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!

February 26 : Sandhurst to Sandhurst (Kent) : Winterfold Heath to Beare Green

Firstly, we don’t often do large caching expeditions on Sundays.

As as the weather forecast was less favourable on the Saturday we ventured out on a Sunday. When our double car journey (of driving the end with two cars, parking one, driving to the start with the other) should have been quicker.

Wrong.

Somehow we found the slowest ‘A’ road in Surrey, a bus (on a Sunday, really?!) we couldn’t overtake, then a learner we couldn’t overtake … and so we parked the first car a little later than anticipated.

Then we discovered Storm Doris has blown a tree down within half a mile of where we wanted to park our second car. A 5 mile diversion later and we were then much, much later starting than we had planned.

Our first cache was one we had failed to attempt from our previous visit to Winterfold Heath. Hidden under a pile of logs, we were grateful for a quick find to eventually start our day.

Our next cache was slightly troublesome, but the cache owner had helpfully provided two sets of coordinates and we found the second most useful. However accessing the cache was slightly harder, as a stream of mountain bikers whizzed past. (‘Whizzed’ is a slightly misnomer as the track was exceedingly muddy and the cyclists were going uphill). Being a Sunday, the footpaths and bridleways were much in use. For much of the day we were accompanied by ramblers, runners, cyclists and dog walkers. Not the usual quiet footpaths we are used to on Saturdays.

We were following the Greensand Way which zigzagged its away across the ridge line. The waymarking could be best described as ‘haphazard’, and frequently we found ourselves on a similar, but wrong, path. Fortunately it did take us past Ewhurst Mill.

Ewhurst Mill

Ewhurst Mill


Almost in the shadow of the white mill was our next target cache, under a fallen white trunk of a silver birch. An easy find, but quite a hard approach through ankle high brambles.

Our fourth cache of the day was in a tree hole. The tree was on a slight slope so access was tricky, the hole was deep and Mrs HG137 was up to her elbows retrieving the small plastic container. We walked away from the cache and paused for coffee.

Then we heard the father of a young family exclaim “There’s Treasure nearby… shall we go and find it ?”
The two children shouted “yes” unanimously and off they ran.
We just had time to tell the father that we had just found the cache, and it roughly where it was.

We finished our coffee, but it was obvious that the family had NOT found the cache. It couldn’t have gone missing in the short time we had been away so Mr Hg137 ran up to them and nudged them towards the dark forbidding hole in the tree. At first the young son didn’t want to put his hands in the hole, but he did, but sadly his small arms weren’t big enough to fully retrieve the cache. The father though, was able to, and the family eventually found the cache!

Green Sand Rock

Green Sand Rock


That was to be our last cache for some while, as the Greensand Way undulated for 2 miles with no caches for us to attempt. (There were a couple of unsolved puzzle caches and some very long multis, but no ‘easy’ traditionals). The path yielded fine views across the Weald to the South Downs as well as dropping steeply through the grounds of the Duke of Kent School only for us to climb steeply up the far side of the valley.

Across the Weald to the South Downs

Across the Weald to the South Downs


Eventually we arrived at a cache to find. The GPS and the hint item seemed at first out by 100 feet, so we walked on, but after much futile searching arrived back at the hint item, where the GPS now said 6 feet! A large yew, and a small film canister. What a shame a larger container couldn’t have been hidden.

We were now on flattish, but gently rising terrain. We claimed a quick find for our next cache, and even added some new paper as the log book was full. A few short strides later and we arrived at the top of Leith Hill and Leith Tower in particular. Leith Hill is the highest point in Southern England and 14 counties should have been visible. By now low cloud was forming over the South Downs some 15-20 miles away, so not the best day for county-counting.

Leith Hill Tower

Leith Hill Tower

We had 2 caches to find near the top of the hill.. but Mr Hg137 made a schoolboy error in the order we attempted them …

First we attempted to find a puzzle cache, one we had solved a few days earlier and involved solving several “Christmas Cracker Riddles” :

“What do you call a Polar Bear in a Desert ?
Answer : Lost.

To find the cache we had to walk a fair way down one of the Leith Hill slopes. It was then we discovered that a traditional cache was back at the top! So we re-climbed the slope, and found that cache too. We admired the view for the second time, only to discover the low cloud had enveloped much of the Weald and there was no view at all from the top of the hill!

