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:

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May 25 : Duck Racing in Sussex

Every year, since 2008, the UK has held an Mega event. These event are attended with hundreds of cachers attending. The events are held in different parts of the UK. Last year the Mega was held in Yorkshire, this year it will be held in Aberdeenshire and next year, 2020, it will be held in Sussex. (The Sussex Mega has its own website https://www.mega2020.org.uk/ )

Velosaurus Welcomes Us to the Duck Racing!

These are not just one day events. The focus, and best attended, is the Saturday event but throughout the preceding week, many activities – caching and non-caching related – take place. All of these events cost money, and the Mega team have to acquire the money in the run-up their event.

The 2020 Sussex Mega team are no different. They have been selling merchandise, running raffles, and holding events for many months. The event on May 25th caught our eye. Duck racing!

Attendees of the event could buy (for £2) a numbered duck that would race with 99 other ducks down a river. The winning ducks, and last place (!) would win a small prize. The rest of the money would help the Mega fund!

We said we would attend a few days before the event…but all the ducks had been pre-sold. We decided to attend anyway, and hoped there would be a second race.

Before we arrived at the event, we stopped at the nearest town, Forest Row. We had cached here before on our Sandhurst to Sandhurst walk (April 2017) so knew the road layout and free parking. We had time to undertake a couple of caches which had been placed since 2017.

Forest Row Village Hall…


…. and its cache


The first cache was part of the Village Hall series, a short walk from the car. The Village Hall was surrounded by seats and it was one of those that hosted the cache. Being a Saturday, there was a constant procession of people going in and out of the Hall – we managed to pick a quiet couple of seconds to grab the cache.

Forest Row Church

Our next, was a Church Micro, and in typical style, we had locate a date or two from a plaque and calculate the final coordinates. We knew from the cache description it would be a little walk away, and a very pleasant one it was too.
We were expecting to find a film canister tucked under a pile of logs or stones, so we quite amused to find this.. a great diversion.

Onto the duck race!

We were greeted by a large inflatable duck aka cacher, Velosaurus who did much of the orchestrating throughout the day!

Mrs Hg137 signs the unusual log book

The final log book

There were about 50 other people present, and lots to do beside the duck racing. A tombola, ‘guess the number of ducks in a box’, cakes, home made caches etc.. All good fun! And an unusual shaped log-book to sign!

How many ducks were in the box ? Really ?

A couple of cachers had brought their dogs along, and two cachers had even brought their cats along on a lead too! Good job it wasn’t real ducks being raced!

One of the two very well behaved cats!

There were two races and we got two ducks in the second race. Sadly we didn’t win, probably because we didn’t roar and cheer our ducks as vociferously as other duck owners. Or maybe our ducks were caught up in some minor river debris and lost pace with the leaders! Either way.. great fun !

The Sussex Mega 2020 Team may well run this event again… so look out for it! It was a great way to raise money!

Here are photos from the races ! Well done to the winners!

They’re off!

The Finishing Line

Well done to the Winners!

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.

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!