June 23 : Annerschter (Simon’s Cat)

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

We found this trackable, Annerschter, in a cache from the ‘Lipchis Canal Wander’ series which follows the semi-derelict Chichester canal from the city to the sea.

Annerschter (with Simon's Cat)

Annerschter (with Simon’s Cat)

The tag/travel companion attached to the cache is a cat, better known as ‘Simon’s Cat’. It was registered on Christmas Eve 2014 and then travelled around 5,000 kilometres around Germany with its owners before being released to travel onward, and it has moved a further 3,000 kilometres since then. Here is a translation of the bug’s mission:

This small traveller, with Simon’s Cat as a travel companion would now like to see the world. He has already experienced a lot with us and now he is ready for his first steps alone. Perhaps he’ll land in England, India, or New Zealand, perhaps he will be around here … the people who will meet him will decide. And who wonders about the name? Well … Mrs. Angeldangel is native Hessin … and when she was asked what the trackable should be called, she said “Annerchter” (Anders auf Hochdeutsch), she was not clear that Mr. Angeldangel would take it so literally. And there he had the name. Take care of him. And maybe you have time for a Buidl (picture on high German) (Mr. Angeldangel, by the way, from Bavaria) on the road.

Editor’s postscript: We dropped Simon’s Cat into a cache in Simon’s Wood. We didn’t realise at the time, but that is quite appropriate!

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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 27 : Great Dixter

Our last full day in Hastings dawned… with a thunderstorm. The only rain we’d seen all week.

Fortunately the storm didn’t scupper our plans too much, as we had one place to visit, Great Dixter.

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter is a house and garden, situated in Northiam. Although people do visit the house, the garden is the main visitor attraction. Laid out in the early to mid 20th century by not one, but two garden designer luminaries in Edwin Lutyens and Nathaniel Lloyd. But it was a third garden designer, Nathaniel’s son Christopher, that made the gardens really special. The garden is famous for its long borders, and packed border planting. Christopher took the stance… if there is bare earth.. I can put a plant in it!

We had though to await these delights as the gardens weren’t open until late morning.

So to pass the time we geocached in the villages in the Northiam area.

The early morning rain had made footpaths and undergrowth wet and slippery so we were grateful we had selected some drive-bys. These featured two Church Micros and three ‘Phone an Old Friends’. These latter geocaches were hidden in (becoming redundant, if not obsolete) phone boxes.

We have, in the past, struggled to find caches in phone boxes. Why, we don’t know, but we do not a high find ratio crammed inside a relatively small red phone box. Indeed our first attempt, in the village/hamlet of Clayhill yielded nothing.

Can you see the cacher in the phone box ?

Look what we found in the box!

Fortunately our next two boxes were more fruitful, the caches hidden in exactly the same way, which gave us the impression that the Clayhill cache was missing.

Beckley

Beckley Church

Our two Church Micros were in Beckley and Northiam were both extremely hard to find. Both were hidden in dense undergrowth at a stile, and it took well over 15 minutes to find each one.

Northiam Church

Northiam Church

Church Micro Geocache

All the caches we found were relatively standard film containers..so the bright colours and planting that awaited us at Great Dixter were a fabulous contrast to the nettles and brambles of the caching trip!

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

Great Dixter


Great Dixter

Great Dixter

May 26 : Bodiam Castle

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle


We had just finished our unofficial, self-made long-distance path from Sandhurst (just in Berkshire) to Sandhurst (just in Kent). Woo hoo! Mission accomplished, that left a hot, sunny May afternoon free for enjoying ourselves, and we moved a mile or so from Sandhurst to Bodiam, just back over the border in Sussex.

Bodiam Castle really looked the part of a castle, surrounded by a moat, standing square with towers at the corners and gates https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodiam_Castle It was built in 1385 and still looks very complete from the outside. Inside it’s more of a shell but there are rooms and towers to visit and steep spiral staircases inside turrets to climb to the battlements. Once up top, there’s a view out across the nearby countryside with its vineyards, and down into the moat with its large and numerous carp.
Fish!

Fish!


