April 10 : Farnborough cacher’s meet

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Plough and Horses, Cove, Farnborough

Plough and Horses, Cove, Farnborough


When did we last attend a geocacher’s meet? We thought about it, and it had been a while, years, Leap Year Day 2016. We’d noticed that there was a meet coming to a place near us, the Plough and Horses at Cove, Farnborough. A little bit of research showed us that there were two Church Micro multicaches very close to the pub. As we didn’t fancy an extended search of a graveyard later on, in failing light, and so we didn’t get lost, searching fruitlessly in the dark, we also did a daytime recce of the area, spotted the pub, and collected all the information we needed to find the caches later.

Early in the evening, we returned to Cove, and stopped a little way short of the pub, to look for the Church Micro based on St. John the Baptist. We parked near a parade of shops, then walked off a little way to wait for a gap in the dog walkers and joggers to dive, hopefully unsuspiciously, behind a tree to find the cache: our research was correct.

St John the Baptist, Cove, Farnbourough

St John the Baptist, Cove, Farnbourough


From there it wasn’t far to the pub. There were no spaces in the car park: that was a good sign. We went in, past the group of people watching football on a big screen in the bar, to a dining area at the rear. It was FULL of cachers, some we recognised, and some new to us. We were greeted by the organiser, Reggiecat, and signed the attendance log to claim our cache find. After getting drinks and a bowl of chips to share, we joined a table, to have a chat to Woking Wonders (we’ve done lots of their caches, many of them Church Micros) and DTJM (we’d done one of their caches earlier that evening). JJEF was there, to showcase his fiendishly clever wooden caches (take a look at them here https://www.quirkycaches.co.uk/apps/webstore/products )

Buzio, a cacher new to us, stood up and gave a short talk on caching in Myanmar. Those at our table joined in with tales of derring do, including, I think, a story about setting sail on the Thames dressed as a pirate to find a cache on an island. The pirate costume was a disguise as it was ‘Children in Need’ weekend – at least I think that’s the excuse that was given! Adam Redshaw turned up, accompanied by Tabzcake and Barry the very well-behaved geodog. Adam publishes a geocaching magazine and does loads of other caching related stuff http://www.ukcachemag.com/

Anyway, enough caching name-dropping, we still had one more cache to find, so we said our goodbyes and left. It was pretty dark now, a good cover to find our second Church Micro of the day (Cove – Baptist), hidden in some street furniture. … No-one spotted us …

A good evening – pleasant company – great stories.

Here are two Church Micro caches, against bland backgrounds, for anonymity.

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March 23 : South Downs Way : Cheesefoot Head to Exton

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

River Meon at Exton

River Meon at Exton


On a cool grey Saturday morning, we set off to walk our second leg of the South Downs Way (SDW), starting high on the downs at Cheesefoot Head, near Winchester, and finishing at Exton in the valley of the River Meon.
Cheesefoot Head

Cheesefoot Head


We could hear the sound of revving engines as we parked at Cheesefoot Head and found our first cache of the day in the copse next to the car park. This was ‘Hill Bagging Series #5 – Cheesefoot Head TUMP’. The cache description defines a tump thus:
…” A TUMP is a hill in Scotland, England, Wales or the Isle of Man which is separated from adjacent tops by a height difference of at least 30 metres on all sides. This rather odd name is a corruption of HUMP, another hill bagging term that refers to hills with one HUndred Meters of Prominence.” …

The path went along the edge of the natural amphitheatre of Cheesefoot Head, marked by our next cache, ‘Talking to the Troops (Hampshire)’ which commemorates Eisenhower’s address to Allied troops just before D-Day during World War II https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheesefoot_Head We continued, and stopped to talk to a runner. She was from Sweden, there to support her son at the World Motocross Championships, being held at the nearby Matterley Basin. Aha ! that was the source of the noise. https://www.mxgp.com/

Misty view of Matterley

Misty view of Matterley


We followed the SDW as it skirted the Motocross event, passing between the car park and the campsite. Here there was a block of portable toilets: I was once told by a very, very experienced walker that one should never, ever pass up the opportunity of a toilet while out walking … so I didn’t, and these were of a pretty good standard. We walked on, and passed the throng of people, cars, tents, caravans, and then it was peaceful countryside once more. We passed other walkers and cyclists coming the other way. And told them all about the motocross – and the toilets. Most brightened up noticeably at the mention of those toilets!
Not just us out walking!

