Geocaching in Kent: Seeing Christmastime in Canterbury and walking along Dover’s infamous white cliffs…
At the end of November it was MrBizkitz’s birthday so we decided to escape the delights of Surrey and head down to “The Garden of England”, aka Kent, for a couple of days.
Both MrBizkitz and I are a stickler for finding the best budget deals that we can, it’s probably one of the reasons we enjoy Geocaching so much – because it’s a good free hobby (minus petrol costs of course!) With this in mind, and knowing that Geocaching was going to be featuring heavily in the outing, we scanned the map for a hotel that was close to Canterbury as neither of us had been there, and to Dover as there was a good Geocaching trail there. 🙂
Scanning various websites we eventually struck gold finding a beautiful old place to stay called The Abbot’s Fireside a 15th Century inn with buckets of character and charm located in the peaceful village of Elham, just what we’d need to rest our aching feet – and at £40 for the night you can’t really go wrong.
With some of Canterbury’s caches and also the White Cliff’s of Dover trail saved to our phones we packed the car up and headed straight over to Canterbury after MrBizkitz finished work on Friday.
We arrived at about 4pm so it was already getting dark but as most of the cache’s we were aiming for were urban ones it was actually a good time to be out hunting. With the darkness as our ally we set off to look for Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows which was a quick find next to the beautifully lit Marlowe Theatre. Next on the list was Water lovely place to be which would have been except by the time we got there the gates were shut, in fact this became a bit of a running theme as we made our way around Canterbury. It seems that all the little park spaces and some of the pathways are closed after 4pm which seemed a little random as you wouldn’t have thought there’d be that much anti-social behaviour going on around there, but then I guess everywhere has its trouble spots?
Either way it was a DNF at that one and so off we trundled, winding our way through the streets, stopping to stare in the shop windows and admire the Christmas displays until we saw a sign for the library…both needing to powder our noses we decided to go in and have a look around…
What a surprise that turned out to be, it wasn’t just books in there but a whole load of amazing displays of curiosities and wonders – we’d managed to stumble our way into The Beaney “The House of Art and Knowledge” and it wasn’t long before we were immersed in cultures from all over the world. I was particularly impressed with the Anglo-Saxon section, but I have to say the curator has done a brilliant job in there and it’s definitely worth a wander around if you have time.
Onwards we pressed to a slightly trickier find with Church Micro 4750…Canterbury Cathedral which after working out the coordinates left us seriously doubting our maths capabilities because we’d worked GZ out to be about 1.2km away. It all seemed a little odd but we were reassured after reading some of the logs that it was indeed that far away and so after a quick look around the outside of the cathedral, and a sneaky listen to the new all girls choir, we headed off to find the cache.
By then it was pitch black and we were glad when our route took us through a park with some decent lighting, however it didn’t come to our rescue when we both succumbed to the dreaded ‘cacher’s curse‘! Thankfully there was plenty of long grass around to get rid of the God awful mess and we swiftly moved away from the area. 🙁
We opted to stop at a Wetherspoons for dinner (sticking to our budget themed escape) luckily there was one fairly close by, and we were full and out of there again within an hour. I was keen to get back to the car as I was on driving duties because it was MrBizkitz birthday, and a bar stool at The Abbot’s Fireside was calling me. The dark lanes on the way to Elham made for some spooky driving but we made it there by around 8pm which left us plenty of time to relax in our new quirky home for the evening. 🙂
The Abbot’s Fireside was warm and welcoming with a very hospitable receptionist who soon had us ducking and weaving our way up the spiral staircase to our room for the night. It was, as you’d imagine, all low ceilings, oak beams and sloping floors…in fact the floor sloped so much on my side of the bed that every time I got out I was worried I might go flying out the window! We soon decided that the best way to even things out was to head back downstairs to get a couple of ales into us. 😉
The following morning we had a fairly early breakfast before having a little look around Elham, we were most impressed with the service at breakfast, especially when we were offered some extra croissants to take with us on our travels, wish was very kind and very much appreciated!!
Elham is a really cute, little village, very quaint and olde-worlde with lots of great character buildings. For such a small place we were surprised by the size of the Church when we had a look for On the spike in Elham which sadly we didn’t find, but we did find the only other cache in Elham – Church Micro 4958…Elham, which was a multi and turned out to be in a nearby field.
Both keen to get on we hopped over to the car and made our way over to the White Cliffs Geotrail #1 – the walk was going to be linear which meant leaving the car at the suggested parking waypoint and hoping for a miracle to get us back 😉 Nah, what it really meant was that we’d have to catch the bus back from Dover once we’d finished the walk, no problemo…or, almost no problemo…!
We slipped our walking boots on, locked the car and started heading over to the first cache but just as we were about to turn down the trail a nearby public telephone started ringing! Curiosity got the better of me and I answered it, of course there was no one there but it was quite funny and a little bit spooky!
On reaching the first cache we had a little trouble finding it but we eventually unearthed it from it’s hiding place and we were straight onto the next which meant walking along the cliff’s edge, where I came to the conclusion that I get a bit of vertigo. I don’t get the weird sensations like everything’s spinning, it’s just that when I look down I have this strange compulsion to jump. I don’t know if that’s vertigo or something else but that’s what happens, either way on certain stretches of the walk it took me a little out of my comfort zone. It’s strange really because I don’t actually mind heights it’s just the worry that I might fling myself off at any given moment – it’s probably why I like snowboarding and paragliding because you can actually do those sorts of things in relative safety! 🙂
The second cache on the walk is actually one that’s on a different series called Dover’s Defences – Capel Battery and after we found it we stopped to have a look at the memorial and admire the replica Spitfire and Hurricane planes. My Grandad was in the RAF during the war so I’ve always been fascinated by planes and it was nice to stop and remember him whilst we were looking around.
The rest of the caches were found quite easily, with good coordinates and spot on hints. We were pleased to get through them relatively quickly because it was freezing up on the cliff’s despite the sun being out for the majority of the day.
I awarded favourite points to two caches although there were plenty on the walk that deserved them, one was at number 7 and the other was the bonus cache at the end of the trail called Celebrating 25, both were the stand out ones on the geotrail in my opinion. 🙂
We also popped up to find Church Micro 1087 – Dover Knight’s Temple a stunning small Church built around 1128 by the Knight’s Templar read more about it on the cache page! We never did find number 23 but we were quite glad to be away from that tail end of the trail as it was right next to the road and it was quite noisy along that last stretch, however it did lead us towards where we needed to get the bus from so it was all well and good!
If you do decide to attempt this walk you’ll need to know how to get back to your car…we discovered that the number 61 bus will only take you back as far as Aycliffe, which is no good if you’ve parked at Capel le Ferne. Therefore you’ll need to walk into town to Pencester Road and get the 102 back to Capel le Ferne which will cost £2.90. By the time we got back it was getting dark and we couldn’t see out the windows of the bus and so we had no idea where we were…luckily I remembered that we had GPS’s and so we ended up using our c:geo app to see where we needed to get off – otherwise we could’ve ended up Lord knows where!! Phew!
I’d recommend this geotrail if you’d like to see some impressive coastal defences and you don’t have vertigo! We left at 10.30am and finished around 3.30pm and totalled about 6 miles. 🙂
Have you ever done this trail or know of anymore good places in Kent that we should visit? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time, happy caching!