Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Star Wars Day – May the fourth be with you!
On a cool, breezy day in early May, we set off to walk the next section of the South Downs Way, from Harting Down to Cocking Hill. There were a few geocoaches to be found in this section, but no more than half a dozen or so, in a nine mile walk.
We started off by climbing through the woods to the National Trust car park at Harting Down. Mr Hg137 went off to investigate car park charges (it was cash only when we were here last, but things change, and it is now cash or card payments). Meanwhile, I re-found a seat that I had used in 2011, when we first walked the South Downs Way. The seat is still there, but the views over South Harting village are disappearing, as the trees have grown up since then. That seat needs to move further up the hill!
We walked over Harting Down and skirted Beacon Hill (another Beacon Hill, we had passed one near the start of the South Downs Way); a couple of miles into the walk, we found our first cache of the day, at the edge of the downs overlooking Elstead. Continuing towards Treyford Down, it got a little windier and a little colder (though it hadn’t been windless and warm to start with!) while we collected clues to the coordinates for a multicache. Some of these were at places which were new to us, while we had visited others before, such as the line of barrows known as the Devil’s Jumps https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_Jumps,_Treyford
Another place we revisited was a memorial for Joseph Oestermann, a German pilot who was shot down and killed on the very first day of the Battle of Britain in August 1940; there is much more detail about him and his flight on this interesting website. http://www.aircrewremembrancesociety.co.uk/styled-15/styled-17/styled-100/index.html The thing that gives us pause for thought is that this is a remote place, well away from any public road, at least a kilometre from any habitation, and near the top of a steep hill; yet the memorial which is clearly visited and tended.
After finding one more cache, we stopped for lunch. While it was mostly sunny, clouds were bubbling up and it was most definitely not warm. After lunch, we donned our woolly gloves … keeping the fleecy hats in the rucksack as a last resort … it’s spring, it should be warmer!
There followed another airy and beautiful (but cold), cacheless walk along a windy, bare ridge top until we reached Linch Down. We could see the trig point above us, north of our route, seemingly on private land. We knew that there was a cache based on the numbers on the trig point … but luckily for us, we’d done some research beforehand and thought we knew where the final cache location might be. Having considered the distance to the trig point and having looked at the increasingly threatening clouds, we decided to skip the walk to the trig point and to head straight for the cache, which was behind a tree a little way down a track leading away from the South Downs Way (that gives little away, there are lots of tracks and lots of trees). Only as we signed the nice, dry log in a nice, tidy cache, did we realise that we were the first to find the cache for 21 months. Crikey – this made the cache a resuscitator cache and one of the first we had found. (Editor’s note: a resuscitator cache is one that has not been found for at least a year and lists are maintained of these caches so that they can be found/ resuscitated to prove they are still there).
That was our last cache on the South Downs Way, but we had one more to find close by. In 2014 we had done a cache series, Jaceyb’s Balls, based around the trail of large chalk balls created by artist Andy Goldsworthy https://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/itp-122-chalk-stones-trail-by-andy-goldsworthy.html Back then, we had been successful with all the caches in the series, except one, so we made a detour from our main route for another try at this cache. We nearly failed again … there is some tree work going on in the area, and the cache may well have been disturbed, there are felled trees around. We’d had a good look and failed to find it, and were standing at the edge of the path deciding what to do next, when a glance downwards showed us the cache, lying, uncovered, in a random place on the ground. Pure luck! Oh, and the chalk ball is looking a little more worn, too.
We returned to the South Downs Way, beginning the long descent to the car park at the top of Cocking Hill. We reached another chalk ball, better preserved than the one near the cache. As we paused, two cyclists appeared, and requested a picture of themselves. We obliged, then fell into conversation. We told them the story of the chalk balls; it also turned out that one of the two was born in Sandhurst, where we now live, so we swapped memories of the place past and present. Maybe that pause for a chat wasn’t a good idea because, as we descended the last part of the hill, those threatening clouds finally delivered a hailstorm, pelting us at a 45-degree angle as we rushed the last section back to the car.
It was now time to collect the first geocar, back at Harting, then head home. En route between destinations we took time to find one more cache, in an old phone box in East Harting (the phone is still working, if you ever need it). And, sometime during the day, we had found a puzzle cache, Triangles, which has a start point high on the South Downs and a finish point … elsewhere.