Not just us out walking!


There followed a pleasant, but cacheless walk of a few miles, across the downs, then over the A272 and along a track past a farm. The noise of motorbikes gradually faded. It got brighter, and warmer. There were shadows! It had turned into a lovely spring day.

A little later, we reached at the Milburys pub http://themilburyspub.synthasite.com/ We’ve visited it before (for research, obviously!) and it’s a friendly place with good food, and good beer, too. One thing of interest inside is a 100 metre (300 foot) well down through the chalk to the water table, where water can be raised using a treadmill. If you ask the bar staff, they’ll supply an ice cube that you can drop down the well, to wait for the splash. One other thing of interest is that this is one of the very, very few pubs you’ll pass on the SDW, so make the most of it!
The Milburys

The Milburys


Somewhere around the Milburys, we had found three more caches, two of them multicaches, (with a start point somewhere else), but we’d worked out the coordinates earlier on, so we didn’t have to backtrack to find them, and the third a puzzle cache, based on codebreaking, which I had great fun working out. Editor’s note: the locations are deliberately vague – if you want to find the caches, you need to solve the puzzles yourself ….
Sculpture at Lomer Farm

Sculpture at Lomer Farm


Further on, we came to Lomer, which was a village in the 1500s, but is now a single farm, with a few lumps and bumps in a field where the village once was. From there, it wasn’t far to Beacon Hill; there had been a gentle ascent of about 50 metres from the Milburys to Beacon Hill and then a steep, steep descent of more than 100 metres into Exton, in the Meon valley. There were some caches to find along here, which was good, they gave my knees a few chances to rest on that descent!
Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill


Steep descent!

Steep descent!


Exton is a pretty village, with thatched cottages, a flint-walled church, a village pub and shop, and the River Meon flowing through. But we were blind to that, we had more caches to find. Two were from nationwide cache series: one, a Church Micro, the other, from the Fine Pair series (a red phone box and post box within sight of each other).
A Fine Pair

A Fine Pair


For one of these, a parked van shielded us from the drinkers at the Shoe Inn while we did the searching, and for the other, we waited for the local lads to finish their football game in the street before making a quick grab for the cache.
St Peter & St Paul, Exton

St Peter & St Paul, Exton


Almost finished now, we had a short walk alongside the river, stopping for one final cache, a large old ammo can, before returning to the geocar and heading homewards.

Editor’s note: we walked the SDW back in 2011, before we were cachers, and remember that there was a dearth of water taps. We found three ! on this walk alone, though one of them wasn’t working.
Water station near Cheesefoot Head

Water station near Cheesefoot Head

Holden Farm, near the water tap

Holden Farm, near the water tap

Lomer Farm water tap

Lomer Farm water tap


There was one near Cheesefoot Head, at a sort of service station for cyclists, one at Holden Farm near a milestone erected by the farmer (we saw him and asked about it), and one at Lomer Farm, near Beacon Hill.

Here’s a recent blog post about this precise subject: https://threepointsofthecompass.com/2019/03/10/the-south-downs-way-in-winter-water-sources/

To finish, as usual, here are some of the caches we found:




March 20 : Billesley – In the footsteps of Shakespeare

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Billesley Trussell, a few miles from Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, was a village which became depopulated after the Black Death, leaving just the manor house, and the tiny church, All Saints Church, overlooking the lumps and bumps of the deserted village. It’s alleged that William Shakespeare got married to Anne Hathaway here https://www.visitchurches.org.uk/visit/church-listing/all-saints-billesley.html

