August 12 : Petersfield Plod

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here.

It was the weekend after the UK Geocaching Mega, and it all seemed a bit flat after the hustle and bustle of Devon. But it would be good to go out and actually search for a cache, instead of being handed the cache container by the previous cacher in the queue! We settled on the Petersfield Plod series, which starts at the south east of the town, then circles clockwise up onto the South Downs Way and back down to the starting point. There are 37 caches in the series, plus a few others along the same route. We decided to do every other cache, to give us a chance to do the rest of the series another time, maybe going around in the opposite direction.

Heath Pond, Petersfield

Heath Pond, Petersfield


We set off from a free car park close to Heath Lake, on Petersfield Common. Finding our first cache, we reached the edge of the common, crossed the road, and set off into farmland. And the stiles started … there were lots of them, some were surrounded by nettles, some were quite tall (and I am NOT tall) and, worst, one crossed an electric fence, with an unprotected strand of barbed wire as the top rail. Oh dear! Mr Hg137 did some careful balancing, and I carefully deployed my geohat as protection.
Watch out for barbed wire!

Watch out for barbed wire!


On we went, across a mixture of fields and very narrow lanes, the sort with moss growing down the centre. We dodged nettles, hunted in trees and behind posts, collected caches, and dropped off the ‘What is the City’ trackable we had picked up the week before.
Setting a trackable free

Setting a trackable free


Suddenly it all got very busy. We were stood, signing a cache log, at the side of a country lane. We looked up. A pony and trap were approaching. We waved, and they waved back. We were about to step out into the road, and thought better of it. A peloton of about twenty cyclists was zooming up, faster than the horse ahead. We waited, and they all passed. We stepped out into the road, and set off towards the South Downs. A huge tractor came into view, travelling at speed and entirely filling the lane. We thought for about one second, then climbed the bank at the roadside to let it rush by. Busy around here!
Watch out for horses!   And cyclists!

Watch out for horses! And cyclists!


Watch out for tractors!

Watch out for tractors!


Crossing a more major road, we set off uphill along another narrow lane leading to the South Downs Way. Part way up the hill was a cache hidden up a tree. Mr Hg137 started upwards, but time passed with him some way up the tree, and with me spotting from the ground, but neither of us could see our target and eventually we gave up. (That was a shame, caches up trees are especially satisfying.)
Couldn't find the cache in here ...

Couldn’t find the cache in here …

We walked up the lane. Large tractors and trailers were still rushing past, hauling grain, for it was a sunny day in the middle of harvest time. Nearly at the top of the hill, we needed to step smartly off the road again, as the combine harvester came down the hill, having finished one field and heading for the next.
Watch out for combine harvesters!

Watch out for combine harvesters!


Eventually we reached the crest of the hill and the South Downs Way. We walked this back in 2011, in the other direction, but neither of us could remember this section very well. Having paused to chat to an ultrarunner, out training, we found another few caches, hidden in the hedgerow, while yet more cyclists sped by oblivious to us.
South Downs Way

South Downs Way


We walked along the SDW for only a mile or so, passing the spot which is the county boundary between Hampshire and West Sussex, which is where the SDW originally finished before it was extended to Winchester a few years later.
County boundary - Hampshire/West Sussex

County boundary – Hampshire/West Sussex


And then we turned away northwards, steeply downhill along a lane, then across more fields towards Buriton village. More caches nestled behind nettles, another was buried under a bridge, and others were hidden in hedgerows. Reaching cache 30 in the series, we were concealed in the foliage, signing the log, when a voice from outside said “Is this number 30?” Nice to meet you, DJ_23! We’ll add you to our ever-lengthening list of cachers met while out in the field.
Found it!

Found it!


We were returning to our start point now, and it was late afternoon. A few caches further on was one which had lots of ‘favourite’ point from other cachers, and included the following instructions:
Note: to retrieve the cache you will need a special tool. This can be made from a length of string or thread about a metre in length with a piece of ferrous metal attached to the end of it. A newi-sh bronze coin would do for this (attached with blutak) or a steel screw (or nail). Check to see that it is attracted by a fridge magnet. Alternatively you could use a gadget often sold in budget shops which is invaluable for picking up certain items from the floor for those with limited mobility. Please return the cache carefully (“sticky” end up) once you have signed the log.

We had dutifully carried a piece of string and a nail around with us all day, and now it was time for some ‘fishing’. We were soon successful (we both tried it), and another cache joined our tally.

And then we had one final cache to find, and with a short walk along by the side of Heath Pond we were back at the geocar, having found nineteen of the twenty-one caches we had attempted, and collected clues for a bonus cache to be found another time, after a great walk and caching series on a lovely August day.

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

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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!

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.