. The only rain we’d seen all week.

Fortunately the storm didn’t scupper our plans too much, as we had one place to visit, Great Dixter.

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter is a house and garden, situated in Northiam. Although people do visit the house, the garden is the main visitor attraction. Laid out in the early to mid 20th century by not one, but two garden designer luminaries in Edwin Lutyens and Nathaniel Lloyd. But it was a third garden designer, Nathaniel’s son Christopher, that made the gardens really special. The garden is famous for its long borders, and packed border planting. Christopher took the stance… if there is bare earth.. I can put a plant in it!

We had though to await these delights as the gardens weren’t open until late morning.

So to pass the time we geocached in the villages in the Northiam area.

The early morning rain had made footpaths and undergrowth wet and slippery so we were grateful we had selected some drive-bys. These featured two Church Micros and three ‘Phone an Old Friends’. These latter geocaches were hidden in (becoming redundant, if not obsolete) phone boxes.

We have, in the past, struggled to find caches in phone boxes. Why, we don’t know, but we do not a high find ratio crammed inside a relatively small red phone box. Indeed our first attempt, in the village/hamlet of Clayhill yielded nothing.

Can you see the cacher in the phone box ?

Look what we found in the box!

Fortunately our next two boxes were more fruitful, the caches hidden in exactly the same way, which gave us the impression that the Clayhill cache was missing.

Beckley

Beckley Church

Our two Church Micros were in Beckley and Northiam were both extremely hard to find. Both were hidden in dense undergrowth at a stile, and it took well over 15 minutes to find each one.

Northiam Church

Northiam Church

Church Micro Geocache

All the caches we found were relatively standard film containers..so the bright colours and planting that awaited us at Great Dixter were a fabulous contrast to the nettles and brambles of the caching trip!

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter


Great Dixter

Great Dixter

May 23 : Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd

Our previous day’s caching had been quite long with lots of sightseeing and a double caching trip. We therefore decided to have a more restful day… in the car.

Rye

Rye – Mermaid Street

We would drive to Winchelsea, wander around, grab a couple of caches. Drive to Rye, do likewise. Similarly in Lydd. If time permitted we would even visit Dungeness. And, unusually for us, we more or less, stuck to this plan!

So first stop.. Winchelsea.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Church

Winchelsea lays claim, or so its says on Wikipedia, to being Britain’s smallest town and with only 600 inhabitants, it must be jolly close. The town is now about 4 miles from the sea, but up the 13th century was on the coast. Sadly two very large storm waves destroyed the (old) town, and the new town was rebuilt on a grid system from 1281.
We had three caching targets in the town, the first being a Church Micro. We knew from the description and the hint, it would be on a seat just outside the churchyard. But as we arrived, on both sides of the road there were two long bus-queues of people. Muggle central! We took evasive action by visiting the Church. Unusually more ‘square’ than an oblong cross, but full of beautiful windows and tapestries.

Winchelsea

Spike Milligan’s Grave and (back right) the John Wesley tree

Outside in the churchyard we had two more attractions. The first, the grave of Spike Milligan, which we only found by asking a churchwarden. (Interestingly the famous quote on his grave… “I told you I was ill”, is almost an urban myth. Yes, it does include the text, but it is written Gaelic, as the Church wouldn’t allow it in English!.) The other attraction was a tree planted to commemorate John Wesley’s last outdoor sermon in 1790. Sadly the tree was uprooted in the 1920s but another now stands in its place.

The queues had gone, so we headed out of the churchyard, passing a large group of German hikers as we left.

We wandered to GZ, a seat, and as we were about to search we were aware that three of the German party were ‘looking for something’ the other side of the churchyard wall.

Was it Spike Milligan’s grave? No.
Was it John Wesley’s tree ? No.

They were cachers. Or at least one of the was. We quickly signed the log, and re-hid the cache for her to ‘re-find’ it, before rejoining her party. Nice meeting you Schatzhasi!

So a cache that should have taken 5 minutes, somehow had stretched to 30 minutes…

We decided to omit our second Winchelsea target cache, as the pavement away from the town disappeared and we didn’t fancy the road walk. So instead we drove to Winchelsea station (some way from the town), and did a quick cache and dash! Or should have been! Two workmen were busy nearby, so some stealth and diversionary activity was called for. Log signed, we drove to Rye.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Station

Winchelsea had been busy, in a ‘quiet busy’ sort of way. Many people, but everyone going about their business.

Rye, though, was completely different. It was heaving. Rye residents shopping, tourists walking around (we counted at least 8 50 seater coaches), and a plethora of car parks for tourists like us. Rye is only a small town (population 5000), but somehow manages to squeeze 8 caches within its town centre. All the caches were film canisters, but most led us to places of interest. (The one exception being a car park in the centre of town). The remaining caches had been placed near the fishing quarter, a town gate, a church, a tower, a watchbell, a quay, the railway station and a windmill. Rye’s most scenic road, the cobbled Mermaid Street, was devoid of caches but as we were walking down the cobbles, we saw the same group of German walkers we had seen in Winchelsea walking up! Without the caches to guide us around the town, we are fairly certain we would have missed seeing some of Rye’s rich history. All were easy finds apart from one, under a seat, where we had to wait patiently until several people had finished eating their fish and chips on the very seat we wanted to search under!