All Saints Church, Billesley

All Saints Church, Billesley


We were in Warwickshire for a 2-day course being held at Billesley Manor Hotel, right next to the church. (Editor’s note: Billesley Manor has loads of history too, some, inevitably, associated with Shakespeare. It’s said that he wrote “As You Like It” in the library. Read about the history here: https://www.bespokehotels.com/billesley-manor )
Billesley Manor

Billesley Manor


Having found there was a cache based on the church, we’d done a bit of research beforehand to solve some of the numbers we’d need to work out the coordinates of the cache. After parking, we read a noticeboard looking out over the deserted village (and to check some of our research), then walked along a short path which led to the church, and another noticeboard (where we confirmed the rest of our research). Having worked out the coordinates, Mr Hg137 began searching, while I wandered into the unlocked little church for a look around. As I emerged, I came upon … Mr Hg137, holding the cache … I’d walked within inches of it without realising.

Caching over, the course started. During a break, we were talking about hobbies to one of the other attendees. He was a geocacher too – they get everywhere! He, too, found the cache during his visit, and passed on a geocoin which is taking part in a race (more of that in another post).

February 4 : Shanklin Town, Isle of Wight

St Paul’s Church, Shanklin

Our plans for the morning were thwarted by light drizzle, a gusting wind and a high tide.

We had intended to spend the morning revisiting a multi-cache placed just above the high water tide. But the wind and rain meant the sandy beach was narrower than we would have liked so filed the cache away for a future visit.

Instead we focussed on three town centre caches.

We drove away from the hotel, and found – after several circuits of the local roads – a parking place and headed off for our first cache. It was only 200 feet away, and we were very surprised to find when we arrived it was ON church property. We thought we could see the cache from the pavement, so we entered through the gates of St Paul’s Parish Church. Of course, what we saw from the roadside wasn’t the cache, but we did then spot a nearby piece of camouflage and delightful watertight cache container. We dropped off the Blue Lamb Proxy Geocoin here, as we weren’t sure what other size containers we would find.

Good solid container

We then walked about 1/4 of a mile passing by many a Shanklin house, and more infuriatingly a small supermarket where we could have parked without angst for an hour or two. We took a small footpath between houses and arrived at a piece of woodland. This was the Sibden Hill and Batts Copse Nature Reserve, and hidden just inside was our target. The hint was quite curious “at the base of pipe tree”.

Sibden Hill & Batts Copse

Clearly the cache was near the ground so we searched behind various trees, in roots, in fallen trees all to no avail. Then we saw a tree growing around a metallic pipe. Why the pipe was there, we don’t know, but this was the tree we needed. A small brick covered the cache, and once removed we wondered how we had not see the pipe on our initial inspection.

How did we miss this ?

Another 1/4 mile walk followed, retracing our steps in part but we soon turned off to follow the wonderfully named ‘Red Squirrel Trail’. This is a 32 mile cycleway/footpath primarily following the route of an old Isle of Wight railway. The route starts in the extreme North of the Island at Cowes, and loops round both Sandown and Shanklin in the South East. Such a long trail to follow and we walked about 300 yards!

Red Squirrel Trail


The path should have been tranquil, but waterjet-cleaning was going on in the neighbouring caravan park, which made it quite noisy. This time a hollow tree formed the host, but in our haste to bypass a large puddle we walked right by GZ !

Last cache of the day!

So three caches found, and with time ticking and a ferry waiting, we headed back to car (via the supermarket to buy some sandwiches) for the journey home.

February 1 : Rookley, Isle of Wight

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We were on the wonderful Isle of Wight, ready to spend a weekend playing Scrabble in Shanklin. While crossing the island, Mr Hg137 had a business appointment in Rookley, in the centre of the island. He went off to do that, while I … was turfed out into the snow to find the nearby Church Micro cache.

