For our GeoDate this week Sharlene and I went back to Buckinghamshire for some good ole’ CaptainJack caches. Hawridge, a small village in the Chilterns was our destination.
Looking on the map we located a pub on the route which we figured would be a good place to park the car. When we arrived however we found that the Rose and Crown had long since gone out of business and the building was now depressingly deserted and boarded up – an all too common sight these days when it comes to out-of-the-way country pubs. They could have at least left the car park open, but it was not to be. We did manage to park on a verge near the pub on the side of the quiet country lane so it was on with the backpack and boots and off once more into the wilderness in search of Tupperware.
After a quick find at Hawridge – Off Road (GC334BD), a short distance from the car we then made the wrong choice about following either the road or a footpath. We chose the footpath and had to squelch through some low level mud and fight off the encroaching brambles whereas in hindsight the road would have been much easier… but boring. We almost missed Hawridge – A Common Sign (GC34Z44) because we were mourning our poor decision about the route we had taken. Quite surprising really as the hide was on a massive sign which even I could tell was not part of the natural environment, it being rectangular and white which most trees and bushes are not.
Next it was time to make a choice again about taking the footpath next to the road or walking along it. We had already made the wrong choice once so we opted to be smart and take the road this time, despite there not being any verge. As we approach gz we realised we had again made the wrong decision as the footpath to our right on the other side of a line of trees started to rise in elevation away from us and when we got to GZ we realised that there was no way to get up to the path where the cache was. We then discovered that the cache description of Hawridge – High Verge (GC34Z3A) clearly stated that the cache was not accessible from the road. Hmmm, another fine decision by team washknight.
We weren’t gonna give up though and after continuing for another hundred metres along the lane, we found a not-so-steep part of the bank and scrambled up to the path. It was then just a matter of backtracking to find the cache which we did with relative ease and only a small loss of pride. This was far too much decision making for us at this time of the morning… err… actually it was just after lunchtime.
With an easy find at Hawridge – A Micro Gate (GC34Z2Y) a bit further along the lane we felt that we were back on safer footing as the path turned away from the road and headed off into the countryside. The wind that had been biting into us dropped a little as we made our way towards our next cache. A gasp and a gulp from Sharlene however hinted that it wasn’t going to be as easy as I had suspected. With a groan she declared that in front of us lay one of the steepest hills she had ever seen, and a chicken. The chicken was not phased by the hill, or us and happily clucked around while we prepared for the climb.
The clouds darkened somewhat as we hoofed our way up the slope towards in the heart of it. I have to admit it was a pretty dam steep ascent and as we arrived at GZ there was a brief pause for a bit of mutual huffing and puffing before we then tried to work out how to get access to Hawridge – The Heart of It (GC34Z2N) which could only be hidden in the blatantly obvious massive tree at GZ. After a couple of failed attempts and a brief bought of melee combat on my part with a tangle of branches, Shar announced that she had found a way in. A few spots of rain started to fall as we signed the log and turned to admire the moody view across the Chilterns. All pretty dramatic stuff for a Thursday afternoon I can tell you.
Having ascended the hill it was now time to drift gently down the other side and into a tree line that would take us along the path that ran parallel to the road. There were 4 caches along here, Hawridge – Multi (GC34Z24), Hawridge – Within Reach (GC34Z1N), hawridge – Bottom Gate (GC34Z14) and Hawridge – Rooted To The Spot (GC34Z0Z), but none of them were anything special. However they were all there and surprisingly for CaptainJack, they were in a reasonable state of repair. The rain refused to commit itself to anything more serious than a bit of distracted drizzling and the only thing of interest we noticed as we walked were two men off to the side of the path burning wood. I can only assume that they had decided to do this purely to indulge my liking for the smell of a good wood fire, for which I failed entirely to thank them… well I didn’t want to spoil the illusion by acknowledging them or anything as crass as that.
The metres rolled on and the caches piled up and a drink of water was taken. A tricky find at Hawridge – In Plain View (GC334BX) proved to us that it was anything but in plain view but was in fact well hidden in amongst the ivy vines around a tree. This was the closest we got to a DNF all day and I am glad to say that we managed to find the little bleeder just before admitting defeat. One last cache, Hawridge – Hollow Tree (GC334C6), along the path and then it was back in the direction of the car for Hawridge – Along the lane (GC334BR). The hill on the way back was, if anything, even worse than the one we had to climb to get here. It was a bloody good job that the car was just a short distance from our last cache, Hawridge – Hawridge Lane (GC334BK), at the top of the hill, otherwise I think we may have had to call for the air ambulance to take Sharlene to a place where her burning thigh muscles could be extinguish with some liquid nitrogen or something similar. As it turned out a short sit down in the car and a cup of hot chocolate was enough to revive us sufficiently to avoid involving the emergency services. Happy Days
This geocaching adventure took place on Thursday 3rd March 2016 and took our total cache count up to 1409. OMG we just passed 1400 and I didn’t even notice. YAY us!