May 22 part 2: Hastings in the evening

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was the second evening of a week’s holiday in and around Hastings. We had spent the day doing ‘tourist stuff’ (and a bit of caching!) in the sunshine around Battle Abbey, the site of the Battle of Hastings (I reckon King Harold made several tactical errors, which led to him losing both the battle and his life). But it was a beautiful warm evening, and it seemed a shame to spend it doing nothing. So off we went to the seafront at Hastings, close to the pier. Arriving in the evening sunshine at just before 8pm, we parked on the seafront. There are two good caches on Hastings pier, and they were our first target. Oops, no. Despite having read that the pier closed at 10 pm, it actually closed at … 6pm.

Early closing?

Early closing?

Never mind. We walked on, and found ‘Lest we Forget’, a 35mm film pot close to the war memorial. At time of writing, it had just been archived, so that’s not giving anything away.

On along the promenade, we located another cache close to a statue of a lion.
Seaside lion

Seaside lion

And a bit further on was Castle Hill car park, with the castle – one of William the Conqueror’s – looming above us atop a cliff reinforced with brick walls. There was a cache here too … but the hint said it was hidden behind a brick … and there were thousands of the things! We poked randomly at a few sample bricks before applying some logic, and using the GPS to get the right location, and it all went rather better after that, and we found the cache after another two minutes. All the while we were wandering around, inspecting brickwork, a muggle was sat patiently in his car, waiting for something or someone. Whatever he was waiting for didn’t arrive/happen while we were there, and we don’t think he saw us replace the cache.
Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle

By now it was dusk, with a beautiful sunset sky developing, and we returned to the promenade to walk back to the car. Lots of folk were still out walking/cycling/roller-skating, and the lights of ships could be seen out at sea. Well, we couldn’t spend a week at the seaside without visiting the sea at least once, could we?

May 26 : Devon / Cornwall : Day 5 : poems, surf, and chefs: Greenaway, Polzeath, and Padstow

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Polzeath surfers

Polzeath surfers

Greenaway is my family name. And I well remember the toe-curling, red-cheeked embarrassment at school when we studied John Betjeman’s poem ‘Greenaway’. But this meant that I knew there was a beach in Cornwall of that name, and a little research showed that there was also a cache of the same name near that beach. So there was no way, no way at all, that a visit to Cornwall was not going to include a visit to Greenaway. And here is that poem … it’s not that long if you aren’t into poetry …
South West Coast Path - to Greenaway

South West Coast Path – to Greenaway

by John Betjeman

I know so well this turfy mile,
These clumps of sea-pink withered brown,
The breezy cliff, the awkward stile,
The sandy path that takes me down.

To crackling layers of broken slate
Where black and flat sea-woodlice crawl
And isolated rock pools wait
Wash from the highest tides of all.

I know the roughly blasted track
That skirts a small and smelly bay
And over squelching bladderwrack
Leads to the beach at Greenaway.

Down on the shingle safe at last
I hear the slowly dragging roar
As mighty rollers mount to cast
Small coal and seaweed on the shore,

And spurting far as it can reach
The shooting surf comes hissing round
To heave a line along the beach
Of cowries waiting to be found.

Tide after tide by night and day
The breakers battle with the land
And rounded smooth along the bay
The faithful rocks protecting stand.

But in a dream the other night
I saw this coastline from the sea
And felt the breakers plunging white
Their weight of waters over me.

There were the stile, the turf, the shore,
The safety line of shingle beach
With every stroke I struck the more
The backwash sucked me out of reach.

Back into what a water-world
Of waving weed and waiting claws?
Of writhing tentacles uncurled
To drag me to what dreadful jaws?