Rookley Methodist Church, Isle of Wight

Rookley Methodist Church, Isle of Wight


Rookley Methodist Church is the starting point for this cache, overlooking the triangular green. This particular cache could be solved by finding seven numbers placed on various items around the green. There didn’t seem to be a best order to do this so I crunched around in the snow, gradually crossing off clues as I went. After a few minutes I’d got all the numbers except one – I just need to find the year that “Les” was born. Just then, Mr Hg137’s appointment had finished, and he joined me in a second snowy circuit of the green, spotting the remaining clue within five minutes. Of course, it was in a place I’d already looked, though clearly not hard enough; in my defence, lots of people have trouble with this specific clue.

We then worked out the coordinates … got them wrong … did them again … and set off for the location of the cache. Arriving at GZ (Ground Zero) we stared hopelessly at the object for a while, then read the hint, looked at the correct place on the object, and spotted the cache almost instantly, a nice dry container inside a rather damp camo bag.

Mondrian was here?

Mondrian was here?


Success! We went back to the geocar, admired the Mondrian-inspired garage door across the road, and set off for Shanklin.

Postscript: later, we checked our tally of Church Micro (CM) cache finds. We were were really pleased to find that we had reached 100 finds. That takes us from Curate to Vicar on the awards list on the Church Micro website http://www.15ddv.me.uk/geo/cm Another small step towards sainthood for us!

January 18 : Ottershaw

Ottershaw is a village on the outskirts of Chertsey and Woking, just minutes away from the M25.
More importantly, from our perspective, Ottershaw is on our route home from RHS Wisley.

So, on a cold-ish Friday morning we set off for a quick visit to Wisley (we were hoping to see the big Lego exhibition – but we were a week early – doh!) and then find a few caches on the return journey.

Wisley provided us with some winter colour with snowdrops and colourful Alpines in the warm greenhouses. So, with no Lego to see, we headed off to find some caches.

We had loaded 12 caches, 8 of which were part of a series called “Eli’s Walk”.

Our first three caches, though, were not part of this series. Instead we started with a very simple church micro (no graves to find, no numbers to calculate, no waypoints to enter into the GPS). This was number 60 in the Church Micro Series – the cache was placed in March 2008. The Church itself, Christ Church, was built in the mid-19th Century and became the Parish Church for the (then) scattered villages between Woking and Chertsey. It was designed in the studio of Gilbert Scott – and his Gothic Revival style is clear to see on the Church.

Christ Church, Ottershaw

Our next two caches could be described as “Cheesy”. One was called “Say Cheese” and the other “Ottershaw Supreme”. Both were hidden just off tracks in woodland. This is a photo of one of the caches…but we recommend finding the other..just for the fun of retrieving the log!

“Who ordered the pizza?”

And so onto Eli’s Walk. We crossed the busy A320 and started the series at cache 3.

We reached a crossroads on an unmade road, the GPS pointed in one direction towards a 5-barred gate. Blocking the route was a van. We asked the driver whether there was a footpath beyond the gate, and he informed us that it was ‘just houses’. We needed another path!

We walked on slightly concerned that the GPS was still pointing away from our route and our map didn’t indicate another path. A lady dog-walker approached. We enquired how we could get to ‘Ottershaw Park’. This was the name of the track that the cache was on.

‘Ottershaw Park ?
No, you can’t go there.
That’s a private estate.
The back entrance is down there but you’re not allowed in’

We were now mightily confused.

We walked on further and looked back. Both the van driver and dog walker had disappeared. We decided to investigate the track that no-one wanted us to walk along.

Ottershaw Chase


As we did so, we saw a swing gate and noticeboard side onto the path. This reassured us, as, to our limited knowledge, not many private estates have such features. In fact there were no houses to see! The noticeboard stated we were in ‘Ottershaw Chase’ not ‘Ottershaw Park’ which was the name shown on the geocaching map.

We were in woodland! And the cache was only 300 feet away!

Our GPS wobbled. A lot. We searched 3 trees before laying claim to our fourth find of the day, a small Tupperware container.

We walked on, accompanied by the sound of woodpeckers thrumming bark, and magpies swooping in and out of branches. An occasional squirrel scampered up a tree as we approached.