After about two hours we had ‘done’ the castle quite thoroughly, had climbed every uneven winding staircase, walked along the battlements, and visited every room. After a cup of tea, time for some caching! Our first cache lay uphill from the castle, along the Sussex Border Path, at the side of a vineyard. ‘Swine Bovine Equine’ was a very old cache, placed in March 2002 (that is extremely venerable in caching age!) and its name comes from the figures decorating the weather vanes of three nearby oasthouses.
Swine, Bovine, Equine

Swine, Bovine, Equine


There is more history in the grounds of the castle, though much more modern, a World War II pillbox (to be more precise, a pentagonal FW3/28A variant, brick-skinned!) and there is a cache based on that. (More information on this pillbox can be found on this blog: http://wwww.pillbox.org.uk/blog/216726 ) We’d done the research beforehand, so didn’t need to look very closely, and the cache container can be found a little way away, outside the castle grounds. The cache description says that the National Trust expect visitors to pay before entering the castle grounds and walking past the pillbox; we did that anyway as we were visiting the castle … but that path is also a public footpath, part of the Sussex Border Path, and I think you could walk along that anyway, without paying.

Past the castle and moat, we turned uphill away from the castle to look for another cache, hidden behind a decorated village pump, which is also a war memorial. More about this can be found here: http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/Bodiam.html It was somewhere we had driven by earlier, almost without noticing, and would not have stopped. While researching for this post, I came across a comment on the cache logs which was written on the logs after our visit … ‘Message from a Bodiam resident THIS IS A WAR MEMORIAL Show respect’ I agree: we should, and did, show respect; but from another viewpoint, the cache brings visitors who would not stop here otherwise, and who keep alive the memories of those commemorated there.

Bodiam war memorial

Bodiam war memorial


But there is more to Bodiam than the castle: just over the River Rother lies a station, which forms one end of the Kent & East Sussex railway, the other end being at Tenterden https://www.kesr.org.uk It had its heyday during hop-picking times, and is now a heritage steam railway. And, as there was a station, there was a cache to be found there, from the ‘Sidetracked’ series. Could we find it? We gave it a very long search, staring at every possible place it could be hidden, including a very suspicious large stone tucked behind a fence post. But we couldn’t find it … no-one else has found it since, and it’s been temporarily disabled. It goes missing quite often, according to the logs.
Bodiam Station, K&ES railway

Bodiam Station, K&ES railway


It was now about 5pm, and still very hot, and we were beginning to wilt, as we had been out walking / castle visiting / caching all day in the sunshine. We had just one more cache to attempt, sort of on the way back to the car. Once back at the bridge over the River Rother, we then diverted along the path along the riverbank. A little way along was the final cache, ‘Castle View’, which really did mark the spot for a splendid view back to the castle nesting amongst trees just above the valley. Facing the other way, there was also a splendid view of the station and railway: A well chosen spot indeed.
River Rother

River Rother


And that was it for the day: time to head back to the hotel for a rest, a shower and a meal, in no particular order.

Here are some of the other caches we found:

May 26 : Woodie’s escape

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

Woody's escape

Woody’s escape


Woody was released on January 1st 2016 with a mission to travel as far as possible from home (Romsey) in a year.

It went first to Southampton, then Oxford, then South Wales, London, Glasgow, then south to Kent and Sussex. After just under 2000 miles, in August 2016, he was placed in a multi-cache just on the Sussex border with Kent. And there he stayed … the multicache could only be solved by finding two other caches, one of which supplied the eastings for it, and one the northings. And one was missing. We found the other, which was in poor condition, having not been found for almost a year. After an email dialogue with the cache owner we had the missing coordinates. He had given up caching a while before, so had not been maintaining his caches.

The missing multicache was not far, about 15 minutes walk, from the stat of the final leg of our walk from Sandhurst to Sandhurst. We made a small diversion, and found Woody tucked into an ammo can, safe and dry.

May 26 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Kent border to Sandhurst

PROLOGUE

Our last caching trip on our Sandhurst (Berks) to Sandhurst (Kent) finished yards from the Kent border, and when we drove away we had thoughts of striding purposefully into Kent and onto Sandhurst… however since our last visit we were asked to undertake a small diversion while still in Sussex.

Kent, Sussex

Kent is ahead of us..but we’re not going there, yet!


The last cache we found on our previous trip contained a sheet of paper with the ‘Northings’ for the Great Wigsell Multi. Another cache, unfortunately now archived, contained the ‘Eastings’. This meant the Great Wigsell Multi was unreachable. The cache owner of these three caches contacted us with the missing information and asked, if we had time, to visit the Multi as it contained a trackable which needed to be moved on.