The beach at Greenaway

The beach at Greenaway

To return to the post … We parked the geocar on – yes on – Polzeath beach, after Mr Hg137 had reassured himself that it would not be swept away by a wave coming from the distant sea (it wasn’t). It was then a super walk on a sparkling clear May morning, of about a mile along the coast path, to a seat overlooking the little beach of Greenaway. Once there, a mid-morning coffee was drunk, while a gentle search around the seat revealed the cache. Success! But I had an additional plan. I was going down ‘to the beach at Greenaway’. And so we did. There are a few steps down to an unspoilt small sandy beach surrounded by rocks. What a lovely place!
Surfers at Polzeath

Surfers at Polzeath

After that indulgence, we walked back to Polzeath, where there was another cache overlooking the bay. We spent a while looking for it, before re-reading the description and hint and realising what and where we needed to look. Then we turned the geocar south around the Camel estuary to arrive in Padstow. The nearest cache to our parking place was the Church Micro at Padstow, so we set off to find it. We were thwarted … by a wedding, which was about to start, with photographers planning their shots and guests beginning to drift in. It didn’t seem right to intrude on that so we moved on, intending to return later.
I want your lunch!

I want your lunch!

The busy, crowded harbour seemed like a good place to have lunch, so we ate our sandwiches, defending them against a seagull that wanted them, and wondering exactly where the cache we knew was on the other side of the harbour could be. Lunch completed, and the seagull vanquished, and we strolled over to the slipway where the cache would be hidden. But we didn’t find it. More correctly, we couldn’t even look for it, as so many muggles were fishing for crabs off the slipway that we couldn’t make ourselves conspicuous by searching. Once again, we moved on.
Padstow harbour

Padstow harbour – right by a cache – much too busy to search here!

We meandered on, past Rick Stein’s cookery school, the National Lobster hatchery , and a cycle hire business, heading for the Camel trail which is a disused railway line heading inland from Padstow to Wadebridge and eventually to Bodmin. Suddenly the bustle of Padstow was behind us and we were looking out over the river, with only cyclists, runners and walkers for company. There are caches all along this trail, but we had time for just one, from the ‘Benny’s Quest’ series. Luckily, this was just out of view of the trail, so we had time and space to search without attracting attention. We needed that space and time as we hunted around for a while before finding a cache fashioned from a piece of pipe, hidden in the shade in a wall.

We needed to return, so we walked back into Padstow, and through the narrow streets by the harbour, full of trendy shops, galleries, and restaurants, including a couple more of Rick Stein’s restaurants. We arrived back at the churchyard, hoping for another try at that Church Micro, but the wedding wasn’t quite over – the organ was still playing and there were still guests in the churchyard. Yet again, we moved on; we just didn’t time that one right.

It was still only mid-afternoon, but we had an evening appointment, at the open air theatre at the Sterts Centre. Off we went, stopping for a meal at the Cheesewring Hotel in Minions, which we had visited three days earlier – it bills itself as the highest pub in Cornwall at 995 feet above sea level. And the play … it poured with rain all evening, and, while it was nice and dry under the theatre canopy, it was really hard to hear anything above the rain. Luckily, we’d mugged up on the plot of ‘The Winter’s Tale’ first … as the only thing we knew about the play was the famous stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear” … which is what I’m about to do now! Growl!

Here, in no particular order, are the caches we found:

May 24 : Devon / Cornwall : Day 3 : Looe

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Looe Station

Looe Station

It was a fine day in Cornwall, so why not spend a day at the seaside, in Looe, and what better way to travel than the Looe Valley train line? This is a single track line which runs only from Liskeard to Looe, down the East Looe river valley, then alongside the estuary. Apart from the two ends of the line, Looe and Liskeard, all the stations are request stops. Great views all the way!
Liskeard station - Sidetracked

Liskeard station – Sidetracked geocache

Before the little train left, we had a few minutes free at Liskeard so we took an early cache, the ‘Sidetracked’ at Liskeard station. This was easy to find, sandwiched between Liskeard’s two stations, the main line to Penzance and the entirely separate branch line to Looe. There are not so very many caches to find in Looe, and we thought about expanding the number by getting off part way e.g. at the quaintly named St Kerye Wishing Well halt, and doing some extra caching along the way. But there weren’t many caches there, either, and several of the descriptions contained the instruction …’then a short drive to the final location’ … not really an option on foot.
The train left on time at 10am and just under half an hour later we were in Looe, walking down past the bridge, and through the village to the sea, pausing to buy lunch along the way, and looking at all the shops selling things to tourists – nice stuff, not so nice stuff and ‘why?’ stuff.
Looe - high tide

Looe – high tide

After a walk to the edge of the sea, we headed out along the banjo-shaped pier to look at the very small entrance to the river and harbour. But a geocache was calling, the only one near us in East Looe. It was a really new cache, which had only been placed in early May. It was also part of the ‘Fine Pair’ series. These must have a phone box and a post box (both red, in view of each other, and not more than 100 feet apart); there are not so many of these around now, as phone boxes began to disappear at around the same time that geocaching became more popular. This particular pair were just behind the sea front and a little faded and careworn from the salt winds. We found the cache really quickly – and what an appropriate cache container!
Looe - a Fine Pair

Looe – a Fine Pair

A super geocache container!

A super geocache container!

There were no more nearby caches on this side of the river so we mucked about on the beach, climbed on the rocks, had lunch, tried to fly a kite, went for paddles – oh crikey it was cold!!! The tide went out, the sun came out and everything was clean and warm and sparkly. As the tide was out, the passenger ferry (aka small boat) across the river wasn’t running so it was a walk up to the bridge and back along the other side of the river in West Looe. Just over the bridge was another cache, scarily concealed in a bit of street furniture near the end of the bridge. We tried to look inconspicuous while retrieving it in full view of a busy road.
Looe - low tide no ferry!

Looe – low tide no ferry!

It was immediately quieter on the other side of the river. East Looe is full of tourist shops, the fish market, and hustle and bustle. West Looe is much more peaceful.
West Looe - Church Micro

West Looe – Church Micro

Our final cache in West Looe is currently our most southerly, AND it was a Church Micro. The cache itself was a little way from the church, on the riverside. Nearby is a statue to one of Looe’s characters, a battle-scarred, one-eyed seal called Nelson who made the harbour his home.
Nelson the seal at Looe

Nelson the seal at Looe

Having run out of nearby caches, we headed back to the station to catch the little train back to Liskeard. Once there, we took in the other cache at Liskeard station, ‘ Rosie and Jim’. It was cunningly hidden in the station car park, and we spent some little while looking in various wrong places before finding it.
Even now, it wasn’t too late in the day, so we set off to find a few more caches from the Compass series before returning to the hotel. That will be covered in another post in a few days.

May 22 : Devon / Cornwall : Day 1 : Ladram Bay

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.
Ladram Bay
We were off on holiday for a week in east Cornwall. But it’s a long drive, so we stopped for lunch in Devon. We (well, I) chose Ladram Bay, near Sidmouth, as it’s one of my favourite places on earth and I’ve been returning there on and off ever since 1985. But I have found that there’s an earthcache there, so (for once) I don’t have to drag Mr Hg137 there – he came along willingly! And, as insurance, we had loaded a couple of back-up caches – we haven’t cached in Devon before and we wanted to get at least one cache.

We found the usual parking place just above the bay … and in the 5 years since we last visited, the price of parking has risen from £2 to £5 … seems just a bit above inflation, that.
Ladram Bay - boats for hire
We walked down the steep path to the beach. There was a new coffee spot, and a place selling lobster and crab; we stopped by, and saw the lobsters and crabs swimming in a tank of seawater, while their unluckier cousins boiled gently in a pot. Down on the beach, we settled on the picnic benches … they, too, weren’t there 5 years ago. As we got comfortable, we noticed a big bank of grey cloud obscuring the sunshine, and it got colder, windier, and darker. We beat a hasty retreat back to the geocar just as the first large drops of rain began to fall, then ate our lunch while the rain pelted down. Oh well…

Then the rain cleared, and, apart from the puddles, it was as if the downpour had never happened. We set off to find the information needed for the earthcache, which involved visiting the beach, posing for a picture, and walking a little way along the coast path on both sides of the bay, and noting and counting various items and measurements. (We later found out that our answers were correct).
Otterton: Brick Cross
Leaving the bay, we stopped for two drive-by caches (ie stop nearby, leap out of the car, find and sign the cache and move on quickly). One was near the brick cross at the crossroads which lead down to Otterton village, the nearest settlement to Ladram Bay, and the other was near the gates of Bicton Park, an agricultural college and gardens. Both caches were succesfully found, though one – not saying which, was brilliantly camouflaged and faded into the background …

Well matched!

Well matched!

After that little (two-and-a-half hour) diversion, we set off again and arrived at our destination, Liskeard, about 10 miles on from the Tamar bridge, in the late afternoon. We were tired, but looking forward to the rest of the holiday.

July 16 – Brighton day 2 – and up to the Devil’s Dyke

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here once more.

Brighton Wheel

Brighton Wheel

Day two of our short break in Brighton, and we were raring to go … though Mr Hg137’s mother was looking somewhat sunburnt (she hadn’t brought a sunhat). Today’s plan was for a walk along the seafront, a spin on the Brighton Wheel, then up onto the South Downs, lunch at Devil’s Dyke, and home again.

We had just one cache planned in Brighton this morning. It was aptly named ‘The Beach’, and was right down on the shingle by the fishing museum. It was (another) super view of the pier and a bit of the beach that we might not have visited had it not been for the cache.
For a different view, we moved on to the Brighton Wheel – The ride only lasts 15 minutes and is a bit expensive for that length of time, but you get three (or four, if it’s not too busy) revolutions on the wheel, an excellent commentary (voiced by Steve Coogan) and a wonderful view of Brighton, the hills behind, and views each way along the coast.

Local resident?

Local resident?

Although it was only late morning, it was now time to leave the coast and start homeward. But on the way … We had planned lunch at the Devil’s Dyke, high on the South Downs. This place was familiar to all of us, as a destination for Mr Hg137’s family in his youth, and for me and Mr Hg137 when we walked the South Downs Way in 2011. There are stunning views, a car park, a pub, even a bus route right to the top. We had a walk round, looking at the views – Chanctonbury Ring, Cissbury Ring, the Weald, and on and on into the distance to Butser Hill, 35 miles away in Hampshire. And while we were admiring the view, we diverged ever so slightly to grab a nice, easy geocache which was hidden amongst some trees just by the edge of the car park, and to drop off the Signseekers geocoin.
Devil's Dyke - and THAT view

Devil’s Dyke – and THAT view

After dawdling over lunch in the pub – pleasant enough though a bit haphazard, service-wise – we set off for home. A good couple of days, but oh, so exhausting. Why do I always need time to recover after a ‘relaxing’ break?

July 15 – Brighton – and 700 caches reached

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Brighton pier at dusk

Brighton pier at dusk

We were going to the seaside – woo hoo! A two day trip to Brighton was a belated birthday present for Mr Hg137’s mother. And … we were on 699 caches found, so it might be possible to reach the magic 700th cache in a striking place, and perhaps a few others, too.
Geocache with a view!

Geocache with a view!

Our first destination was the pier. We couldn’t visit Brighton and not walk along the pier, could we? Part way along was a telescope with a view, and a cache too. Number 700 found, a sun-soaked, hot summer day, and a fitting milestone! Back on the seashore, it was time for tourist item number two, a trip on the oldest electric railway in the world, Volks Railway Fifteen minutes later we had passed the nudist beach, decorously hidden behind a shingle bank, and were close to the marina; there are caches along the shore between beach and pier but we didn’t have time to do them all (another time?) We visited the sand sculptures – – so good that we went round twice, and stopped for an ice cream too.
Sand sculpture

Sand sculpture

Nearby is the ‘Brighton Beach & Black Rock Earthcache’ This kind of geocache is placed close to special geological features and questions are posed based on the location; the answers to these need to be submitted to the owner of the cache; if you are right, you get to log the cache. This particular cache is next to a cliff face which shows raised beaches dating from the last Ice Age. We collected the information (took loads of photos just in case), and contacted the owner; our answers were correct and we got to log the second special cache of the day.
Earthcache - more sand - this time a raised beach in a cliff

Earthcache – more sand – this time a raised beach in a cliff

As evening approached, we went out for a walk, sneaked up to a cache in a very busy area near the Royal Pavilion, and, later on, strolled back along the pier – – as the sun began to set.
Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Right at the end, tucked away behind the funfair (crikey, some of those rides look scary!) is another cache with another striking view out to sea and back to the shore, a fitting end to a wonderful day out. Then back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep; we were really, really tired by now.