We still had two miles to walk, in ever worsening gloom. We descended the hill for the second time and walked across roads, very muddy fields, crossing a railway line – pausing only to go over stiles (one of which was being impressively guarded by a horse).

Thank goodness – no more mud!

Eventually gloom gave way to the lights of Beare Green, and we knew our 10 mile walk would soon be concluded. We had one more cache to find, underneath a small footbridge. An easy find, and a pleasant end to the walk. There are a few more caches to find in Beare Green, but we will leave those for another time when hopefully Sunday traffic and gloomy weather won’t conspire against us.

September 1 : South Downs : Ditchling

As we mentioned on a previous post, we were having a mini-break holiday in the South Downs National Park (Sussex). We were staying with the walking holiday group http://www.hfholidays.co.uk.
Each day there were three guided walks to choose from, each with different lengths and difficulty.

On each day we opted for the easiest walk, for three main reasons.
The first was that Mr Hg137’s healed-but-not-quite-fully-recovered-broken-arm meant he occasionally struggled with a haversack.
Secondly Mr Hg137 visits local groups talking about the South Downs Way (SDW) , and he would learn more about the SDW on the easiest walks rather than the hardest walks.
Thirdly the pace would be slower enabling a few ‘cache and dashes’ !

Caching when in a muggle-walking party is difficult, so we agreed that we would not attempt multis unless there was a lot of time available, and also if the cache wasn’t in the first place we looked, we would pass it over. (Just finding a cache takes time : for example remove hiding camouflage, open container, remove log, find end of log, sign log, re-roll log, place back into container, re-hide).

The first walk started at the village of Clayton at the Northern foot of the South Downs. There are a couple of caches in Clayton – including a Church micro multi – which we didn’t have time to attempt.

Clayton Church

Clayton Church


Inside the church were fabulous wall paintings – the photo doesn’t really do it justice!

Wall paintings inside Clayton Church

Wall paintings inside Clayton Church

Our first real attempt at a cache ‘on the move’ was after the ascent onto the South Downs Way. At the top were the famous pair of windmills, Jack and Jill. Sadly for us, BOTH were undergoing sail renovation and both buildings looked like were triangular domes. Our first cache should have been alongside the SDW next to the windmills. We arrived at a post, overturned the likely stone and …. nothing there ! No time to search the immediate neighbourhood so we moved on! Not a great start!

Windmill under repair!

Windmill under repair!


Fortunately for us, another cache was within a short walk. Entitled ‘Windmill View’ – we should have been able to see Jack and Jill, but because they had no sails, we couldn’t see either! Anyway this was a quick find for which we were grateful.

The South Downs ridge has splendid views and we enjoyed these for the next mile or so. Our next likely cache was at a ‘dew-pond’ and after some mild arm-twisting we were able to convince the leader to have lunch at the pond. This gave us a few extra minutes to find the cache! An easy find with a dew-pond full of wildlife.

South Downs, dew-pond

Here’s the dew-pond, but where’s the cache?


Dew-ponds are a South Downs characteristic. The Downs are predominantly chalk, a very porous material, which means there are no natural lakes. Centuries ago, when shepherds kept sheep high on the hills, they needed water (for themselves and the sheep). Enterprising shepherds would excavate large depressions in the chalk and then fill the base of each depression with clay from the Weald below. The ponds would then hold water whenever it rained, enabling the shepherds to maintain their existence on the hill-tops. The Victorians labelled these water features as ‘dew-ponds’ as they believed they were filled by the overnight dew!

Our walk continued along the ridge, passing the trig point of Ditchling Beacon. (The third highest hill on the South Downs, and the equal highest on the South Downs Way long-distance path). Shortly we descended to the village of Ditchling to finish the walk.

South downs, Weald

Hill-top view of the Weald below


We had 30-45 minutes in Ditchling before our return coach journey which gave us time to attempt a multi based on its ‘Fine Pair’ of red letter box and red post box.
Ditchling's Fine Pair

Ditchling’s Fine Pair

We quickly worked out the final co-ordinates and discovered… it was at the coach pick-up point! Result! An easy win to end a great day’s walking.