And so instead of heading East into Kent, we headed further South through light woodland for a 1/3 of a mile. We were pleasantly surprised on our arrival. Not only was the cache there after an eight month gap…but it was an ammo can!

We released the trackable and headed back to our car, wondering how many other cache owners we would be helping on the this holiday (see previous blog for more details).

And so to Kent.

THE SANDHURST WALK

Before finding the Great Wigsell Multi our day had not begun well. There had been a major accident and our route to the Kent border had been blocked. A plethora of side roads were also blocked with roadworks so we had had an interesting drive to our start point.

Our route was to take us 2/3 mile along a narrow country lane, unfortunately this was being used as one of the few roads open. We edged our way along, taking care watching out for traffic.

Or at least that was the agreed plan.

Sadly Mr Hg137 decided to check maps/GPS whilst walking up the pavement-less road and failed to spot a large pot-hole.

He landed considerably worse for wear, face down, lying on the tarmac.

Grazed wrists, ripped trousers, and several layers of skin removed from a lower leg. Ouch!

He limped to a gap in the roadside, where a passing motorist provided us with a few tissues which staunched the wounded leg. We both thought that having walked so far on our Sandhurst route, we would fail with just 2.5 miles to walk!

We sat. Annoyed.

Eventually Mr Hg137 stood up. The bleeding had ceased, and he could put weight on the injured leg (hidden behind the ripped trousers).

We tentatively walked on.

Kent countryside


We were following, for the last time, the Sussex Border Path, which up to that point had been brilliantly signposted. Sadly when we needed a post to show us the way to a cache 300 feet away, it was missing. No obvious track through farmland, and with some way still to go, we abandoned our search before it really got going. We knew we were getting close to our destination though as the cache belonged to a series entitled “Sandhurst Cross Circular Walk”.

The route took us through a farm. Clearly the farmer had had trouble with hikers, as there were a plethora of “Keep to the Path”, “Close the Gate” type signs. However the farmer had failed to mark the signpost clearly as we approached his back garden, and the fingerpost was angled for us to walk straight through his garden rather than a tiny path just by the fence line.

You can’t walk through Kent without seeing some of these!


It was shortly after this we found our first Kent cache on the walk. Hidden in tree roots. It had been well over an hour since our finding of the Sussex Multi so were grateful for an easy find.

Kent

Under the tree roots…

Our route took us through woodland, and around farm fields. We crossed far too many stiles for our liking (too tall for Mrs Hg137, too wobbly for Mr Hg137’s now-healing leg).

Kent

A Kentish stile!


And then we arrived at a Roman Road – and another cache. Again hidden in tree roots. Here though we had a long search. Lots of trees, and lots of roots.

Kent

Did the Romans leave this geocache for us to find ?

We were eventually successful and strode/limped purposefully the 1/4 mile into the village of Sandhurst.

A beautiful village green and fabulous clock tower. Our journey was complete.

Sandhurst, Kent

Sandhurst, Kent


Our final cache was under the clock tower, and we waited ages, for a bus driver to vacate the seat on which the cache had been placed.

Our final cache on this walk!


A fabulous setting for the end of our walk!

EPILOGUE

Sandhurst Geocachers Trail Trackable starts its quest

Sandhurst Geocachers Trail Trackable starts its quest

And so our walk was at an end. We finished in high Summer on a boiling hot day. We had started in the height of Winter, with ice on the ground. We had caught trains and buses. We had used many a long distance path including the Blackwater Path, The North Downs Way and the Sussex Border Path. We had walked beside canals, rivers and underneath a major flight path. We’d walked over Surrey’s highest hill, and walked through the claggy clay of the Weald. We’d undertaken quite a few Church Micros and learned about such diverse people as an Astronomer Royal and the founder of Ottawa. We even saw the Flying Scotsman!

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman


We’d heard lots of birdsong and been lucky enough to see deer, a heron, an adder and a kingfisher.

Our route would have been approximately 60 miles if we had walked in a straight line but various constraints (Army land, Gatwick Airport, reservoirs) prevented this. Our convoluted route of 86 miles kept to footpaths where we could, avoided major towns and where possible picked a route with caches to find. Our route is visible here https://www.geocaching.com/track/map_gm.aspx?ID=6190539

An excellent adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Sandhurst, Kent

As we noted on January 1, there is another Sandhurst, near Gloucester, a journey which we will undertake probably next year.

Do look out for that!