May 23 : Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd

Our previous day’s caching had been quite long with lots of sightseeing and a double caching trip. We therefore decided to have a more restful day… in the car.

Rye

Rye – Mermaid Street

We would drive to Winchelsea, wander around, grab a couple of caches. Drive to Rye, do likewise. Similarly in Lydd. If time permitted we would even visit Dungeness. And, unusually for us, we more or less, stuck to this plan!

So first stop.. Winchelsea.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Church

Winchelsea lays claim, or so its says on Wikipedia, to being Britain’s smallest town and with only 600 inhabitants, it must be jolly close. The town is now about 4 miles from the sea, but up the 13th century was on the coast. Sadly two very large storm waves destroyed the (old) town, and the new town was rebuilt on a grid system from 1281.
We had three caching targets in the town, the first being a Church Micro. We knew from the description and the hint, it would be on a seat just outside the churchyard. But as we arrived, on both sides of the road there were two long bus-queues of people. Muggle central! We took evasive action by visiting the Church. Unusually more ‘square’ than an oblong cross, but full of beautiful windows and tapestries.

Winchelsea

Spike Milligan’s Grave and (back right) the John Wesley tree

Outside in the churchyard we had two more attractions. The first, the grave of Spike Milligan, which we only found by asking a churchwarden. (Interestingly the famous quote on his grave… “I told you I was ill”, is almost an urban myth. Yes, it does include the text, but it is written Gaelic, as the Church wouldn’t allow it in English!.) The other attraction was a tree planted to commemorate John Wesley’s last outdoor sermon in 1790. Sadly the tree was uprooted in the 1920s but another now stands in its place.

The queues had gone, so we headed out of the churchyard, passing a large group of German hikers as we left.

We wandered to GZ, a seat, and as we were about to search we were aware that three of the German party were ‘looking for something’ the other side of the churchyard wall.

Was it Spike Milligan’s grave? No.
Was it John Wesley’s tree ? No.

They were cachers. Or at least one of the was. We quickly signed the log, and re-hid the cache for her to ‘re-find’ it, before rejoining her party. Nice meeting you Schatzhasi!

So a cache that should have taken 5 minutes, somehow had stretched to 30 minutes…

We decided to omit our second Winchelsea target cache, as the pavement away from the town disappeared and we didn’t fancy the road walk. So instead we drove to Winchelsea station (some way from the town), and did a quick cache and dash! Or should have been! Two workmen were busy nearby, so some stealth and diversionary activity was called for. Log signed, we drove to Rye.

Winchelsea

Winchelsea Station

Winchelsea had been busy, in a ‘quiet busy’ sort of way. Many people, but everyone going about their business.

Rye, though, was completely different. It was heaving. Rye residents shopping, tourists walking around (we counted at least 8 50 seater coaches), and a plethora of car parks for tourists like us. Rye is only a small town (population 5000), but somehow manages to squeeze 8 caches within its town centre. All the caches were film canisters, but most led us to places of interest. (The one exception being a car park in the centre of town). The remaining caches had been placed near the fishing quarter, a town gate, a church, a tower, a watchbell, a quay, the railway station and a windmill. Rye’s most scenic road, the cobbled Mermaid Street, was devoid of caches but as we were walking down the cobbles, we saw the same group of German walkers we had seen in Winchelsea walking up! Without the caches to guide us around the town, we are fairly certain we would have missed seeing some of Rye’s rich history. All were easy finds apart from one, under a seat, where we had to wait patiently until several people had finished eating their fish and chips on the very seat we wanted to search under!

Rye

Rye – Fishing Quarter

Rye

Rye – Ypres Tower

Rye

Rye – Watchbell

Rye

Rye – Windmill

Rye

Rye – Landgate

All our caches so far had been in Sussex, but our final destination, Lydd, was in Kent.

We drove there, passing Camber Sands Holiday Park, and then some very imposing Army Ranges.

These Ranges straddled the Sussex-Kent county boundary, where a cache had been placed. Sadly nowhere to park a car satisfactorily. So Mrs Hg137 got out to search for the ‘County Boundary’ cache. Mr Hg137 sat parked in the roadside thinking every car was passing just a bit too close, and with only the concrete blocks and barbed wire surrounds of the range to admire – it was definitely not ideal. What wasn’t ideal either was the length of time Mrs HG137 was away…. she searched, and she searched and she searched.. all to no avail. So a wasted 20 minutes all round.

We had two target caches to find in Lydd. One a Church Micro, hidden in a street sign.

Lydd

Lydd Church

The other was at the far end of the village green. Lydd Village Green is huge, well over half a mile long. And we were the wrong side of the half mile!
This was our hardest find of the day, as there no hints, and at GZ was a prominent tree. We searched it at length, before we noticed some nearby park furniture. Success!