As we arrived at our next cache (number 5 in the series) we finally understood the dog-walker’s words. There WAS a private estate of houses, and we couldn’t enter. Nearby though was a cache hidden under a log pile. The GPS was out about 40 feet here, and we walked past the log-pile before widening our search area.

We paused for lunch. It had been a long morning. And a nearby, super-large, stile was just big enough for both of us to sit on without encroaching upon the private housing estate of Ottershaw Park.

We decided at lunch to use this stile as our furthest point of the day. We would have two more caches to find as we returned to the car, and it would leave 5 Ottershaw caches to find when we next visited Wisley.

Our penultimate cache was ‘magnetic’. For some reason we conjectured about the type of magnetic container before we arrived, and of course guessed wrong. Our search was hindered by a Southern Water Van parked nearby with its driver watching us as he chomped on his lunchtime sandwiches. We searched gates, fences, several padlocks, a nearby Southern Water building, more gates, drain covers… all to no avail. Then on our third search of a particular area we found the cache. Very well camouflaged, yet hidden in plain sight.

“Base of tree” – sigh.


Our final cache, like many others, seemed to be a little-bit-out GPS-wise. The hint ‘base of tree’ didn’t help much as we were on the edge of woodland with trees surrounding us. As we searched a number of light aircraft were landing and taking off from the nearby Brooklands Airfield, causing us to look up periodically rather than looking down for caches. After our tenth failed tree search, we saw the host, and the cache neatly hidden.

So, after a slightly false visit to Wisley we found 7 caches out of 7 and left ourselves some more caches to find on another visit!

Here are a couple of the caches we found :

January 5 : Weston Patrick – a cold day in Hampshire

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

The first Saturday of 2019 seemed a good time to get out for a walk and some geocaching to counteract the eating excesses of Christmas. As the days were still short, we chose somewhere local (ish), Weston Patrick in Hampshire. We have walked around here before (the Three Castles Path), also cached around here (the Westeros and GOT series). It’s good walking country around here, undulating and rural with woods and tiny villages.

To summarise the route: it’s a great walk of just over five miles along tracks and paths, none of it on roads, starting and finishing at the hamlet of Weston Patrick. There’s a gentle climb over the first half, and a similar descent over the second half. There’s quite a bit of woodland, a nature reserve at Closedown Wood, and, a surprise for us, a gas storage facility tucked away at Humbly Grove https://www.humblyenergy.co.uk There are 24 caches, some easy, some quite hard to find, and a mixture of hides.

Parking in a tiny lay-by, we set off along the WP Country Loop cache series. A track climbed gently away from the road. It was quiet, save for the sound of a distant (pheasant?) shoot. There were caches spaced along the route, so we paused at intervals to search for them. Our searches fell into two categories, which seemed to alternate:
• One: an almost instant find, signing the log, and satisfaction.
• Two: a long, cold search, checking everything at least three times, then finding the cache in an already-searched spot when on the point of giving up, and creeping despair.
A third category crept in a couple of times:
• Three: a long, long, long, cold search, checking everything many times, then not finding the cache, giving up, and despair.


There was a variety of caches to keep our interest and tax our finding skills, and it was great to be out in the open air, but it was grey and dank, with a cool breeze, and the cold gradually seeped in during our category Two (eventually successful) and category Three (never successful) searches. After thirteen caches and eleven finds over about two and a half hours, we decided to head back to the car, leaving us with the second half of the series to complete on another, warmer day. We walked speedily down the hill (we didn’t get any warmer!), not stopping to look for more caches, then diverted very slightly to get a final cache for the day, the Church Micro (CM) at Weston Patrick https://uptongreychurch.co.uk/the-churches/weston-patrick We huddled in the porch to eat our lunch (we didn’t get any warmer!) then found the information we needed to search for the cache. It’s on a memorial just outside the churchyard, which marks a sad wartime event – a Spitfire was being delivered to RAF Tangmere, near Chichester, but crashed near the village.

From there it was a short walk back to the car, a chance to sit and have a warm cup of coffee – or two – before we headed home.

Here are some of the caches we found: