June 23 : Chichester Marina

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Chichester canal - the last lock

Chichester canal – the last lock


A warm Friday seemed like a good day for lazing around on a beach – and why not wonderful West Wittering? Just short of our destination we paused for some caching, a walk round Chichester Marina and views of Chichester harbour.

There are two caching trails that lead out from Chichester, forming a circuit. The first is the Lipchis Canal Wander,along the partially restored – partially derelict Chichester Ship Canal, which is also part of the Lipchis Way from Liphook to Chichester http://www.newlipchisway.co.uk The return section is appropriately called The Return, along Salterns Way http://www.westsussex.info/salterns-way.shtml to the city, which is an off-road cycle route back to the city. We planned to do the parts of both routes that lay closest to the marina.

We parked, and set off along the canal, derelict at this point, heading back towards Chichester. The canal still holds water, but this section is only used by ducks and moorhens, not boats at present. Guarding the first cache and ignoring us, two swans were a-sleeping on the road; they must do this often, judging by the number of loose feathers lying around and the protective ring of cones around them. We walked on along the canal finding three more caches, and a trackable, as we went. Crossing the busy A286, we had a glance at the next section of the canal, which is still to be restored, then retraced our steps towards the marina. We found another four easy caches as we walked through the marina. There are millions and millions of pounds worth of boats moored here, ranging from tiny motorboats to enormous floating ‘gin palaces’.

LOTS of boats here!

LOTS of boats here!


Nearer the estuary, the canal is used by houseboats as well as ducks, and then there is just a disused lock leading out into the harbour, set off by an interesting sculpture, which just looks like a boulder from one side, but something else from the other direction. Here, too, is the start point for a multicache which ended our first caching series for the day.


We’d now completed our caching along the canal so headed across the marina to look for caches elsewhere, from ‘The Return’ series. First, we had to cross the lock that keeps the marina full of water when the tide is out, and it was at that point in the tide where boats were busily entering and (mostly) leaving. We waited for the semicircular gate to close, walked across the top, and out onto the edge of the harbour.

We paused to eat our picnic lunch overlooking the harbour and the people messing about in boats. Later, walking along Salterns Way, we left the marina and were soon away from the coast amid farmland, hedges, and ripening crops. We found another two caches here, the last in a quiet spot away from the bustle of the marina with expansive views back to Chichester, the South Downs, and Goodwood racecourse.

By now, the beach was calling us, so we retraced our steps, circling the other side of the marina to reach the geocar and to head off to West Wittering for our first swim in the sea for the year. And, no, the water wasn’t cold!

Here are some of the caches we found:

May 27 : Hastings in the evening, again

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

On a warm Saturday evening, we decided to make the most of our caching time by going back to the seafront at Hastings for a bit of caching, a walk on the beach, and a bit of a paddle too. The tide was well out when we arrived so Mr Hg137’s additional plans for a swim were immediately thwarted, as he’d have needed to wade halfway to France before the water got deep enough.

This time we decided to start at Hastings pier, http://hastingspier.org.uk , but our attempts to get there were barred by a zealous security guard, as an outdoor cinema screen was being set up. Oh well, another time maybe … Instead, we set off west along the promenade towards St Leonards. Our first two caches came from the ‘Toy Series’, and there are at least 42 of these dotted about Hastings. We found numbers #31 and #32, both with small cache containers attached to a toy. They made us smile. Fun caches!


We went down onto the beach, down the steep shingle, and onto the gently shelving sand that appears near low tide. The shoes came off, trousers were rolled up, we finally got our paddle, and it was not nearly as cold as we had feared. Then we walked back to the shore, wading through a small stream of water draining down the beach. Underfoot, it still looked like sand, but it was much finer, and softer, and both of us sank well above our ankles. Aargh, a quicksand moment! We arrived back at the promenade plastered in mud, and spent longer cleaning ourselves than we had paddling. NOT GOOD.

Once slightly tidier, we set off again towards the next cache, which was under a seat. On the seat were … several muggles. We waited, they didn’t move, we waited, we moved on, to find another two caches, one at the place where St Leonards pier used to be http://www.piers.org.uk/pier/st-leonards-pier By now it was cooler, and sunset was approaching, so we turned round and retraced our steps along the promenade, back into Hastings, and had another try at the cache under the seat that we had missed out earlier. This time, no-one was sat on the seat, so we had time for a good search, but we still couldn’t find the cache. (Editor’s note: only one cacher has ‘found’ that cache since our visit, and we are not absolutely convinced about that log.)

We arrived back at the geocar. It was twilight. We thought ‘hmm, maybe we could go and look for that cache we failed to find two days before…’ A quick trip along the seafront to Hastings Old Town, and past the black fishing sheds, and we were again looking for ‘I love it, this Old town’ in the gathering gloom. We were less conspicuous at this hour, but even so, we still couldn’t find that cache.

Twilight, Hastings old Town

Twilight, Hastings old Town


And that was the caching done for our holiday. We drove back to the hotel in the dark, reflecting on the past seven days. Seventy one caches attempted, sixty three found, glorious weather, simply a super week!

PS And one other thing: we finished our Sandhurst to Sandhurst walk, 85 miles, starting in January in freezing winter weather, and finishing in May on a hot early summer afternoon.

For the future (maybe): there is yet another Sandhurst! This one’s in Gloucestershire. We might, perhaps, walk home to Sandhurst, Berkshire, from Sandhurst, Gloucestershire. Time to start planning?

May 25 : Hastings

Hastings was our venue for the week, but our hotel was about 4 miles from the sea and historic parts of town. Today would be the day for exploring !

Warrior Gardens, Hastings

Warrior Gardens, Hastings

We had unsuccessfully attempted to visit Hastings Pier earlier in our stay, so this time we were determined to find the caches hidden in or near it!

But first…where to park the car? Fortunately a bit of online research pointed us to a not-too-expensive car park yards from the sea. We paid for 5 hours, thinking (stupidly), we’d be finished in 3 hours, and we could drive elsewhere to finish the day.

Our main targets were on the seafront, so we started to walk there and almost immediately noticed a church micro. An easy find, but an unplanned one.

Hastings

Somewhere in the picture is the church and the cache!


Next – to Hastings’ beautiful Warrior Gardens. Here a multi had to be solved, based on the dates of a statue. The final destination took us through both parts of the tiered gardens (a road bisects them) and so we had a fine view. What was slightly frustrating was the cache. A film container, not brilliantly hidden behind a bush and less salubriously, a dog poo bin. There ought to have been better hiding places!

We walked back through the Gardens to arrive at the seafront, and a real gem of a cache.

My Heart Belongs to Hastings

My Heart Belongs to Hastings

Hastings

Padlocks


My Heart Belongs to Hastings is a sculpture officially unveiled in 2012. Then the sculpture was a piece of driftwood with a few padlocks attached. The idea, as with other ‘love padlock sculptures’ is that people show their love to each other/Hastings/pets.. by placing a padlock on the sculpture. Over its 4 years, many hundreds of padlocks have been added…including a padlock cache! Yes, we had to search hundreds of caches to find a cache! After a few minutes searching, Mrs Hg137 had a good idea and almost immediately found the target. We awarded this cache a favourite as it was so different from what we were expecting.
Hastings Pier

Hastings Pier

...and the view back to shore

…and the view back to shore

The pier was open, and we had time to explore. Noticeboards were placed at strategic intervals telling us of the Hastings Pier Fire, how the pier was rebuilt, major bands that played on the pier etc.. all interesting information. All of which helped us to derived the coordinates for 2 different caches. One was apparently hidden on the pier itself, but we never found it. GZ seemed devoid of hiding places, and the hint bore little or no resemblance to items nearby. (We thought the cache was going to be under a telescope, but there were none at the co-ordinates). The second cache we did find, a small nano hidden just at the pier entrance.

Our Eureka moment, signing the log, was marred by an elderly Hastings resident asking us if we were lost or needed help…we didn’t but shortly chased after him to ask whether there were any bus services between the pier and the ‘Old Town’. There weren’t.

We had taken nearly 2 hours to attempt 5 caches, and we were still yards from the car! We decided to walk along the promenade to the Old Town. Very pleasant, but we did pass several caches we had attempted two nights previously.

The Old Town/Fishing Quarter had several caches. As we had been relatively slow up to that point, we jettisoned the host of multi-caches which seemed to pepper this part of town. Instead we looked for another cache on artwork.

Winkle

Winkle

This time we were looking for a nano on a Winkle! This area of town was known as Winkle Island, in honour of the Winkle Club which ran various charity events. Very modern, very metallic and very tactile. Visitors can clamber over it, and we did ! Sadly no cache came to hand! (We discovered after our visit that the cache owner had been checking the cache out not 15 minutes before we arrived!)

We walked on to the edge of the Fishing Quarter, to try to find an even harder cache. No hint. Just a miscellany of slightly worse-for-wear street furniture and pot-holed pavements. We looked long and hard and failed. Two DNFs in a row – not good, and our third of the day!

DNFs are great time stealers, and by now we were grateful we had paid for those 5 car park hours. As the day was hot, and we also decided to casually wander back to the car and finish our exploits mid-afternoon.

As we turned to walk back towards the car, we undertook an Earthcache. Unusually this Earthcache did not test our knowledge of geological rock formations, but of groynes. We had to describe what various groynes were made from and well as their advantages and disadvantages. As we were constructing our answers a fishing boat returned to shore.

Hastings does not have a natural harbour. In days gone by, boats were MANUALLY hauled up and down the shingle beach every time the fishermen sailed in and out. Nowadays a small mechanical digger takes the place of the manual labour.

The Old Town was the location for our last seafront cache. Here the roads were narrow, and twisted and turned up ever steep gradients. The flatter roads contained an unusual array of tourist shops and eateries, but our target was some 100 feet above them. On private property. In a window box! We were looking for a cache inches from someone’s front window! We found it, but so, so unnerving.

Hastings Tourist Town!

Hastings Tourist Town!


So a mixed day on the seafront, a few too many DNFS, but some very varied cache locations.

Hastings

Window Box Cache

As we arrived back at the hotel we remembered there was a cache in the road opposite. We parked up, and found it immediately (it hadn’t been hidden well)… but it was full of water! We decided to remove the cache, take it to our hotel room and dry it out. It wasn’t on the tourist trail, so we gambled a few hours away drying out would enhance it no end. It did! We were soon able to sign the dried up paper, and we replaced the cache with no other finder being inconvenienced. Our good deed for the day!

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

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 http://www.nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk , and a cycle hire business, heading for the Camel trail http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/cameltrail 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 http://cheesewringhotel.co.uk/ 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:
IMG_1976

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? http://greatscenicrailways.co.uk/lines/looe-valley-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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banjo_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.