Back to the Chilterns

I had another chip away at the Chiltern Hundreds on Tuesday. I decided I would try to complete the bits of the Chesham Ring which I hadn’t yet done before moving on to the next ring. In case you aren’t familiar with it,  the Chiltern Hundreds series is conveniently divided into 3 – The largest (49 caches) is the Chesham Ring. The other two are the Asheridge Ring (33 caches) and the Chartridge Ring (27 caches). Now, if you are any good at arithmetic you’ll have realised that makes 109 caches rather than the 100. Actually there are 110 because the good doctor has also set a bonus and the extra ones are there in case some are out of action or simply not found. There’s more info on this website.

Anyway, I parked at Chesham Station and set off to CH001 with Skye. As you can probably tell I haven’t been doing the ring in numerical order; actually I started at number 9 some time ago and have been working my way round in an anti-clockwise direction. CH001 was an easy find but I had been anxiously watching the darkening sky and at that point it started raining heavily. Rather than carry on we dashed back to the car and took shelter until the rain eased; we took the opportunity to eat some of our rations. Afterwards we set off again towards a short run of caches (Nos. 47, 45, 44 & 43). That involved walking around an ornamental park lake and Skye got great pleasure from watching the geese jump into the water as she approached them 🙂

After that, it was simply a matter of walking from one end of the park to the other. Finding the caches was not difficult, the main problem was traversing a very slippery grass slope. I was sure that I was going to slide uncontrollably and end up on my arse but my luck held. By now the rain had stopped and I was optimistic about the next part of the trail. We retraced our steps, stopping at No. 49 (yes I know!) before collecting the car and driving to our second parking spot.

With the sun now out (sort of) off we went along a decent metalled footpath. Unfortunately I couldn’t find one cache, I think because of fallen trees etc., and another I couldn’t even look for because, as we approached GZ, so did about a dozen dog-walkers. Turns out this was a convenient place for the locals to take their dogs and they were all taking advantage of the dry spell. Normally I’d have stooged around for a few minutes until the coast was clear but I could see this wasn’t going to work today. Ho hum. Onwards and upwards!

We set off in the opposite direction, away from habitation and into the countryside. Unfortunately the path was a) uphill, b) very muddy and c) underwater. I hoped that conditions would improve with the increase in elevation so we pressed on, finding the next two caches easily. After we found the first cache the path got worse, the Council had started what their sign said were “Footpath Improvements” – they had excavated the path out to a depth of about a foot and then abandoned the site, leaving their plant behind and what amounted to a shallow river. By this point I was carrying Skye over the worst bits in a vain effort to prevent her getting too muddy. Some hope! Then it started raining again (not that it made any difference to the amount of surface water), by now we were struggling to make headway along the path. At the GZ of the last CH cache we had aimed to find, the path was completely submerged and there was no sign of the expected hiding place. I carried Skye a bit further until we reached the junction with Bottom Lane which I had always intended to use as our return route. This path had a totally different character – the surface had been washed away to reveal a gravel bed, it still had water running along it so as we made our way uphill once more it was like walking along the bed of a stream. Thankfully my walking boots actually turned out to be waterproof. Which was nice. En route we picked up the Captain Jack cache I had planned on getting.

After that it was just a question of getting back to where we’d left the car. Overall I was pretty satisfied with the day’s outing, 10 finds and 2 DNFs.

And when we got home, Skye had a much needed bath. 🙂

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