Rye

Rye – Fishing Quarter

Rye

Rye – Ypres Tower

Rye

Rye – Watchbell

Rye

Rye – Windmill

Rye

Rye – Landgate

All our caches so far had been in Sussex, but our final destination, Lydd, was in Kent.

We drove there, passing Camber Sands Holiday Park, and then some very imposing Army Ranges.

These Ranges straddled the Sussex-Kent county boundary, where a cache had been placed. Sadly nowhere to park a car satisfactorily. So Mrs Hg137 got out to search for the ‘County Boundary’ cache. Mr Hg137 sat parked in the roadside thinking every car was passing just a bit too close, and with only the concrete blocks and barbed wire surrounds of the range to admire – it was definitely not ideal. What wasn’t ideal either was the length of time Mrs HG137 was away…. she searched, and she searched and she searched.. all to no avail. So a wasted 20 minutes all round.

We had two target caches to find in Lydd. One a Church Micro, hidden in a street sign.

Lydd

Lydd Church

The other was at the far end of the village green. Lydd Village Green is huge, well over half a mile long. And we were the wrong side of the half mile!
This was our hardest find of the day, as there no hints, and at GZ was a prominent tree. We searched it at length, before we noticed some nearby park furniture. Success!

Lydd

Lydd- Village Green (part of)

So we had found caches in Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd. We looked at the watch and decided Dungeness was just a bit too far. So instead we drove back to our hotel via (Old) Winchelsea (ie the settlement now actually by the sea). We stopped for our fourth Church Micro of the day (again, far too long a search), before spending a relaxing 15 minutes overlooking the sea.

We were bemused by a line of fishermen standing at the distant shore edge. What were they doing ? Fortunately as we sat another fisherman went by… he was off to collect lugworms.

We had been collecting film canister caches near churches, windmills, and stations all day and the fishermen were collecting lugworms to be sold as bait for other fishermen. Isn’t life strange!

May 22 : Battle (of Hastings)

Hi,
As we mentioned on our previous blog, we were on a week’s holiday in Hastings.

Battle

Battle Abbey


There is one attraction high on every Hastings visitor’s list, and that is to see where the Battle of Hastings was fought. Interestingly it was not fought in Hastings. It was fought in, what is now a small town, called Battle – a few miles North of Hastings.

We arrived to visit Battle Castle, Battle Abbey, and the battleground itself. We arrived early, and in front of us, were over 100 French school children. The French invasion continues! (We think there is a French invasion every so often just to make sure we still say ‘William won’ and don’t conveniently announce ‘fake news’ that ‘Harold won’).

While we waited for the doors to open, we able to find our first cache of the day, in a red phone box. A quick easy find.

First cache of the day!


We mingled in the town square, as we had time to collect numbers for a multi-cache. The numbers were on plaques on the ground but the French students were constantly walking over them! We made a calculation, decided the direction and concluded…’save that cache for later’.

The doors were open, and the French students had disappeared.

Battle

Sussex Landscape from the top of the Castle

Battle

View of Battle from the Castle top!

Now it must be said here, we do castles thoroughly. Every room, much be checked. Every turret climbed. Every window looked out of. So after an hour or so, we ticked the Castle battlements of the list. We then saw a video explaining why there was a battle, and how William won.

Time for coffee, in a very well constructed play area. All the apparatus were mediaeval themed, it was a shame we were just a bit to big!

The walk circumnavigating the battlefield was just as interesting. Wooden sculptures kept interest high, as did the commentary and its conjecture that Harold could have won (don’t tell those French schoolchildren!).

Battle

The Battlefield, Harold at the top of the hill, William at the bottom

Finally we looked at the Abbey ruins. Erected as a ‘penance’ by William after the Battle, but destroyed by Henry VIII during the reformation. The abbey was surprisingly large, and one got a real feel for how monastic life took place.

By now we were shattered, and we still had caches to find in Battle.

The first a Church Micro a few yards away from the Abbey. We walked right passed the cache to start with, and then discovered our nemesis covering, ivy, was involved. It came therefore as a small shock that we found it relatively quickly.

Battle Church

Battle Church


We had two final caches to find. One was the multi we had calculated earlier, the other a puzzle cache which was a simple solve (it required knowledge of the EXACT date of the Battle – everyone knows its 1066, but what was the day and month ?). We discovered both caches were near each other, on the same path…so we headed in that direction hoping for two quick, easy finds….

Alas no!

The first we came to was the puzzle cache. We soon realised we could get no closer than 100 feet from the cache without going through dense undergrowth and fording a stream. Hmm – best review again after we’ve found the other cache.

A simple hint ‘fourth post after the pointer’. We counted, we searched. Nothing. We searched different posts. Nothing, We returned to the original and somehow dislodged the well hidden cache. Phew!

Back to the puzzle cache. Our first problem was fording the river. We saw a bridge, sadly it led us away from the cache…we decided the give up, and return to the car. But as were doing do, we saw a simpler way to ford the stream. It did involve walking back another 250 yards, and eureka there was the cache. Perched precariously in tree roots, in a slippery slope.

Last cache of the day !


Mr Hg137 retrieved the cache, but as he leant over to replace it, batteries fell out of his haversack. Somehow the top pocket was open and out spilled the contents! Grr! More slipping and sliding, batteries retrieved, safely stowed and all 4 caches found ! Success!