Lydd

Lydd- Village Green (part of)

So we had found caches in Winchelsea, Rye and Lydd. We looked at the watch and decided Dungeness was just a bit too far. So instead we drove back to our hotel via (Old) Winchelsea (ie the settlement now actually by the sea). We stopped for our fourth Church Micro of the day (again, far too long a search), before spending a relaxing 15 minutes overlooking the sea.

We were bemused by a line of fishermen standing at the distant shore edge. What were they doing ? Fortunately as we sat another fisherman went by… he was off to collect lugworms.

We had been collecting film canister caches near churches, windmills, and stations all day and the fishermen were collecting lugworms to be sold as bait for other fishermen. Isn’t life strange!

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May 3 : Godstone

From time to time Mr Hg137 gives talks on such diverse subjects as “The South Downs Way” and “Hebridean Hopscotch”. Whenever we get a chance, and if traffic and time allow, these bookings allow us to find a cache before the talk is delivered.

Today, we were in Godstone, just after rush hour on the M25. We had left plenty of time, and of course arrived way too early. The early Summer’s evening should have been light, but rain was forecast and the skies at 7pm were almost dark.

Godstone has a very large village green, clearly a cricket pitch, but probably football, village fetes and much more besides also must take place there. The green is so big it can support two caches easily and probably a further two or three if one tried hard.

We had two caches to find. The first was a magnetic nano hidden in a very architectural, metal seat showing aspects of the different activities that take place on the Green. We fumbled around this seat, in ever-failing light, and in the end abandoned our search. Odd spats of rain were falling and we wanted to find the other cache and return to the sanctity (and dryness) of the car before we got really wet.

Fortunately the second cache (hidden behind a street sign) was a quick find. So quick we were able to have another ‘search around the seat’ before the rain started to fall.

We found one cache, avoided the rain and gave a great talk ! Job done!

July 27 Sherfield-on-Loddon

Another hot day. Too hot for a really long walk – but a short series of ten caches to be found before late morning would be ideal.

With this criterion in mind we found ourselves in Sherfield-on-Loddon to embark on the Little Hack series (plus one extra).

Sherfield-on-Loddon is a village north of Basingstoke with over 1600 inhabitants, a huge village green, a duck pond, a Church, and much more besides. Clearly the busy A33 used to run through the village, but the major road has now been re-routed and the idyllic quietness has returned.

We left the village, passing the duckpond (collecting our first cache nearby), through woodland (second cache) to arrive at a gate near to the A33.

One down... ten to go!

One down… ten to go!

This was the Ground Zero for Cache 3 (Gates End). The logs on http://www.geocaching.com indicated that we might have problems here, as the cache ‘kept going missing’. Indeed the cache had been replaced on the 5th of July but had been ‘DNF’ed on the 19th! We had just started our search when a car drew up. Apparently it was the landowner who informed us he had ‘removed the cache’. Apparently cachers had been wandering on his land, day and night, and causing damage to gardens/grass etc. We apologised on behalf of cachers and enquired whether he had given permission for the cache. He said he hadn’t. (To our non geocaching readers – geocaches can only be placed at the landowners permission).

We left apologetically (but on friendly terms) and later passed our findings onto the cache owner to sort out. (It is possible that permissions were (i) never sought, (ii) never granted, (iii) granted and then ‘conveniently’ forgotten or (iv) there had been a change of land owner.)

Still reeling from this, we arrived at St Leonard’s Church for cache 4. As were arrived (in our scruffy walking gear), there was lots going on. Cars were being marshalled into spaces, parishioners seemed VERY WELL dressed even for Church. Apparently a new Church extension was to be blessed by the Bishop hence the very smart looking clothes. Our route was through the Churchyard (slightly blocked by the cars), getting strange looks all the while and it was little wonder we nearly forgot to find the cache when we eventually left the Churchyard!

St Leonard's Church

St Leonard’s Church

We hoped the next few caches would be less stressful than the last two.

Fortunately they were – with some easy 'under a pile stones' caches, and one to be extracted very gently from an ever-so-prickly hedge.

Cache 8 'Bus Stop' – was our next nemesis. An Ivy Covered Tree. We've remarked before … WE HATE IVE COVERED TREES. This one was in full view of muggles fixing bikes. We gave it a few minutes before retreating.

The remaining caches circumnavigated the village green and consisted of a mixture of easy and sneaky hides. This left us with just cache 8 as a ‘DNF’; so we decided to take a quick diversion and revisit GZ. With no muggles around, the cache was ours within seconds of our return.

Village Green

Village Green

10 caches found and despite all the problems at caches 3 and 4 – finished by lunchtime too!

Somewhere in this sleeper lies a cache...

Somewhere in this sleeper lies a cache…