Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
We were back on our self-invented long distance walk from Sandhurst (Berkshire, home of the Sandhurst Military Academy) to Sandhurst (Kent, near Bodiam Castle). Starting from where we left off, we had a short walk through a suburban estate, with the smell of aviation fuel, the roar of jets taxiing, and low flying planes overhead. I don’t think I would like to live here! Crossing the railway line very close to Gatwick Station, we reached fields, though it was still just as noisy as we were walking parallel to the M23 spur leading to the airport.
A mile or so on, we reached the first two caches of the day, around the perimeter of a field containing two horses. While retrieving these, there was a loud metallic clatter from the motorway, the horses galloped away in fear, and we looked up to see the traffic at a halt and people running up the hard shoulder to collect something from the carriageway. It looked as though something had fallen off a trailer, but there was no harm done except for a short traffic hold up.
At last we crossed under the M23 and started to walk away from it, and the road noise began to diminish … to be replaced by aeroplane noise. We were right underneath the flightpath for planes landing at Gatwick. They were low enough, and close enough, that we could read the airline names, the company identification (mostly FlyBe) and count the windows on the side of the planes. Emerging onto a small lane, we spent quite a few minutes looking for three more caches – one in plain view, if we had just looked in the right direction – one at full fingertip stretch up a road sign – and one under a bridge over a stream, which we declined as we didn’t fancy wading.
Our next destination was Burstow, a hamlet with a stone built church with a wooden belltower – apparently the tower moves when the bells are rung. A Church Micro accompanies the location, so we sat on a seat to eat our lunch and to work out the coordinates for the cache. It was peaceful but not quiet, as planes roared overhead every few minutes. Apart from the moving church tower, the church had a famous rector, who is buried in the chancel – he was John Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal.
Further on we emerged onto a busy country road with grass verges, and dodged traffic while finding the next cache – I always feel a bit uneasy about caches in those sorts of places, as you need to keep an eye on both the object of the search and your own safety. The colourful cache was part of a series placed by ‘Toxic Pens’, whose mission
statement is as follows:
‘The Toxic Pens have been brightening up logs one cache at a time with their luminous script.
Known for their colourful stationary and vibrant pens….
Why be dull when you can be Toxic.’
Not long after, we turned off the busy road (phew!) and found/failed to find more colourful caches from the same series. They did add a splash of colour to the usual camouflaged caches that one finds, but some of them were a quite … visible … but a nice twist on the caching theme. And part way through the bright series – ‘Toxic Birch’ – we reached our 1800th cache, so a small celebration took place, unoverlooked, on a rural path.
By now it was quiet. We weren’t under the flightpath any more. We next walked down a quiet, empty country lane towards our next cache, another Church Micro based on the school chapel of a private school. There do seem to be a lot of private schools around here!
We had about two miles left to the end of the day’s walk to Crawley Down, and all had ‘Rowfant’ somewhere in the title. Rowfant House a nearby Tudor mansion https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1354912 At one time it even had its own railway station, though the line is now closed and forms part of the Worth Way https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worth_Way This is popular with walkers, dog walkers, and cyclists, and leads all the way into Crawley Down, the end of our route for the day.
(Editor’s note: I was promised a ‘shorter’ walk after the last two 11-mile ‘mudathons’. I was told that this was indeed a shorter walk – but it turned out to be 10 and a half miles. Oh well, I suppose it was shorter – slightly!)