Over the past 12 months, geocaching has taken us to many interesting places, with many stories to be told about each one. However today’s story is one of the more interesting ones.
After getting a referral on the Geocaching UK group on Facebook from solesearchers, we followed a trail out to Cozendon wood near Ifield. The hunt for Chalk and Cheddar began. Parking up at the suggested co-ordinates and following the restricted byway out to the woods, hoping that the few spots of rain wouldn’t turn into a large downpour.
We thought this would be a normal afternoon stroll in the woods and for the most part it was. We followed the footpath into the tree line and were soon marveling at nature’s garden. Gorgeous snowdrops and scented bluebells carpeted the ground, the beautiful architecture of the century old trees, many still standing yet there were many others that had come crashing to the ground. Leaving natural sculptures in their wake. These woods were quickly becoming a calm and serene place to wander.
As we were using my garmin oregon 450 to navigate (using the map), we took a path to our left when we really needed to have taken the path straight ahead. If we had have taken that path then I don’t believe we would have seen the man made bivouac just to the right of the footpath.
Further along this path we looked on in awe at the wonderfully different ways the roots on the trees had formed. Some root formations had widened so far that they had split and created two trees, others had gaping holes right through them creating mini
bridges. One of the fallen trees had once had creeping ivy wrapped around its trunk and resembled a python hugging its prey.
After having walked this path for more than ten minutes, I took another look at the GPSr map and noticed that the little blue pointer attached to the pink line with the blue dot on the end was in direct line of the part one co-ordinates! At the same time Smif247 pointed out that we would need to change direction and head west to reach our first goal.
This was where we discovered that others had cut through here too. There were definitely recent tracks through the undergrowth, watching our steps
and being incredibly careful not to damage any of the foliage, we headed westwards towards the plotted co-ords.
This was when things began feeling a little odd! We came across a large clearing, well off the path, and most definitely recently used as some sort of camp.
A thin rope was tied between a couple of trees with energy drink cans attached to it. On the right hand tree, someone had hung a saw up using the same rope as the make shift “washing line.” This saw however was incredibly weathered and covered in rust.
About 20 foot away someone had begun to build a shelter and had a bonfire
circle just in front of it. To the right of that there was another saw embedded into a nearby tree. This one was in much better condition than the last and looked as though it may have been used not too long ago.
We begun to turn ourselves towards the direction of stage one, when we found an upturned wheelbarrow, blackened from wood smoke and flames, residing by a smoldering tree root.
Why on earth was there a smoldering tree root? This wasn’t a small one either, and most certainly being kept under control as the greenery within its perimeter was pretty much damage free. We came to the conclusion that the wheelbarrow was being used to control the flames. Someone, it would seem, was living out here in the woods, because that tree root would only need some extra tinder & logs to re-light the flames. Not only that, someone had even piled some good sized fallen logs nearby, which looked ideal for creating a new fire near the part built shelter. Hence keeping the root smoldering perhaps.
This was when I began to feel a little jittery, and strangely like we may have
been getting watched. I wasn’t the only one, Cadence was also getting agitated and bought us back to the task in hand.
Turns out we were only about 150 feet from part one. We departed the camp quickly and came across our prize fairly soon. Despite me going round in circles waiting for the compass to catch up and point me in the right direction. Smif247 on the other hand had already found the container with the new co-ords and was already programming them into the Groundspeak app on his phone.
Still feeling a little jittery after finding the camp, we hastened up the footpath towards stage two, still discussing the unusual find. It wasn’t long before we found where we needed to go and Cadence was the first one sliding down to ground zero. We didn’t need to borrow the tool from stage one, which saved us the walk back, as we always carry at least one with us in our tool kit.
While I was more intrigued by the chalk formation and snapping photographs, Smif247 and Cadence were busying themselves with the final geocache. Investigating the contents and signing the log book.
We spent quite a bit of time down there investigating the cut out “rooms”
under the beautiful woods above. At some point in the past someone had actually cut through the chalk from one “room” to another. Just the right size for a small child to crawl through. The way the chalk sat together looked like brick work. I’ve never seen anything like it before and am so glad that solesearchers had found this spot and left a cache there so that others could also see nature at work.
After replacing the cache and scrambling back to ground level we found the well used bridal way and headed back towards our point of entry. We were back to marveling nature at work, me snapping pictures, Cadence climbing fallen trees and Smif247 pointing out the man made mud ramps along the path and the random trials bike wing mirror casing.
When we reached the bivouac we decided to investigate this area further. The people who built this, also had a stash of firewood close by and a fire circle behind their shelter. Not too far from this we noticed that someone had spray painted arrows and dots on trees along a route, so we followed this and came across a large tree that had a ladder built on to it and the starting frame for a tree house.
Not only that, there appeared to be many “hiding” places all over the woods.
Most were reminiscent of geocache hides using stick-o-flage. All of the ones we looked at were empty though.
I would highly recommend that geocachers and muggles alike come to these woods, not only for the natural beauty but because there seemed to be so much to discover here. One of the best afternoons I’ve ever had.